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teddyradiator 's post of handy hints has inspired me to share a few of mine (hope you don't mind, m'dear).

I'll just stick to mainly cleaning ones for now, but I may add a few in another post.

Many of these a lot of you will no doubt know, but it never hurts to share.

I don't like using too many chemicals or proprietary cleaners in my house cleaning. I'm not fanatical, but, having had kids, you think about the toxicity and then there's the cost factor. I've also found that often, the simplest and least toxic are also the most efficient. I have a spinal injury, so I've also found ways around doing some of the things that can be hard on your back, so I've added a couple of these, too.

Anyway, here's my basic list of cleaning and some fix-it supplies:

A bottle of cheap shampoo - doesn't matter what kind, cheap and basic is fine
Dishwashing liquid
A cake of plain soap
Bottle of Lavendar Oil
Bottle of Clove Oil
Baking Soda (bicarb)
Cheap white vinegar
Lemon Juice (fresh or squeeze bottle)
Olive Oil
A candle (doesn't matter what kind)
A bottle of cheap bleach
A rag style mop
Cheap plain kitchen sponges
Cheap sponges with plastic scourer on one side
Spray bottles (I do buy them, but I also get them from neighbours that buy the spray products and I re-use them)
A Fresh Ginger Root

I've used litre spray bottles, so if you go by pints, a litre is just under 2 pints. (600ml = 1pint approx) so adjust accordingly.

Ok - on with the show:
Counter top spray:
About a teaspoon (a little more if you like, but not too much) of bleach in a litre (just under 2pint) spray bottle of water makes a food grade countertop sanitizing spray.  You can add a bit of lemon juice for fragrance if you like, but it doesn't leave much of a bleach smell as it's a very low concentration. It's a lot less toxic than most of the sprays you buy and does as good, if not a better job. (feel the pennies adding up already?)
NOTE: Because bleach breaks down in UV light (another good reason to use a weak solution on countertops rather than god knows what in some of those sprays) keep the spray bottle in a cupboard if you want to keep it effective.
If you're going to use the countertop for food prep straight away again, you can also do this with lemon juice or white vinegar.
If used for just this, a 2litre bottle of bleach will last you at least a year - now figure out how much you spend on your counter top spray alone...good saving, eh?

Wall and general wipe down spray:
A teaspoon (less if you get pure or high concentrate) of Lavender Oil in a spray bottle of water is a great general wipedown spray. It gets most marks off walls, door frames and door handles, light switches, bannisters etc cleans up kitchen cupboard doors, is a mild antiseptic and makes everything smell really fresh. It will also shine up taps and spouts. The Lavender oil just melts human skin oil and will handle other light oily stains and marks quite well. I've even had success with it for some crayon. Don't use a stronger solution on painted wood, though - in it's stronger form, it can lift paint, but in this solution it's fine.

Mould and Shoe Spray:
If you want to get rid of, or prevent mould, DON'T use those horrible, toxic, stinky spray products they sell in the shops. Most are very strong bleach based or worse, and may seem to clear it up, but most don't really kill the spores, so you'll have more frequent recurrences than if you use this one of mine. Clove oil contains a chemical called Eugenol that actually kills and prevents the regrowth from spores for much longer.
Eugenol can irritate skin and eyes, although not toxic, so wear gloves and if you're doing a large area, some eye protection will prevent any problems there. I usually just wear rubber gloves, my safety specs and tie a bandana around my mouth and nose (great look!).

If you have little kids around, keep them out of the way as their skin can be more sensitive to irritants.

1/4 of a teaspoon of Oil of Cloves (no more!), the one people use for toothache, not scented oil,  in a litre spray bottle of water. You can usually buy this at a chemists and it works out cheaper usually than if you buy it through a greenclean place. A small bottle lasts quite a while as you don't need much. Look around, though, and compare as it may be different where you are.
Spray the solution on the mould and let it sit overnight. Spray again and then wipe off the mould, and a light spray on the area every couple of weeks or monthly in the problem area will prevent any recurrence.
If the mould is heavy, you may have to treat it twice to get it all gone, but it works like a charm and smells lovely once it's dried a bit.

This is also good for preventing mould on window glass in the winter if you have a condensation problem.

