Top Drawer Joyce Clark Hicks finds the best for your home and garden

Top Drawer

February 7, 2014 

Best for grout

Several readers wrote in to report success with a grout-cleaning tip we published a few weeks ago from the Happy Hectic Life blog. The tip, which you can find at, uses a combination of elbow grease and Woolite Heavy Traffic Carpet Cleaner.

“I tried it today and it works better than anything I have ever tried,” says Raleigh resident Leslie Pate. “I still have a few places but will work on those again.”

Best blog

Drop by the Sew Many Ways blog to find multiple ways to organize your home. There’s something for everyone – from organizing and craft projects to sewing tips, cleaning advice and holiday suggestions. Rhode Island blogger Karen is a dental hygienist with a mean clean streak on the side. She spends her spare time blogging, sewing, quilting, arranging furniture and sales shopping, and she happily shares her finds. With a purported 16 million page views, we’d say it’s worthy of a few minutes of your time. Check it out at

Reader’s best tip

Jo Webb of Rocky Mount wrote in to report results of using the blue Dawn dishwashing liquid (12 ounces) and (hot) vinegar (12 ounces) cleaning solution highlighted in an earlier column. You mix the two liquids to form an all-purpose spray solution that’s perfect for cleaning soap scum, faucets, countertops and more.

“I’ve cleaned everything in the house with Dawn and vinegar (including my smelly front-loader washing machine),” she writes, “and can now permanently cross commercial cleaning products off my shopping list.” Learn more at

Webb also shared a tip of her own for cleaning makeup and hair brushes.

“Squeeze a little baby shampoo in a cup or bowl, add hot water, and swish your brushes around,” she writes. “Or if you’re busy, just drop them in and let them soak a while. Rinse and dry on a paper towel. The baby shampoo instantly softens hair product residue and leaves brushes/combs easy to clean. Make-up brushes are clean and soft for a smooth application.”

Best mousse

Jeanie DeGroff of Raleigh shares a recipe for Salmon Mousse, an appetizer she found while trying to make a special dish for a friend. The results, she says, were a hit!

You will need:

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened

1 (7.5 ounce) can salmon, boneless and skinless, drained (or fresh broiled salmon, cooled and flaked)

2 tablespoons chicken broth

2 tablespoons sour cream

1 tablespoon finely chopped onion

1 teaspoon lemon juice

½ teaspoon salt


In a small mixing bowl, combine all ingredients until smooth and creamy. Refrigerate several hours. Serve with crackers.

Designer’s best

You can ensure that a mundane dining room reflects your grand tastes by adding a strategically placed mirror, according to Real Simple. “You can give a sideboard some grandeur by hanging a large mirror about four inches above it. Make sure that the buffet is six inches wider than the mirror on either side.”

Best way to clean a dishwasher

Is there a musty odor coming from your dishwasher? The One Good Thing by Jillee site says clean the machine with vinegar and baking soda. “Place a dishwasher-safe cup filled with plain white vinegar on the top rack of the dishwasher. Using the hottest water available, run the dishwasher through a cycle. The vinegar will help to wash away the loose, greasy grime, sanitizes and helps remove the musty odor. Next, sprinkle a cupful of baking soda around the bottom of the tub and run it through a short cycle.” The baking soda will help freshen the washer and remove stains.

Best improvised cake mold

Make your sweetie a heart-shaped cake with a tip gleaned from Pinterest. Bake a two-layer cake using one greased, 8-inch square mold and one greased, 8-inch round mold.

When baked, cut the cooled, round cake in half and turn the cooled square cake onto a surface and place it on a plate so that it sits like a diamond. Place one half of each round next to the top right and top left of the cake and push together to make the shape of a heart. Frost. You can see an example at or at

Best of the tube

DIY Channel

Workout space: Soap stars Scott Bailey and his fiancée Adrienne Frantz are tired of the local workout centers and want to make their garage into the ultimate home gym. With help from Bill Goldberg and the Garage Mahal team, Scott and Adrienne get a workout building their new gym, complete with a secret entrance, vaulted ceilings and space-saving gym equipment. Tune in to “Ultimate Home Garage” at 7 a.m. Friday.

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