Is microwaving vinegar and water a miracle microwave cleaner?

While I was researching for Hang Your Hat's Episode 8:  Wax On, Wax Off, one cleaning hack came up over and over again - Cleaning your Microwave by Microwaving Water and Vinegar.  Some sites implied that once you did the microwaving you were done and the microwave would be magically cleaned by the water and vinegar vapor, others indicated that a quick wipe down of the walls after microwaving the water and vinegar mix was required but, it would be so easy to remove the junk that it would practically jump off the side of the microwave onto your cleaning rag.

I was pretty skeptical of these claims.  It just didn't seem likely that just microwaving water and vinegar would make that much difference, so I decided to do an experiment of my own.


Before Cleaning - Spaghetti Explosion Mess

Before Cleaning - Spaghetti Explosion Mess

The state of my microwave is a direct consequence of allowing my kids to microwave their own food.  It is messy, and I am ok with that.  Letting them fix their own food helps them gain a sense of independence, and learning that an uncovered bowl of spaghetti will splatter the entire microwave will serve them well later in life.  The result was that I didn't have to manufacture a mess in my microwave to do this test, so in that sense this is a "true" test of this method; however, despite the volume of mess, it actually hadn't been that long since my microwave was cleaned, so I didn't have junk baked on by eons of use.  A truly baked in mess might have different results, as could different microwave materials, wattage, etc.  Moving on.

Comparison to Standard Cleaning Methods

I started by doing a wipe down of just the door using my favorite all purpose cleaner, by Method, and a clean rag.  I had no problem whatsoever removing the mess on the door using this method - it came right off.


Then I started on the actual experiment.  There were a LOT of variations on this method, the one I chose to use was from Magnolia Magazine's 2nd issue, Simplicity.  The directions were;

In a microwave safe bowl microwave 2 cups of water, 2 tablespoons of vinegar, and a few drops of essential oil for 4 minutes, then let sit for 4 minutes.  Wipe clean.

I followed the directions exactly, even using a timer to make sure I waited just the right amount of time.  Since the type of essential oil was not specified I assumed it was added for the smell rather than any specific cleaning quality, so I used Lavender.


After Microwaving the water and vinegar mix and wiping with a dry rag.

After Microwaving the water and vinegar mix and wiping with a dry rag.

After waiting the prescribed amount of time I wiped down the inside of the microwave with a clean dry cloth.  Some of the junk did come off, but it wasn't exactly miraculous.  There was still plenty of mess left after I wiped it down.


After scrubbing the microwave with the warm water and vinegar mix.

After scrubbing the microwave with the warm water and vinegar mix.

When just wiping the microwave with a dry cloth didn't really work, I decided to use warm water and vinegar as a cleaning solution.  I dipped my rag into the solution and wiped down the inside of the microwave with that.  The microwaved mess didn't stand a chance.  Huge amounts came out with every swipe of my rag and soon it was completely clean.


The simple act of microwaving water and vinegar did not mirculalously clean my microwave; however, the warm water and vinegar mixture that resulted from this cleaning hack was quite a good cleaning agent.  If you use this hack expect to do some scrubbing.

For more on cleaning, check out Hang You Hat, Episode 8:  Has On, Wax Off.

Does waxing your sink keep it cleaner longer?

Hang Your Hat Episode 8 just came out, and it is all about spring cleaning.  While doing my research for the show I came across a couple of cleaning hacks, a few of which were even good enough to try.  My favorite of these hacks was waxing the sink.  The idea is that waxing the sink will make water bead up on it, and gunk rinse down the drain easier, keeping the sink cleaner longer.  Since kitchen sinks tend to be one of the most disgusting germ filled areas in the home, and since my sink seems to attract filth like a magnet attracts ferrous metal, I thought it would be worth a try.

The Sink Before - Not Hiding the Shame Today

The Sink Before - Not Hiding the Shame Today

The close ups really do the filth justice.

The close ups really do the filth justice.

This is what my sink looked like when I started.  The close ups really do it justice.  I won’t deny it, it was filthy, and also the reason this hack appealed to me so much to begin with.  It always feels like as soon as I clean the sink, I blink and it is filthy again.  I was really hoping that this hack would give me a bit more time between serious scrub downs.

Step 1:  Thoroughly Clean the sink  

The sink needed to be cleaned before it could be waxed, so I went with a three step approach to getting it the cleanest it could possibly be.  I should note here that my sink is a stainless steel sink, and it can tolerate some pretty heavy cleaning.  Always make sure that the cleaning products you use are safe for the surface you are cleaning.

