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

Wills’ Cigarette Cards No 2: How to Restore a Crushed Broom

At the Market Harborough Antique Market on Sunday, I found this pack of Wills’ Cigarette Cards and the subject was ‘Household Hints’.  A lucky find or what,  my friends?  I don’t know what date they are, but I assume that they are 40s or 50s as they clearly belong to a non-throwaway time.  

Sadly the set is not complete, but there are certainly enough to make an occasional feature for The Wartime Housewife.  I will present them to you in number order and, although you will find most of them extremely useful, there are a few that will provide more entertainment than edification.

No 2:  Restoring a Crushed Broom


Filed under Cleaning, Collecting, Household Hints, Wills Cigarette Cards

Germs and the con of cleaning products + a recipe for a natural surface cleaner

I burst out laughing the other night when I saw an advert suggesting that using an anti-bacterial soap dispenser would expose you to an horrific cocktail of germs just by touching the pump!  Happily they had just the product; a movement sensitive dispenser for the home that could just possibly save your life.

Permit me to suggest that the human body is a beautiful, thriving, crawling ecosystem of bacteria, viruses, parasites and terrifying microscopic nasties that, by and large, is kept in balance by a healthy immune system?  

Now I do understand that these days many people would appear to have sustained some compromise to their immune systems.  May I also suggest that if they ate decent food, got a bit more fresh air and encouraged their children to climb trees and fall over, they might just develop an immune system that was up to the job. 

Naturally I am talking about every day living here.  My views on hospital cleaning and the appropriate feeding of the infirm, could well have you eating topsoil just to take your mind of my ranting, so I will leave that for another, angrier and longer blog.

All I’m saying, dear ones, is that we must maintain a healthy perspective; I would not advise scraping week old raw chicken off your chopping board in order to butter your toast on it without a thorough scrubbing.  And if you promise to pay attention, I won’t even mention our urgent need generally to consume less of everything.  But what I will do is give an excellent natural recipe for an all purpose cleaner and disinfectant for your home with not a plastic bottle or an anionic surfactant in sight.


1 x large saucepan
1 x fine mesh sieve
1 x bottle with a lid or stopper

1 x handful of fresh sage OR
2 x handfuls of fresh thyme OR
1 x handful of fresh rosemary

1/2 pint water
2 tblspns baking soda
1 tspn lemon juice

Put the herb into the pan with the water
Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes
Remove from the heat and leave to cool
When cool, strain the liquid through the mesh
Pour into the bottle and add the baking soda and lemon juice
Put the top on the bottle and shake well
Label the bottle and store in the fridge for up to a week


Filed under Cleaning, Household Hints, Medical, Natural Home Medicines

Trouble at Both Ends: How to cope with Diarrhoea & Vomiting

The winter diarrhoea and vomiting (D&V) bug appears to have reared its ugly head once again.  I have known several people with it over the weekend and it has absolutely knocked them for six, children and adults alike.  So be sensible and remember if D&V continues unabated for more than 24 hours, consult your doctor:

