It’s been proven that we’re a nation of pet lovers and who are we to argue? Your pet dog or cat is your loyal companion and a much loved part of the family. If there was just one thing you could change about your dear pets though, it would be to reduce the amount of hair you have to pick up when you’re cleaning your home.
Firstly, the very best way to reduce the amount of pet hair you have to clean up is to ensure that you groom your pet on a regular basis. Spend ten minutes a day brushing your pet and not only will they shed less, but you will also find that they have a shinier, softer coat.
Even though you are grooming your pet on a daily basis, there is no escaping the fact that they will still leave some pesky hairs around your home – especially in warmer months. Don’t let this worry you when it comes to cleaning your home though.
Fabric sofas can be a particular nuisance when it comes to magnets for pet hair. To remove it, firstly use your vacuum attachment and run it over the sofa, paying attention to the most hairy areas. The vacuum won’t remove all of the hair but it will go a long way to help.
Next, use either a lint roller (available from pet shops and clothing stores) or a slightly damp cloth to brush over the sofa and pick up all of the more stubborn hairs.
If you find that you still have hairs that you can’t remove, try rubbing a fabric softener sheet over the area before trying to get the hairs up. This should loosen them from the fabric and make them easier to move. This method can work for removing pet hairs from most areas when cleaning your home.
Because your pets spend most of their time on the carpets though, there may be more hair to pick up here. After vacuuming if there are still stubborn hairs stuck in the pile try sticking some masking tape to the area and ripping it off. The stuck-in hairs should stick to the tape leaving your carpet clean and hair-free!
For more great help with cleaning your home, visit again next week.
If you’re looking for tips on cleaning, look no further than Borax as a more economical way to go about your daily cleaning.
You can pick up a box of Borax from your local chemist for around £2 and it can be used to substitute countless household products.
Dishwasher tablets can be expensive and seem to disappear very quickly. Try substituting the pricey tablets with one tablespoon of Borax, one tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda and some lemon essential oil if you want a fresh lemon smell. This works as a cheaper, greener way to wash the dishes. If you want to go one step further and replace your rinse aid, refer to our earlier tips on cleaning and use some of that good old white distilled vinegar instead.
If you want a change from your all-purpose vinegar cleaner, you could try making one with Borax instead. Just mix one tablespoon of Borax with a litre of water and use the solution as a general cleaner for your work surfaces, tiles and greasy surfaces. Use a weaker version of this to clean windows and mirrors and your home will be sparkling in no time.
Borax is a great when used as a pre-wash for your white washing too. You may have been given lots of tips on cleaning your whites but by sprinkling two tablespoons of Borax into some warm water, along with your grubby white clothes you will have whiter whites than ever!
If you want whiter whites and a water softener, put two tablespoons of Borax on top of your clothes in the washing machine before washing them. You can use this method with coloured clothing too, just make sure that they are colour-fast as Borax can bleach coloured fabrics.
Now for the last of our tips on cleaning with Borax; try mixing one tablespoon of the powder with a bowl of water to rinse your glassware in. The Borax will cut through any remaining grease in the water or on the glass and make it sparkle like crystal! Just remember to use a clean towel when drying the glass or you will ruin the gleam.
For more professional tips on cleaning, check back next week!
Many people want to know how to clean a house but often we forget the parts that other people don’t see. We put it off and put it off until eventually we have no option but to dedicate half a day to cleaning and organising these dreaded areas.
The wardrobe is one such dreaded area that is in desperate need of organisation - you can’t find your favourite dress, let alone a matching pair of shoes. Now is the time to take charge.
Start by emptying the contents of your wardrobe onto the bed or the floor. Clean the inside of your wardrobe thoroughly. In other ‘how to clean a house’ tips, we told you about the benefits of vinegar as a household product - you can use your homemade vinegar cleaner for this as it will both clean and deodorise your wardrobe without having to use two products.
Next, work through the clothes that you have taken out of the wardrobe. Split them into piles to give to charity, throw away and keep. Place anything that you want to keep neatly on hangers and put back in the wardrobe. If you want to be super-organised you could try hanging your clothes in colour order.
Now you need to sort out your shoes. A great tip for how to clean a house and keep it clean is to make sure that your shoes are always clean. If any of your shoes could do with a polish do it now and then next time you want to wear them they will be shiny and waiting. Arrange your shoes in the bottom of the wardrobe in pairs. A shoe rack can be a good way to make sure they stay in their pairs.