It also doubles as a shoe deodoriser and sanitizer and prevents athlete's foot and nail fungus infections. Just a light spray inside the shoes every couple of days and leave to dry overnight and stinky shoes are a thing of the past. I have a teenaged boy, so I know of what I speak! It's also good for when you'll be storing shoes for a while.

If there's a problem in your household with athlete's foot or nail fungus infection, you can also treat your shower stall and bathroom floor. A couple of drops in a soaker bucket for socks before washing them will help to nip the cycle in the bud, too.`

NOTE: About the only kind of normal mould problem this won't fix is if you get it actually UNDER bathroom or kitchen sealant. The only solution for that, unfortunately, is removing the sealant, treating the area with the oil of cloves solution, making sure it's nice and clean, then resealing.

A candle is a very handy thing to have around and not just for it's light should you have a black out.

Sticky drawers: rub the candle along where the drawer runs and it should fix the problem.

Sticky doors: If they're not too out of true, this will help. Rub the candle along where the door is sticking.

As a temporary sealant: If you have lost a bit of sealant around an area, use candlewax until you can get it fixed. Light the candle, drip the wax along the gap and smooth over with your finger as you go. This won't work forever, unless you want to keep redoing it every so often, but it does work until it can be properly done. Of course, make sure it's all cleaned off before you reseal with silicone sealant.

Bicarb and vinegar:

Soooo many uses! Great for cleaning, of course, but it has other uses too, my favourite being:
I do this about once a fortnight, but if you have problematic drains, you can do this as often as you like, or need to. This is a life saver and avoids horrible caustic chemicals. It also stops smelly drains quite effectively.

You'll need:
A box of bicarb (baking soda)
A bottle of cheap white vinegar
A kettle

Put two or three teaspoons of bicarb down the drain
Pour in about a half a cup of vinegar

You'll hear it fizzing away, lifting any residue

Leave it for around 20 minutes then boil a kettle of water and pour it down the drain.

It clears most blockages, speeds up slow flowing drains and gets rid of any smells, all without toxic, caustic chemicals and is a lot cheaper.

If the blockage is a bad one, it may take a few goes, but I really have never had a failure with it.

To use as a cleaner:

The best way I've found to use it to clean is to use the two sponge method. Dampen the sponges in water, then liberally sprinkle the bicarb on one side of one sponge. Make a 'bicarb sandwich' with the other, then pour a bit of vinegar on the sponge that will be in contact with the surface to be cleaned. Alternately, you can have a bowl of white vinegar to lightly dip the cleaning side in. Don't dip too deep though. The two  will react and fizzy, cleaning goodness will then be available to get the dirt off! It's less messy this way and less residue to wipe off after. Just keep adding vinegar as needed until it loses it's fizz, rinse out in water and start again.

A bar of plain soap:
People seem to have forgotten how easy and effective soap is to clean things. They'll go for the spray, rather than just wipe a sponge or scourer over a bar of soap and clean. It's cheap, non toxic and it works. I only use soap and a scrubbing brush on my wooden cutting boards. A scrub, then a rinse off under a hot running tap. No residue, no chemicals and it extends the life of your wooden boards. I also use it to clean the seals of my fridge and freezer. It doesn't degrade the seal and it does a great job. A quick wipe with a damp sponge is all that's needed to get the residue off.

Water: It's very close to a universal solvent - put a wet sponge over a bit of dried or difficult to shift gunk and let it sit then come back in a bit and it will usually lift.

A Water Saving Tip:
I don't have a bath in my house at the moment, but when I'd lived in one that did, bathwater was always re-used to wash floors, water gardens (if you use soap and not too many additives in your bath) and, in times of drought, when I've lived in places with no town water, to flush toilets by tipping a bucket of bathwater down it. Much of Australia is nearly always on water restrictions and water usage rates are quite steep in most places. It also costs quite a bit to have water carted to fill tanks in times of drought, so you don't waste it. You're also doing your little bit for the environment.

Vinegar and Lemon Juice (combined or separately):
Both have a lot of uses. They're both mild antiseptics, so are good for food prep surfaces.

I always use white vinegar for cleaning purposes - I buy the big 2litre bottles of generic el cheapo and it works fine.
Lemon juice:
if I have fresh, i use them, but I also always have a bottle or two of a cheap, squeezy one as well. It's quick and easy and works mostly as well.

