Green cleaning and housekeeping tips

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Green cleaning tipsIf you’ve signed up for our regular newsletter, you’ll be receiving craft, cooking, gardening, green cleaning and housekeeping tips every fortnight. For easy reference, we’ve accumulated all the green cleaning and housekeeping tips, thus far, here. We’ll keep adding to this page, so keep checking back on a regular basis.

If you have a great tip to share with us we would love to add it to our list. Email your tip to us here.

Laundry tips

  • Need to starch your shirts? Use a mix of cornstarch (cornflour) and water. Mix 1 teaspoon of cornstarch with half a cup of water. Put in a spray bottle and spray onto your clothing. Tip from SL reader Glennis, Ca.
  • Is your coat or any other difficult-to-clean item of clothing drenched in perfume, smoke or cooking smells that won’t come out? Pack them into a box with a tray of baking soda. The baking soda will absorb the scents, saving you a dry-cleaning bill.
  • Save the moisture absorber sachets that you get with new shoes and new handbags, etc, and place them with your washing powder to stop it from clumping.
  • Make your own rose-scented fabric spray to keep your clothes and linen smelling sweet. Combine 10 drops of rose essential oil and half a cup (125ml) of water in a spray bottle and use when ironing.
  • To dry sweaters or delicate garments on a line without getting peg marks, slip old stockings through the sleeves and peg the ends of those to the line.
  • To iron pleated skirts quickly and easily, attach pegs to the bottom of the pleats.
  • Remove perspiration odours from clothing by spraying white vinegar onto the underarm and collar areas before placing the item in the washing machine.
  • Hard-pressed to remove perspiration stains from white clothing? Try a mix of aspirin and cream of tartar. Make a paste by mixing 3 crushed aspirins, 1 tablespoon of cream of tartar and a cup of warm water. Rub the paste into the stain with an old toothbrush and let it sit for 20 minutes. Wash off with warm water. Repeat if necessary.
  • When folding clothes for the suitcase, fold them over rolled-up plastic bags to help prevent creases.

