Simple cleaning hacks to save time and money
We spend an astonishing £1 billion a year on cleaning products in the UK – Save £££’s using items from around the home. A bottle of cheap cola, an old wire coat hanger, fresh lemons, and baking soda can have your home spick and span in no time – if you know how to use them…
Banish cooking odours
You can banish unwanted cooking smells from the kitchen by boiling a cup of distilled white vinegar and a couple of cloves in an uncovered saucepan for a few minutes.
Get your saucepans sparkling
Remove burnt-on stains from pans with cheap own-brand cola. Pour just enough into your pan to cover the burnt area. Boil, stir, then remove from the heat. Pour away the hot cola and the burnt residue should go with it. Finish off with a rinse and a quick wipe with a clean cloth.
Descale a kettle
Cut a lemon into large chunks and place in your kettle. Fill the kettle with water, allow to boil, and then leave the lemon and water mixture to stand overnight. Discard the fruit and water the next day and rinse thoroughly before using your limescale-free kettle to make a cup of tea.
Clean a microwave
If you have removed the juice from a fresh lemon for a recipe, don’t through the halves of lemon away, place them in a bowl with a cup of boiling water into your microwave and ‘cook’ on high for 30 seconds. Remove the bowl carefully and wipe the inside of the microwave with a clean, damp cloth. All food deposits should come away easily.
Degrease a glass oven door
To get rid of burned-on grime on a glass oven door, mix a thick paste of bicarbonate of soda with a tiny amount of water. Lay some old newspaper on the floor underneath the oven door and, wearing rubber gloves, use a cloth to rub the paste on the inside of the door. Leave it for about 15 minutes and then wash it off. This magic paste should also remove the remains of burnt food from a hob.
Remove stains from china
Wipe stains from china with a dab of bicarbonate of soda and a wet cloth. If the stains are really persistent, dissolve a denture-cleaning tablet in a bowl of water and soak the china in it (avoid doing this with very expensive or highly decorated china, denture cleaner contains bleach which could damage patterns). Once the stains have gone – rinse well with clean water.
Create a surface cleaner
Mix together one part distilled white vinegar with two parts water and a good squeeze of lemon juice. Applied with a cloth this fluid will cut through grime on most surfaces, from bath to floor and kitchen cupboards. Try adding a couple of tablespoons of distilled white vinegar to soapy washing-up water, too, if you have a stack of dirty, greasy dishes to wash – it will cut through the grease like magic.
Boost your freezer
Scrunch up pieces of newspaper and pop them into any gaps between the packets and bags of food in your freezer. This stops the freezer cooling empty spaces and makes it much more efficient.
Freshen a smelly fridge
Halve a lemon and scoop out the flesh. Fill your empty lemon shell with salt and pop it in a back corner of the fridge for a cheap but effective natural deodoriser.
Save on scourers
Keep two of the net bags that lemons and oranges come in. Put one inside the other and scrunch up to make a very efficient scouring pad.
Lemon has multiple uses for cleaning the house, including freshening a smelly fridge, cleaning the microwave or descaling the kettle.
Polish your chrome
A dab of baby oil buffed over a chrome surface with a soft cloth will give a mirror-like shine.
Unblock a sink…
Cut a tennis ball in half. Put one half over the plug hole, dome up, and give it a good pump. The ball will act like a plunger….and flush away odours
Pour half a cup of bicarbonate of soda down the plughole, followed by one or two cups of white wine vinegar. Leave for ten minutes, then rinse through with a kettle full of boiling water. The foam and froth will work its way down the pipes and flush out any trapped gunk and bad smells.
Clean limescale off taps
Pour vinegar into sandwich bags, and attach a bag over each tap with duct tape or an elastic band, so that the limescale is submerged in the vinegar. Leave overnight. Remove the bags in the morning and wipe clean (this method is not suitable for brass or coloured fixtures).
Whiten your grouting
Thick bleach and an old toothbrush should get stained grouting clean. Dip the toothbrush in the bleach and use it to scrub the grout between the tiles. Wipe down the surface with a damp cloth.
Get a loo as good as new
Cheap cola also makes a very efficient toilet cleaner. Pour a litre into the toilet bowl. Leave for an hour or more, then scrub and flush for sparkling results.
Unclog a shower head
Unscrew a blocked shower head and place it in a bowl of vinegar to soak overnight. Rinse with warm water the following morning. It should be limescale-free and unclogged.
Hide dark-wood scratches
Put a spoonful of instant coffee in an eggcup or similar small container, and pour in the tiniest amount of boiling water until the mixture looks like a very strong espresso. Once cooled, dip a clean cloth in the coffee and apply the liquid to scratches on dark wood. Once they’ve been camouflaged, buff with a clean, dry cloth.
Refresh pot pourri
Spruce up old pot pourri by decanting it into a sandwich bag with a generous sprinkling of salt. Give the bag a good shake, the salt will knock off all the dust. Transfer the pot pourri to a new bag – minus any loose salt – and shake again. Put the clean pot pourri into a bowl and revitalise with a few drops of essential oil.
Give your wood a sheen
The juice from half a lemon mixed with quarter of a cup of olive oil makes a great polish for wooden furniture. Apply a little to a duster and buff over the wood. The lemon cuts through grime and the oil leaves a lustrous sheen.
Erase grubby marks
Use an ordinary pencil eraser to get rid of fingerprints and marks on light switches. A rubber on the end of a pencil is a useful tool for cleaning remote control handsets, too.
Wash your windows
A drop of vinegar on a scrunched-up pad of old newspaper is brilliant for cleaning windows.
Burnish your brass
mix equal quantities of salt, flour and vinegar. Dab an old toothbrush into the paste and apply it thickly to dingy brass. Leave the mixture on for at least an hour – the longer you leave it on the shinier the final result. When you’re ready to remove it, wipe the paste off with a damp cloth and then buff with a dry, soft cloth.
Buff up that copper
Pour lemon juice onto cloudy copper and sprinkle with salt. Rub the solution in with an old rag until the metal is gleaming again.
Shine your silver
Buy the cheapest toothpaste you can find and, using an old toothbrush, liberally coat tarnished silver with the paste. Gently work the paste over the surface of the silver with the brush and then rinse away and buff dry with a soft cloth. The tarnish will have vanished.
Dust down those radiators
Dust stops radiators from working efficiently, so cleaning them will save money long-term.
Wipe radiators down with a damp cloth, and use a wire coat hanger for those hard-to-reach areas. Wrap a cloth around the hook of the hanger, bend the body of the hanger to the shape and length you need and work your way behind and between the radiator panels.
Spruce up your carpet
Have you got a drab carpet? Get out the bicarbonate of soda. Sprinkle it liberally over the carpet, leave for about 15 minutes, then vacuum away dust, dirt and any fustiness will evaporate, too.