How do you like your toast? Take our one-question personality quiz.

You probably have a go-to setting for your toaster, and anything lighter or darker can have a deep and lasting impact on the quality of your breakfast.

You probably haven’t given much thought to how appliance manufacturers make sure that toasters toast at the proper level. This guide—developed by AHAM and still used by appliance manufacturers as part of AHAM’s T-1 performance standard for toasters—shows just how toasted your toast should be, depending on where you set your toaster. It’s how manufacturers make sure your toast will turn out looking like “5” if you set the toaster to that level.

We bet you also didn’t realize that how you take your toast is a window into your personality. Take our one-question personality quiz to find out what your preferred level of toast says about you.

Of course, there’s no science behind these traits. But there’s plenty that goes into the development of T-1 and the numerous standards that appliance manufacturers use to develop and design all home appliances so they’re safe, efficient and functional.

Now, back to the most important question you will answer today: How do you like your toast?

6 Ways to Reduce Spring Allergens in Your Home

The warm spring weather is usually a welcome change. The allergies that come with it? Not so much. Seasonal allergens like pollen and other triggers like dust and mites are unwanted guests that can take up residence in the air and on your furniture and floors, and even on your clothing. But the threat of seasonal sneezes shouldn’t cool your springtime enthusiasm. Here are six ways you can use your appliances to reduce allergens in your home:

Wash it out: Pollen isn’t just spread by air. It also attaches to your clothing, and your clothes washer can remove it before it becomes airborne again. Washing your bed linens regularly in hot water can also kill dust mites, another common source of allergies. Also, don’t underestimate the build-up of allergens in your hair from spending time outdoors. Wash your hair frequently during allergy season.

Dry your laundry indoors: Now that you have washed the pollen out of your clothes. Using a clothes dryer instead of an outdoor clothesline will help keep it off. Line-dried laundry and linens can pick up pollen or other allergens while outdoors and bring them back into your home.

Vacuum everything: Pollen and allergens can end up just about everywhere—carpets, rugs, hard surfaces, furniture, drapes, and mattresses. Vacuum all of them to remove as much of the allergens as possible. A vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter has the capability to remove more than 99 percent of allergens with particles larger than .3 microns. That includes pollen and dust mites. If you are using a portable vacuum that requires a bag, use micro-lined, two-ply vacuum bags to stop the allergens from being kicked back into the air while vacuuming. Central vacuums capture dirt and pollutants that are carried through a home’s exhaust system to a central container. In most cases, they are installed in a garage or basement and don’t require a HEPA filter to remove allergens.

Clear the air: Like vacuums, many models of room air cleaners also use HEPA filters to filter allergens and other pollutants from the air. In fact, a HEPA filter can help reduce pollutants in the air by up to 50 percent, though that depends on  how the unit operates. Look for the unit’s Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR), which notes the suggested room size for an air cleaner and is the most helpful metric for comparing air cleaner performance. CADR provides ratings for the air cleaner’s ability to remove smoke, dust and pollen. And CADR is evolving. Soon, consumers will also be able to compare air cleaners for their ability to remove microbiological pollutants like viruses, bacteria and mold, and household chemicals. Not sure where to start?  Visit for more about how to choose the proper air cleaner for your room. Change the air cleaner’s filter regularly and position your air cleaner near the center of the room, away from walls, to maximize airflow and performance.

Cool the air: When the temperatures warm up, keep the windows closed and the AC on. Air conditioners don’t just cool the air, they contain filters that can help remove allergens.

Keep the indoor humidity in check: Dust mites tend to thrive in humidity. A dehumidifier may make it tougher for the mites to survive.

Get the Most Out of Your Freezer

Freezers have long been a cornerstone of food storage, and a second freezer is an easy way to expand your storage capacity. All freezers will keep your food frozen. However, they are not all alike. The most obvious difference in models is size, but both chest and upright freezers also distinguish themselves through a number of features. Depending on the model and type of freezer, those might include:

  • Auto defrost
  • Temperature control
  • Interior LED lighting
  • Adjustable shelves, baskets and dividers
  • Compartments for specific types of foods
  • Safety lock
  • Power-on indicator
  • Defrost drain with hose adapter
  • Alarm to signal when the door is open
  • Ice maker
  • ENERGY STAR designation
  • Quick-freeze
  • Reversible doors
  • Adjustable leveling legs

Freezer organization

Organizing your freezer lets you maximize the use of your freezer space, cut down on wasted food and reduce stress during meal times. These organization tips will help you keep your kitchen functioning smoothly and help you get the most out of your freezer:

Label everything you put in the freezer with both the name of the food or ingredient and the date that you put in the freezer.

Create “zones” that reserve parts of the freezer for certain types of foods (Meat, bread, fruit, vegetables, desserts, etc.)

If you are using freezer bags, freeze foods as flat as possible for easy storage.

Cool any hot foods before freezing.

Freeze serving-sized portions for easy defrosting and serving.

Plan your meals in advance and keep what you will be eating next in an easily accessible part of the freezer.

Keep a running inventory to make sure you are using what is in your freezer.

Freezer safety

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the temperature inside your freezer should be kept at 0 degrees Fahrenheit to ensure the food remains safe. Keep a thermometer in an easily accessible area of the freezer and check it periodically. Allow foods to cool before freezing them.

If your home loses electricity, avoid opening the freezer when possible. The temperature inside a full freezer should remain safe for up to 48 hours, even without electricity.

Check the door gaskets on your freezer periodically to confirm a tight seal is keeping the cold air in and the warm air out. This will also help prevent frost from forming inside the freezer.

About This Blog

HOME for cooking, cleanliness, comfort and care