Green cleaning tips

  • Got pet fur all over your carpet? Get our your window/shower squeegee and use it to wipe off the fur. It truly works!
  • Lavender and tea tree are both highly antiseptic and can be used as a general cleaner. Pour a cup of water into a spray bottle, add 20 drops of either pure lavender or tea tree essential oil to the bottle, shake well then spray onto your bench top. Leave for at least 15 minutes.
  • Glassware that emerges from your dishwasher all cloudy can be made crystal clear again by adding a teaspoon of Epsom salts to the next cycle.
  • To keep your shower doors spotless, hang a dish wand – one of those hollow wands that has a scrubbing sponge on the end – from a suction hook inside your shower. Fill the wand with half dishwashing liquid and half vinegar. Use this regularly to keep your shower sparkling.
  • Scuff marks on vinyl floors can be removed with a dab of eucalyptus oil on a cloth or paper towel.
  • Make your own topnotch floor cleaner without the harsh chemicals. Grab a bucket and add 1/4 cup vinegar, 7 litres warm water, 1/4 cup washing soda and a few drops of dishwashing liquid. Mix together and use a mop to clean your floors.
  • Instant coffee can be used to tidy scratched wooden furniture. Make a thick paste from coffee and a little water and rub it onto any scratches on dark wooden furniture. It will look just like new again. Tip from SL reader Jo McKenzie.
  • To clean shower doors, cut a lemon in half, dip one half in baking soda and use it to clean the glass.
  • When hand-washing your dishes, add a couple of mint leaves to the water to give them a refreshing scent. Keep a glass filled with mint leaves by your sink for easy access.
  • If you don’t have a steel wool pad for removing baked on food from dishes or oven racks, use a scrunched up piece of aluminium foil that’s been moistened, and a drop of detergent.
  • Use the rind of juiced limes to clean copper or copper-bottomed pans.
  • If your fabric lampshades are covered in dust, use an adhesive lint roller to remove it quickly and easily.
  • Use fresh lemon balm leaves as a furniture polish. Take a handful of leaves and rub them onto your wooden furniture. The oil from the leaves will leave the wood shiny and smelling fragrant.
  • Give your stainless steel pots and pans a spring clean. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of baking soda onto the bottom of the pan, add water and simmer on the stove for 5 minutes. Your pots will come up sparkling clean… great for getting rid of baked or burnt on food, with no harsh scrubbing required.
  • Dishwasher not full? Add gas burner covers and plates to save time washing them by hand.
  • Wipe down chopping boards with full strength vinegar. It will clean and disinfect them, cut grease and absorb odours.
  • Add a little white vinegar and bicarbonate of soda to a bath to make your dog smell less ‘doggy’ and also leave it with a soft shiny coat.
  • To clean silver jewellery, use 1 bowl of hot water with a chunk of washing soda or sodium carbonate; a piece of aluminium foil. Place aluminium foil on bottom of bowl. Put your silver jewellery in the bowl and wait a while. The good thing about cleaning this way is that it doesn’t take any of the silver away, unlike a silver cleaning cloth which polishes away a little layer of silver every time. It cleans the silver really well and makes it very shiny! Beware of trying this with silver jewellery that has stones or gems; they may loosen, so it’s best to clean them another way. Tip from reader Alice from The Netherlands.
  • To freshen a vacuum flask place 2 teaspoons of baking soda into the empty flask then top it up with near-boiling water. Leave overnight, then empty the water and wash with soapy water. Rinse with clean warm water.
  • To clean your bath, take one grapefruit and a smattering of salt and you have yourself an instant cleaner. If you’ve got an overabundance of grapefruit on you tree (or perhaps your neighbour has), try this beautiful smelling cleaner on your shower or bathtub. It really couldn’t be simpler. Just cut the grapefruit in half, sprinkle it with salt and you’re ready to scrub away the dirt.
  • To remove stubborn burnt-on food from a pan, fill the pan with warm water, add lemon slices and allow it to simmer for about 15 minutes or until the food starts to break loose from the surface.
  • Half a lemon and a little table salt rubbed on the inside of your teapot will keep it clean and prevent any bitterness.
  • Remove soap build-up from face cloths by boiling them for 10 minutes in a solution of 500ml water and 1 teaspoon of vinegar.
  • A great way to quickly disinfect your dishwashing cloth is to first dampen it then place it in the microwave for 2 minutes. It’s also handy for saving water, as you don’t have to run the tap until the water’s hot enough to blast the bacteria. Just place the wet dishcloth in the microwave. Tip from reader Ngaire
  • Make a homemade wooden furniture polish with 1/4 cup olive oil, 4 tablespoons vinegar and 2 teaspoons lemon juice. Pour ingredients into a spray bottle and shake before use. Store in fridge.
  • Make furniture polish from beeswax and olive oil. It’s great for indoor or outdoor wooden furniture. Mix 1 cup of shaved natural beeswax with ¼ cup olive oil and heat gently until wax has melted and mixed in with the olive oil. Add 6 drops of lemon or orange essential oil and allow the mixture to cool before applying with a soft cloth.
  • FLASHBACK: Probably it would help some housekeepers to know that an excellent mahogany furniture polish is made from equal parts of pure olive oil and warm black coffee. Just dampen a cheese cloth with this mixture, and pass over the surface to be polished, then wipe with an old piece of silk. The result will be surprising. Tip from The Leader (Melbourne, Victoria), 1914.
  • Over time, hairbrushes build up dirt, bacteria, residue from sprays and oils, and even dead skin cells. If they’re not cleaned regularly, they’ll soon become a breeding ground for bacteria and a mass of tangled hairs. To clean your brush, use a wide-tooth comb to remove hair from the bristles. Then soak in a sink full of warm water with 2 teaspoons shampoo and ¼ cup vinegar mixed in. Remove after several minutes and use the comb to remove any remaining hair. Then use an old toothbrush to scrub in between the bristles or on the edges of the brush.
  • To clean brick floors or fireplace surrounds, use a damp mop in a solution of 1 cup white vinegar mixed with 3.5 litres (1 gallon) of warm water.
  • Can’t get the last bits of a candle out of its holder? Place the candle holder in the freezer until the wax is frozen. The wax will shrink as it freezes and slip out easily.

