More valuable advice


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Home- made cleaners

Home- made cleaners work because they use the same chemistry as branded cleaners. Some branded cleaners even boast that they include traditional ingredients, for example vinegar in glass cleaners or bicarbonate of soda in toothpaste.

The reason our home-made cleaners don’t always work as quickly as branded cleaners or require repeated applications (for example when we use vinegar to remove hardened lime from taps) is because we don’t have access to the more powerful ingredients that manufacturers use. However, as a result home- made cleaners can be kinder to our skin, respiratory function and to the environment.

Always remember that it is potentially dangerous to mix one branded cleaner with another, or to add any home-made ingredients, because there may be a dangerous chemical reaction or release of toxic gas, such as when you mix chlorine and ammonia bleach. Always completely rinse away the residue of the first cleaner before trying an alternative treatment.

There are some safe home- made cleaners you can mix, but don’t mix large quantities because they deteriorate over time, and always label the containers clearly and permanently.

The bath  

It’s much easier to get into the habit of cleaning and drying the bath after every use than having to scrub it after repeated use. Never use anything abrasive on an acrylic or plastic bath because the surface will scratch and become harder to clean. Acrylic or plastic finishes show stains and won’t take much scrubbing before they etch like a skating rink. Enamelled steel or cast-iron baths are more durable, but will still scratch and discolor if mistreated.

To remove stains from an enamel bath, make a paste of bicarbonate of soda with a few drops of water and rub on to the surface with a cork. To remove mild rust marks on a steel bath, rub with salt and lemon juice and rinse.

To clean a very dirty bath, fill it with warm water and add a couple of scoops of biological washing detergent, teen leave to soak overnight. For regular use, wash high gloss surfaces with a mild solution of washing-up liquid and buff dry with a towel.


A shower enclosure  

A shower uses less water than a bath and less energy to heat the water, although power showers dispense a great volume of water in a very short time. The shower enclosure is usually made of glass, tile or plastic. Single sheet surfaces such as glass and plastic are the easiest to keep clean because, unlike tile, there are no grout lines to collect scum and mildew. Where surfaces join up, sealant is used to close the gaps. This usually contains a fungicide, but may blacken over time if mildew and mould get a hold, which is possible if the area is constantly left wet.

The moisture left behind on the surfaces is the biggest problem

because it quickly promotes mould and mildew. You can reduce this problem by drying the surfaces with a squeegee: leaving the extractor fan running; and leaving the enclosure door slightly open; all of which will speed up the evaporation of water. You can remove soap scum and lime-scale deposits by spraying the surfaces with a solution of half cleaner vinegar and half water.

Tile grout lines are slightly absorbent and hold on to soap scum and mildewed which is unattractive and unhygienic. Scrub grout lines clean with a powder cleanser and a toothbrush; make your own cleaner by mixing a paste of bicarbonate of soda with a few drops of bleach or vinegar. You can restore the shine to tiles with a little vinegar or window cleaner, and then buff dry with a soft cloth.



Cleaning the fireplace

* Never attachment to clean the hearth or surround while a fire is burning.
* If you burn solid fuel, even the smokeless type, the chimney must be professionally swept at least once a yers. Soot deposits can lead to chimney fires.
* Don’t wipe ceramic tile surrounds while they’re still hot – moisture can cause crazing.
* Remove soot from bricks with a scrubbing brush and warm water with a few drops of washing-up liquid, but not strong detergent, which will leave soap scum on the brick.
* Remove stubborn soot surround brick using a specialist cleaner (from hardware stores).
* Scrub a very dirty stone surround with a mild solution of bleach. Test an inconspicuous area first and rinse thoroughly.
* Black grate polish (from hardware stores) is the traditional finish for cast – iron surrounds. Apply as you do shoe polish, but protect surrounding surfaces from splatters.
* Marble is porous and will quickly and permanently absorb stains. Mop up any spillages immediately and wash with a solution of warm water and washing – up liquid, scrubbing with a soft nailbrush if necessary. Never use acid (even lemon juice) to clean marble because it will quickly etch the surface.
* Use a damp cloth to remove soot from cast – iron grates

