Our handy household tips for the kitchen and laundry room will make housework much easier. These useful hints and tips are extremely simple to follow and will help you to save time and energy. Check out our selection of tips for inspiration.
Sparkling clean baking trays
To clean baking trays, you can use commercial cleaning products or household remedies. Commercial cleaning products are highly effective but often contain chemicals that should be used with caution. Apply your chosen product and leave for the specified amount of time before wiping the baking tray several times with a damp cloth to remove it. If you would rather not use conventional cleaning products, you can try the following tips: you can avoid getting baking trays dirty in the first place by using baking paper to catch any dripping fat. To clean soiled baking trays, apply a paste made from bicarbonate of soda and water (1:1), leave to soak overnight and wipe off with a damp cloth the next morning. Make sure you clean the oven after each use. If any thick, rough crusts form, you can knock them off carefully with a plastic or wooden scraper.
Energy-saving tips for ovens
Did you know you don't need to preheat your oven for most dishes? It's true! Exceptions to the rule include delicate dishes such as pastry or fillets. And you can also save energy while cooking: with cooking times of more than 40 minutes, you can switch the oven off 10 minutes before the end to make use of the residual heat. Very simple but highly effective!
The right way to clean glass ceramic hobs
First remove any minor dirt from the cold hob using a damp cloth and a little washing-up liquid – powerful chemical cleaning agents can sometimes leave unattractive stains or cloudy blemishes. You can clean a badly soiled hob by applying a wet sponge and leaving it to soak; afterwards you can wipe off the dirt more easily. Stubborn residue can be removed with a special glass ceramic scraper. Make sure you remove sugary residue while still hot because removing it once it is cold and has caramelized can cause lasting damage to the surface.
You can avoid scratches by lifting saucepans and frying pans when you alter their position instead of pushing them across the hob. Also check the base of the pans for residue and remove any if present. You can also opt for a hob with a more scratch-resistant surface (OptiGlass) from V-ZUG. If used properly, this protective layer increases resistance to scratches and stains. With OptiGlass your hob will stay looking good for longer!
Cleaning teppanyaki plates
Do you know what it's like to have unattractive blemishes on your stainless steel pans or teppanyaki plates that won't disappear even when you scrub them? The solution: lemon juice or vinegar cleaner! Both household remedies will help to restore their former shine.
What can I steam?
Unpressurised cooking with steam is the gentlest method for preparing food. As much of the vitamins, minerals, micronutrients and the food's natural colours and flavours are retained as possible. Steaming vegetables is probably the best-known application. But you can also steam meat, fish and other foods. Steaming is easy and straightforward – there's no chance of anything boiling over or burning either. For example, you can steam fish at around 80 °C – the duration depends on the size and type of the fish. You can steam a chicken breast at 100 °C for approx. 20 minutes and vegetables for approx. 30 minutes.
Energy-saving tips for washing dishes
If used properly, your dishwasher can also save you energy and money: don't use the pre-wash cycle unless absolutely necessary. Always fill the dishwasher fully, but don't overload it. If it is filled correctly, the water can circulate better. Clean out the filter and foreign body trap regularly, and place heavily soiled crockery in the lower basket.
A well-maintained dishwasher = clean dishes
For your dishwasher to do its job properly, it must be looked after. Run your dishwasher at 65°C around once a month to eliminate fat deposits and to avoid technical problems in the long term. To avoid glass corrosion, you should open up the door of the dishwasher fully once it has finished running to reduce the damage caused by hot, humid air. Ideally you should also use a dishwasher detergent with special glass protection.
Energy-saving tip: programmes vs automatic programmes
Use automatic programmes as often as possible. These automatically adapt the volume of water and energy used to match the volume of dishes. The latest dishwashers and dishwasher detergents also guarantee perfectly clean dishes from a temperature of 50°C. You should also follow the manufacturer's instructions. This can save you a great deal of energy and water. Incidentally, running a dishwasher uses less energy than washing up by hand.
Why do I need to set the water hardness for my dishwasher?
The water supply has a specific water hardness. The dishwasher softens the water. This process is necessary to prevent any limescale deposits from developing inside the dishwasher or on the dishes. If your water is very hard, you will also have to top up the regenerating salt more often to prevent deposits from forming.
All-in-1 tabs – do I still need salt?
We recommend that you still use salt even if you have all-in-1 tabs. Set the All-in-1 function and also add salt to the dishwasher. With the All-in-1 setting, only a small amount of the salt will be dispensed – ensuring you get perfect cleaning results. Make sure you always follow the manufacturer's instructions.