Housekeeping tips

  • Recycle cardboard spools (the kind that hold embroidery threads) and keep your necklaces from getting tangled. Simply wrap the necklace around the spool and fasten the clip. This is a great storage tip for travelling.
  • Before placing a new roll of toilet paper on its holder, place a couple of drops of essential oil on the inner cardboard roll. Each time its used a pleasant perfume is released.
  • To make a delicious smelling freshener for the carpet, place ½ cup baking soda, 1 tablespoon lavender flowers,
 30 drops lemongrass essential oil
 and 30 drops lavender essential oil 
into a glass jar or bowl and mix well. Sprinkle onto your carpet and leave for a while before vacuuming.
  • If you have a fireplace or wood burner, save your used teabags for fire starters. Dry them first, then place them in a large jar with a few drops of  methylated spirits. Screw on the lid and shake. Use one teabag each time you light your fire.
  • Lazy Susans don’t have to be confined to cupboards and pantries. Use one in the fridge to easily reach bottles and tubs.
  • Can’t reach inside a glass decanter or bottle to dry it? Roll a couple of paper towels up tightly and insert them three-quarters of the way into the bottle. The paper will absorb the moisture.
  • Here’s an easy way to keep grills, sandwich makers and panini presses clean. Once you’ve finished cooking, unplug the appliance and press a couple of damp paper towels between the top and bottom plates. Leave for a while and it will steam clean. Wipe dry with a clean paper towel.
  • Don’t discard the cereal bags that come inside cereal boxes. They can be used as you would for wax paper. When storing items of food in the freezer, like meat patties, for example, place a cut piece of the cereal bag between each patty to keep them from freezing together.
  • Oven bags make great liners for baking trays, cake tins, or to pipe chocolate or icing shapes onto. Also, don’t discard the liners between sheets of pre-rolled pastry. They can be used to separate pancakes, cake slices or meat patties before freezing. Tip from SL reader Mel Doogan.
  • Over a period of time stored glass bottles and jars sometimes get a musty smell, or retain food smells. Store a clove in each bottle to prevent this.
  • The easiest way to pick up small slithers of broken glass is to use a wad of damp cotton wool.
  • When folding clothes for the suitcase, fold them over rolled-up plastic bags to help prevent creases.
  • Are the soles of your favourite shoes too slippery? Use a soldering iron to burn shallow diagonal lines in a criss-cross fashion on the bottom for non-skid treads.
  • If your table is wobbly, cut a thin slice out of an eraser and glue it to the bottom of the offending leg.
  • If your steel tape measure doesn’t slide in and out of its case easily any more, lubricate the tape with wax paper.
  • Keep your toolbox tidy with more storage compartments. Stack cutlery trays inside on top of one another. They hold items well and can easily be lifted out to reach other tools.
  • For a temporary fix, block mouse entry holes around kitchen pipes or anywhere they come in with steel wool. Mice will chew through paper, but not steel wool. Tip from Sweet Living reader Yvonne, Auckland.
  • To stop doors from squeaking, brush a little olive oil onto the hinges. It’s easily applied by wiping a cotton ball over them, or using a cooking spray bottle.
  • Scent your pillow slips with lavender essential oil to help children – or yourself – to sleep better. Just a couple of drops is all that’s needed.
  • For a sweet-smelling home, make an all-natural rose petal carpet freshener. Pick a couple of handfuls of fragrant rose petals and let them dry. Grind dried petals along with baking soda in a blender. Put the mixture into a shaker. Sprinkle onto carpets and let it sit for a few hours before vacuuming.
  • To make scratches on wooden tables less noticeable, mix some cider vinegar and iodine in a small jar and paint over the scratch with a small artist’s brush. Use more iodine for darker woods; more vinegar for lighter shades.
  • Worn facecloths can be turned into dust or waxing mitts. Place two together, outline your hand in a mitten shape, cut and stitch together, leaving the bottom edge open for inserting your hand.
  • When washing your windows, use vertical strokes on the inside and horizontal strokes on the outside (or vice versa). If streaks form after drying you’ll know which side of the glass the streaks are on.
  • Make your dishwashing liquid work harder by adding a few drops of lemon essential oil – a natural disinfectant.
  • Mint can be used as a pest deterrent. A few drops of peppermint oil in water repels mosquitoes, while dried pennyroyal leaves scattered on bookshelves deters silverfish. Most mints also help repel moths from clothes.
  • To deter silverfish, scatter whole cloves in cupboards and drawers.
  • Keep pens, pencils and other stationery neat in drawers with a homemade desk tidy. Cut empty cardboard tubes in half lengthwise and tack them to the bottom of drawers.
  • Need a quick-fix sharpening tool? Use a beer bottle. You can sharpen blunt scissors by pretending to cut the neck off a beer bottle.
  • Is your artwork constantly crooked? Pictures will hang straight if you form a loop in the string or wire before slipping it over the hook.
  • Keep the toilet seat down when flushing. Flushing with the lid up pitches a plume of germs around the room that float in the air for up to two hours.
  • Use tomato sauce to polish copper and brassware. Pour some sauce on a cloth and rub it over tarnished objects. Rinse with warm water and dry with a clean cloth.
  • Keep strappy tops and dresses from slipping off coat hangers by placing rubber bands over the ends of the hanger.
  • Dark leather shoes can be spruced up by rubbing them with a bunched up piece of newspaper (avoid coloured ink). No need to apply shoe polish.
  • Keyboard need a clean? Before chucking out used Post-it Notes, insert the sticky end in between the keys to clean off dust and dirt.
  • Here’s a tip picked up from a real estate agent many years ago. To make a home feel welcoming, pop a tray of wet, store-bought ginger nut biscuits in the oven. Bake on a low heat for 5-10 minutes to release their wonderful aroma. This helps to mask the pungent aroma of burnt food or any other strong smells in your kitchen.
  • Scan or photocopy receipts for high-priced items, or items that have a long warranty time, as till receipts fade over time, to the point of being unreadable.

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