Cleaning and polishing pans and utensils
* Aluminium pans boil apple peelings, citrus skin or rhubarb to remove blackness.
* Cast iron remove rust by rubbing with a raw potato.
* Copper to restore shine, rub hard with a paste of lemon juice (or distilled white vinegar) and coarse salt.
* Chrome a little bicarbonate of soda on a damp cloth will restore shine, but check the durability of the plating in a hidden area first.
* Brass in additional to branded cleaner, tomato ketchup, worcestershire sauce and toothpaste will all remove tarnish from brass.
* Non-stick pans remove stains from non-stick surfaces by boiling a solution of half a cup of bleach and 2 tablespoons bicarbonate of soda for 5 minutes. Then wash, rinse and dry, and rub the surface with kitchen towel and a drop of cooking oil.
* pewter this is delicate and best washed in warm soapy water and dried with a soft cloth; don’t put it in the dish-washer. Stubborn marks can be removed with methylated spirits.
* Silverware rubbing with a paste of water and baking soda will remove tarnish. The most dramatic method-but unsuitable for thin plate- is to line a plastic bowl with aluminium foil, add boiling water and a handful of washing soda crystals, dip in the silverware for a few seconds and rinse.
* Stainless steel although ‘stainless’, it can become dull. Rub with a paste of baking soda and water.
* Limes- cale deposits and blue streaking can be removed by covering with water and vinegar and simmering until gone. White dots are caused by pitting from salt. They are permanent and can be avoided by adding salt only when liquids are boiling.
* Teapots, mugs and cups the tannins in tea cause discoloration. Fill with cold water, add a few drops of chlorine bleach and leave overnight. Rinse thoroughly.
* Vases and decanters to remove scum or red wine stains at the bottom, fill with soapy water or distilled white vinegar, add a few grains of uncooked rice and swill. The abrasive action removes the deposits.


Clean mildewed cushions  

Mildew has a tendency to grow on damp, soiled fabrics and cushions. To clean these items, try the following.

1. Mix 1 gallon of water, 1 cup of chlorine bleach, and a squirt of dish-washing liquid. (Check the label of the dish-washing liquid to make sure it does not contain ammonia, which should not be mixed with bleach.) before cleaning the entire cushion, test the solution on a small, inconspicuous area and let it dry, to make sure the solution won’t fade the color. Chlorine bleach may not be suitable for all prints.

2. Saturate a rag or soft brush with the solution and begin scrubbing the cushions, one small area at a time.

3. Rinse well with water. Let the cushions dry completely before returning them to the furniture they belong with.

Clean a Birdbath 

Birds are not likely to splash around in a dirty birdbath.

Frequent cleaning not only attracts more bird visitors but also helps prevent algae growth, disease transmission between birds, and mosquitoes, which are likely to breed in standing water. For best results, clean the bath and change the water at least once a week.

1. Empty the bath completely by tipping it to one side.

2. Scrub the bath with a small scrub brush or pot scrubber. If the bath is very dirty, scrub it with a sightly sudsy solution of dish-washing liquid and water or a specialized birdbath cleaning product.

3. Rinse the bath thoroughly; if you used soap, be sure to remove all traces of the detergent.

4. Refill the bath with fresh water.

Remove Candle Wax  

From upholstery and carpeting.

Freeze the gum or wax by applying ice or a commercial freezing product in an aerosol can. Shatter the material with a blunt object and vacuum up the chips before they soften.

From tablecloths.

Place ice on the wax to make it brittle, and scrape off what you can with a credit card. Then place a brown paper bag over the wax and place another brow paper bag under the fabric. Iron the top bag with a medium hot iron until all the wax has been transferred to the bag. Replace the dirty bag with a clean bag as needed until all the wax residue has been removed.

From wood.

Place ice on the wax to harden it, use a credit card to gently scrape off what you can, and remove any remaining residue with a cloth moistened with cream furniture wax.

From glass votive holder.

Put the candle-holder in the freezer for several hours, and then pry at the wax inside with a butter knife. It should pop right out. Wash the votive in hot, soapy water to remove any wax residue. (Putting a little bit of water in the bottom of the votive before placing the votive before placing the candle inside will prevent the wax from sticking.) If the cloth is stained, apply a nonflammable spot remover formulated specifically for grease, oil, or tar, and then launder as usual.

Fire and smoke detectors  

One other emergency you should give serious consideration to is what to do in event of fire. The installation and maintenance of smoke detectors is the most important precaution you can take. These are mandatory in new properties, and should be fitted on the same day every floor.

