Home Ec 101 Hits Home

Print Friendly

Heather says

Does anyone remember the movie The Money Pit? I now watch this with a knowing chuckle.

Many of you know that I moved into what I refer to as the “fixer-upper” back in October. As there are some truly awful people out on the interwebz I was not very open about the exact state of the house that I moved into, other than the sharing the fact that it was pretty rough. Some of you out there know what home renovations are like and still others know what it’s like to live in a home being renovated. The word frustrating and disheartening comes to mind.

The bathroom floor had water damage that had caused the flooring to badly warp and there was a hole into the crawlspace. On the advice of my exterminator -if you are local I will share his name- I made a temporary, amateur repair to the main bathroom floor. Let’s call it effective, but hideous. It looked like I had a tumour of expanding foam growing where the tub met the floor. Nothing was coming in or out, nothing, but still I had nightmares that I would step out of the shower and fall into the crawlspace.

But it was all okay, it would just be a month or two and I would be able to repair it, no big deal?

I knew that a roof would be needed within five years and I had factored that into my decision to go ahead with the move.  For a reason neither I nor the company I hired to do the work understands, my insurance company decided the roof needed to be replaced before I could insure the place. (The contractor was more than happy to install the new roof, but it was not the critical need the insurance said.) The bathroom remodel was delayed.

Significantly.

Time moves slowly in the interim between hiring a contractor and the day he shows up. I had been spoiled by the roofing experience, I got the estimate and work started the next week.

I am currently in the middle of heavy travel season with my day job, so of course the contractor was only able to begin work while I was on the road.

I have a garage freezer that I have slowly been stocking  with meat as it goes on sale and vegetables. I have fallen in love with the frozen bags of onions and bell peppers, they make my life easier, yes the foreshadowing is a bit heavy handed.  You see where this is going. . .

The workmen tripped a breaker on a little used outlet.

The one the freezer is on.

Home Ec 101 to the rescue.

I wrote a post about this years ago: The Freezer Was Left Open, Now What

I spent Saturday minimizing damage and thankfully, most of the  meat in the bottom of the upright freezer was still frozen solid. If you ever have to freeze a lot of food, this tutorial may come in handy.

And despite all of the frustration, today I have five gallons of chicken gumbo in my freezer and more importantly, by close of business today, I will have a fully functional bathroom. I still have to paint, but I don’t think anything will be more satisfying than the jig I did to test the solidity of the floor.

Has Home Ec 101 ever saved your day?

How to Iron: A Home-Ec 101 Guide

Print Friendly

Stephanie says:

Let’s work to iron out the wrinkles.

I love ironing. I do. Roll your eyes. Scoff. Mutter, “whatever, who loves ironing?” I do. There is something satisfying about taking a pile of clean clothes and one by one getting all the wrinkles out, then putting them away. I don’t iron every morning. Heavens no. I need my beauty rest, and more importantly a cup of coffee and an egg sandwich that I can eat at a pace that will not force it to repeat on me. I iron on Sundays. You see, during the week, I do laundry, usually Thursday’s and Friday’s, and anything that I would like to be ironed goes in the “ironing basket.”

How to iron

I hope you are reading this, Husband, the only thing that goes in the “ironing basket” is clean, un-ironed clothes, not your nasty socks or bath towels.

Set aside a time for ironing – or it won’t get done.

Once all the laundry is done, or as done as it’s going to get, I iron. In my house, ironing happens on Sunday afternoon.

Sometimes I pull out all the hangers and say, “once these hangers are full I’ll be done,” and there’s other times where I will put a time limit on the ironing. I may say, “from 4:00-5:00 I will iron.” And whatever gets done gets done, anything that’s leftover gets ironed next week.

You just need to make sure you have an enough clothes for the week.

What do you need to iron?

  • Sizing
    A laundry product that adds body to fabric. Sizing is most often used for synthetic fabrics and makes ironing at low temperatures easier. The spray also helps clothing to be more stain resistent by reducing it’s ability to absorb soil.
  • Starch
    Made from vegetable cellulose starch adds body and stiffness to fabric. It works best on clothing made from natural fibers like linen and cotton as it needs to be ironed at a higher temperature than sizing
  • Water
    Using distilled water will prevent mineral build up on the soleplate of the iron -that’s the part that comes in contact with the clothing.
  • Iron – the linked iron is just one example. If you iron regularly you may want to invest in an iron with a self-cleaning setting. This will eliminate the need for hot-iron cleaner
  • a padded ironing board.

