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Prevent a Washing Machine Hose Disaster

January 31st, 2014

By Kellie Pearson

When it comes to disastrous water damage in your home, burst washing machine hoses have to be the worst. It’s also generally known as one of the most common complaints insurance companies receive when dealing with flood claims. How can you prevent a burst washing machine hose from happening to you?

Know how to spot signs of trouble by looking at the 90-degree turns either coming from the wall or at the washing machine connections. The hoses will form a large bubble, giving the homeowner a warning 99 percent of the time. Once you see this warning sign, call a Mr. Appliance® professional to replace your current hoses with steel braided hoses. Even without visible evidence of trouble, many homeowners elect to change their rubber hoses over to steel braided hoses just for their own peace of mind.

The standard black rubber hose typically included with a purchased washing machine is not made to withstand long-term constant water pressure. Consequently, they often deteriorate by cracking over time. A stainless steel braided hose consists of a flexible plastic hose encased in a twisted stainless steel wire mesh. The encasement of the wire mesh makes the hose much more durable and resistant to cracking and bulging due to the water pressure.

To prolong the life of your washing machine hose, follow these quick tips:

  • Make sure you allow four inches of space between the wall and back of your washing machine for the hose to vibrate without rubbing against the wall. This will prevent the wall from bending or kinking the hose, which will weaken it.
  • Whether you leave for a weekend getaway or week-long vacation, it’s smart to shut off the water valve when you won’t be using your washing machine for a prolonged period of time. No need to put the hose under water pressure if it’s not necessary.


Natural Oven Cleaning Tips

November 23rd, 2013

From our own Mary Kay Liston, VP of Mr. Appliance

For burnt-on food, sprinkle baking soda over the bottom of the oven and then spritz it with water from a spray bottle. Let it sit overnight and then remove it in the morning with a sponge, and most of the gunk in the oven will come out with it. If baked-on spills still remain, sprinkle on some more baking soda and then add a little bit of white vinegar. Let the bubbling mixture sit for 30 minutes, then scrub.

To remove the cloudy residue that has made a glass oven window nearly opaque, try mixing baking soda and lemon juice into a thick paste. Rub it onto the door, leave it for half an hour and then scrub, and the glass will be clear and shiny again.

Finally, for those situations where elbow grease just doesn’t seem to cut it, don’t be afraid to use the self-cleaning function on your oven if you have one. Self-cleaning ovens heat up to temperatures that can reach 900 degrees Fahrenheit to burn off spilled food. While this process uses a lot of energy, it’s offset by the fact that self-cleaning ovens are double-insulated, reducing your overall energy consumption from regular use. Just try not to use it more than once a year or so.

Also, there is a tip about putting oven racks in a large garbage bag with ammonia overnight.  After soaking, you can spray them clean.

Wishing you an yours a safe and Happy Thanksgiving!

End the Frustration of Unloading Dirty Dishes: 5 Tips to Help Your Dishwasher Do its Best Work.

October 25th, 2013

Do you have to wash your dishes more than once to get them clean? If so, your dishwasher may be slacking on its job, and there could be many possible reasons. Whether your old dishwasher just doesn’t clean like it used to, or you have a new dishwasher that doesn’t seem to have the cleaning power of your old one, you can increase the effectiveness of your dishwasher with these tips:

1. Use appropriate amounts of detergent. Putting too much detergent into your dishwasher can cause residue to stick to your dishes, leaving them with water stains and needing to be cleaned again. At the same time, using too little detergent leaves your dishes unclean. To determine the appropriate amount of detergent to be used, read the owner’s manual for your dishwasher, and follow the instructions on the detergent container.

2. Clean the drain. Your dishwasher may be clogged with remnants of food and other debris. Check the drain for blockages and clean as necessary. Run the garbage disposal and clear it out prior to using the dishwasher as they share the same drain.