Baking Soda and Dish Soap

The first step in the cleaning was a good scrubbing with baking soda and dish soap.  This combo makes a slightly abrasive paste that is really good for cutting through heavy grime.  When I finished scrubbing I rinsed the paste off, and the sink was already looking a lot better.


Next I went in with a spray bottle full of vinegar and a scrubbing pad.  The vinegar is good at getting rid of water spots and minor lime scale build up (if you have heavy lime scale build up a product like CLR is a better choice).  Note here that I washed the baking soda off the sink before applying the vinegar.  Combining the two will not do anything harmful, but it probably won’t do anything beneficial either.  Since baking soda is alkaline and vinegar is acidic when the two are combined the Ph of the combination becomes neutral, like water.  Since I needed an acid for the water spots and the lime scale I did not combine the two.  

On a side note, you might notice vinegar reacting to lime scale if you have a lot of it.  It bubbles up just like it does when it is combined with baking soda.  This is because the lime, like the baking soda, is alkaline.  The reaction is a tiny bit of lime scale being eaten away by the vinegar.  

Once the vinegar was done doing its job I rinsed it off completely.


Last I used a bleach based cleaner to disinfect.  Make sure the vinegar is completely washed off before applying the bleach because vinegar and bleach can create some harmful gas when combined.

I sprayed on the cleaner, and let it sit for 5 minutes to give it time to completely disinfect.  Then I rinsed it off.

After Cleaning

After Cleaning

This is what is looked like when I had finished cleaning it - It cleans up pretty good!

Step 2:

Dry the Sink

Before wax can be applied to the sink it must be dry.  I grabbed a clean dry cloth and wiped it down.

Apply the Wax

Next I applied the wax.  I used carnuba wax – just like the wax used on cars.  My family does not put anything directly in the sink that we will be eating later, so I felt comfortable using the carnuba wax.  If my family ever put food directly in the sink I would have used a food safe wax instead.  

The wax is easy to apply, you just get a bit on the applicator and rub it on the sink trying to apply a thin even coat on all of the sink surfaces.  If you leave a few globs, like I did, it is not the end of the world, it just takes those areas a bit longer to dry.

Remove the Wax

Let the wax dry completely before you remove it.  When it is dry it will look like a white, slightly powdery, haze on the surface of the sink.  

Once it is dry grab another clean dry cloth and wipe off the dry wax (and be amazed how much crap you still get off the sink even after all of that cleaning).  You should not see any white haze left once the wax has been removed.


Step 3: Test it

Even tiny drops of water bead up after the application of the wax.

Even tiny drops of water bead up after the application of the wax.

I was a bit nervous to test it.  I had such high hopes for this hack, and I really wanted it to work.  If it hadn’t worked I was going to be so disappointed.  Firebeard ended up getting some water when I wasn’t looking, some of which dripped into the sink.  It beaded up beautifully.  I spent the rest of the day rinsing things off in the sink and watching water and bits of food slide right down the drain without leaving a mark on the sink.  It was a beautiful thing to behold.

Step 4:  See how long it takes the filth to build back up again

And then I went on a business trip for 5 days.  Firebeard and the kids stayed home, and used the sink like they normally would.  It was rinsed out when dishes were done, but it was not cleaned or even wiped down.  This is what it looked like when I got back (and put the dishes in the washer):

After five days of use and no cleaning.

After five days of use and no cleaning.

Close up after 5 days of use with no cleaning.  

Close up after 5 days of use with no cleaning.  


Holy Crap!  This is amazing.  I am never not going to do this ever again.  Five days after being cleaned and waxed it looks like it normally does five minutes after I clean it.  I don't know how this isn't standard Home Ec 101.  Really I could not be more pleased with how well this turned out.  You should definately give it a try!  I am heading off to wax the rest of the sinks in my house now.


To learn more about Spring Cleaning and cleaning Hacks check out Hang Your Hat Episode 8:  Wax on, Wax Off.  If you have a fantastic cleaning hack you would like to share, or have heard of one that might be worthy of a cleaning experiment, please let me know about it in the comments.

DIY Midori Style Traveler's Notebook

Recently, my friend the Good Doctor directed me to the Darbin Orvar You Tube Channel, and I fell in love.   It is filled with DIY ideas, and building projects that are simple, creative, and beautiful.  One of the projects that immediately caught my attention was their DIY Midori Style Traveler's Notebook, and I knew I had to make it.  Unfortunately, the Darbin Orvar Tutorial was a bit light on measurements, so I had to figure out a few things as I went along.  It really wasn't a problem, because the notebook is really very simple, but I thought I would share the measurements I used, in case it helps out anyone in the future.