Powder, tabs or gel?
All detergents have their advantages and disadvantages. Powder and gel dissolve quickly, making them suitable for short programmes, for example. Some tabs can take a bit longer to dissolve. If you use powder or gel, you have to make sure you add the correct amount – you don't need to think about this with tabs. Tabs are ideal for normal programmes, but with short programmes, you may find that they leave deposits behind, depending on how long they take to dissolve.
Do I need a dishwasher cleaner and how often should I use it?
There is actually no real need for a special dishwasher cleaner. However, if you want to clean your dishwasher more thoroughly, you could use a dishwasher cleaner twice a year. This can help to remove grease deposits, for example. The settings you use for your dishwasher will determine whether such deposits are present. If you use an eco programme often, it makes sense to use a cleaner, as the dishwasher will generally only have been running at low temperatures. However, ensuring that you clean the filter regularly and top up the regenerating salt and rinse aid is much more important than using a dishwasher cleaner.
The right way to clean your refrigerator
To make sure food is stored hygienically, you should keep the interior of your refrigerator clean at all times. To do this, it is best to take out all of the detachable shelves or door trays and clean them with mild soapy water. You can also wash out the inside of the refrigerator with mild soapy water and then dry it. It is best to clean operating and display elements with a slightly damp cloth only and to clean door seals with a soft brush and clean water – and then rub them dry. Do not use any abrasive cleaning agents or scratchy cloths and do not use acid or high-alkaline cleaning products on metal surfaces. If you do not need to use your refrigerator for a while, you can switch off the appliance, clear it out, clean it and always leave it open to dry.
Energy-saving tips for refrigerators
Check the temperature settings of your refrigerator. We tend to set our refrigerators to be very cold. Generally, refrigerators only need to be set to a temperature of 5–7°C. For freezers/freezer compartments, a temperature of -18°C is optimal. Let cooked dishes cool down outside the refrigerator and only place leftovers in it once they have cooled down. This saves a great deal of additional energy.
What actually belongs in the refrigerator and what doesn't?
Items such as potatoes do not need to go in the fridge at normal cooling temperatures of around 5 °C. These can be stored in a bottom box if you have one – as can cucumbers, tomatoes, aubergines, peppers and green beans. Tropical fruits, on the other hand, don't like it so cold: citrus fruits, pineapples or bananas are best kept in a well-ventilated pantry at cool room temperatures of around 15 °C, or otherwise at normal room temperatures of around 20–22 °C.
What goes where in the fridge?
That all depends on whether your fridge has static or dynamic (recirculation air) cooling. With dynamic cooling, the temperatures are more or less the same throughout the fridge – where you position the different foods is therefore not that important. With static cooling, we recommend storing food in the fridge according to its optimal storage temperature. In the classic cooling space (4 °C–8 °C), you can store foods such as jams, cheeses and cakes in the top section. Dairy products, meat and fish like the balanced temperatures found in the middle of the fridge. Whereas vegetables, leaf salads, berries and fruit will be more at home in the vegetable drawer or in a humid cold storage compartment. Meat and fish are best kept in a dry cold storage compartment. If you have a bottom box, you can use it to store foods that are sensitive to low temperatures, such as potatoes, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, aubergines, melons and pumpkins.
Do I need to defrost my appliance?
With most appliances, it is not necessary to defrost the refrigerator compartment – this is done automatically. Make sure you know whether you have a no-frost appliance or not. You should defrost your freezer regularly to ensure that your appliance continues to run at full capacity and doesn't consume too much power.
Storing frozen food for longer
When freezing fresh food, make sure you freeze it in relatively small portions and avoid contact with frozen food already in the freezer. Otherwise the frozen food could heat up. To allow air to circulate freely: try not to store frozen food items too close together. You can avoid freezer burn by placing food in airtight containers. Suitable containers include freezer bags, aluminium foil or plastic tubs, depending on the type of food. If you blanch vegetables before freezing them, their vitamins will be retained for longer. Vegetables such as aubergines, peppers, courgettes, mushrooms, asparagus and herbs do not need to be blanched. Food can also be stored for longer if you vacuum-seal it before freezing.
Which types of food can I freeze?
It is very handy to freeze food. But not all types of food are equally suitable for freezing. Food that is suitable for freezing includes meat, poultry, fresh fish, many types of vegetables, fruit, bread, baked goods and ready meals. There are also some foods that should not be frozen. These include radishes, leafy salad, cucumbers, raw eggs in their shells, boiled eggs and dairy products such as yoghurt, cream cheese, curd cheese or mayonnaise.