  • Keep off school and work until you are better – it’s not fair on other people to go in and spread it round everyone else.  Particularly stay away from babies and the elderly
  • Cover the mattress, covers and pillows with thick layers of towels which can be removed layer by layer if D&V is uncontrolled.  Cover the floor similarly with newspapers and put the buckets or bowls on these
  • Buy some pull-ups (nappy pants) for young children – it will save a lot of sheets
  • If your young child has a temperature, keep them cool – if they’re in bed, just cover them with a sheet.  Shivering is not necessarily a sign that they are cold, it’s the body’s way of cooling down
  • Adults: if you can keep water down, keep on sipping away, if not don’t drink
  • Children: if they can’t keep water down don’t give it to them until things have eased up and they can keep down fluids and have stopped vomiting or running to the lavatory
  • Then start giving them tiny amounts of cool, boiled water, using a medicine syringe if you have one, until they can start drinking properly
  • Mint tea is also very cooling – put 1 heaped teaspoon of dried mint or a small bunch of fresh minto into a teapot and add about a mugful of boiling water.  Leave for 5 minutes, strain, leave to cool slightly and sip gently
  • As soon as diarrhoea strikes, start taking some electrolyte powders eg. Dioralyte (or shops own) which are just as good.  This will keep you hydrated. 
  • If you don’t have any, a glass of warm water with a squeeze of lemon and a small teaspoon of honey is the perfect re-hydrant
  • Make up a plant spray containing water and 6 drops of lemon or peppermint essential oil.  Spray this around the room as it is an effective antiseptic and air freshener.
  • Keep some antiseptic wipes close, so that you can keep hands clean even if you can’t get to the washbasin
  • If anyone has a sore bottom, mix 3 drops of chamomile or lavender essential oil into a tablespoon of zinc and castor oil cream, remembering to wash your hands thoroughly after applying it
  • Ask your family or neighbours for help; they don’t need to come in, but they could do some washing for you or make you a pan of soup, or sit with your children if you’re not well yourselfOnce fluids are staying in and the D&V has stopped, try some very light foods, with not too much milk in
  • Scrambled egg
  • Mashed banana
  • Stewed apple or pear
  • Bread and thin butter
  • Poached white fish
  • Mashed potatoes, pureed parsnips or carrots
  • Porridge
  • Complan – I buy the plain Complan (much cheaper) and mix it with milk & water with a little bit of cocoa and sugar.  It tastes nice, is very easy to digest and gives you the strength to start eating something more substantial
  • Another version of this is what we used to call Fairy Milk: a glass of milk, with an egg and a teaspoon of sugar mixed in, is frothy, tasty and nourishing

Soup – I make up a pan of Leek and Potato soup which can be thinned out with water at first, then gradually served on its own.  It is nourishing and cleansing, and the mint and parsley in it are cooling and antiseptic to the digestive tract (recipe below)


1 x large saucepan
1 x chopping board
1 x vegetable peeler
1 x sharp knife
1 x stick blender

2oz / 60g butter
2 large leeks – thinly sliced
½ onion – chopped
1 ½ lbs / 720g potatoes – peeled and cubed
1 heaped teaspoon dried parsley (double if fresh)
1 flat teaspoon dried mint (double if fresh)
a twist of black pepper
1 ½ pints / 900ml chicken stock
¼ pint / 150ml double cream

Melt the butter in the pan
Add the leeks and onions and cook until soft
Add the potatoes, herbs & pepper and cook until the potatoes are softening
Add the stock and simmer until the potatoes are soft
Blend until smooth
Stir in the cream


Filed under Children, Cleaning, Food, Natural Home Medicines, Nutrition & Sensible Eating, Recipes

Socks Education: Where do the odd socks go?

Socks cause a great deal of trouble in the home.  Everyone needs socks and everyone has experienced difficulties with socks, whether through personal loss, identity crises or malodorousness. 

Sock Amnesties:
Every so often, the preponderance of single socks in the Lost Sock Basket, forces me to hold a Sock Amnesty.  This involves The Boys handing in any socks, single or otherwise, that they have found under pillows, in schoolbags, down their trousers or on bookshelves, with complete impunity.  The Lost Sock Basket is then emptied into the washing machine.  When clean and dry, any socks that are obviously a pair are returned to the drawer of their owner.  Any socks that remain are marched straight to the rag bag.

Identity Parades:
There is absolutely no valid reason why anyone should wear plain, dark socks.  To do so is perverse and selfish and leads one to suspect that the wearer has no hobbies.  I am charged with the responsibility of managing the socks of a gentleman on a professional basis and he has more than 50 pairs of plain, unmarked socks, 45 pairs of which are black or navy.  However, they are not identical; they exhibit a bewildering assortment of ribs, welts, lengths and thicknesses and on wash days I am frequently to be found in the laundry room, ashen faced and shaking, being menaced by 28 startlingly similar items of faintly threatening hosiery as they stealthily mount the clothes horse.. 

Hole in One (or both):
The Wartime Housewife is not in favour of profligate waste, not even in the sock department.  I am one of those genetic mutants who has my second toe longer than my big toe.  Consequently, every sock I own has a hole in the toe within a month of being introduced to my feet.  Therefore I darn.  Darning is easy and, if done really well, will actually strengthen your socks thereby ensuring a longer life.  I will show you how to darn tomorrow.

