Category Archives: Cleaning

Horror and achievement in equal quantities

Yesterday was a funny old day.  Despite several urgent administrative matters which reared their heads in the morning, I managed to complete my entire list of things to do, except the shelves.  These were not done because I ran out of red rawl plugs and I was buggered if I was going to drive five miles just to get some more – the TP  round the corner only sells them in batches of 20,000.

After I had done my jobs in the hall, I got the vacuum out to clean the carpets.  Because we are still hauling boxes and moving furniture, I have left a piece of off-cut carpet in the hall so the real carpet doesn’t get dirty.  I vacuumed the top and then lifted it up to vacuum underneath.

To my horror, the underside was absolutely crawling with maggots.  After the shock had worn off,  I tried to work out where they’d come from.  The carpet off-cut was relatively new and I had vacuumed under it recently, so it couldn’t be the carpet.  I checked for any rogue food which the boys might have dropped but there was nothing.

Then it dawned on me.  Last week we had very heavy rain and something organic and dead had been washed out of the gutter and, as I went out of the front door that night, the whole of the front step was covered with maggots.  I had poured boiling water on them and swept them up the next morning, but  clearly, some of them had got inside and snuggled up under my carpet.  Yuk. I would even go so far as to say ‘Eeooow’ in that slightly affected way of the Californian teenage girl.

I cleared up and carried on with my tasks.  Hooks were hung, steps were scrubbed, windows cleaned, ‘phone calls made, Boy the Younger was collected from school. I then went out to pick up Boy the Elder from the bus stop.  It’s only a ten minute drive and the first part is along a narrow road where one has to drive slowly because of parked cars.  20-25mph is about as fast as you can go.

As I came round a wide bend, I saw a group of little girls standing at the side of the road.  I slowed down a bit more, just in case, but they saw me and stepped back from the kerb.  Then, just before I drew level with the girls, two of them suddenly made a dash for it and ran straight out in front of my car.

I slammed on the brakes and literally, and I mean literally, stopped short of  the girl at the back by about four inches.  I stopped the car and got out, shaking.  Both sets of girls were stock still at the side of the road, obviously terrified that I was going to give them a bollocking.

I didn’t shout.  I checked that they were ok and then gave them a very serious but gentle lecture about crossing the road and how important it is to look both ways, twice, before crossing the road, looking and listening all the time.  The girls who didn’t cross were very upset and full of apologies.  The girl who I nearly hit just kept saying “I didn’t see you, I didn’t see you”.  Absolutely horrible.

I had a dear friend once who accidentally killed someone in a car and he never got over it.  He was driving down a main road and he saw a car coming out of a gateway and he slowed down just in case it pulled out.  The other driver saw him and pulled back.  But then, inexplicably, just as my friend was about to drive past, the car pulled out at speed and my friend ploughed into the driver’s side killing him instantly.  Fortunately the little girl who was in the passenger seat was unharmed.  My friend developed a crippling stammer which never left him.

Drive safely all of you.  And clean out your guttering.


Filed under Children, Cleaning, Family and Friends, General DIY, Life in general, Transport

A simple and practical Outdoor Ashtray

Now that smokers have all been forced into the wilderness to carry out their unspeakable evil, the problem of what to do with fag ends has become an al fresco problem.

Which can now be solved with the Wartime Housewife’s Flower Pot Outdoor AshtrayImpervious to the Elements!

Simply buy a terracotta flower pot with matching tray, upturn the flower pot and deposit your ash and cigarette butts into the hole at the top.  The wind will not blow your nicotine nastiness all over the garden and the tray can then be emptied easily into the bin – and no Butts in your Buddleias!


Filed under Cleaning, Household Hints

How to treat cup rings on leather-topped tables

Not a mark on it

A week or so ago I committed the cardinal sin of putting a hot, damp-bottomed mug directly onto a leather-topped table.  This immediately occasioned a white cup ring which fag-ash paste failed to remedy.  What to do?

I picked up a super little leather topped occasional table from the antique and bric-a-brac people who set up their stall under-cover of the Old Grammar School in Market Harborough.  It is exactly what I need beside my wing-backed armchair and upon which I place a table lamp, a magnifying glass for reading the small writing on DVDs and the beverage of my choice.  I usually user a saucer, even with a mug, to avoid marking tables or slopping, but on this occasion I forgot and the horrid white cup ring soon appeared.  Then I had a brainwave.