3. Clean the inside of your dishwasher. Every few months or so, it is recommended to run a wash cycle while the dishwasher is empty. Grease, food, soap and calcium deposits can build up inside of your dishwasher over a period of time. When running an empty wash cycle, do not use detergent. Let the bottom of the dishwasher fill with water, then add two cups of white vinegar and finish the wash cycle. Keep in mind that detergents differ, and that a washer that does not clean well and has build-up frequently may be a sign that you should change detergents.

4. Check the sprayer arm. Some utensils may be too tall for the sprayer arm to function correctly. That sprayer arm has an important job, but the holes in it can fall victim to calcium build-up. Check to make sure the holes on the sprayer arm are not blocked. If they are, a strong toothpick can work for clearing them.

5. Check the water temperature. If you turn on your kitchen sink, you can easily assess the length of time it takes for adequately hot water to flow. If it takes more than a few seconds, your dishwasher is likely also struggling to clean at the beginning of the wash cycle. Use your dishwasher during a time that hot water will not be diverted through any other faucet for the best cleaning results.

DIY Summer Lemonade Stand

June 18th, 2013

What says summer more than a couple of kids sitting outside at a lemonade stand? The refreshing taste of the lemonade paired with the adorable entrepreneurs makes for a classic American summer memory that everyone can recall. Why not take the lemonade stand up a notch from old plastic wagons and card tables, and make this super cute stand for your kids? It’s a project the whole family can be involved with and is sure to recreate those idyllic childhood memories.

Lemonade Stand via Lil’ Luna (

For this project you will need:

  • 2×4 framing wood
  • Rough cut planks
  • 1 1/2 flat-head nails
  • Wood glue
  • 1 1/2 or 2 inch dry-wall screws
  • Drill
  • Various drill bits
  • Paint
  • Hammer
  • Wood saw
  • Plywood for sign
  • Carriage bolts and wing nuts

Here is a great recipe for some old fashioned lemonade to sell at your stand! Be sure to keep plenty of ice and cups handy, because once people get a taste of this refreshing drink, they’re sure to come back for more! It makes about eight cups, so increase the recipe accordingly for how big you want your batch.

Homemade Lemonade via The Seasonal Gourmet (

  • 12 large lemons (for three cups of juice)
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cups white sugar (to taste)
  • 4 cups cold water
  • 1 tray of ice cubes (about 14 cubes)

1. Juice eleven of the lemons – they should yield about 3 cups of lemon juice. Pour the juice into a large pitcher through a strainer to get rid of any seeds and pulp.

2. Slice the remaining lemon into slices and remove any seeds. Set aside.

3. Stir 1-1/2 cups of sugar into the lemon juice until it fully dissolves. Add the water and stir to combine. Adjust the sugar and water to taste if necessary.

4. Empty a tray of ice cubes into the pitcher and add the lemon slices.

5. Enjoy!

Live, Laugh and Learn with Lillyan: Summer Solstice Social

May 28th, 2013

By Lillyan Baker

Summer is here and it is time to serve your guests the tastes of the season. Celebrate the longest day of the year with fresh fruit from the local farmer’s market and herbs picked right from the backyard garden. This featured appetizer and sparkling drink will make guests remember this social as the party that made the sun stand still.

Fried Polenta with Veggies

Fried Polenta with Veggies

-1 package of polenta, sliced
-Seasonal vegetables, sliced
Zucchini, Yellow Squash, Mushrooms, Jalapeno, Corn, Red Bell Pepper, Yellow Bell Pepper, Avocado, Artichoke Hearts
-1 sweet bulb onion, chopped
-1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 tsp mustard
-1/4 c  and 4 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-Pinch of Salt
-Pinch of Pepper
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Cook polenta over medium-high heat in medium-sized pan with 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil until golden. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place polenta on paper towel to removed excess grease.
  3. Place all desired vegetables, onion and garlic on foil-covered baking sheet. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper over mixture. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. In separate bowl, combine mustard, 2 Tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper. Coat cooked veggies in mixture. Place vegetables on top of polenta and serve as appetizer.