Both white vinegar and lemon juice are great for getting rid of both pet and human urine smells. I actually find white vinegar better, but either diluted to about 1part to 2parts water works well. If using it on carpet, always do a test spot first just to make sure it won't change the colour, and if you're using it to clean the bathroom, you can use a stronger dilution if necessary. My son is well trained, but some of his mates are not and it really stops your loo from smelling like a male public toilet. I find when dealing with those with terrible aim that wiping the rim, under the seat, around the back of the toilet and mopping a goodly amount of this solution around the outside and base where it is affixed to the floor works wonders.

I also keep a spray bottle on top of the loo and point out to them (I'm not shy in this regard) that if they expect me to clean up their pee, it's extremely disrespectful. I've done my time with bodily excretions when my son was little and I'll be damned if I'll stand for it now.  Most do the right thing now, whether from embarrassment or shame - I don't care - I get the result. It never ceases to amaze me how many men think it's ok to let women clean up this sort of thing after them. It seems it just doesn't occur to them. Once you actually point it out to them and ask if they'd like to do it for others, though, they usually realise how nasty it is. Sorry if I go on about this - it's a pet hate of mine.

Vinegar also cleans windows fantastically, brings glassware up nice and shiny (I don't have a dishwasher. We wash up by hand and always will - horrible, caustic stuff they use) and cleans tiles well.

A glass or cup of water with lemon juice in it is good for cleaning your microwave too. Just run it for a few minutes with it in it, then wipe the microwave out with a damp sponge. The steam and lemon juice lift grime and freshens it nicely.

it's also great for getting garlic and especially fish smells out of pans, cooking utensils, etc and off your hands - just squirt some juice on the pan and wipe around then wash, or in your palm and wash then rinse to get it off your hands.

A good deodoriser. Most people know about an open box in your fridge to help kill odours. Also good for carpet deodorising - sprinkle on your floor, let sit then vac.

Another one that people don't use much anymore, but can come in handy in a pinch is as a personal deodorant. Mix some with some cornstarch and use it like talc and it is really good. It's not an anti perspirant, but the cornstarch will keep you dry and the bicarb stops odour.

If you're female and still use powder made from talc - stop right now! It's been linked with ovarian cancer, which is why they don't use it in baby powder anymore. It's also pretty awful for your lungs, so fellas, you stop too. I don't know about elsewhere, but babypowder over here has been cornstarch for years because of this.

The best cleaner for bathtubs and hand basins. Think about it - designed to shift sebum and skin flakes, it will clean bathtub gunk easier than most of the other cleaners. It won't help with rust stains, but everything else it's great for and isn't toxic. It's non abrasive and easy to use. Any cheap basic one will do the trick, so don't waste your good ones, just a plain, cheap one will do.

Dishwashing Liquid:
Great for lino and vinyl floors and any sort of cleaning that soap or bicarb and vinegar isn't suitable for. A squirt in a bucket of water and you're away. Even the cheap ones are biodegradable and if they'll clean all that crap off your dishes, they'll do the job on your floor. You really don't need a cupboard full of specialist cleaners. If your floor is very grubby you can add a dash of ammonia to the water, but other than that, it does the trick.

If you want to wax after, you can. Most floors don't really need this to seal them anymore, but if it floats your boat, off you go!

Tea is an effective, non distructive wood cleaner. A warning here, though - it can darken some blonde and light woods, so do a test patch first if in doubt. It will also freshen up the stain in medium to dark woods. Make a strong brew of tea (or keep the leftovers from your pot - but let it stand or even stew it to make it nice and strong) let it cool then use this to clean stains from wood. The tannin in the tea is quite effective and won't harm the wood. It may take a few goes, but I've had pretty good success with this. Coffee can also work as a wood stain refresher.

Egg Whites:
Egg whites are fantastic for cleaning and restoring the shine to leather.  As always, do a test patch first. Just separate a couple, whip the whites, apply with a soft cloth and work in - you'll be surprised by how well this works. My grandmother used to use this to polish her lino, too - me? I'm not that fussed. She also used to do something with milk to shine floors, but I can't remember the details on that one.
Egg Yolks:
What to do with the yolks? Glad you asked! (this is NOT suitable for people with egg or some milk allergies)
You can mix some of the yolks with a little water and use them as a facial cleanser, then mix what's left with some plain yoghurt and use as a facial mask  - it really hydrates and the mild acid in the yoghurt is a good exfoliant so the vitamins and goodies from the yolk can do their work. Leave it on for up to 20 minutes then rinse off - makes your skin feel and look great.