There is a debate in my family, starch or sizing? I’ve always sworn by starch. I like my clothes stiff and pressed. My parents use sizing, which gets the wrinkles out but still allows for some body and movement to your clothes. Here’s the deal, on linens, non-knit cotton, wool, durable fabrics, use starch. Things like knit skirts, or like my husband’s polo’s, use sizing. Why? Because if you use starch on these fabrics the iron sticks to them and creates more wrinkles that you will just need to use sizing to get out.

How to iron

First, fill your iron with water. There should be a fill line on the side. If you overflow, no big deal, your ironing board will just get a little wet, but it’s water, it will dry. I would suggest using distilled water if you have invested in a really nice iron because the minerals in tap water can end up shortening the life of your iron.

Second, do a quick spray of starch on the piece of fabric you are starting with. There is a technique. It involves a little dance, spraying from side to side in time with the rest of your body. Make sure you shake the can well before you use it because whatever magic is in that can settles and you don’t want that on your clothes. Give the sizing or starch time to absorb, if you begin ironing too quickly, the starch may flake rather than coat the fibers that make up your material.

Button down shirts are easy, start with the front panel that is on the side in which the rest of the shirt will be hanging off the back of the board Then just work your way around until both front panels and the back panel have been sprayed with your starch or sizing. You’ll follow this routine for the ironing, too.

Expect to move the shirt four times. I love a nice, crisp sleeves. You can button the sleeve if it is not already, if you don’t want to mess with it, just fold the cuff as if it were buttoned and lay the shirtsleeve flat on the board. When you lay the sleeve on the board line up the rest of the shirt as if you were buying the shirt. You know when you buy a new button down shirt and it looks like whoever is going to wear it walks around with their arms at a 45-degree angle? Iron sleeves like that, use the seam in the sleeve as a guide for where to make the crease. If a previous crease exists, try to match the fold along it or you may create a second crease

With button downs, the collar is easy, lay the shirt face down with the collar “popped” and spay and press it. Once it’s done, fold it over, and hang up your shirt. Time to move on.

Polo’s are next. Grab your sizing. You will  want to put the shirt on the board as if you were putting it on your body, the bottom goes on the end of the board first. Situate the shirt like you’re going to move it 4 times again, just like the button down. I usually do the front left first then rotate the shirt away from me until all four “panels” are done. Remember, every time you move the shirt, spritz it with some sizing and give it a moment. Make sure you shake the sizing well too. Collars on polo’s are a little trickier because you can’t lay them flat, so like you did with the rest of the shirt, “pop” the collar and putting the shirt head-first on the end of the board, work your way around. Now sleeves. Depending on the size of the individual wearing the shirt, you can either get the sleeve on the end of the board or just lay it flat, try not to create a crease.

What do you want to do next? Shorts? I love ironing shorts. And I love wearing nice pressed shorts. I feel so preppy in my crisp white khaki Gap shorts with a gingham button down. *sighs* OK! Shorts are different than pants for ironing. Shorts you can put on the board, pants you cannot, typically. Shorts are easy, depending on the size, you can put them on from the top or from the bottom, spray them down, and press. Work in circles until both legs are done. Pay extra attention to pockets. If there is a flap pocket, they are notorious for getting all bunched up in the wash, if this happens, get it with the starch, and carefully help the fabric lay down while you iron over it. Once you have the whole pocket under the iron, hit it with the steam. You did make sure your iron had water, right?

Pants are another beast. You want to do these in sections. You can’t probably “dress” the board like we have been depending on the size of the pants. So you will need to lay them flat on the board. Well-made pants you will be able to flatten in no time, on both sides. If where ever you got your drawers cut some corners you may end up with some creases on one side. It’s the price of doing business. I usually do the front right leg first and if I can’t get up toward the top of the pants, I scoot them down and quick press that portion. Then I flip the leg of the pants over, and move to the next side.

Some special stuff with pants: pleats and creasing. Both of which are a wee outdated, but we will cover them here just for the sake of being well-rounded.

Pleats, not necessarily just with pants, I should correct myself, I have tunics with a back pleat. The key to ironing a pleat is to lay the item on the board as you want the pleats to appear and then press the pleats.  If you try to navigate that big old iron in those little creases, you will just drive yourself insane, so just don’t.

