Latest tips

Finding time to clean


You can make time for cleaning by following a few simple rules:

Do a few minutes each day to be more productive. Don’t set out to vacuum the whole house. Do one bedroom before work and another one tomorrow.

Mess definitely breeds mess. Keep your home as uncluttered as possible so that cleaning is easier and quicker.

If you find your housework is never finished, make a list and decide in advance when to start and when to stop. Starting jobs, rather than worrying about, definitely makes life easier. Allocate your most productive time to the most difficult tasks. If you’re a morning person, someone who has time for an extra cup of coffee at breakfast, then you can probably fit some tasks into your morning routine. If, on the other hand, you flap out of the door in a frenzy to catch the bus, but stay up watching TV until midnight, then look to the evening to do your chores.

Set priorities and, when time is tight, review what you can realistically manage and don’t fret about untouched jobs you can’t possibly achieve. But don’t put off doing so many jobs you’re too frightened to start.

Whenever possible do double duty. File some bills while you are chatting on the telephone; wipe the splash backs while you’re waiting on the kettle to boil; clean the basin while the bath taps run; and so on.


Plan ahead when decorating


l  Snap up bargains. Summer and winter sales offer reductions on furniture, furnishings, paper and paint.

l  Decorate one room in the spring and another in the autumm and the house will always look good.

l  Decide whether you will do the decorating yourself or hire help.

l  Professionals can be in short supply and the good ones are usually booked up in advance.


Hiring a professional decorator


Always friends and neighbors for recommendations.

l  Get written quotations and inspect previous work.

l  You may have to pay for materials in advance, but never pay for labour upfront.

l  Be wary of trade discounts which may not always be a better deal than you can obtain.

l  Remember to check if the price includes tax.

l  Agree a start date and how many days the job will take.

l   Ask who is responsible for moving and protecting flooring and furniture.

 Food Safety

Before you start

Wash hand before starting work and after touching raw meat, fish and poultry or rubbish.

Wipe down work surfaces before preparing food.


Check freshly cooked and reheated food is hot all the way through.

Cook poultry, burgers and sausages right through until all the flesh changes colour.

Wash chopping boards with hot soapy water immediately after every use.


Chilled food must be kept refrigerated or disposed of after two hours.

Raw meat must be refrigerated in sealed containers at the bottom of the fridge to prevent juices contaminating other food.

Store cooked food in the fridge and eat within two days.

Don’t leave chilled ingredients out for longer than necessary when preparing dishes.

Don’t put opened tinned foods into the fridge; transfer the contents first.

 Food storage

Check stored food regularly and stick to ‘use-by’ dates.

Keep bagged goods like flour, rice, pasta and biscuits in airtght glass or plastic containers to protect from pests.

Store new supplies at the backs of cupboard shelves and move older stocks to the front.

Don’t let fruit and vegetables overripen – they attract fruit flies. One item of rotting fruit speeds up the decline of all the other fruit.   

Fixed and loose fabric covers

All upholstery, no matter how hard wearing or expensive, gets dirty. Fabric will eventually wear out, but with regular vacuuming, spot removal and by exercising some care, you can keep covers looking good for many years.

Ten tips make upholstery last longer.

Dirt, grit and crumbs dull colour and rub the surface, which cuts the fibers. Avoid dirt by eating snacks from plates and vacuuming thoroughly every week.
Spot remove stains as soon as possible before they set.
Don’t lay newspapers on fabric; the print transfers easily.
Beware of sharp objects such as jewellery, buckles and toys, which can tear.
Don’t sit on the edges of cushions or padded arms. It causes permanent distortion to the shape and fillings.
Plump up all the cushions regularly to prevent creases setting, which accelerate wear and trap dirt.
Rotate all seat and back cushions regularly to ensure even wear and uniform fading.
Direct exposure to heat and light cause fabrics to fade. Place furniture away from windows, radiators and open fires.
Keep pets off all upholstered surfaces.
Cover upholstered sofas and chairs with throws to protect fabric from soiling by pets and young children.

