FOR SINGLE-CUP COFFEE MAKERS:

Empty your coffee pot and dump out any leftover coffee from the pot and empty the filter of used grounds. Next, add vinegar and water. Fill the coffee pot with 3 cups white vinegar and 6 cups cold water. Pour the mixture into the coffee maker's reservoir. Tip: If your coffee maker is small, adjust the white vinegar to water using a 1:2 ratio. Turn on the coffee maker to brew a pot. Once the brewing cycle is complete, shut off the machine and allow the vinegar solution to sit for 15 minutes. Brew water-only for two cycles. This will get rid of any remaining vinegar taste. Turn off the coffee maker for 15 minutes between each brewing cycle.

Empty the machine. Make sure there isn't a pod in the machine. Add vinegar and water. Fill the coffee pot with 1/2 cup white vinegar and one cup cold water. Pour the mixture into the coffee maker's reservoir. Keep the pod area empty. Turn on the coffee maker to brew a cup. Once the brewing cycle is complete, shut off the machine and allow the vinegar solution to sit for 15 minutes. Brew water-only for two cycles. This will get rid of any remaining vinegar taste.
 

Care and keeping of Silver:

  • Stay one step ahead of tarnish. Wash your silver immediately after use in hot, soapy water. Rinse with hot water, and dry thoroughly with a soft flannel or cotton cloth. Or you may want to dry pieces with a Silver Butler cloth, which has a cleaning agent built in. Do not let your silver air dry, because water left standing can cause spotting. (Sorry, no matter how tired you are, your dishwasher is not an option. It will eventually add a white buildup and a dull finish. Antique pieces are especially vulnerable to dishwashing, because glued items, such as knife blades or pot legs, may fall apart.)

  • It's fine to store your silver in a sealed zip-top plastic bag, but do not wrap it in plastic wrap or secure with rubber bands. Other storage options include flannel bags designed for silver storage or chests or drawers lined with a tarnish-resistant flannel. Do not wrap silver in newspaper.

  • Tools to win the battle against tarnish: Always use a brand-name silver polish.Begin by wetting silver pieces with water. Clean silver with either the foam sponges that come with many cleaners or a soft horsehair brush. These tools are the least abrasive and will not damage the finish. Apply silver cleaner with a light touch by gently massaging in small circles. Use no more polish or elbow grease than necessary. As the cloth gets dirty, turn it over or replace with a new one to avoid scratches.

  • Old toothbrushes and paper towels are not good substitutes because they might mar the finish. Dry pieces with a soft cloth after washing.

  • When silver is deeply tarnished, resist the urge to try a "miracle dip" like the ones you see advertised on television. Dips will remove the tarnish, but they often take off the finish and give the piece a greenish-yellow appearance, particularly on inexpensive silver-plated items. Take heavily tarnished pieces to a reputable jewelry or silver shop for a professional cleaning. Remember, a deep tarnish in crevices on ornate silver actually adds character.

  • Take a little time to make your silver shine, and then let the compliments of your guests rub off on you.
 

Caring for Crystal:

Nothing makes a holiday dinner table more inviting than your special crystal stemware — as long as it looks its very best. Here's how to make spotty glasses, filmy decanters, and waxy candleholders sparkle.
 

Glasses:

To remove hard water deposits, warm two cups of white vinegar in the microwave for two minutes and pour it into a plastic basin. Place glasses, on their sides, into the vinegar. Soak for three minutes. Rinse them in clear water and dry with a lint-free towel. If any stubborn spots remain, dampen your finger, dip it into baking soda and lightly polish the spot away. Rinse and dry.

Decanters and Vases:

To clean these narrow-neck vessels, fill halfway with very warm water. Squirt in a little dish liquid and add two tablespoons of ammonia. Then, pour in 1/2 cup uncooked white rice and swirl so the mixture scrubs the sides of the glass. Let it sit for a few minutes to dissolve any sediment, and swirl again. Drain the vase, and rinse with warm water. Place it upside down in a rack to allow the interior to drip and air dry.

Candleholders:

To soften any stuck-on wax, immerse the candleholders in a basin of hot water for several minutes. Peel off whatever wax you can, and then use a delicate scrub sponge to remove any remaining bits from the cut crevices of the crystal. Wash in hot, sudsy water, and dry. Another strategy: Pop the candleholders in the freezer for several hours and the brittle wax should easily chip off.