Everyday Cleaning Tips

Oven cleaner

If you have ever used the brand chemical cleaners, you will know how uncomfortable and often toxic cleaning the oven can be. As an alternative, try using a paste made up of bicarbonate of soda and water, which you can use to coat the dirty areas of a cold oven. If areas are particularly stubborn, leave overnight before wiping away.

If you’re fed up with cleaning your grill or oven, why not place a sheet of aluminium foil in the grill pan or base of the oven to catch any spills. Cleaning is then simple – just remove the sheet and replace.

Hob cleaner

For stubborn areas, use equal parts of salt and bicarbonate of soda. Sprinkle over the hob and leave for up to 30 minutes before rinsing off. You can use non-scratch scourers if particularly stubborn, or keep hold of your old toothbrushes for some hard to reach areas.

For stainless steel hobs, finish with a polish using a baby wipe.

Disinfectants

We are obsessed with disinfecting our homes. You can make your own disinfectant by adding 3 tbsp of borax with 1 litre of hot water and 10–15 drops of tea tree oil.

Surface cleaner

  • • Half fill a spray container with hot water. Add 10 drops of tea tree or lavender oil, 3 tbsp of white vinegar and 2 tsp of bicarbonate of soda and shake thoroughly.
  • • Mix equal measures of washing powder with salt and bicarbonate of soda to tackle tough stains.
  • • Keep surfaces stain free by using chopping boards and heat resistant mats.
  • • Keep a saucer or small pot near your hob on which you can place mixing spoons while cooking.
  • • For very stubborn stains such as tea, curry, pasta sauce and red wine, make your own spray bleach. Fill a spray container with water and add a small amount of

bleach or Ecover bleach powder. Label the container so you know which one contains the bleach.

Dishwasher and washing up

  • • As with any machinery, a dishwasher works more effectively if it is looked after. If you are using all-inone dishwasher tablets, you do not need rinse-aid or salt. Always read the label to ensure you are using the products correctly.
  • • Sprinkle washing powder onto greasy pans and oven dishes to help dissolve the grime. Leave stubborn stains to soak overnight.
  • • Metal scourers are expensive. To make your own, simply scrunch up a ball of aluminium foil.
  • • Always scrape the plates before loading the dishwasher to avoid food waste blocking the filters.
  • • Rinse all dishes and pans that are covered in oil, gravy or pasta sauces to avoid stains, particularly if using the eco-wash cycle.
  • • Add one cup of white vinegar to an empty hot wash to help prevent the build up of limescale and to help keep the dishwasher fresh and clean.
  • • Place half a lemon in the cutlery tray to freshen.

Fridge

To keep your fridge fresh and clean, following these simple steps:

  • • Place a small pot of bicarbonate of soda in the back of the fridge to absorb unwanted odours.
  • • Half a lemon is great to keep the fridge smelling fresh.
  • • Wash shelves regularly with your own blend of surface cleaner (see instructions above).
  • • Regularly clear out your fridge from unwanted items and food that has gone off
  • • I line the trays with old t-towels to help absorb moisture. This also avoids nasty smells accumulating.

Drains

  • • Never put oil, tea or coffee grains, food or vegetable peelings down the drain, as this will cause a blockage.
  • • Invest in a metal plug filter for less than £1 (available from hardware stores) to prevent food waste escaping down the plughole.
  • • To deal with blockages, pour one cup of bicarbonate of soda down the plughole followed by one cup of white vinegar. Leave to fizz for 30 minutes.

Bins

  • • Rubbish bins need to be emptied regularly to avoid nasty smells.
  • • It is false economy to use cheap, thin dustbin bags – you often end up having to double them up and cope with the fall-out from split bags. I always buy biodegradable bags but ensure they are thick enough to avoid splitting underweight.
  • • Save money on expensive bin fresheners. Simply sprinkle value washing powder in the bottom of dustbins to keep fresh.
  • • Put ‘smelly’ food straight into your outside bin to avoid creating smells within your home.

Toilet

There is nothing more offensive than a dirty toilet.

Supermarkets are bulging at the seams with sprays, liquids and gels to create a clean and fresh smelling toilet, but nothing really beats hard work and savvy.

  • • Toilet brushes are unhygienic. I liked the Toilet Duck Brush, but the refills are expensive, so instead of using the refills I gather a bundle of toilet paper and clip on

the end of the brush. It works just as well and there’s no mess and no waste.

  • • Half fill an empty spray container with water, 3 tbsp of bicarbonate of soda, 10–15 drops of tea tree oil and 4 tbsp of white vinegar and shake well. Use this as a toilet spray. Leave for 20 minutes before cleaning with a toilet brush (see alternative above).
  • • I find the smell of some toilet fresheners almost as offensive as a dirty toilet. I have a selection of perfumes I have picked up from boot sales for next to nothing, which are great to use as room fragrance. If we have visitors arriving, I will put some scented candles around the house and one in the bathroom.
  • • Value denture tablets and even value cola can be used as substitute toilet cleaners.

Windows and mirrors

My mom has always cleaned windows using vinegar and scrunched up newspaper. Mix up a solution of half water and half vinegar and spray onto the window or mirror. Wipe away with scrunched up newspaper for the perfect finish.

Mirrors steaming up in the bathroom seem to be a particular bugbear for many. I have found many tips and all seem to work with varying degrees of success. Small amounts of shaving foam, washing-up liquid, hair conditioner and even toothpaste rubbed into the mirror  and wiped off thoroughly all claim to prevent a build up

  • of steam.

Bath and sink

  • • To avoid soap build up, why not opt for a liquid soap. It can save mess and is more hygienic.
  • • Get your taps gleaming – soak some kitchen towel or toilet paper in lemon juice and wrap it around the taps. Leave for an hour and rinse.

Shower

  • • Showerheads can often get clogged with limescale. Mix a solution of half water and half vinegar, and submerge the showerhead in it for a minimum of 20 minutes to help dissolve the limescale. Rinse thoroughly before using.
  • • To prevent shower curtains from getting mildew, allow the curtain to dry before you push it to one side.
  • • Clean glass shower doors with the window cleaning solution (half water, half vinegar) and wipe with scrunched up newspaper.

Mildew

  • • Mildew can look unsightly. To prevent the build up, make sure the bathroom is well ventilated. Open the bathroom window to let air circulate on a daily basis.
  • • For existing mildew, use a bleach solution. This helps kill any spores and stops the area from getting any worse.
  • • For discoloured grout, try scrubbing with an old toothbrush and whitening toothpaste.

Curtains and blinds

Keep curtains and blinds clean and dust free. Curtains benefit from being washed at least twice a year.

Carpets

Having wooden flooring in some of my rooms has made me realise how much dust and grime must accumulate in the carpets. I have a very good vacuum cleaner but the floors still benefit from sweeping around the edges of the rooms, and particularly down the staircase, with a stiff brush.

Wood and laminate

  • • Sweep regularly – especially in the corners where you will find a frightening amount of dust accumulating.
  • • Keep wooden floors in tiptop condition by waxing or oiling.
  • • Don’t use harsh cleaners on your laminate flooring.
  • • To remove scuffmarks from laminate, try using a normal pencil eraser.
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