Renovation & Design

Keep your oven clean with natural products

 Question: What can I use indoors to clean my oven racks? — Avril

Answer: For people who do not own a self-cleaning oven, the oven mess does not have to become a dreaded chore. The world’s easiest way to clean an oven is to sprinkle the bottom with baking soda, the pour white vinegar over the baking soda and let it bubble and soak for 30 minutes. Wipe and rinse with water. In the meantime, put an old towel on the bottom of your bathtub, fill it with hot water and one-cup of washing soda. Let oven racks soak overnight and, in the morning, (while wearing gloves) rinse the racks and wipe with vinegar. Clean as a whistle! Regarding a self-clean oven, reading the manufacturer’s guidelines is the first step. If the self-clean feature does not clean the oven sufficiently, and you do not have the manufacture’s guidelines, consider sprinkling the floor of the oven with baking soda and water and using the techniques outlined above before activating the self-cleaning feature. Note: Do not leave water in the tub if small children reside in the home.


Question: If I could, I would eat Caesar salad for breakfast, lunch and supper, but I’ve heard it’s really unhealthy. What’s so bad about this salad? — Mark

Answer: I’m with you, I love Caesar salad, but if you compare something like a Big Mac with 550 calories and a traditional Caesar salad at 470 or more calories, they are too close for comfort. It is the oil used in the dressing that makes this salad a fatty delight. One tablespoon of dressing equals a minimum of about 60 calories. For a main salad dish, the rule of thumb is three tablespoons per portion. Next add the croutons, anchovies, cheese and bacon and boom— just like a credit card bill — it all adds up quickly. Light dressing is an option, but there are indeed healthier salad choices. 

Question: What is the best tip to keep squirrels from getting into my bird feeder? — Bachdud

Answer: There are squirrel proof bird feeders available on the market, as well as manufactured covers for existing feeders. However, the easiest strategy for keeping those cute critters at bay is to fashion a hanging bird feeder, away from branches and anywhere else squirrels are able to climb. The same goes for hummingbird feeders, in my case, ants kept climbing onto the feeder. The solution was to secure a string under the roof, attached to the string was a chain, the ants and squirrels can no longer invade.

Friendly Manitoba Feedback 


Re: Aching Feet

I worked for many years at the airport and was on my feet, either walking or standing for nearly the whole shift. I agree with your advice, but would also add one more solution. If you must spend extended time on your feet, it usually helps to have another pair of shoes to change into. Just the step of changing shoes and putting on a fresh pair will relax the foot significantly, especially if you are able to change the heel height even a small amount. The muscles in your feet and legs will thank you! Thanks for your column — Margaret


Polly Put the Kettle On

The best and world’s easiest way to clean the inside of a kettle is to boil white vinegar for five minutes. Rinse a few times with water before use (I learned that the hard way).

Clean the exterior of an electric kettle by scrubbing it with dish soap and water. Rinse with water.

To clean the outside of a burnt tea kettle, soak the kettle in hot water for 20 minutes. Scrub with baking soda and an abrasive, non-scratching cloth. Rinse and polish to dry. Another option is to wet a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser and scrub the kettle.

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:



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