* Test smoke detectors every month – do it on the same day every month so you remember.
* Replace the batteries in smoke detectors once a year. Do it on your birthday – you’ll remember you’ve done it and it might save your life.

Prevention is the best precaution against fire. Smouldering cigarettes are a common cause, so never smoke in bed and ensure cigarette stubs are fully extinguished. If an electrical appliance emits smoke, switch it off and unplug it immediately. Don’t reuse it until the appliance has been professionally tested.
Fire extinguishers and fire blankets are useful to have on standby. If you don’t manage to put out a fire quickly (in less than 10 seconds) you should evacuate everyone and call the fire brigade. Fire can take hold and spread with alarming speed.
Discuss with everyone in your household, especially children, what to do in the event of fire, and how to escape safely from bedrooms. Never go back into a burning building. The effects of smoke inhalation can be serious so be careful when opening doors and seal gaps under doors with a wet towel. If you’re stranded upstairs, open the windows and shout “Fire” to alert neighbours and passers-by. When locking front doors and upstairs windows, always make sure the keys can be found quickly if there is a fire.


Remove mildew 

Got mildew? Here’s what to do with mildewed leather or fabric items such as luggage, handbags, and shoes.
1. Brush off as much of the mildew as you can with a dry sponge, cloth, or nylon-bristle brush. It’s best to do this outdoors to avoid releasing mold spores in your home.
2. Use a soft white cloth or a sponge dampened with soap water to wipe the item clean. Allow it to air-dry away from heat and sunlight.
3. If the is made of leather, follow up with an application of leather conditioner, following the instructions on the product label.
4. If the mildew persists, try sponging the surface lightly with a mixture of equal parts of rubbing alcohol and water. Lightly wipe again with a sponge or cloth dampened with just water and let air-dry.
5. Leather items only: Finish with a treatment of leather conditioner.

 Tips for vacuuming pet hair. 

1. Spray a static-removal product lightly over carpet or furniture. Wait a few minutes. Then vacuum as usual.
2. If your pets have fleas, throw out or empty the vacuum bag outdoors after each vacuuming.
3. Throw out or empty your vacuum bag when it is half-full, to prevent the vacuum from getting clogged with pet hair.
4. If you are in the market for a new vacuum cleaner, ask other pet owners for recommendations. Be sure to look at cleaners that come with a turbo tool specifically designed to pick up animal hair.

Carpet spot treatments  

Candle wax or chewing gum.
Freeze the gum or wax by applying ice or a commercial available freezing product in an aerosol can. Shatter the material with a blunt object and vacuum up the chips before they soften. Then follow the instructions for remaining oil-based stains.

Oil-based stains
Depending on the stain, you may need to hire a professional cleaner. To try removing it on your own, start by blotting away as much of the stain as is possible with white paper towels. Apply a nonflammable spot remover formulated specifically for grease, oil, or tar to a paper towel and repeat the blotting. Do not pour or spray the spot remover directly onto the carpet pile, as damage to the backing or adhesive underneath could result; use the towels to transport the solved to the carpet. Repeat as often as necessary. Be sure that the room has adequate ventilation. If necessary, continue to blot the stained area with white towels dampened with cool water unit there is no more transfer of the stain onto the towels.

Nail polish
Apply a small amount of polish remover to a white cloth and pretest it in an inconspicuous area of the carpet to make sure that the remover does not discolor or otherwise damage the carpet. Then work the remover gently into the stain, from the edges of the spill into the center to prevent the stain from spreading. Allow the remover to remain on the spill for a few minutes. Be patient. You may need to blot the area several times. Rinse thoroughly by spraying it with clean water to remove traces of remover, and then blotting to extract all traces of the remover.

Clean a toilet  

1. Spray a disinfectant cleaner over the outside of the toilet tank and bowl as well as the toilet-bowl cover and seat (both the top and the underside). Allow it to sit for 10 minutes or as suggested by the manufacturer to kill germs.
2. Lower the waterline in the toilet bowl by pushing the toilet brush in and out of the trap until the water level drops. Spray disinfect cleaner on the inside surfaces of the bowl, including under the rim, or pour about 1 cup of the disinfectant into the bowl and let it sit for a few minutes.
3. Brush the inside of the bowl and under the rim with a toilet brush. Flush, and rinse the brush in the clean flowing water.
4. Wipe the outside of the toilet with paper towels or clean cloth.

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