News & Articles

Freshening up your sofa

clip_image002Fabrics pick up dirt, stain and smells the same way that carpets do, so your sofa is also at risk of collecting all the daily dust and dirt in the fibres. Here are a few tricks on how to get your sofa freshened up and looking clean again.

Start off by vacuuming the sofa; try and fit this into your cleaning regime in order to manage the amount of dust and general grubbiness. Use the nozzle to get down between the seams of the sofa, clearing the crumbs and debris that’s accumulating.

Any stains need attention as soon as possible – dealing with a wet stain is easier than trying to get rid of an old one. If you are dealing with a dry stain try not to saturate the sofa as this will make the padding damp and could result in mould. Try opening a window to help with the drying process. Use a shop-bought stain remover, otherwise try laundry soap, washing up liquid or white vinegar – use as little water as possible and dab the area dry with a clean cloth.

Freshening the smell of your sofa may require a professional clean in order to be done properly, in the meantime try sprinkling baking soda over the sofa and leaving it overnight, vacuuming it in the morning - the soda should have absorbed much of the smells. A bowl of hot vinegar will also do the trick as both are excellent odour neutralisers.

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Does bathroom etiquette exist in your house?

clip_image001Does bathroom etiquette exist in your house?

Believe it or not, we Brits spends an average 16 minutes in the bathroom each morning. Whilst most households argue over the TV remote control or whose turn it is to wash up, it’s actually the bathroom that’s causing more and more rifts across the nation!

Using up the last of the loo roll and not replacing it has turned out to be the nation’s biggest bug bear according to a survey held by one of the UK’s leading bathroom manufacturers, Bathstore. This is swiftly followed by another area of contention such as leaving the toilet seat up; typically its women that are more bothered by toilet etiquette compared to 40% of men who don’t seem to have any bathroom issues at all!

Here are the results of the survey split by gender:


clip_image005We spend nearly 121,625,350 hours in the bathroom a week as a nation; the average Brit showers four times a week, takes a bath once a week and shaves twice a week, whilst women make up their time pampering and applying fake tan each week.

But despite our busy lives, there’s no need to chuck good manners down the plughole, and certainly try to avoid calling people whilst on the toilet – a staggering 39% admit to this!

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How to clean wood and laminate flooring

clip_image001[9]Wooden and laminate flooring not only look great, it’s also incredibly practical and long-lasting if looked after properly. Here are some tips to keep your floors squeaky clean.

Wood flooring

Sweep floors regularly, you can use a vacuum with a brush setting although a dry dust mop could do the trick just as well.

Clean the floors with a damp mop, using a cleaning solution specifically for use on wood. Do not allow water to saturate the floor as this can cause damage – mop in the direction of the grain of the wood.

Wet-clean waxed floorboards sparingly, and use wax polish to improve the veneer. If you get a build-up of dirty wax then remove surplus with white spirit and re-wax.

Tip: rub scuff marks from wooden floors with a pencil eraser.

Laminate flooring

Laminate should be swept with a dry dust mop or hoovered regularly. Whilst laminate flooring is fairly scratch-resistant, excess dirt, hair and debris can cause damage if allowed to build up. Sweep in the direction the flooring is laid to ensure you pick up any debris that’s fallen between the grooves.

Never soak the floor with water – whilst laminate is water resistant, it’s not water proof and can stain or damage the protective wear layer of the laminate. The flooring can be cleaned with a damp cloth with a mild household cleaner, however if the stain is ink or permanent marker then use acetone.

It’s not advisable to use scouring pads to remove stains on the laminate flooring as this will scratch the surface, try to remove any liquid stains as quickly as possible.

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Simple tricks for creating a calm and peaceful home

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Make the most of the space in your home

Sometimes we feel that the walls of our homes may be closing in on us, no matter how generous the square footage is. There are some sneaky tricks out there to make your home feel more spacious without having to invest in an extension. Here are some ideas:

clip_image002Banish dark corners: light filled rooms always attract us, so try to increase daylight where you can by moving taller furniture from blocking windows. Boost the light with feature lamps dotted around the room focusing on areas where you spend a lot of your time, such as desks, sofas or tables.

Control the clutter: busy extension leads with trailing wires, piles of paperwork and items lying around can make even the most spacious room look cluttered. Tidy and hide the cables away, file the paperwork and introduce baskets to the room to dump the kids’ toys in.

Check out the view: if there is a focus point such as a garden or a stunning fireplace, angle the furniture and seating area towards it.

clip_image003Dabble with décor: make formal areas softer by adding pretty accessories. Add candle sticks and candle light to the dining room table to break up the starkness, or add colourful runners to make it less plain.