Lost Socks in the Laundry of Oblivion:
Make yourself a cup of tea, help yourself to a Hob Nob and sit down.  I have something to tell you.
I believe that when you know, to the core of your soul, that you put two socks in the washing machine, but only one sock comes out, there is a scientific explanation.  Time and/or interdimensional teleporting.  Washing machines are imbedded with a Top Secret Chip which dictates that when the spin cycle reaches a certain velocity i.e. between 800 and 1000 rpm, for a certain period of time, single socks are flung out of this time and catapaulted into another. 

Think of a time in history when ghoulish knitters were actually given a name.  The Tricoteurs of the French Revolution were alleged to sit at the guillotine, knitting whilst they enjoyed the entertainment. They weren’t watching the executions, they were waiting.  Waiting for the single socks to materialise so that they could knit a matching sock and sell them on the black market.  Those socks that were merely flung into another dimension are currently languishing in Single Socks Schools, learning  darning and podiatry or being put to work as sleeping bags for hamsters or, in the worst cases, as hand puppets in tea commercials. 

Possible Solutions:
The obvious solution to the Great Pairing Debacle is simple.  Five pairs of black socks with coloured toes and heels can be purchased at modest cost from any major supermarket (more expensive varieties are available should you wish).  They give every appearance of being plain dark socks, but when sock bath time comes round,  they are easily identified and paired up.  It goes without saying that patterned socks are easily managed, as are plain socks with the days of the week embroidered on them.  Cartoon socks are not acceptable under any circumstances.

Another, more time consuming, measure is to thread a little piece of coloured wool just inside the welt of  each pair of socks, which will not be seen by strangers, but will be visible to The Sorter of The Socks.  It would take a little time, but would be infinitely cheaper than buying new socks.

However, if your socks are disappearing from the washing machine on a regular basis, then you must either stop spinning them at once or better still, hand wash.  This is the only sure fire way of keeping absolute control of your socks. That and not wearing any socks at all.  But that would be going too far.  OR WOULD IT?


Filed under Cleaning, Household Hints, Re-use Recycle, Sewing

A Few More Household Hints

  • A couple of grains of rice in a salt cellar will keep salt from clagging up
  • A sugar cube placed onto cheese will stop it going mouldy
  • Mix together a thick paste of biological washing powder and bleach and apply to mildew round sink seals with a brush.  Leave for an hour to dramatically reduce black marks
  • Keep attractive Christmas cards at the end of the holiday.  Cut them up to make gift tags for next year.  You can use a hole punch to make a hole in the corner.
  • Make lists of what Christmas presents you have bought this year and for whom, then keep it until next year.  This avoids repetition of gifts.
  • If you’re going on holiday for a few days and need to keep your plants watered, place a jar of water near the plants.  Push a piece of string into the soil in the pot  and put the other end into the jar of water.  The plants will draw what they need up the string.


Filed under Christmas, Cleaning, Decorative, fashion, Household Hints

An Apology

It has been a really busy week.  The boys are on half term, but one still has one’s normal work to do including the writing of this blog.  I have a list, which I constantly update, of ideas which I think will interest the readers of the Wartime Housewife, but this evening I just stared and stared and stared at it. 

I am off to London this weekend to visit The Aged Parent, Sister the First and Sister the Second and, most excitingly, to see my nephew performing in an opera on Saturday night.  I have never heard him sing and as he is now thirteen, his time as a soprano is running out.  I shall be staying with the Aged Parent and she will then be returning with me to The Midlands on Sunday night. 

This has meant having to pack for me and The Boys for four days (bearing in mind that we will be on the move), clean the house so that it is fit to be seen by the Aged Parent, do washing, make arrangements for Smog and The Fish, do a huge basket of ironing for someone else and, last but not least, clean up the huge milk spill that Boy the Elder caused when making Ovaltine earlier this evening.  It has gone under the fridge and he tried to hide it by laying a sheet of newspaper carefully on the top.  Imagine if I hadn’t found it for four days.  No, go on.  Imagine.