Sparkling Summer Solstice Sipper

Sparkling Summer Solstice Sipper

-1 part sparkling water
-1 part orange juice
-15 oz. can of sliced peaches, undrained
-Seasonal fruit, sliced
Mangoes, Blackberries

  1. In a large pitcher, mix sparkling water, orange juice and undrained can of peaches.
  2. Place sliced mangoes and blackberries in individual drinkware. Pour sparkling mix over fruit and serve chilled.
  3. Serve with Name Skewers and enjoy!

Party Sticks on Watermelon with Mint & Feta

Party Sticks

-1 Package of Wooden Skewers
-Craft tape
  1. Cut tape in 2-inch pieces. Place top of skewer in the middle of the tape and fold the outer sides of tape together.
  2. For Name Skewers: Have guests write their names on tape and place in drinking glass to avoid drink mix-ups.
  3. For Party Skewers: Write appetizer name on tape or leave blank and use different prints for different appetizers.

Reduce. Reuse. Upcycle.

May 22nd, 2013

By Lillyan Baker

Reduce. Reuse. Upcycle

Break free of the circle and follow the arrows to sustainable cleaning. Save money and fresh air this season by spring cleaning your household with products you can find behind milk cartons and spaghetti boxes. No need to make a special trip to the store, discover cleaning goods within your home that can transform your kitchen from the winter blues to the bright white of spring. Instead of recycling a used lemon wedge in compost, upcycle the acidic slice for a fresh and natural cleaner to help make your kitchen sparkle like season.

  • Freshen Up. Eliminate odors by pouring vanilla extract into a bowl and wipe down refrigerator walls with a paper towel.
  • Beyond the shelves. Clean condenser coils located behind the fridge with a brush or handheld vacuum to remove dirt, dust and pet hair.
  • Cool it down. Place a handful of ice cubes and citrus peels in garbage disposal, turn on cold water and then the disposal for 15-30 seconds. After turning off disposal continue to rinse with hot water for 15 more seconds.
  • Wash away. Remove stuck-on food residue by running an empty dishwasher with a cup of white vinegar.
  • Mix it up. Wipe interior microwave surfaces with a mixture of two tablespoons baking soda and one quart water to remove food stains.
  • Bright white. Use a sponge with a mixture of ½ cup bleach, ¼ cup baking soda and four cups warm water to avoid yellowing of white appliances. Let it set for 10 minutes before rinsing and drying.

Live, Laugh and Learn with Lillyan: Sweet Summer

May 17th, 2013

By Lillyan Baker

Wrap skewers in craft tape to label different appetizers.

The savory summer weather of late night dinners on the patio are just around the corner. I love having friends over for a light meal and an even sweeter dessert to catch up and enjoy time under the stars. There’s something about the thick, Texas air that makes me crave the coolness of watermelon. This featured appetizer is a great idea for a large party or small gathering. Finish the night with seasonal banana pudding and a dollop of fresh whipped cream to start your summer off on the right dish.

Watermelon with Mint & Feta

-Watermelon, cubed
-1/4 c Feta cheese
-1/4 c Mint, chopped
-2 Tbsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
-2 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
-Pinch of Salt
-Pinch of Pepper
  1. Combine feta, mint, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.
  2. Place mixture on top of watermelon squares and serve with party skewers.

Serve Up the Sweetness

Banana Pudding with Cream
-1/3 c sugar
-1/3 c cornstarch
-3 c milk
-3 c vanilla wafers
-3 bananas, thinly sliced
-6 eggs, separated
-1 c heavy whipping cream
-1 Tbsp powdered sugar
-4 Tbsp butter
-1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
-Pinch of Salt
-Optional: Pistachios, shelled and minced

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch and salt. Mix well. Add milk. Over medium heat, continue to stir until thickened and boiling. Remove custard from heat.

2. In a small bowl, whisk egg yolks, then add in 1/2 cup of hot custard until blended. Pour mixture back into saucepan of custard and cut for an additional 4 minutes. Add vanilla and butter until well blended. Refrigerate at least 4 hours before serving.