OR you can make an old fashioned egg creme shampoo which is marvellous for sun, chlorine or pollution damaged hair. Mix the eggwhites with about a half to one tsp of Olive Oil and a bit of water and once it's foamy, rub into your wet hair, leave for a few minutes and rinse with warm water. I also add a bit coconut oil when I do this, but you don't have to.

OR - you can use the yolks to make lemon butter - yum!

While we're on personal stuff:
Moisturising shower gels and such? Pshaw!

I suffer psoriasis - not badly, thank heavens, but scented or plain soap and other detergent based things can set it off.
I use a big pump bottle of non scented sorbolene cream to wash my skin. It doesn't foam, but cleans your skin beautifully and doesn't dry it out. I use one of those puffy on a stick things, squirt it on that and use it as I would soap or gel. You can also use a facewasher or just wet your skin, rub it all over and rinse off. DON'T use it on your scalp, though - it can clog the pores there and cause hair loss. On body and face skin though, it's great.

A back saving trick: I keep a plastic scourer sponge in my shower stall and just rub over the bottom of the stall with it under my foot just before I finish. It helps stop build up, especially in the corners and makes for an easier full clean. Like rubbing around the bath when you've finished, only with your foot. I have another higher up I use on the sides for the same reason.

While we're on the subject - when I had one, I also washed my bath with a light rag, actually microfibre, mop - I can't kneel and scrub a bath without a lot of pain and being laid up or on a stick for a few days at least, so I have one mop just for the bath/shower. Once you get the hang of it, using shampoo, it works just as well as the kneel and scrub bit. It's still painful, but a lot better. Floors, I sit crosslegged and wash by hand, shimmying along, the same way I vac a floor. Sounds weird, but you learn to get around these things and you go with what works for you.

Nearly forgot the ginger! Ginger is a wonderful room deodoriser and general freshener. Peel and cut a root into about half thumb sized pieces and place them in four or five spots in a room or more if it's a large room and leave them - they won't rot or attract critters, but will slowly dry out over a few months while keeping the room smelling fresh but not ginger-y.

If you are this way inclined, in folklore, it's also said to clean and protect a room from negative forces if placed in every corner.
I definitely know it lifts your mood and keeps your rooms smelling a lot less musty!
No mess, no fuss, just replace it when it dries out completely.

I'm actually far from anal about my housekeeping and my house is hardly ever pristine, but these tips really do work and work well. It's nearly always messy but never filthy, although it does tend to grub up more often than I'd like to admit.

With all of this knowledge, you'd think my house would always be clean, wouldn't you? Go figure.

*Waves 'I Am The Parent Of A Grotty Teen' flag furiously*


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 6th, 2013 06:21 am (UTC)


Nah - I'll stick to the flamethrower. Nothing it won't fix...
Nov. 6th, 2013 06:31 am (UTC)
I forgot the flamethrower???!!! *slaps palm to forehead*
Nov. 6th, 2013 05:02 pm (UTC)
I don't mind at all! I appreciate all these great tips, especially the one about the oil of cloves. I have a toenail fungus that I cannot get rid of for love nor money. I'm going to give this a try.

Another tip I have for shampoo - shampoo for oily hair is one of the best things for grease spots in clothing - it will lift them out when othing else can. Rub the shampoo in the grease spot with the handle end of a toothbrush or something similar, then wash as normal.

A friend whose dad ran a drycleaners told me that one, and it works really well.

Edited at 2013-11-06 05:07 pm (UTC)
Nov. 7th, 2013 12:41 am (UTC)
Thanks for the tip teddy! Yet another useful tip!

That one had never occurred to me, but it makes sense when you think about it, doesn't it? That will come in very handy with my grubby son. I love sharing tips! Good luck with that oil of cloves one.
It's helped three people that I put on to it. You'll still have to treat the nail, but it will prevent a recurrence, hopefully. Two who found it useful had athlete's foot going round and round all of the members of the household and one had a nail fungus, so here's hoping!
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


dark queen

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