Growing up in Boise, Idaho (shoutout to all my Gem State readers), my parents had a percolator. I can still hear that coffee pot perking away in the mornings. My mom used something called Dip-It powder to keep the thing clean. That’s a memory that sent me into research mode, prompted by today’s first reader inquiry.
Dear Mary: I purchased a vintage electric coffee percolator several years ago. It’s still working fine, but now I’m having a problem purchasing Dip-It by Reckitt Benckiser to clean it. I understand they’ve stopped making it. I have tried using vinegar and it did not work very well. Do you have any ideas on how I can make a Dip-It-like product myself?— Vickie
Dear Vickie: Yes, but first a little history. Dip-It Coffee Food and Beverage Stain Remover for Percolators and Cookware by Reckitt Benckiser was acquired by the Lime-A-Way company, which continued manufacturing the powdery product for a while until it changed it to Lime-A-Way Dip-It Coffeemaker Cleaner liquid (7-ounce bottle), with a completely different formulation designed for modern drip coffeemakers.
But not to worry. I have a process that reasonably duplicates the venerable Dip-It results for keeping your coffee percolator beautifully clean, provided you do this in steps rather than combining cleaning ingredients:
Step 1: Pour 1 tablespoon citric acid (the active ingredient in descaling products) into the pot. Add water to the maximum fill line. Citric acid is available with the canning supplies in most grocery and discount department stores and readily available online as well. Check Amazon and Walmart.com.
Step 2: Position the vertical tube, basket and lid just as if you were making a pot of coffee. Plug it in and let it perk away for a complete cycle. Unplug the machine, pour the water out and scrub away any coffee stains that remain. You’ll be surprised by how dirty that water appears. Scrub the inside of the pot and the apparatus as necessary to remove all traces of coffee stains.
Dear Mary: I don’t have a tip — but I need one! I have laminate floors and would like to know of a good cleaner. Right now, I am using vinegar and water, and after mopping, I have to get on my hands and knees and dry the floors or they streak. Any suggestions? Thank you, and I love your column! — Amy
Dear Amy: The best cleaner for both laminate and hardwood floors that I know of is one you can make yourself. And you can make it in any quantity you want, to have on hand or to use in the moment. But first an explanation: Vinegar is acidic. When used on flooring that has a finish, as both hardwood and laminate flooring do, it will dull that finish over time and, in some cases, even make it sticky. Tap water contains minerals that, when allowed to dry on these types of flooring, can cause streaks and eventually a haze-like buildup. That means no vinegar and no tap water in your cleaner.
The solution is alcohol because it cleans really well, is not acidic and evaporates quickly together with distilled water because it is mineral-free. Here’s the recipe:
DIY FLOOR CLEANER
1 part alcohol (rubbing alcohol, vodka or gin)
4 parts distilled water
Few drops Blue Dawn dishwashing liquid
Mix this in a spray bottle each time you clean the floors. Or if you make it up ahead of time, be sure to label it well and keep it out of reach of children.
To use, simply spray a small area of the floor. Scrub well with a mop or sponge. Immediately wipe the area dry with a microfiber cloth.
Dear Mary: You recommend Blue Dawn quite often. Does Dawn make an unscented cleaner that works as well? — Ann
Dear Ann: I do recommend Blue Dawn because I have found that it is a remarkable degreaser and top-notch cleaner.
Procter & Gamble, which owns and manufactures the Dawn products, does not have any version of Dawn in any color that states clearly “unscented.” P&G does, however, manufacture Dawn Free & Gentle Dishwashing Liquid, which is hypoallergenic and dye-free. This version of Dawn seems to enjoy good reviews. However, I don’t find it to be as surfactant-rich as Blue Dawn.
I have researched to discover why Blue Dawn is different than any other color of liquid Dawn product, and the answer is surfactants. Blue Dawn has more powerful heavy-duty surfactants (that’s what makes any cleaner remove grease, soil and dirt) than any of its competitors. And Blue Dawn has more than the other colors and fragranced Dawn products. Blue Dawn cuts grease like none other — Original Blue Dawn , Ultra, Platinum and any other version of Blue Dawn.
Notice that some Blue Dawn versions are also highly concentrated like 4X or even 5X. That means you can dilute it to get the same job done. I go for the highest concentration and then, for daily use, I dilute Blue Dawn Ultra Platinum 5 parts water to 1 part Blue Dawn.
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