3. Using a large electric mixer, mix the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar to form the whipped cream.

4. Spoon chilled banana pudding in individual serving bowls, top with whipped cream and vanilla wafers.

Optional: Add minced pistachios on top for nutty flavor and crunch.

Love Your Kitchen

May 15th, 2013

By Lillyan Baker

Love Your Kitchen

Take time to love your appliances and they will love you back. Follow these steps from Mr. Appliance to cook up some romance, instead of frustration with inefficient appliances.

Give Your Oven Some Lovin’

  • Don’t run the self-cleaning cycle within one week of a big dinner – ovens have a tendency to fail during or right after a self-cleaning cycle.
  • Clean the reflector bowls under the burners to help cook more efficiently.

XOXO For Your Dishwasher

  • If you’re unsure whether or not an item is dishwasher safe, just wash it by hand.
  • Run an empty dishwasher with a cup of white vinegar to eliminate odors and buildup.

Keep Your Garbage Disposal Smelling Like Roses

  • Place a handful of ice cubes in the disposal. Add lemon, orange or lime peels and run disposal with cold water for 15 to 30 seconds. Continue to rinse with cold water.
  • To avoid clogging your garbage disposal, remember to not pour grease down the drain.

Rekindle Your Refrigerator

  • Unplug your refrigerator and use a vacuum to remove any dust from the coils. This will help it run more efficiently and trim your utility bills.
  • Make sure it’s loaded properly. Contents should be evenly distributed.

Simple Solutions

May 10th, 2013

By Lillyan Baker

Simple Solutions

Simple solutions to get your household safe and clean with products you can find within your pantry.

After eating an orange, don’t throw away the peel. Citrus peels, including oranges, lemons and limes, can help deodorize your garbage disposal. Excess waste put down your disposal can cause an unforgiving odor. To avoid a stench that can linger, try this simple tip to deodorize your garbage disposal. Place ice cubes in the disposal. Add orange, lemon or lime peels and run the disposal with cold water for 15 to 30 seconds, then turn the disposal off. Continue to run the cold water for 15 seconds thereafter.  This eliminates stubborn odors without harsh chemicals, leaving your sink smelling fresh and clean.

From cookies to countertops, vanilla extract can smell your kitchen fresh all week long. Cover up the fish from last night’s dinner by heating up a microwave-safe bowl of vanilla extract for three minutes. Then grab a rag or paper towel and use it to wipe surfaces for stubborn stains and residue in the microwave. To eliminate fridge odors, pour vanilla extract into a bowl with a paper towel and wipe down the refrigerator walls.  Your kitchen will smell like fresh baked cookies without the baking!

Get the Dishwasher Dish

May 3rd, 2013

By Lillyan Baker

Dishin' Out Tips

Cooking, baking and living in a green kitchen lifestyle is as simple as making a few changes to your dishwashing routines.

Eliminate a step from your cleaning process- no more pre-rinse! Save up to 20 gallons of water by hand-scraping your dishes, instead of running water for your pre-rinse. Not only will this save on water waste, but it can save your glassware, too! Dishwasher detergent is dependent on food particles to do its job. By having no food to attack, it usually moves to glassware, leaving your dishes cloudy with permanent etching damage.

To get cleaner dishes, purge your water in the sink before running the dishwasher to make sure it’s hot from the beginning of the wash cycle. The hot water will help break down stuck-on food particles and prevent clogs. Make sure your hot water heater is set between 120 and 125 degrees. Give your dishwasher a wash of its own by running an empty cycle with a cup of white vinegar. The cleaner will remove soap and calcium build-up that makes your dishwasher worker harder than it has to.

Use short dishwashing cycles and save the normal dishwashing cycles for your dirtiest dishes. Avoid using the “rinse hold” setting, since it uses three to seven gallons of hot water for each use. Give your dishes a breath of fresh air by turning your dishwasher setting to air-dry or open the dishwasher after the rinse cycle.