Cover:  A sheet of 8.5" x 11" leather by ArtMinds

Cover:  A sheet of 8.5" x 11" leather by ArtMinds

I started with an 8.5" x 11" piece of thick yet flexible leather (215.9mm x 279.4mm) by ArtMinds found at my local Michaels.  It is sold out online as of my writing this, but it is really similar to this leather sold by Amazon.  I used it as my cover, and it really dictated the dimensions of the rest of the journal, including the paper inserts.  Had I had a larger piece of leather available initially, I think I probably would have let the paper inserts determine the size of the notebook, but in the end I am very happy with the size of my finished product, and I am not sure that I would change the size if I make another.

Prepare Cover

You have to create holes in the cover to connect the cover to the paper inserts that you put inside it.  The holes need to be big enough to stick a piece of round elastic through them.  In the original tutorial Lin from Darbin Orvar used what I think was a leather hole punch like these.  I did not have a leather hole punch, so I used this sewing awl (on a side note, I use this tool ALL the time, it has been especially useful in the kitchen, and I highly recommend it).  I think Lin's leather punched holes look a bit neater than mine do, but I think mine still look pretty darn good.

I placed my holes 5.5" (139.7mm) from each short side of the leather, and then on that axis I placed holes 1" (25.4mm) from each long side, then 2" (50.8mm) from each long side, and then one hole 4.25" (107.9mm)  from each long side.  I made five holes total.  If this is hard to visualize, check out the picture of the leather after I had made the holes.

Create Inserts

Gather Paper and Prepare for Sewing

For my inserts I used 15 sheets of standard 8.5" by 11" (215.9mm x 279.4mm) paper for the interior and a piece of heavier weight craft paper for the cover.  I started by folding the paper short sides together in bunches of three pieces (it helps to crease the folded edge with a straight edge, like a ruler), and put the bunches together to form a book.  Since I wanted the height of my inserts to be slightly less than the height of my notebook, I then reduced the height of the insert by cutting off .5" (12.7mm) with an xacto knife (the total size of the paper being inserted was now 8" by 11" or 203.2mm by 279.4mm).  In retrospect it may have been easier to cut the paper prior to folding it. 

To make it easier to sew the paper together I punched holes along the fold as well.  First I unfolded all of the sheets and clipped them together with large paper clips to keep all the pieces in place.  Then I marked where my holes would go along the fold line every half inch.  Finally I used the same awl from earlier to punch the holes where I had marked.  

Sewing the Insert

To sew the insert I chose some variegated plied embroidery thread that I already had in my stash, because it was the thickest thread I had, and I thought it would be pretty.  I sewed using a large embroidery needle.

I sewed a running stitch, starting in the middle inside of the insert, and worked my way to one edge of the insert, turned around and sewed back to the other edge of the insert overlapping my previous stitches, and then turned around again and sewed back to the middle.  This left me with two tails in the middle of the insert which I knotted together using a square knot.  

Cutting the Insert to Fit

Your insert will now be too wide for your cover, so it will need to be cut down.  I cut mine down by .5" or 12.7mm (making the total paper size 8" x 10" or 203.2mm x 254mm).  With three inserts in my notebook, my cover is just big enough to cover my inserts.  If you wanted a little extra overlap by your notebook cover you might want to cut the inserts down by .75" (19.05mm); however, if you were using fewer inserts you might need to cut the insert down by only .25" (6.36mm).

Adding the Elastic and One Insert

To attach the inserts to the notebook cover and to keep the notebook closed, I used this round elastic from Dritz.  Start by cutting the elastic down to size - I cut a 36" (914.4mm) piece.  Then fold the elastic in half.  the folded part of elastic should be inserted into the middle hole in the notebook cover from back to front.  The elastic should then be pulled through so that it makes a loop that is the same length that the cover is wide (5.5" or 139.7mm).  

At this point, the remaining portion of the elastic will be two tails on the inside of the cover.  One tail should be inserted in the next closest hole toward the top of the cover, and the other in the next closest hole toward the bottom of the cover.  The insertion direction is from the inside to the outside of the cover.  The loop that was made earlier should remain.

Turn the cover over so that the outside of the cover is facing up.  The elastic tails should be coming out of the second holes from the bottom and top of the cover, respectively.  Insert the top tail in the hole closest to the top of the cover, inserting from front to back.  Do the same for the bottom tail, in the bottom hole.