Creasing, my dad, up until like 2009 creased his jeans. It wasn’t until one of his golf buddies took him aside like, “dude…you don’t iron jeans, and you certainly don’t crease them.” My mother was overjoyed knowing that she didn’t have to iron my dads jeans anymore.

To iron a crease you want to hold the pants like you’re looking at them from the side and you want to turn in the front flaps, like where the button and fly are, until you look like you have the crease where you want it. Then lay both legs piled on top of each other on the board and press. You will want to use steam here to really get a sharp crease.

Some final thoughts and quick tips:

Make ironing as enjoyable as possible.

  • I have an ironing playlist in Spotify that I listen to when I iron. It gets me pumped up, it’s actually what I am listening to as I write this. Put your favorite songs that will get you dancing and singing along, it makes this boring task go much faster.
  • Don’t get distracted, especially if you have kids. I’m guilty of this, it seems like everyone I have ever met wants to talk to me during “ironing time.” Draw the line. Scorched clothing = more work.
  • Try not to feel overwhelmed, I find if I separate my clothes from my husband’s on the bed and take one from each pile, it seems to go faster and I don’t feel guilty if I get burned out half way through and he has no shirts for the week.
  • Think ahead, check the weather, if you have multiple seasonal clothes in your basket, plan out that you may need long sleeves and short sleeves during that week, iron a few of each.
  • Finally, stay dedicated, ironing everything at once is actually a time-saver. Would you rather spend an hour on a Sunday and save all that time every single day of waiting for the iron to heat up, and adding water, and setting up the board then ironing? Knowing that everything in my closet is ironed and ready-to-wear any day of the week is very comforting, especially on mornings where I can’t seem to get moving.

Happy Ironing!

Stephanie Coccaro is married to @jaredwsmith and lives with him, and their 3 dogs in West Ashley.  She is currently enrolled for the rest of her life at the College of Charleston majoring in English.

Household Odors: A Home-Ec 101 Guide

Print Friendly

Scientists say that people can smell at least one trillion distinct scents, scent cells are renewed every 30 to 60 days, and women have a better sense of smell than men. Combine all those things together with a house full of people and there is potential for A LOT of odors. On top of all that we know that scent is a powerful memory trigger, and we want our house to smell good and create good memories. Listed below are some articles that can help you find and conquer bad household odors. Just click the title of the one you want to read more about.

Guide to Household Odors

Can This Smelly Freezer Be Saved?

Due to a series of unfortunate events, my small chest freezer (that sits under the house) was left unplugged for 3 WEEKS! Of course the entire inventory was a total loss, but the real problem is the SMELL.

Don’t Just Cover Up Musty Odors

My problem is that I keep towels that we have used in a closet until I do laundry at the end of the week, and I wanted to know if there is anything I could put inside the closet to keep down the musky smell until laundry day?

Eliminated or Hidden? Febreze vs. Stink

I’ve heard from a friend that the way Febreze works is by “gluing” the molecules causing the smell to the fabric.

Help! Our New House Smells Like Mothballs!

There’s only one little problem with our dream home: it smells a bit of moth balls. I’m hoping that most of the stench is attached to the current owners’ furniture, but some of the smell has certainly transfered to the walls and floors of the house.

How Can I Make My Cat’s Litter Box Smell Better?

Why is cleaning out cat boxes such an ordeal? How can I make my cat’s litter box smell better if I’m a little bit remiss about getting them scooped every day?

How to Clean a Smelly Garbage Disposal

How do you de-stink a garbage disposal?

How to Deal with a Cat Marking Its Territory

Our cat marks all areas of our house by peeing especially when another animal comes to visit or where she last marked. We are at our wit’s end…. is there any solution to this problem?

How To Deal With Mildew In The Laundry

I forgot about a load of wash in the washing machine. Of course, it’s almost the entire wardrobe for both my children and the entire load *reeks* of mildew.

How to Eliminate Shoe Odors in Small Closets

I just did some awesome cleaning in my closet and swapped out my winter for summer stuff. I noticed my closet has a funky shoe odor.

How to Fix Sour Smelling Towels

Why do towels and washcloths smell sour and how do I get rid of that funky odor?

