Saturday, January 21, 2012

How to Clean Up Sticky Soupy Spills

Tong sui means "sugar water" in Chinese. We have that a lot of the time in our meetings. There's almost always a big, steel, pot full of azuki beans and sago, appropriately sweet. Tong sui is delicious hot, cold, or frozen, and it is always ladled out for the children in colorful IKEA plastic cups. It is a sweet bean-soup dessert.

Tong sui has many different ingredients, such as coconut milk, sago, corn, and barley; however it always has one characteristic - it is sticky. With it spilling so many times, on the serving table, on the floor, or just dripping when the children carry their cups around, I have learned an easy way to efficiently remove any sticky, soupy, remains, and I have learned it the hard way.

Well, I'm usually on kitchen duty.

So what happens if there's a mess of spilled oatmeal, stew, pudding, custard, chocolate sauce, or apple pie? Don't panic.

1) Run for the toilet paper. Don't use tissue paper or kitchen towels, simply because they're expensive. Basically - immediately go for toilet paper as the first attack on the Sticky Spill. Get the perpetrator to help get the toilet and absorb as much as you can of the sticky mess. You want to quickly "sop up"  and dispose of the mess. For example, if you're having red bean soup, wipe up all the red beans, pieces of sago, and everything red or purple from that area! The toilet paper attack works so well, because if you have bits of things hanging around (for example oatmeal), you're going to have a hard time cleaning those things off your mop/rag.

 Don't use a rag or a sponge; you will have trouble in the sink later if you use those for the first attack. Imagine trying to mop of a spilled jar of honey; it doesn't work. You'll be left with a bigger, stickier mess, plus a mop you'll have to scrub. Go with the disposable.

 However, even if it is quickly wiped away, there will be that icky sticky stain - so here's what you do.

2) Get a sponge from the kitchen, preferably a nice nylon one with a stiff scrubbing side. Make sure it's wet and foamy. Get one for the little perpetrator too. They should always help clean up spills; make it fun and help them take responsibility for their actions in a way that is redeeming and not condemning. Sponge up the floor, chair, table, or whatever that was affected. Make sure it's all soapy and damp, but not super-wet, of course.

Liquid dish detergent works really well. Baking soda is good, but takes awhile to wash off. You may like vinegar. If the stain is bad, keep scrubbing. You can use a spray bottle if you have one, but for me the soapy sponge does the trick. If it's a major floor spill, you can get a mop and bucket, but I don't like to fill the whole mop bucket just for a small spill.

3)  Get a damp rag, maybe two. Just wipe of the soapy water, getting rid of the soap completely. You don't want soap residue over the floor; it can cause accidents. It can also damage surfaces. The damp rags should handle everything, but if it's a Category 3 floor spill, a big dry floorcloth is good too.

Category 1: Anything from drops of sticky mess on the vinyl table, to spills no large than 5 square inches on 1 surface area. Contains sticky solids
Category 2: Multiple surface areas, such as a spill from the counter to the chair to the floor and a dog licking up the mess down before. Includes spills on human beings with clothes damage. No large than 1 square foot.
Category 3: The whole kitchen floor is covered with honey! 

(note: super sticky things like honey and glucose are a whole different ball game than oatmeal, for example. Use HOT to make it more workable, and use stiffer kitchen towels. You may even want to scrape the mess into the dustbin and forgo the toilet paper altogether. )

So, does anyone have bad experiences with sticky spills?

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