Preventing damage to wooden furniture

Form of attack
Excessive humidity or dampness in the atmosphere
Wood swells and warps when it absorbs moisture
Remove dampness by improving ventilation, repairing plumbing or drainage leaks and attending to damage damp-proof courses
Insufficient humidity
Central heating removes the moisture from air. Wood dries and cracks when the air is too dry
Avoid placing furniture close to radiators. Place bowls of water above radiators to humidify the air or fit an electric humidifier
Powerful direct natural light causes bleaching of colour from wood and fabric
Avoid placing furniture in strong direct sunlight, or use blinds to shield or diffuse the light
Chemicals in cleaning and beauty products; natural acidity; and dye in foods and drink can damage polished and lacquered finishes
Protect surface from chemical exposure by using coasters, mats, trivets or sheets of glass. Avoid using any cleaning products with undisclosed chemical ingredients
Knocks and dents
Collisions with other objects, such as doors, chairs and vacuum cleaners, will result in dents and scrapes
Physical damage can be repaired only through physical remedy – filling or sanding the surface
Burns caused directly by naked flames such as cigarettes and candles
The damaged surface must be removed by fine abrasion and the appearance of the newly exposed surface disguised
Heat scorching
Both indirect and direct contact with very hot items can scorch the surface or damage polished finishes
Damage caused in this way is difficult to repair. The surface must either be disguised or refinished

Washing machine and dryer maintenance

Make friends with your washing machine and it will repay you. Pamper it every now and again by removing fluff and stray coins from the filter and it won’t flood. Rinse out the detergent drawer to stop it getting clogged and mouldy so that the machine performs with optimum efficiency. Use a toothbrush to dislodge any detergent clogged in the drawer recess. From time to time, run the wasing machine empty at a high wash temperature with some washing soda crystals or clear vinegar. This will help remove limescale deposits and stop mildew and scum building up on the rubber door seal is a costly wash, leave the door open to help prevent mould and stagnat smells building up inside the machine, and to extend the life of the door seal.
Remove fluff from your dryer frequently, using a soft brush if necessary. If your dryer is the non-condensing type, and needs external ventilation via a tube, make sure you provide this otherwise the condensation will damage you health, and your home, by causing mould and midlew.

Caring for shoes  

 *Don’t wear the same shoes every day – allow them to air before wearing again.

* If you need to wear the same shoes every day, as part of a uniform for example, have another identical pair and wear them on alternate days.

* Sprinkle bicarbonate of soda inside smelly shoes to absorb the odor overnight and then shake or vacuum out.

* Stuff wet shoes with paper kitchen towel to absorb moisture and preserve their shape. Leave them to dry naturally – never near direct heat.

* Never put shoes away unaired – they will mildew, rot and smell.

* Clean shoes with a soft damp cloth or wax polish before putting them away. Polish nourishes the leather and stops it drying out and cracking.

* Never clean shoes over the kitchen sink or on work surfaces where you prepare food – work over a sheet of newspaper.

* Have shoes resoled and heeled before they become permanently damaged.

How to press trousers

* Turn the trousers inside out.
* Lay the trouser pockets on the shaped end of the board and press them flat.
* Iron the seat of the pants and then the front pocket area.* Press the waistband.
* If no front crease is required, press the legs flat from seam to seam while the trousers are still inside out.
* If a front crease is required, turn the trousers the correct way about.
* Align the inside seams of each leg and lay lengthways on the board.
* With a pressing cloth, press the bottom of each leg. Repeat up to the seat and to below the front pocket, or up to the waistband if pleated.

Delicates and net laundry bags  

Most lingerie will last longer and look better if you hand wash or machine wash it on the gentle or delicates cycle. Invest in a net laundry bag, which you can find in the haberdashery or cleaning department, and zip your delicates inside. Net laundry bags prevent stocking, tights, lacy and embroidered items from fraying, fading, tearing and snagging.
Using laundry bags is also a good tip if you spend a lot of time sorting clothes or underwear he for childern. Collect each child’s laundry separately and zip inside its own bag once sorted. It can go into the dryer like this too, so there’s no need to pair up all those endless socks. You can use a pillowcase pinned at the flap if you dd soiled don’t have zipped mesh bags.
Storing and sorting soiled laundry
* Add soiled garments to the laundry at the end of each day.
* Sort laundry as it collects.
* Empty pockets and fasten zips before adding clothes to the laundry basket.
* Turn dark garments inside out to preserve the color.
* Store soiled clothes in a basket or cloth bag to allow air to circulate.
* Never add wet or damp items to laundry. Dry wet items first, otherwise they’ll mildew the entire basket.
* Place a fabric softener sheet in the bottom of your laundry basket for a fresher fragrance.
* Avoid mixing fluff generators (towels, sweatshirts) with fluff absorbers (corduroy, blacks). Turn fluff collectors inside out.