How to Freshen Plastic Storage Containers

My spouse, it’s not me, no never me, has a bad habit of leaving his dirty plastic containers in the back of his car. I have to tell you, they are FUNKY. How do I remove the bad odor?

How to Get Rid of a Fish Odor in the Kitchen

I’m trying to encourage an elderly dog to eat and someone recommended canned mackerel.  It worked a treat but now my kitchen stinks like fish.

How to Get Smells Out of Car Upholstery

Have you any idea how to get the smell of smoke and sweat out of car upholstery without making the entire vehicle reek of Febreze?

How to Reduce Cooking Odors

I love having my home grown bacon or sausage on the weekend, but how do I get rid of the horrible grease smell after I have enjoyed breakfast?

How to Remove Kerosene Odors from Unwashable Items

I do alterations and repairs on bridal wear and I recently returned some dresses that ended up absorbing the smell of kerosene. How would someone remove the smell of kerosene from un-washable clothing?

How To Remove Mildew And Musty Odors From Towels

My towels all smell funky. Is it my teenage son? He’s usually pretty good about hanging up his towel, but lately they’ve all developed a stink. There is nothing quite like stepping out of the shower to be greeted with a musty, mildewed, smelly towel.

How to Remove a Musty Odor from Dresser Drawers

An old roommate of mine borrowed a dresser from me and used it while we lived together. After she gave it back the drawers had a musty smell that I couldn’t get rid of. If I put any clothes in the drawers they come out smelling funky and musty too. What should I do?

How To Remove Musty / Mildew Odor From Furniture

I recently retrieved a table from my garage that was stored for about a year and it smells like there could be a mold or mildew issue. How do I clean the table to remove any traces and the odor of mold and mildew?

How to Remove Mothball Odor from a Closet

There’s only one little problem with our dream home: it smells a bit of moth balls. I’m hoping that most of the stench is attached to the current owners’ furniture, but some of the smell has certainly transfered to the walls and floors of the house. So what is a gal to do?

How to Remove Mothball Odor from Clothes

How does one get rid of this smell; a smell that permeates everything it contacts?

How to Remove Musty Odor from Jeans

For a few weeks I’ve occasionally noticed a musty smell. At first I thought it was something in my house, but I couldn’t ever pin it down. I finally realized it was my favorite pair of jeans!

How To Remove Odors From Shoes

How do you get the foot-stink out of shoes? Specifically, leather shoes, since those make your feet sweat like a fat guy chasing after an ice cream truck in August?

How To Remove Odors From Stoneware

Whenever I cook or use a strong smelling condiment, my dishes always pick up the smell I can never get the odor out.

How to Remove Smoke Smell from Plastic Toys

I recently purchased replacement pieces for a beloved vintage Fisher-Price toy on eBay. They arrived today after a long wait, absolutely reeking of smoke.

How to Remove Urine Odors from a Couch

We contacted the manufacturer, who suggested spot cleaning the urine stained area with diluted dish soap. This got the stains out. Unfortunately, the smell of pee still remains.

How To Get Rid of Musty Odor In A Home

Here’s my dilemma. The house is clean, but there is a fusty, musty odor, like a large dog is secretly living in our house.

Potential Sources Of Mildew In The Bedroom

There is a musty / mildew smell in my home, but I’m having issues locating the source of the smell. As far as I can tell, it’s restricted to one bedroom. I’ve examined all of my clothing, removed the air conditioner, checked all of the furniture, and even the air ducts. I’m guessing it might be in the carpet? Any ideas?

Sour Smelling Towels (And How To Eliminate It)

Why do towels and washcloths smell sour and how do I get rid of that funky odor?

What Causes Smelly Sheets?

I have smelly sheets! I wash them and I promise I don’t use too much laundry detergent. Then I dry them and then store them in a built-in bookshelf that’s in our closet. For some reason as soon as I get the sheets out to put on the bed they smell weird, a little musty.

What To Do About Stinky Shoes

I got my favorite pair of shoes wet last week and now they stink to high heaven. Is there anything I can do to save these shoes?

What To Do With The Drawer That Makes Clothes Stink

After the clothes are confined there for a few weeks, they develop a strong odor that spreads to other clothes which would otherwise not get smelly.

