Holiday House Cleaning with the Queen of Clean

WebMD Live Events Transcript

The holidays are here and your house is a mess! How will you ever get it clean before the relatives arrive? And how can you keep it clean without turning into June Cleaver? Don't stress! Whether your dealing with pine needles in the carpet or candle wax dripping on the table, Linda Cobb, the Queen of Clean, can help. She joined us on Dec. 1, 2004, to share tips for getting things sparkling without extra stress or extra chemicals.

The opinions expressed herein are the guests' alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

MODERATOR:
Welcome to WebMD Live, Linda. Thanks for joining us today. The holidays are great fun, but there's a lot of time pressure and pressure to keep the house extra clean. But this is no time to do spring cleaning! Can you give us some clutter-busting ideas before we get into questions about specific messes?

COBB:
A general thing, because many people have guests dropping by, some unexpectedly, is to take a laundry basket and go room to room and pick up everything that doesn't belong and put it all back where it does belong. At this time of the year, giving yourself an extra 15 minutes in the morning to just go through and tidy up will prevent a lot of frustration later in the day.

Then on Saturdays, or whatever day you choose, set the stove timer for an hour or an hour and a half, depending on the size of your house. Then get everybody involved, including the kids. Do a good clean-through, and when the timer goes off, everyone is free to leave. There's light at the end of the tunnel that way.

If unexpected company calls and says they're on their way, make sure the guest bathroom is cleaned up first, because that's where people have the most time to sit and observe your cleaning. Then grab that laundry basket, pile in anything that doesn't belong where it's at now, turn up the lights, because that gives the house a cleaner, more welcoming look, put a pan on the stove with water and cinnamon sticks to simmer, and when you open the front door the house looks neat and smells great. Don't forget to tidy yourself up, too.

MEMBER QUESTION:
Hanukkah time means frying latkes in our family. But the grease! Any tips on cleaning splatters off of walls?

COBB:
Yes. For grease on wood cabinets, use Avon original Skin So Soft bath oil. Wipe it down and the grease will literally roll up. It puts a great luster on the cupboards, the kitchen smells great, and you won't have any mosquitoes!

For surfaces such as the painted wall behind the stove or things like that, you can use trisodium phosphate, TSP at the hardware store. Just mix it according to directions. It's a great grease cutter. Also try undiluted dish soap on a wet cloth. Wash the area and then rinse it really, really well. That also will generally work.

When you're doing a lot of frying, they have these splatter guards that are like three-sided walls that you put around your frying pan, and they actually work very, very well to control that.

To control the odor of fried food in the house, keep a dish of undiluted white vinegar next to the skillet, either on the counter or on the stove next to it and that will take care of the smell of grease. Also use your exhaust fan if you have one.

MODERATOR:
How about dealing with the lingering grease odor that fills the house the next day?

COBB:
Especially during colder weather, smells are drawn to the cooler areas of the house. That's why sometimes you'll go into your bedroom or bathroom and you can smell the bacon or whatever. Of course the white vinegar in the pan next to the stove helps.

Also try microwaving vanilla extract in a bowl. Let it come to a boil, and then using potholders take it out of the microwave, and sit it in the room you were frying in.

Another thing is take a pan of water, bring it to a boil, add lemon juice or sliced lemon to it and let it simmer for about an hour on the stove.

MODERATOR:
I have these dumb frying pans that have bumps on the surface to help air circulate, but food gets stuck to them more often as a result. How can I get fried foods unstuck from these supposedly nonstick pans?

COBB:
There are several things you can do:

  • First is to fill the pan with hot water and drop in a used dryer-fabric-softener sheet. This softens the food and brings it right to the surface so you can wipe the pan out. With holiday casseroles with burned-on food, the dryer fabric softeners work perfectly. No scrubbing required.
  • For really bad problems, put water in the pan to fully cover the area of burned food, add about a cup of white vinegar and let it simmer.
  • Or take the water, put it in the pan the same way, bring it to a boil, and add about two tablespoons of baking soda and simmer.