Don’t Throw It Out: Renewing and Reusing



The kitchen is the gathering place for family, the social center for party guests and night-owls. Supporting all that activity are whirring and spinning gadgets, appliances producing heat and the ability to freeze.  Totaling the financial investment of every kitchen tool, it’s not cost-effective to toss every inoperable machine into the landfill.  Fortunately, DIY information offers step-by-step procedures to resolve the frustrating issues of blinking lights, beeps, or an automatic shutdown.  The following information may help you get optimal life and performance out of each valued appliance and tool!

Dishwashers:  After a cycle, you may notice pieces of food encrusted on a plate or bowl.  One solution is to check the temperature.  Use a thermometer to measure the hot water coming out of your kitchen faucet.  The ideal temperature is 120 degrees. If cooler, you may need to adjust the water heater (and warn the family!).   A second solution is to pour two cups of white, distilled vinegar into a bowl on the lower rack and wash without detergent on a regular cycle. The acid will act as a cleansing agent and improve the outcome of your dishes!

Coffeemakers: If you have hard water, mineral deposits are likely accomplices to gum up an automatic coffeemaker. Try a new cleaning system.  Fill the tank halfway with distilled, white vinegar; then, fill to the top with water. Give the coffeemaker time, a half-cycle, to clean; then, turn it off, and allow 30 minutes to sit. Return the pot’s liquid back into the tank, and run; then, start again using clean water.

Garbage Disposals:  Disgusted by the smell of your sink? Then toss in a few ice cubes, orange rinds, turn on the cold water, and run the disposal.

Each unit comes with an L-shaped wrench.  Use the tool on the bottom bolt, underneath the sink, to move the blades back and forth, shifting to dislodge food. Afterward, turn on the disposal to hear a purring sound; otherwise, wait five minutes for the motor to cool, push the reset button, and turn on.

Toasters:  You can resolve the inconsistency of toast browning only on one side. The constant use without cleaning the interior walls causes heat to reflect back and unevenly.  After unplugging the small appliance, turn the toaster upside down to remove the screws in the base holding the sides together.  Remove the knobs and container.  Begin to clean the interior shell with a sponge, slightly damp, with a spot of liquid dishwashing soap.  Add baking soda and use a toothbrush to scrub if you need to remove difficult stains. Rinse with water and dry thoroughly.  Wait a few hours before reassembling parts.

Scissors:  Kitchen shears, like knives, require sharpening with a coarse stone to maintain sharpness.  Lubrication helps.  Consider using water or oil.  Open the scissors and allow one of the blades to rub against the stone perpendicular to the beveled edge.  It’s vital to angle one blade towards the bevel, ensuring the entire blade sweeps across the stone two or three times.  Sharpen both blades; then, open and close, and wipe clean with a cloth before storing.

Butcher Block:  Cutting boards need more than just soap and hot water after use to maintain their high quality. Scrub white vinegar into the board to allow the pH levels to remove germs or any residual food particles.

Give New Life to Kitchen Wares

The old measuring cups, missing components of the set, can provide a new job around the house.  How about using one to scoop liquid or powdered detergent, potting soil, fertilizer, or grass seed?  Perhaps it would aid your effort to scoop out clean kitty litter or measure bedding for small pets, like a gerbil.  Kids would appreciate a sturdy container to mix and transport paints or molding clay.

  • An old spatula makes an ideal putty knife, or an implement for scraping paint from a can.
  • Colanders missing a handle can still hold the garden’s bounty and offer an easy means for washing small objects outdoors.

If you have something new or old that needs to be renewed or reused, here are resources to help you keep it months, years, or decades longer! Continue learning the art of restoration or renewed use!


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