Turn the cover over once again so that the inside of the cover is facing up.  The elastic tails should be coming out of the upper and lower-most holes in the cover.  Open one insert to the middle page and place the spine of the insert over the spine of the cover.  Now gather the two elastic tails over the insert and tie them in a knot, holding the insert in place.

Adding Additional Inserts

To add additional inserts, gather two inserts and a piece of round elastic about 20" (508mm) long.  Open the inserts to the middle pages, wrap the elastic around the middle of each insert, and tie the elastic in a knot.  This will connect the two new inserts.

Next slot one of the two new inserts underneath the insert that is already attached to the notebook cover, leaving the second of the new inserts on the opposite side of the original insert.  The elastic holding together the two new inserts will be held in the notebook by the elastic holding the original insert in place.


Thats it!  Enjoy your new notebook, and let me know about all of the places you travel with it!


This post contained affiliate links.  All opinions are my own.

At What Height Should a Shower Curtain be installed?

How high up should a shower curtain be installed?  It depends on the length of the shower curtain/shower curtain liner being installed, the height of the tub/lip of the shower, and personal preference.  However, in an effort to figure out the appropriate height for the shower curtain in my own bathroom, I created a simple equation that can be used to determine the minimum and maximum appropriate shower curtain height that you can use in your own house. 

Here is how it works:

Shower Curtain Height Measurements

Shower Curtain Height Measurements

First determine the length of the shower curtain/shower curtain liner.  To make things easy I am going to assume that the shower curtain and shower curtain liner are the same length.  Here in the US the standard shower curtain length is 70 to 72 inches (178 to 183 cm) and square, but it is getting easier to find shower curtains that are not the standard length.  In my case my shower curtain was 71 inches (180 cm) long.

Next determine the shower curtain hook/ring drop.  This is the amount of space between the top of the shower curtain and the bottom of the shower curtain rod when the shower curtain is hung on the rod with whatever hook/ring you will be using.  Depending on your shower curtain hooks this amount may be negligible, but if it is more than .5 inches (1.3 cm), or you are working with very tight tolerances,  it should be taken into account when figuring out the shower curtain height.  In my bathroom the drop was about 1 inch (2.5 cm).

Then determine the exterior interior height of the tub or shower lip.  To determine the exterior height measure the distance between the floor outside the tub/shower and the top of the tub/shower lip.  My tub was 14 inches (36 cm) tall.  To determine the interior height measure the distance between the inside tub/shower floor and the lip of the shower.  The interior height of my tub was also 14 inches (36 cm).

Last determine the amount the shower curtain liner should overlap the tub or shower lip so that it does not allow water out.  In a shower you generally want the shower curtain to overlap the lip of the shower by at least 1 inch.  Minimum overlap in a tub is generally 3 inches (7.6 cm), since tubs are curved and the shower curtain liner usually cannot hang straight down a little extra overlap length is needed.  Maximum overlap should still leave the liner about .5 inches (1.3 cm) from the floor so that it will not be stepped on.  Subtract .5 inches (1.3 cm) from the interior tub height to determine the maximum overlap.

 Now put all of your measurements in the below formulas:

  • Maximum Shower Curtain Height = Shower Curtain Length + Shower curtain hook drop + Height of tub/shower – Minimum shower curtain liner overlap
  • Minimum Shower Curtain Height = Shower Curtain Length + Shower curtain hook drop + Height of tub/shower – Maximum shower curtain liner overlap

In my bathroom the maximum shower curtain height = 71in (the shower curtain length) + 1in (the hook drop length) + 14in (The exterior shower height) – 3in (the minimum overlap for a tub) = 83in (211 cm)

The minimum shower curtain height in my bathroom = 71in (the shower curtain length) + 1in (the hook drop length) + 14in (The exterior shower height) – 13.5in (the maximum overlap for my tub) = 72.5in (192 cm)


Since my bathroom will be used by children, who are liable to splash water out of the tub accidently, I decided to go with a bit more than the minimum amount of overlap as a safety measure and hung my shower curtain rod 80 inches (203 cm) from the floor.

Within the range of Minimum to Maximum shower curtain height how do you determine how high you should hang your own curtain? 

Here are a few considerations that may help you out:

  • If there is an extra tall person in your household (like Firebeard in my house), make sure that the shower curtain is hung at least a couple of inches higher than they are tall or they are likely to hit their head on the rod every time they get in the shower.
  • Is the front of your tub/shower especially ugly?  Hang the curtain a bit lower to hide it.
  • Is the front of your tub/shower good looking?  Hang the curtain a bit higher to show it off.
  • Want to make the ceiling appear higher than it actually is?  Hang the curtain as high as possible (even consider buying an extra long shower curtain or a long window curtain to hang at ceiling height) to give the illusion of extra height.