Mirror magic: mirrors give even the most compact of rooms the illusion of space. This doesn’t mean investing in ornate frames, choose minimal frames for maximum impact. Position near a window so it reflects the daylight and view outside.

So take a look at that multiplying knick-knack collection that is taking over your living room and ask yourself “do you really need this much on display?” it will also helps cut down on the dusting!

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Tips for cleaning the washing machine

clip_image001Our washing machines get dirty too, so if there’s a musky whiff coming from it here are some helpful tips to eliminate the odour and keep your washer smelling fresh:

Run a service wash

The average temperature of a wash in the UK is 40oC or less, but whilst this is a great way to save money on the energy bills there is a downside. Washing at these low temperatures won’t get rid of the bacteria and mould, so try running a service wash to eliminate the problem.

What we mean by a service wash is spinning/running the machine whilst its empty at a high temperature, ideally once a month as per most manufacturers recommendations.

Clean the seal, drawer and filter

First thing’s first – turn the machine off to do this! Mould and bacteria tends to fester around the rubber seal in the door, so after washing scrub the rubber down.

Nasty stuff also builds up in the detergent drawer, so remove the drawer by pulling it out, or using the button to release the drawer if there is one. Wash the detergent drawer in warm, soapy water with particular attention to the fabric softener compartment as this can be quite a gunky area.

Leave the door and drawer open

Leaving the washing machine drawer and door open will allow the air to circulate in the drum, helping to prevent mould and bacteria.

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Makeover your fridge for the New Year

clip_image001So the Christmas rush is over, and there’s nothing more your fridge needs than a makeover to sort out the questionable expiry dates and post-Christmas chaos.

If in doubt, throw it out: chuck anything that looks like it might have developed a pulse or is growing mould, leaving you with not only with non-hazardous food stuffs but also a safer fridge.

Compartmentalise: try to organise the food into compartments, utilise the egg rack, and add the veg to the correct drawer. Using the right storage solutions will make your fridge look amazingly organised.

Tupperware: invest in some plastic containers to keep the loose items together, or to store leftovers for longer. Containers also go a long way to keeping organisation in the fridge.

Vegetable pollution: did you know that greens such as lettuce shouldn’t be kept near fruits such as apples, pears or bananas? No? The gas in the fruit accelerates greens’ deterioration, so keep the greens separate.

Spring clean: remove all the trays and shelving and give the inside a good scrub and wipe down.

Freezer face lift: don’t forget the freezer, go through the contents and bin everything that’s old or meat that’s been in there too long. Red meat and fish shouldn’t be frozen for more than six months, chicken no more than four months and sausages for only two months.

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Christmas on a budget tips

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Avoiding stress through the festive period

clip_image001Christmas is definitely one of the most stressful events of the year, with the expense of buying gifts, the heightened expectations and last minute organisation – all of which can undermine our best intentions.

Whilst Christmas is also a happy and joyful time, it can sometimes get the better of us. Here are some practical tips that can help to reduce your “Christmas stress”…

Plan ahead

Make a to-do list of the things you need to organise: shopping, food, presents, decorations, seating plans or travel arrangements. Then try to prioritise the items on your list, so for example recipes can be made ahead of time and frozen, reducing the number of tasks in the run up to Christmas day.

Shop online – avoid all other stressed people on the high street and shop in the comfort of your own home. If you’re ordering food online book your delivery slot early enough as the prime delivery spots may be booked early.

Managing the relationships

· clip_image002Don’t expect miracles; sometimes the thought of the family all being in one place without bickering can bring on undue tension. Try not to anticipate it all kicking off!

  • Avoid any known triggers, for example if some subjects are off limits with certain family members then use distraction and quickly move the conversation onto something else.
  • Use relaxation techniques such as controlled breathing to cope with anxiety or tension.
  • Get the family involved in an after-lunch activity, then there will be less likelihood of arguments.
  • Avoid self-medication: people under stress may hit the alcohol which can alleviate stress.

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Christmas on a budget tips

So it’s that time of the year again where the old bank balance is starting to wince at the thought of Christmas costs. However, it doesn’t have to be an all-out spend-fest, here are some tips to help cut back on the cost of Christmas for your family:

The run up

· clip_image002Get the kids involved and make your own decorations, a glue stick and some glitter will always keep small people happy (adult supervision recommended, no one wants the dog to resemble a Christmas tree!).

· After wrapping the presents, let the kids put their own mark on it for the grandparents and the family. It encourages involvement, and they’ll be proud of their work of art!

