Renovation & Design

Break down water cooler to clean it thoroughly

It's more fun to stand around gossiping when it's free of bacteria


Question: I own a water cooler that is about 10 years old. I have misplaced the directions for cleaning the inside of my cooler. I seem to remember using a bleach solution to clean the reservoir. Can you give me suggestions, please?


Answer: Health Canada recommends you clean your cooler system after every bottle change. Begin by disconnecting the unit from the wall. Remove the bottle from the cooler unit. Drain the water through the blue faucet into a bucket. Disconnect any removable parts from the unit. Wash parts thoroughly with dish soap and water. Rinse. If you have a hot and cold dispenser, plug the hot dispenser off using a cork or plug.

Doing this prevents sanitizer from getting into the hot tank. Combine one-gallon water and one tablespoon of vinegar.

With this solution, clean all of the interior surfaces of the reservoir. Let the solution sit for seven minutes. Fill reservoir full of fresh bottled water and drain the water through the cold faucet.

Repeat three times. Remove cork from the hot tank and replace all parts. Plug unit into wall. You can use one teaspoon of bleach instead of the vinegar, however I prefer vinegar since it is safe for consumption.


Question: Do you have a recipe which uses store bought pickles instead of garden pickles?


Answer: Yummy homemade store-bought pickles: Wash cucumbers well. For dill pickles, use baby cucumbers. For sandwich pickles, use English cucumbers.

Trim both ends of store-bought pickles just as you would garden pickles. Use pickling vinegar, not plain white vinegar. If the cucumber has started to get seeds in its "belly," it is too big and old to use. Wash dill by swishing it in hot to boiling-temperature water. Place some dill into a jar and slice the cucumbers into each jar, tapping the jar to pack.

In a large pot, mix: four cups vinegar, two cups water, two cups white sugar and ½ cup pickling salt. Bring to a full rolling boil and quickly fill jars. Seal jars.

Ready in six weeks.


Question: What can I do to get rid of the perfume scent in some clothing my daughter gave to me?


Answer: Begin by soaking the smelly fabrics in a pot with one gallon water and one quarter cup of one of the following: borax, white vinegar, washing soda or club soda. Boil for five minutes. Next launder in hot water. If the clothes still smell, lay them on the grass on a rainy day — the combination of sunshine and rain will help take away the odours.


Question: Whenever I make Rice Krispie treats, I become frustrated trying to flatten the cereal and marshmallows in the pan. They become stuck to my fingers and I end up with pieces of cereal all over my hands. Any tips?


Answer: Here are three easy ways to flatten cereal treats in a pan. Press cereal with a wet or frozen metal spoon. Or wet your hands with water before spreading the cereal. Or spoon the mixture onto the pan and lay a piece of plastic wrap over the cereal. Flatten the cereal with your hands and nothing touches your fingers.

Did you know you can add fibre and other heathy ingredients to your cereal cake? Melt together one quarter cup butter or margarine and 40 marshmallows; add a variety of cereal brands and some flax, bran, hemp or oats. As long as you end up with six cups of ingredients, the cake will work.


Vinegar makes a splash!

I have the world’s easiest technique for cleaning grout. Spray the wall with 50/50 vinegar and water. Sprinkle borax or washing soda onto a sponge and spread it over the grout. Leave it for 10 minutes then wipe with a wet sponge. — Leslie

Clean your microwave in two minutes. In a bowl combine one cup water, one cup vinegar and one tablespoon lemon juice. Microwave on high for two minutes. Wipe with a clean sponge. — Julie


Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

Reena Nerbas is a popular motivational presenter for large and small groups; check out her website: Ask a question or share a tip at



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