What about width?

Most tubs and showers are about 60 inches wide.  The average shower curtain is 70 to 72 inches wide, or 10 to 12 inches wider than the average tub/shower.  This allows the shower curtain and liner to overlap the shower by a few inches on each side to keep water from escaping.  If your shower is significantly wider or narrower than 60 inches, you may need to find a specially sized or custom shower curtain.  If you have a wide shower, or just want a fuller looking shower curtain, an alternative to custom curtains is to use two shower curtains or two standard window curtains in place of just one. 

Now a bit about my own new curtain rod and curtain.  

Screw Mounted curved curtain Rod by AQ

Screw Mounted curved curtain Rod by AQ

Installing the Screw Mounted Rod

Installing the Screw Mounted Rod

Curtain Rod

I went with a screw mounted curved curtain rod by AQ that I found at my local TJ Maxx for $16.  This was an especially good deal, because screw mounted curved rods are surprisingly hard to find.  Most of curved rods I found in my price range were tension mounted rods.  I specifically sought out the screw mounted rod rather than the tension rod because I felt that it would be less likely to fall on the head of the child that inevitably tugs the curtain getting into the shower.

Double Glide Roller Shower Curtain Rings by Utopia

Double Glide Roller Shower Curtain Rings by Utopia

The Hooks/Rings

I got double glide roller shower curtain rings by Utopia for $7 on Amazon.  This is the first time I have used this style of hook/ring, and I love it.  They are easy to get on and off the rod if needed (but do not fall off), and I can easily take off the liner to clean while leaving the curtain in place.

The Liner

The liner is a Mildew-Free PEVA 3 Gauge Polyester Shower Liner by InterDesign which I also got on Amazon.  It was only $5 when I got it.  While I think it may be one of the cheapest liners available on Amazon it is still relatively substantial considering the price, and hasn’t tried to attach itself to anyone trying to take a shower yet like some cheap lightweight liners will.

Odyssey shower Curtain by Danica Studio

Odyssey shower Curtain by Danica Studio

The Curtain

Now the pièce de résistance, the shower curtain, which was the inspiration for the entire bathroom.  The shower curtain is Odyssey by Danica Studio.  I also got it on Amazon, and it was $50.  $50 is more than I would normally spend on a shower curtain, and I debated this purchase for a while, but in the end I feel like it was worth it.  Everytime I see it, it makes me smile.

Once the shower curtain went up the bathroom really started to feel more complete, and I could start to see my vision for the room coming together.  Even though we still have several things left to do, it is starting to feel like we are on the downhill side of an unexpected mountain climb, and I can’t wait to get to the bottom.

(This post contains affiliate links, but I have not been paid to review any of these products)

Dry Wall Hole Repair

One of the many things I did this summer was a bit of home improvement, starting with my bathroom.  We decided to change out many of the towel rails, hooks, etc, leaving us with holes in the walls that had to be patched.  I became very good at patching these holes over the course of the summer, and thought I would share my technique.


The most recent hole to be patched was a rather large one in my kitchen.  I decided to remove an ill-fitting and unused phone jack, and patch the hole it left behind.

After removing the phone jack and box, and making sure that the left over wire was safe to leave in the wall, I sanded down the edges of the left over hole.

Next I applied the patch.  Since this hole was so large I could not simply fill it in with spackle.  While there are many ways to fill a hole this large, I decided to use a commercially available patch.  This one is a 4” by 4” patch by Workforce.  It was available in the paint section of my local home depot.  The patch was just big enough to cover the hole.  I believe that there were slightly bigger patches at my local home depot, but honestly, I think this is about as big a hole that should be patched with this technique.

Then I spackled over the patch and a small margin surrounding the patch.  I recommend doing several thin coats of spackle, letting the spackle dry between coats, rather than globing a bunch on.  The spackle I used was Dry Dex.  It starts out pink, and dries white, making it easy to tell when it is safe to apply the next coat.

When the patch was no longer visible under the spackle, and the last coat of spackle is completely dry, it was time to sand.  I like to sand from the outside edges of the patch toward the center, using a circular motion.  When I was finished I had a giant mess, and a smooth surface.  I rubbed my fingers over the surface of the patch to make sure that I did not feel any bumps, high or low points, etc.  Mistakes will be easier to feel than see at this point.


When I was sure that my patch was perfect, it was time to paint.  The glossier the paint, the more visible mistakes will be.  I used satin finish paint in my example and  I am pretty happy with the result. 

Good luck on your next home improvement endeavor.