What is the best way to defrost food?
It is best not to defrost frozen food at room temperature or on a radiator because this causes many of the nutrients to be lost. Food can be defrosted gently in the refrigerator or in cold water, but this takes more time. A quick alternative is to defrost food in the microwave or in a combi-steam cooker. As a general rule, it is important not to refreeze any frozen food once it has been defrosted. Food may only be frozen again once it has been cooked (boiled or fried).
Clean filters with little effort
All metal filters from your range hood should be cleaned at least every two months – or as soon as you notice your range hood becoming noisier. If used intensively, we recommend cleaning them more frequently. You can either soak the metal filters by hand and then clean them with a mild washing-up liquid or place them in the dishwasher to be cleaned. If you clean them in the dishwasher, it is best to choose an intensive programme. To make sure no dirt from other dishes adheres to the mesh, you should wash the metal filters without any other dishes in the machine.
Switch on your range hood early for an odour-free kitchen!
We all know what it's like. Even though the range hood is on, it is often impossible to avoid odours before and during cooking. Try the following tip: to make sure the range hood works at maximum efficiency, switch it on 3–5 minutes before starting to cook. This allows a flow of air to develop within the room so that steam and odours can be extracted in time and prevents odours from developing. To avoid a lack of pressure in the ventilation process and to help extract cooking smells, fresh air is also needed at the same time. As a rule: to extract air, you need an inflow of air – so it's best to open a window.
Say goodbye to unpleasant odours
For the best way to prevent odours during cooking, we have the following tip: leave the range hood on for an extra 5–10 minutes after cooking to make sure odours in the room are extracted for longer. Many hoods also have an automatic run-on feature. That means the appliance continues to run on your chosen ventilation setting for 5–20 minutes, depending on the default setting, and then switches itself off automatically. Frying pans in particular should be left under the hood as long as they are hot because they continue to emit odours after cooking.
Vacuum-sealing – what you need to know
Vacuum-packed foods can easily be kept in the fridge or freezer compartment. Fragile ingredients such as berries or liquids should only be vacuum-sealed gently. For crisps and salad, you can only seal the bag. For fish, vegetables and fruit, you can set the vacuum level a little higher. For meat, frozen food and meals that you are going to put into the freezer, the vacuum level should be at the highest setting in order to prevent freezer burn. Make sure you always follow the manufacturer's instructions when vacuum-sealing. It is particularly important that you ensure hygiene and only use fresh, high-quality ingredients.
How often do I really need to descale my coffee machine?
Most coffee machines indicate automatically when they need to be descaled. The frequency depends on the water hardness setting and intensity of use. If you drink a lot of coffee and a lot of water therefore passes through the appliance, you will need to descale it more often. If the appliance indicates that it needs descaling, you shouldn't wait, but should get rid of the limescale as quickly as possible. If the appliance is not descaled for a long period of time, it could impair some of the appliance's functions or damage the appliance itself. When selecting a descaler, you should make sure you choose one that is suitable for your coffee machine.
Washing and drying
The correct dose of detergent – getting it right
Even if your washing machine doesn't have an automatic detergent dispensing function, you can still work out the amount you need. It depends on two key factors: how hard the water is, and how soiled your laundry items are. You can find out how hard the water is where you live from your local water company or the Internet. You can then choose the right amount of detergent for the water hardness and degree of dirt, as recommended by the detergent manufacturer. In general, the optimum amount means not too much or too little detergent. Using too much triggers additional rinse cycles to remove the rest of the detergent. This not only uses more water, but also more energy since it lengthens the wash cycle. If you do not use enough detergent, coloured items of clothing may lose their intensity of colour and may not get properly clean.
No more stains
For heavily soiled items or dried-on stains, we recommend treatment with ox-gall soap or stain remover before washing. You can then use a normal wash programme to wash the clothing. As a rule, make sure you dab rather than rub when trying to remove stains. Rubbing generates heat, which causes the stains to practically merge into the fabric.
Soft and fluffy towels the easy way
We all know what it's like. After just a few washes, soft, fluffy towels become hard and scratchy. The solution: hard towels can be softened again as if by magic by soaking them overnight in a hot vinegar and water solution and washing them as usual the next morning.
Jeans that won't fade
Brand new jeans often lose their intensity of colour and fade when they are washed. New jeans won't lose their colour if you place them in cold salty water – 1 tbsp of salt to 2 l of water – for around one hour before washing them for the first time. Rinse the jeans thoroughly afterwards. A simple but effective tip!