Loading the washing machine  

A great deal of expensive research has been put into developing the modern machine to produce the best wash, so the least we can do is follow the manufacturer’s instructions. It’s important not to overload the drum and different size items should be loaded alternately. Use the bathroom scales to measure the weight of the load.
If you overload the machine, the wash performance will decrease because the garments won’t move freely in the detergent; you’ll run the risk of flooding; and the machine may become unsuitable during the spin cycle and attempt to dance across the floor. Make sure all pockets are empty, as stray sharp objects like pens and keys may damage the drum. Always use detergent designed for automatic machines, otherwise suds will flood the room. A handful of washing soda crystals will help reduce suds if you mistakenly put non-automatic detergent in your machine.

Wash Load Weights:
Item weight
Duvet cover double 1000-1500g (2-3 lb)
Duvet cover single 750 – 1000g (1 lb 8 oz-2 lb)
Sheet double 700 – 1000g (1 lb 6 oz – 2lb)
Sheet single 450 – 700g (1 lb – 1 lb 6 oz)
Pillowcase 100 – 200g (4 – 7 oz)
Towelling hand towel 150 – 250g (5-9 oz)
Towelling bath towel 700 – 1000g (1 lb 6 oz- 2lb)
Bathrobe 1000 –1500g (2-3 lb)
Shirt 200 – 300g (7 – 11 oz)
Dress 350 – 500g (12 oz – 1 lb 2 oz)
Jeans 700g (1 lb 6 oz)
Underwear 50 – 100g (2 – 4 oz)
Tea towel 100g (4 oz)

The bed  

A restful night’s sleep brings tremendous benefits to our mood and our health, so it’s essential to invest in a good quality mattress. There’s difference between choosing a bed and a mattress. The mattress provides the direct cushioned support for the body, while the bed frame supports the mattress. Choose a style of bed you like and then, before you buy the frame, research the options for a mattress. Divan beds include their own upholstered base and can be fitted with a headboard.

The wider your bed the better, so if your room will accommodate a larger bed, then upgrade. A traditional USA double size is just 4 feet 6 inches, less than a single bed allowance for each adult, but do check that your new bed will fit through any narrow stairwells or door openings.

Five tips for better sleeping

* Avoid heavy meals, stimulants (coffee, alcohol, nicotine) and exercise before bed.

* Establish a regular routine for bedtime. Condition your body clock, relax with a bath, read a few pages of a book, or listen to some gentle music. Avoid watching television, which stimulants the eyes.

* A cool darkened room is most comfortable. Darkness aids sleep, so fit blackout blinds behind curtains if necessary.

* Sudden noise can disrupt sleep, but some people find a constant low background hum, such as air conditioning, blocks out other noises.

* Invest in a mattress that is comfortable and supportive.


Pillows are available with down, feather and synthetic fillings, ranging in support from soft to firm. As with duvets, down is the softest and concentrated the most luxurious. Combinations of down and feather are more common and less expensive, but do look carefully at the composition. Duck feather and down may have as little as 10 percent down, but duck down and feather should have at least 51 percent down. Duck feather is cheapest: followed by duck feather and down; duck down and feather; then goose feather; goose feather and down; and finally pure goose down – although it’s rare to find a pillow that is 100 percent down. Check that the cover is down- proof to prevent the spines of the feathers poking through.

Pillows are also available with synthetic fillings, which are often described as hypoallergenic and are asier to wash and dry. There are also memory foam pillows available, which are designed to complement the latest space-age mattresses.

Always fit a protective cover beneath the pillowcase to protect from soiling. Pillows should also be machine washed with detergent, but without fabric conditioner, and then tumble-dried. Add some tennis balls to the dryer to prevent the feathers from clumping.

If you karate chop a pillow in half length ways with your whole forearm, it’s much easier to stuff into the pillowcase.