Tips & Tricks
You already have many substances around the house you can use to make effective cleaning agents for problems areas like kitchens and bathrooms.

Kitchen solutions
  • To disinfect a smelly sponge without using a chemical disinfectant, wash it thoroughly then microwave it while it's wet. This can only be done if it doesn't contain any metal components. When steam rises from the sponge, it will be disinfected. Wash thoroughly before use and be careful, the sponge will be hot.
  • Remove hard-water and lime scale build-up in a teapot or kettle by boiling two cups of vinegar for 8 to 10 minutes.  Rinse well before use.
  • To improve dishwashing performance add a few tablespoons of vinegar to the sink with the detergent. The vinegar cuts grease and leaves dishes sparkling.
  • To soften hard brown sugar try putting a few apple slices peel side up into the airtight sugar container overnight. The sugar will be soft by morning. For immediate use place sugar in pan, warm in oven on low heat
  • For a general kitchen surface cleaner, try one part ammonia to three parts water. Or try a diluted bleach solution in a spray bottle - this will remove stains and disinfect but because it will leach colour be careful not to use it on fabrics that are non-colour safe.
  • Clean your kitchen drain by pouring down 1/4 cup of baking soda followed by one to two cups of vinegar.
  • To sharpen scissors, cut into sheets of sandpaper.
  • To remove odours try pure vanilla on a cotton ball placed in a saucer.  Keep the cotton ball away from any flame and out of reach of children as it may contain alcohol.
  • To clean a coffee maker, pour vinegar into the reservoir and turn it on.
Bathroom solutions
  • Shower curtains can be rejuvenated by washing them with a cup of white vinegar.
  • To make cleaning baths and showers easy, look for products that contain phosphoric acid.
  • To remove shower door build-up, wipe down with lemon oil.
  • To remove mildew spray the area with a mixture of three parts bleach and one part water. Once again, make sure the surface is colour-fast and keep the solution away from clothing

    Spills and stains

    • To pick up spilled wax, cover it with a paper towel and then iron with the temperature set on low - the wax will melt into the towel.
    • To remove chewing gum from clothing, soften it with egg white and then brush it off.
    • To get gum out of hair, rub peanut butter in it and then wash.
    • To remove chewing gum from rugs or upholstery, rub it with an ice cube and then pull the gum off when it's hard. Remaining marks can be removed with rubbing alcohol.
    • To remove blood stains from fabrics, pour peroxide on them before washing.
    • To get rid of carpet stains, try applying one part white vinegar mixed with one part water in a spray bottle. Then spray directly onto the stain and let it sit for  five minutes or so. You can then clean the area with a brush or sponge using warm soapy water.
    • If you have rust stain on fabric, squeeze lemon juice on the spot and put it out in the sun.
    • Grass stains will usually come out with vinegar before laundering.
    • If you have wine or grape drink spills on your carpet, pour on salt to absorb all the fluid. Let it dry completely (perhaps one or two days) then just vacuum away.

    Other useful tips

    • Use crumpled up black and white newspaper dipped in vinegar to wash windows. Dip paper in vinegar and wipe the glass until almost dry, then shine with dry newspaper or cloth.
    • To remove heat marks in wood furniture left by coffee cups, rub them with mayonnaise and white toothpaste. Wipe area dry, then polish entire surface.
    • To remove scratches in timber furniture, break pecans or walnuts in half and rub on spot for about 30 seconds until the nut feels warm.
    • Children's stickers can be removed from wood by applying white vinegar or citrus oil to the sticker, let it soak and then scrape off.
    • To remove black scuff marks off the floor, try rubbing them with an ordinary eraser. Alternatively, try using an ammonia-based detergent, then wax or polish. Hairspray also works - just spray the marks and wipe them off.
    • Sponges should be cleaned in the dishwasher regularly and disposed of every few weeks.  They are a breeding ground for bacteria because they don't dry out  in between uses
      • Disinfect toys after an illness to prevent reinfection or infection of another child.
      • When cleaning windows, finish the job with newspaper to remove any streaks.
      •  To remove pen and pencil marks from walls, use a dry cloth and rubbing alcohol.
      • To make your own furniture polish make a mixture of one tsp olive oil, the juice of a lemon, 1 tsp whisky or brandy and 1 tsp of water. Apply with a cloth and then buff.
      • To make a great glass cleaner make a solution of one part alcohol (Isopropanol) to four parts water. It cleans with no streaks.
      • Dirty shirt collars can be cleaned by using a normal hair shampoo on them. 
        Apply the shampoo directly. Shampoos are specifically made to remove body oils. Rub it in and then wash.
      • To remove ball point ink stains from clothing, use hairspray. Let it dry then wash the item. Other types of ink can be removed using Isopropanol alcohol.