Energy-saving tip for laundry
Only use a pre-wash cycle for heavily soiled items. It is better to soak clothes or treat them before washing than to use a pre-wash cycle. You can also reduce the temperature of your hot wash by several degrees and the laundry will still come out clean. Set your hot wash to 60°C instead of 95°C and you will use just half the amount of electricity. Also make sure you always fully load your washing machine so you need fewer wash cycles.
Heat-pump dryers – an ingenious invention!
Are you looking for a new tumble dryer? Choose one with a heat pump. These work on an ingenious system and offer a host of advantages over normal tumble dryers: once heat has been generated to dry the laundry, it is retained in the process for much longer. Heat-pump dryers thus enable laundry to be dried at considerably lower temperatures. They also treat fabrics more gently and can cut energy consumption and costs by up to 45%. In addition, the ambient air only heats up minimally.
Do you need help choosing programmes for your oven or steam cooker? Network-enabled appliances are the solution! Smart apps such as a cooking assistant show you the best way to prepare the food you want to cook. You can then transfer the programme suggested by the app, including temperature and cooking time, to the appliance with just one click. This type of app also offers a large choice of inspiring recipes and allows you to transfer cooking information from the app to the oven or steam cooker too. Cooking and steaming have never been easier!
Smart household appliances
Proactive household appliances? Yes, they exist! A network-enabled washing machine, for example, can notify you when the washing is finished via an app on your smartphone. There are now even solutions available that enable your hob to communicate with smart cookware via an app and therefore manage the cooking process optimally. Nothing will ever boil over again and your meals will turn out perfectly!
Network-enabled household appliances as everyday assistants
Network-enabled household appliances offer valuable help with day-to-day tasks. Many new appliances can communicate with you via apps, such as ovens and steam cookers that show you the ingredients and recipe directly on the display. And even if you don't have any network-enabled household appliances, there is still a way for you to benefit from this: with the V-ZUG retrofitting service, you can retrofit selected appliances with networking functions. That means you can benefit from the latest functions without having to purchase a new appliance.
General tip: old appliances = energy guzzlers
Old household appliances are energy guzzlers!
Many old household appliances still work after 20 years and are therefore often not replaced. On the one hand, that is a very good thing but, on the other hand, it is slightly regrettable because they put a strain on both the environment and your wallet. Thanks to new technologies and improved materials, great progress has been made in terms of energy, electricity and water consumption during the last decades in particular. Tip: replace your old household appliances in good time. The latest generation of washing machines, for example, use up to 50% less energy and new dishwashers up to 30% less.
Tips for caring for your washing machine
- Regularly use a washing cycle with a temperature of at least 60°C, or run the appliance hygiene main programme.
- Use powder laundry detergent at least once a fortnight (approx.). This contains bleaching agents (disinfecting) that achieve their full effect at temperatures of 60°C or higher.
- Remove washing as soon as possible after the programme ends.
- Clean and dry the rubber around the door, the glass and detergent dispenser drawer with a damp cloth at the end of your laundry day.
- Leave the appliance door and detergent dispenser drawer open between laundry days.
- Use the recommended amount of detergent.
- Clean the foreign body trap every four months.
- Use washing machine cleaner if needed.
- For hard water (>15°dH or >27°fH) use water softener.
- Follow the universal rules of housekeeping.
- Remove and dispose of any large pieces of leftover food.
- There's no need to pre-rinse dishes by hand since the dishwasher has a pre-rinse programme.
- Load the dishwasher in a way that ensures all surfaces can be reached by the water jets.
- Ideally, your dishwasher should be as full as possible, but the dishes should not be touching.
- Clean the spray arms regularly in running water.
- Clean the filter system regularly in running water.
- Use a machine cleaner twice a year to remove grease and limescale residues on the walls, filter and spray arms. It will also remove stubborn dirt and grease deposits in those hard-to-reach places as well as in the pipes.
- The options Energy saving, OptiStart and partial load help create energy savings of up to 10% and can be stored permanently in the main programmes.
- Regardless of whether you use powder, tabs or gel, you should always make sure the rinse aid and salt are topped up. Salt protects the heating system from limescale while rinse aid helps dishes to dry.
- If you use tabs, make sure to activate the All in 1 function in the user settings. This helps tabs to break down even for short programmes and reduces the consumption of salt and rinse aid.
- If you only use the Eco programme, make sure to run a cycle on a hotter temperature at regular intervals (Automatic or Intensive) to keep your appliance clean and hygienic.