What To Do When Your Mattress Smells Like Cat Pee

It’s been a week, and while my husband swears he can’t smell the urine anymore, I still get whiffs of something–whether it’s urine or just the cleaner, I’m not sure. But it smells funky, and I don’t know what to do!

Send your domestic questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

bathroom cleaning

Tips to keep your bathroom squeaky clean!

guide to the laundry room

Click the picture for more tips!

Breakfast the Most Important Meal of the Day

Print Friendly

Dear Home Ec 101,

I have an 8 am Philosphy class, but I find that a cup of coffee and the crust from last night’s pizza is never enough to power me through my demanding 12 credit minimum. Do you have any no-effort suggestions, Taster’s Choice is pretty taxing already.

Signed,

Anemic in Akron

Heather says:

Scientists agree skipping breakfast is the fast-track to bad health, but who has that kind of time?

Well, you’re in luck the fine folks at Hot Pockets® have solved your breakfasty dilemma. Here’s a handy tutorial, just for busy people like you.

Read the box and note, it must be nutritious, it has real cheese.

Open BoxOpen the box.

Remove the wrapped breakfast pastry.

Open and remove the protective barrier

Place the pastry in the handy cooking sleeve / carrying case.

Microwave for two minutes on high.

Admire your handiwork.

Serve with appropriate garnish and sides.

Enjoy the rest of your April Fool’s Day.

The Laundry Room: A Home-Ec 101 Guide

Print Friendly

guide to the laundry room

It’s great to have a house with a laundry room/area and really, those machines do a lot of work for our family. Why then, do so many people hate doing laundry? I, personally, am so glad I don’t have to use a pot of boiling water or a wringer to wash all of our clothes. The following articles will help you take care of your machines and as a result, the clothes that go through the machines. Just click the title of whichever one you want to read more of!

A Quick Tip To Detail Your Washing Machine

This is a special occasion kind of cleaning, perhaps I haven’t done it often enough (judging by the lint), but don’t think I’m trying to get you to add this chore to your already overwhelming to-do list. Maybe detailing your washer should be done whenever you get around to deep cleaning the laundry room.

Finding The Source Of The Mystery Spots On The New Clothes

I don’t use softeners or softener sheets and every piece of clothing we own is being ruined by these grease stains. I have no idea what it is but I can only assume its from the dryer. And I know, with kids, stains are highly likely but even their brand spanking new clothes are coming out with these stains.

How to Reduce Lint in the Laundry Room

Can you please post an article about keeping that nasty linty space along the sides of the washer and dryer clean?

How To Reduce Lint In The Laundry

My husband wears a lot of black shirts. Lately I’ve noticed that his shirts are covered in fuzz and lint. We’ve never really had this problem before. Is the lint coming from my washer or my dryer? Is there anything I can do to reduce the lint?

How to Remove Detergent Build-up From a Washer

I’ve recently noticed a layer of scum around the agitator.  If I were able to get my head in there I’d probably find it throughout.  Is there a way to get this out without scrubbing the thing?

How to Remove Gum from a Dryer

I / my husband / my kid didn’t check their pockets and now my dryer smells minty fresh, but is covered with with gum. How do I get the gum out of the dryer and off of the clothing?

How to Remove Mildew from a Front Loading Washer

Here is a gross one for you ladies. How do I keep my front load washer from mildewing? It smells so nasty.

How to Remove Ring Around the Washer

I’ve used everything possible I can think of to get the inside of my top-loading washer (where the top of the water line usually is) clean, but it’s still icky looking.

Lipstick In The Laundry

Help!! I took clothes out of the wash and found red lipstick in the dryer and all over my clothes.

Make Your Laundry Detergent Stretch Farther

A Tip to stretch your laundry detergent a bit further

Mildew in the Laundry

I forgot about a load of wash in the washing machine. I’ve rewashed the load at least three times now using a total of two gallons of white vinegar but the offensive odor remains.

Quick Tips From Real Life Laundry Experience

I have a few for you this morning and feel free to guess which ones I learned today and which I had done ahead of time.

Why Is There A Greasy Stain In My Washer?

Lately I’ve noticed a greasy ring around the top of my machine, a Whirlpool Ultimate Care II which is a top loader. I know my clothes are *clean* but the washing machine grosses me out.

Send your domestic questions to helpme@home-ec101.com.

bedroom and closet cleaning

Click the picture for more tips!

keeping the kitchen clean

Click the picture for more tips!