Oven cleaning

Cleaning the oven prior to cooking will ensure the flavors of previous meals don’t permeate into the meal you are currently preparing.

As Rosh Hashanah approaches, you may find yourself hosting the new year’s celebration.

While food and family are essential to the holiday celebration, there are some home-maintenance tasks to tend to that will ensure you and your guests enjoy the holiday.

Fix leaky plumbing

Leaky faucets, while minor, may cause guests to think that a home is not well maintained. Most leaks originate from the on and off handle(s) rather than the faucet. Start with shutting off the water supply. If the faucet has two handles, check whether the water is warm or cold, thus indicating which handle is leaking. In most cases, the handle will have a pop-off button concealing screws or pins holding it in place. Remove the screws or pins, then remove the cartridge. Within the cartridge, you will see a rubber ring or washer that has gone bad, causing the leak. Replacements can be purchased at your local home store. Reassemble the cartridge and handle before turning the water supply back on to check if the leak has been fixed.

If your toilet is running, look at its flapper valve, which is the usual suspect for causing toilets to run. The flapper valve opens when the toilet is flushed, thus allowing water to enter. It then closes to keep water in the tank for the next use. The rubber valve is susceptible to degradation over time, resulting in hardening or warping and preventing a water-tight seal. To replace it, shut off the water supply to the toilet. Then, while holding the flapper valve, pull to remove it from the clips that hold it in place. Place the new valve in the toilet, confirming a tight seal. Attach the new valve chain onto the trip arm and turn on the water. Flush a few times to test the valve. If it still runs, adjust the flapper until a water-tight seal is achieved.

Clean appliances

Prevent funky-tasting brisket and kugel. Perform a thorough inspection of the oven before cooking, especially if it’s been a year or more since it was last cleaned. Over time, food can leave deposits that can slowly build up. These deposits, when heated enough, can begin to smoke and create unfavorable odors, which food can pick up or smoke out your holiday guests.

Most ovens have a self-cleaning feature utilizing incredibly high temperatures, essentially turning any debris into a fine powder. It should be noted that overuse of this function can cause excessive wear and tear. Chemical cleaners can be used in place of a self-clean function. Be sure you read the product’s instructions and the oven’s ownership manual before applying. In most cases, simply spray and wipe away the debris. IMPORTANT: these cleaners can be very corrosive. If you prefer a greener method, soak the oven racks in hot water and vinegar before rinsing. The longer the soak, the better. Mix baking soda and water into a paste before spreading it onto the interior of the oven. Let the paste sit overnight before wiping it down.

Clear the refrigerator of old, stinky food and thoroughly wash the compartments and shelves. A clean refrigerator will make it easier to put leftovers away and prevent odors from other foods from ruining the next night’s meal. Also, make sure the condensate line is clear — it can get clogged and make the refrigerator leak.

Make sure all of the ceiling and bathroom fans are in good working order. That tick, tick, tick sound could drive anyone nuts.

Create a welcoming environment

An often-overlooked aspect of holiday hosting is parking. Adequate parking, or lack thereof, can create headaches for guests. Contact your HOA regarding parking rules and restrictions.

Install pathway lighting leading to your home, sweep debris or dirt off the walkway and place fresh plants at the doorway. This will liven up the entryway to your home and create a more welcoming environment.

A deep clean of the house can go a long way in improving the overall look of your home. If you don’t have time to do that and the cooking, hire a professional cleaning service. You may want them to come back after the holiday to deep clean the kitchen from all the cooking.

Make your guests feel at home

Create a home away from home for overnight guests.

Prepare guest rooms and bathrooms for your guests. Make room in closets and dressers, fluff pillows, place fresh sheets on the bed and stock toiletries and other personal hygiene products.

Check closet doors for sticking. This may require the removal of the doors and inspecting them for any obvious faults. The tracks on the floor should be cleaned of debris. If you find that the tracks are bent, they can be straightened by holding a woodblock against them and tapping with a hammer. Lubricate the tracks before reinstalling the doors.

Place a nightlight in the bathroom, hallway and/or bedroom.

Ask what temperature your guests will be more comfortable in. If you like it cold, supply them with extra blankets or a robe.

Stock the pantry and fridge with items your guests will enjoy. Be sure to inquire about special dietary needs.

With some prudent preparation, hosting Rosh Hashanah does not need to be a source of stress. It is a time for togetherness in celebration of the new year.

From all of us at Rosie on the House, we wish you and yours a shanah tovah u’metuka! JN

Rosie Romero, Jr. is co-owner of Arizona’s home improvement radio program ‘Rosie on the House.’