When I was a kid, my family spent many weeks of the spring and summer in Grand Isle, or “The Island” as we called it. Grand Isle is a teensy Jefferson Parish town located on a barrier island of the same name in the sassy, salty Gulf of Mexico. The Island is 107.5 miles (give or take) from New Orleans, and the only land access to Grand Isle is the Louisiana Highway 1 causeway located on the west end of the island. Highway 1 (or LA-1) is also Grande Isle’s main street. The island is small, y’all. Because of the well-maintained beaches and the next-level fishing opportunities that make it a Sportsman’s Paradise, in the summer the population swells from 1,500 residents to around 20,000 tipsy, galavanting fisher families. Drive at your own risk! Every year when my family drove over the Grand Isle Bridge to our little green camp, “The-Riot,” with its screened-in porch and boiling room, beach shoes, fishing poles, and blueberry turnovers, my heart raced as my nostrils filled with the smell of fishy Gulf air. We spent our days fishing from a pier or from the original, rickety Grand Isle Bridge, swimming at the ever-shrinking beach (Yay, coastal erosion!), and eating lots of fresh crabs, shrimp, and fish. One of my favorite times of year to be in Grand Isle was during the Tarpon Rodeo, which takes place during the last weekend of July. The Tarpon Rodeo, held since 1928, is the oldest fishing tournament in the U.S., and it is a PAR-TAY! Our Grand Isle visits were the highlight of summer for me. Even my dad’s annoying ritual of waking the whole family up by loudly vacuuming and tidying the camp at 6 a.m. before we left for home is a fun memory. Oh cleaning, you constant companion. Although some of my extended family still have camps in Grand Isle, my immediate family hasn’t gathered on “The Island” since Hurricane Katrina destroyed “The-Riot.” That is, until this July, when I plan to return to the little barrier island to fish, swim, and, of course, annoyingly and compulsively clean the cabin before I leave. It’s gonna be LIT! Now let’s talk cleaning.

How do I clean the glass on my toaster oven door?

Aren’t toaster ovens rad? With its toasting, cooking, and melting abilities, the toaster oven is such a versatile kitchen appliance. But alas, grease accumulates quickly on the glass door, obscuring the view of its food preparation magic tricks. Boo. To clean the gunk off the glass (and whole-ass oven while you’re at it), you’ll need baking soda, white vinegar, Dawn dish soap, a few white rags, a sponge, and two bowls. Remove the oven rack, bake pan, and crumb tray. Wet your rag and give the inside of the oven a cursory wipe-down to remove any remaining crumbs. Pour a cup of vinegar into a bowl, dip your rag into the vinegar, and coat every inch of the inside of the oven with this magical acetic acid juice of the gods. Next, add enough water to your baking soda to create a thick paste. Grab another rag, scoop up a dollop of the paste and smear it all over the inside of the oven. Let this mixture do its thing for a day. Next, grab a rag and dip it into the bowl of vinegar. With your vinegar-soaked rag, wipe the paste off of the oven. Most of the burnt-on grease should come off with the paste. Grab your sponge, dip it into the vinegar and, using pressure, rub the areas of the oven where the grease is holding tight. If you find any remaining spots after this, sprinkle them with baking soda and squirt some Dawn on your wet sponge. Get back in there and work that sponge until you see those greasy rascals disappear. For balky grease spots on the glass door, I find that dipping my rag-covered pointer finger into the baking soda paste and rubbing is helpful in removing them.

A bag of shrimp opened up in my car. How do I remove the smell?

Oh boy, that is a very unfortunate accident. I too have dealt with this rank situation. My gross incident occurred while vacationing in Grand Isle (article coinkydink!), and the thought of the crustacean juice contaminating my car brought tears to my eyes. Luckily, I noticed the spill immediately, and—with the sage advice of my cleaning guru (my dad)—the crisis was averted. It is very important to remove the slop ASAP, before it soaks deeper into your car upholstery. But first, open all of your doors to air out the car. This is imperative: You don’t want the tainted water to marinate in the enclosed, hot space, polluting your automobile for good. After you’ve released the Kraken’s breath, grab a rag and use it to soak up this potential Bog of Eternal Stench. Do not rub the spot with the rag; this will force the spill deeper into the upholstery! Now, soak the contaminated area with a mixture of 2/3 white vinegar and 1/3 water. Sprinkle some baking soda over the vinegar and let the mixture sit all day. Once the area is dry, suck up the powder with a vacuum. Next you’ll want to put your face over the spot and breathe deeply. Do you smell shrimp? If so, repeat the process, adding a few drops of lemon juice to the baking soda for some fresh-smelling, acidic cleaning power. This remedy worked for me. I hope that it works for you. Another idea for banishing the smell is using an enzymatic cleaner. I’ve been talking a lot about enzymatic cleaners in the past few articles, because they really are a magical elixir. Because enzymes gobble up organic matter, they completely disappear the odor-causing culprit. For this particular job, I recommend Probiotic Enzyme Cleaner Stain & Odor Remover. Good luck!

I accidentally turned a stove burner on while I had an oatmeal-filled glass baking dish on it. How do I get the baked-on, hard residue off of the dish?

Crap! I’m so sorry to hear that. The oatmeal bake sounds yummy, though. First, rinse any loose oatmeal particles out of the dish. Next, fill the dish with a mixture of equal parts water and vinegar and cover it with foil. Heat the oven to 350 degrees and place the dish inside for 45 minutes. After the 45 minutes is up, let the dish cool before taking it out. You should now be able to easily(ish) wipe the oatmeal residue out of the dish. Next, squirt some Dawn into the dish, add some Bon Ami, grab a scouring pad, and scrub off the remaining gunk. The odds of this working are in your favor, my friend.

Got cleaning questions? Email

illustrations by Ben Claassen III | @dirtfarm

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