· Create an activity advent calendar planned around nativity plays and other obligations such as shopping, buying the Christmas tree and decorating the dining room. This way everyone can get involved – get a real team going!

Food frenzy

· Don’t go mad with the food; “special” food for clip_image004each meal isn’t always necessary and chances are you’ll probably throw loads of it out anyway.

· Create a buffet from the leftovers on Boxing Day, sometimes grazing as and when is just what you need after Christmas day indulgence.

· Use the bones of the turkey for stock – make the most out of the bird!

· Shops are open again on the 27th so you only really need to cater for two days; don’t be fooled by TV adverts showing tables full of food and think you need to replicate them!

Perfect presents

· Look at giving family presents. Games that the clip_image006whole family can enjoy together, and maximise some of the time you have with each other.

· Use the pound shops for stocking fillers.

· Make a game of present-giving for the kids – treasure hunts around the house and garden will make the present-opening last longer.

· Do a secret Santa for the adults with a price limit.

· Don’t buy over-priced tat that no one wants or needs, avoid the tacky mugs or joke toilet rolls, you’re probably only buying it for the sake of it!

· Adults would probably prefer a nice bottle of wine instead of the annual address book or naff toiletries – quality always triumphs over quantity!

The build up to Christmas is exciting, so make the most of it by getting everyone in the family involved!

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Reasons to love November

So the clocks have gone back and every day feels clip_image002like a lay-in as the sun isn’t glaring through the curtains at stupid o’clock; its officially ok to start getting excited about Christmas. Is November the best month of the year? Quite possibly. Here are some more reasons why November could be the best:

1. No more muddy festivals or rained-out barbeques. Its now acceptable to tell your friends that you had a great weekend staying indoors eating jacket potatoes and watching Back To The Future without getting judgemental looks.

2. Hearty winter food. Cottage pie, dumplings, casserole – ah, how we’ve missed you.

3. Movember – the only time you can grow a moustache without having to excuse yourself for looking like you fell out of the 1970s.

4. Sunshine – something we rarely seem to get in the summer, but accompanied with clear blue skies it has to be November.

5. 60 denier tights to protect your legs from the chill and merrily throwing away the razor (until Christmas party season). Hey, if it works for Movember?!

6. Dark evenings means that you no longer have to leave the house for a big night out in full make up, where otherwise you resemble Coco the clown in broad daylight.

7. Christmas markets with twinkling lights, shiny gifts and an excuse to sample the mulled wine on offer.

8. Reintroducing log fires, also appreciated by pets.

9. Fog – nature’s silk tulle.

10. Wrapping up in your gloves, hat, scarf, coat and boots and feeling like Anna Karenina. And ultimately having to peel off the layers due to excessive sweating as soon as you step in the shops.

11. And finally, did we mention…. SANTA’S COMING!!


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Common household items with secret uses

clip_image002Who knew! There are lots of items in our house that have additional uses. Let’s take a look at some of them:


· Rubbing chalk on collar stains absorbs the oil and makes the stain easier to clean.

· Chalk in cheesecloth can prevent tarnishing silverware by absorbing the moisture.

· Chalk wards off ants – chalk contains calcium carbonate which ants don’t like, so draw a chalk line around ants’ entry points into the house.

Wax paper

· Add a sheet of wax paper between stacked pans to prevent rust.

· Shine up taps after cleaning to prevent water spots and finger prints.

· Clean can openers by running the wax paper through the gears so that they run smoothly.clip_image004

· Add wax paper between wet pages of a book to make it as good as new once dry.


· Pour vinegar in the cracks between bricks and patio flagstones to prevent weeds; the acidity can kill off weeds in one dousing.

· Freshen up wilted leaf vegetables by soaking them in two cups of cold water mixed with a tablespoon of vinegar, leave for 10 minutes, rinse, dry and serve.

· Prevent mouldy hard cheese by wrapping a vinegar-soaked cloth in vinegar around it and sealing in an airtight container. The vinegar prevents mould spores.


· Remove dirt from spinach and green leaves by swirling them around a bowl of salty water.

· Clean greasy pans by shaking some salt into them – the salt absorbs the grease.

· Remove burnt spots from the bottom of your iron by sprinkling salt on brown paper and running the hot iron over it.


Petroleum jelly (Vaseline™)

· Rub petroleum jelly into pets paw to clip_image006soothe dryness and cracked pads.

· Dab around your nails to neaten your nail polish application, if you make a mistake the polish will easily wipe away.

· Dab some around light bulb threads when putting a new light bulb in, this will prevent dirt and dust and be easier to remove without sticking.

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