Unsurprisingly, having posted the Sunday Poem and a recipe for Chocolate Brownies, I have run out of steam.  It is 1.45 in the morning, the computer is on a ‘go-slow’ (six and a half minutes to save a document) and I still haven’t packed, had a bath or washed my hair.  I am hungry but the fridge is empty because I won’t be here and the idea of getting up any earlier fills me with dread.  But it must be done.  I shall have a large mug of Ovaltine (without spilling it), a bowl of Special K (low fat and easily digestible!), a chapter of my current Boris Akunin novel and make do with a shower in the morning.

I will leave you with this lovely sentiment, sent to me by Lady Somerset.

c. Keith Allen of Cath Tate Cards

c. Keith Allen of Cath Tate Cards


Filed under Children, Cleaning, Family and Friends

Re-use, Re-cycle, Re-fuse to waste

I am absolutely fed up with being told how important it is to recycle.  I groan when I hear about councils threatening to fine people for putting recyclable waste into their normal dustbins.  I mutter to myself about the vicissitudes of waste management from county to county.  I feel genuine pity for the people who live within half a mile of our local rubbish tip, for whom the constant smell must be utterly unbearable.

In Leicestershire we have a green bin for garden and a ‘limited amount’ of cardboard waste, a box for paper including junk mail and another box for glass and tins. We then have a black bin for everything else.  Recycling is collected weekly and the black and green bins are collected bi-weekly.  The refuse collectors have the right to refuse to empty your bins if the lids won’t close.  I have to drive to the nearest recycling centre.  But every county is different accordingly to which refuse company has been awarded the contract and how much the council is willing to spend.   My family in the south have a far greater range of recyclable rubbish collected from their houses than we do in the Midlands. 

I am not an expert environmental scientist and I am not a guru in the field of waste management.  I am simply a Housewife (Wartime variety, naturally)  who doesn’t want to see my country disappear under a mountain of rubbish.  Recycling is all very worthy, but it is not the answer to the massive refuse problem that we,  and the majority of the developed world, is facing.  In times of recession, many waste management companies are not buying this recyclable waste, so what happens to it then?  And let’s not forget the energy involved in producing recycled goods.

If we really want to ‘do our bit’ for the environment, we have to produce less waste in the first place.  We must consume less.  In some aspects of life this is easy; one excellent reason for cooking from scratch is that you don’t have to contend with all that packaging from pre-prepared food.  But I scream with rage when I am told, all too frequently, that it is cheaper to buy a new appliance than it is to repair the old one.  At one time, one assumed that if you bought an expensive brand of kettle, it would last you several times longer than a £4.95 one from Argos, but even that does not appear to be true any more.  Lady Marjorie recently had to throw away a £70 Dualit kettle after only 18 months and was told she had done well to have it last that long.  Apparently, she should have spent another £12 on an extended warranty.

So what can we do?  And how can we do it without completely disrupting our lives?  Here are a few tips (to reduce the tips!) that I follow when I can, with which most of you will already be familiar, but it doesn’t hurt to be reminded!:

  • Plan as many meals as you can in advance so that you can get the food you need, thereby potentially reducing waste
  • Cook from scratch to avoid packaging
  • Take tupperware boxes to the meat, fish and deli counters in the supermarket and ask them to put your food in those with the bar code stuck to the lid.  Some will refuse, but most won’t and if they do – make a fuss!  Independent shops are much more amenable to this idea.
  • Always have a couple of cotton shopping bags in your handbag or car
  • If you need to use carrier bags, keep them for use as bin liners
  • Sugar bags and flour bags are ideal for re-use as they are lightly waxed on the outside to keep the original contents dry.  Use them to wrap sandwiches and cake for packed lunches.
  • Keep some of your interesting rubbish for junk modelling as an activity for the children.
  • Keep some jam jars and small bottles with screw lids.  Next year they will be there when you have a go at jam, jellies and syrups!
  • Wash foil and use it again
  • Use the milkman if you can afford to.  If not, plastic milk cartons, cut in half, make very effective cloches for seedlings in your garden. You can adjust air flow through the lid.
  • Mend your  clothes and darn your socks.  I will do an item on darning if this will help! Just because you can buy a new pair of trousers in Primark for £2 doesn’t mean you should.  You can do mending while watching TV or listening to the radio.
  • If clothes are beyond the pale, cut them up for dusters and cleaning cloths.  Old pants make super dusters, shirts are non-linty for shiny surfaces. A man’s shirt will make a practical painting overall for a child.
  • Don’t buy separate cleaning fluids for every different job.  It’s a con.  A decent, all-purpose household cleaner will manage most things as will an own brand bleach and a packet of soda crystals.  Better still, invest in some eco cloths.  My sister bought me some four years ago and they’re still doing the job.
  • Lemon juice in the cleaning water will disinfect work surfaces as well as anything else
  • Essential oil, such as lavender or lemon, on a damp cloth, wiped over your radiators will fragrance your house as well as any air freshener, costs much less and can be tailored to your own taste.  Why does your house smell so bad anyway?
  • If you need odd bits of furniture for general use, see if your local tip has a shop and look there first.  You’ll be amazed at what you can find.
  • Auctions – the ultimate in re-use from expensive antiques to general houseware.  And it’s great fun.
  • Have a go at E-bay – you’d be amazed what people buy and if it doesn’t sell, it’s cost you nothing
  • Use charity shops – again you’ll be amazed and the benefits are two-fold; less waste plus a charity donation

Right, that’s enough to be going on with.  I would love to hear your own  tips for reducing waste or saving energy. 

I am now going to save my own energy by switching off the computer and going to bed.


Filed under Cleaning, Ethics, Food, Household Hints, Re-use Recycle

A Few Household Tips

Just a few interesting bits and pieces that cut down on expensive cleaning materials:-

ARACHNOPHOBES:  Spiders absolutely hate conkers, so place them round your house in the corners where spiders are like to come creeping in.  With their dripping fangs, their red glowing eyes and that horrid way they have of appearing to be all hesitant when actually they want to leap into your hair and….

CUP RINGS OR WHITE PATCHES ON WOOD:  Put a tablespoonful of cigarette ash in a small dish or saucer with it with water, drop by drop, until it forms a thick paste.  Using a soft cloth. Rub the paste gently, but resolutely, into the white area.  Let is soak in for a few minutes then wipe off.  Treat again as necessary until the ring has gone.

CLEANING WHITE ENAMEL SINKS:  Enamel sinks are easily stained and scratched.  A gentle and very effective way of cleaning a sink and keeping it white is to put the plug in, pour in one cupful of biological washing powder, then fill the sink with hot water.  Stir it round well to dissolve the powder and leave it for an hour or longer if you can. Rinse well with cold water.

SODA CRYSTALS:  These are great because they are very cheap, have many uses and they break down harmlessly in the soil.

General cleaning:  dissolve a handful of soda crystals in a bucket of hot water.  Clean things.

To keep sinks flowing freely, pour a cupful of soda crystals into the plug hole, pack it down hard and leave for an hour.  Pour a kettle full boiling water down the plug.  Do this once a week.

To clean silver, dissolve a cupful of soda crystals in warm water.  Put a sheet of aluminium foil in the bottom of the bowl.  Place your silver items in the solution, checking frequently.  Use rubber gloves to protect your hands. Rinse thoroughly and buff with a soft `cloth. 

OLD TOOTHBRUSHES:  Keep old toothbrushes in your cleaning box as they are ideal for getting into nooks such as round the bottom of taps, sink plugs and the fittings on the lavatory.  When polishing fretwork on brass or silver, wrap the toothbrush in a soft cloth.

NEWSPAPER:  Newspaper contains a weak acid and is a super way to polish glass.  Wash your glass with water, then scrunch up some newspaper to dry and polish it. 

WOODBURNING STOVES:  To clean the glass on the doors of a woodburning stove, apply a strong cleaning fluid, such as a shop’s own brand general cleaner, with a plastic scourer and rub hard until the greasy brown marks have come off.  Dry and polish using scrunched up newspaper.  If you do this frequently, it will only take a few minutes each week to keep them gleaming and your lovely fire visible.


Filed under Cleaning, Household Hints