How to remove a white ring from a leather table top
The leather was brown so this is what I did:-

I fetched the dark tan shoe polish
an old soft toothbrush
a soft cloth

Apply the shoe polish to the leather, working it well in with the toothbrush
Leave for a while to really soak in

Buff off with the soft cloth
If the ring has not quite gone, repeat the process

This worked a treat and it looks beautiful.
You can also use vinegar which you apply in the same way, but finish off by buffing it up with furniture polish.

It is a good idea to oil leather tops occasionally to stop them drying out and cracking.  Get some oil and a soft cloth and work the oil gently into the top.  Leave it to dry naturally or wipe off any excess with kitchen paper.


Filed under Cleaning, Household Hints

Good night, sleep tight and mind the bugs, bacteria and dust mites don’t bite

Dust mites

In which the Wartime Housewife compares historical hygiene and the importance of airing bed linen.

Isn’t it interesting how concepts of hygiene change over the years?  Adverts tell us that there are more germs on our chopping boards than on our lavatory seats, that we will catch something nasty if we so much as touch the soap dispenser and hint that our spouses may abandon us if our houses smell of anything but ‘Evening Musk of Calibar’.  And yet we survive.

However, we fail to do simple things that could very well curb some of the allergies and respiratory problems which plague the modern family.  Things that our grandparents did as a matter of course.

A potentially lethal mug of cocoa

After two years, one third of the weight of a pillow consists of dust mites, dust mite faeces, dead skin, bacteria and saliva.  A duvet will be similar but with the addition of other body fluids.  Oh, and Ovaltine and cocoa in my case.

Dust mites are terribly fashionable these days and our beds are full of them.  The Victorians were most fastidious about bedrooms and bed linen, and at Spring Cleaning time, they would literally take beds to pieces and wash down ever single bit, then put them back together.  Bed linen was washed at high temperatures, aired and pressed with a hot iron.  Mattresses and pillows were regularly aired and exposed to sunlight.  Windows would be opened at night to let the fresh air in.

Dust mites hate heat and light, therefore washing at 60o or over and then airing in the sun will soon put a stop to them as the sunlight causes them to dry out and die.  Unfortunately, the prevalence of the dust mite has increased with our obsession with washing things at low temperatures.  Perhaps using less detergent but higher temperatures would be better for the environment?  Discuss.

Dust - for those of us who have never noticed it...

All pillows and duvets can be machine washed – even duck and goose down ones.  Pillows will fit into the domestic washing machine and most launderettes have big machines that will accommodate a duvet and have a large tumble dryer to finish them off.  I’m sorry to say that some people buy new duvets instead of washing them, their argument being that it is cheaper to buy a new one than to wash it.  This is missing the point and is wrong-headed; just think what will happen to that duvet when you’ve taken it to the tip.

Incidentally, it is thought that goose and duck down is less susceptible to microbial growth due to the density of the fibres.  Despite being asthmatic, I am not affected by feathers but for the people who are, washing and airing your synthetic pillows should have a high priority.

A bed bug

4 bed bugs infested with poorly manicured human fingers

Bed bugs had been practically eradicated by the 1940s but have increased in incidence since 1995. We’re not quite sure why this has happened, but it may have links to increased foreign travel or a greater focus on controlling other pests.  Spiders, cockroaches, ants and millipedes all predate on them, but I wouldn’t recommend using your bedroom as the pest control equivalent of companion planting.  Reputable insecticides and heat treatments are the answer.  It’s also a good idea to give any second hand furniture, that may be susceptible, a good hovering before first use.  Tight weave mattress protectors are also a good idea, both for suppressing bugs and for keeping mattresses free of ‘fluids’  (and I include Ovaltine and  cocoa in that as well).

Let the sun and air do the work and they cost nothing.  Sheets and pillow cases always feel and smell fresher and nicer when they’ve been hung outside in the fresh air to dry.  What a joy it is to have a bath, then get into a clean nightie and snuggle up between freshly washed sheets.
Wait for a hot, sunny day and peg out your pillows.  I feel a new slogan coming on.


Filed under Cleaning, Health and Fitness, Household Hints

Wills’ Cigarette Cards No 6: Whitening a ceiling


Filed under Cleaning, General DIY, Household Hints, Wills Cigarette Cards

Wills’ Cigarette Cards No 4: Ridding a Carpet of Moths

God, I love these.


Filed under Cleaning, Household Hints, Wills Cigarette Cards

Household Hint

My cousin in Canada sent me this excellent piece of advice yesterday, which is particularly useful for me as I was only moaning recently about how much I hate people dropping by unexpectedly.

Always keep several  Get Well cards on the mantelpiece

So if unexpected guests arrive, 

They will think you’ve been ill 

And unable to clean.

How completely brilliant.


Filed under Cleaning, Family and Friends, Household Hints, Jokes, Life in general