A top tip when clearing out your wardrobe is to be ruthless. It’s difficult but if you have things that you haven’t worn for years, the chances are that you won’t wear them again. Give them away and let someone else enjoy them. You can enjoy your newly organised wardrobe instead!
For more tips on how to clean a house just visit the site next week.
If you have granite or marble floors or worktops, you will know that while they look fantastic they can be a pain to look after.
The best tips for cleaning granite or marble are to ensure that whatever product you are using for day-to-day cleaning is suitable for use on the surface. If you don’t like to use chemicals in your home you could try mixing 500ml water, 125ml distilled vinegar 1tsp castile soap, 60ml hydrogen peroxide and 20 drops each of tea tree oil and lemon essential oil in a large spray bottle as a safe alternative.
Granite and marble can be very easily damaged due to them being so porous. If spills aren’t immediately wiped up they will soak in and many can cause stains to appear.
If you do have a stain on your floor or worktop you can create a poultice to draw out the mark. Mix together bicarbonate of soda and water to form a thick paste. Blot the stain with a clean cloth first to remove any excess liquid, then spray the mark with water. Cover the stain completely with your mixture and wrap the area with cling film. Leave this to work for at least 24 hours. When it is time, remove the poultice and wipe clean the area with mild soap and water. The stain should have gone but if not, you can re-apply the mixture to lift away the last of the mark.
Be careful when looking on the internet for tips for cleaning granite and marble surfaces. Many people post tips that they haven’t tried or are not aware of the problems with granite and marble and their tips can cause more damage than good. Always ensure that you test a small patch of the surface that you are treating beforehand to test that the colour won’t be affected.
Polish your granite or marble worktops regularly to ensure that they are sealed and protected from stains. Using a micro-fibre cloth to clean will also help to bring the worktop up to an unbeatable shine.
For more tips for cleaning your home come back next week.
Here’s my A-Z of stain removal tips - but don’t forget one of the most important tip of all is never rub a stain or mark. Only dab, because eventually the stain will go. I learned that tip the hard way. Here are the rest:
Dab off with a white cloth soaked in methylated spirit.
Rinse with cold water. Soak coloureds in a borax solution for 15 minutes. For whites, sprinkle borax on the fabric and wash off with hot water. Then wash the fabric with a biological detergent.
Scrape off the excess. Sponge with a borax solution or biological detergent. If the stain persists, soak whites in chlorine bleach or coloureds/synthetics but not nylon in hydrogen peroxide.
Soak stains in heavily salted water or detergent.
Get more blue tac and dab it on the mark you want to remove.
Scrape off any excess. Place a paper kitchen towel over the remnants and press with a barely warm iron until the paper absorbs the wax. Dab any persistent staining with methylated spirit.
Get a bag of ice and freeze the gum hard, then scrape the gum away with a knife.
Coffee and tea
Flush with cold water and spot clean with a solution of detergent but not soap. If the stain persists, soak in a solution of one part white vinegar to two parts water or a borax solution.
Contact adhesive and glue
Dab with nail polish remover.
Spread a paste of bicarbonate of soda and water over the stain. Leave for 30 minutes and wash in a biological detergent.
Scrape away excess before dabbing with methylated spirits.
Place the garment stain side down on a kitchen towel and dampen with lemon juice. Dab with hot water and wash.
Dip in a borax solution for 15 minutes and then wash, or cover the stain with salt and wash.
Detergent will remove most grass stains. Dab any remaining staining with methylated spirit.
Ink on coloured fabric
Soak immediately in slightly warm milk then wash
Ink and felt tip pen
Dab with an absorbent cloth dipped in methylated spirit.
Rub fabric against fabric with soap or a little washing up liquid then wash. Dab with methylated spirit if the fabric is not washable.
Mildew on different materials requires differing treatments:
Dried mildew - Rub with damp salt or lemon and leave in the sun for 12 hours
Mildew on shower curtains - Sponge or soak in diluted bleach and machine wash with detergent.
Mildew on white cotton or linen - Soak in diluted bleach then thoroughly rinse and wash.
Mildew on white synthetics - Soak in one part of hydrogen peroxide to nine parts water. Rinse and wash.
Emulsion or water based - Sponge immediately with warm water.
Dried paint can be scraped or picked off, but is difficult to wash away.
Gloss or solvent based - Dab with white spirit.
Dab with white vinegar or lemon juice.
Lift away the pollen with sticky tape or a vacuum cleaner, but don’t rub.
Dab with bicarbonate of soda or soda water and wash. Don’t pour white wine over a red wine stain; you’ll probably do more harm than good.
Dab with white spirit and wash.
Turning on the waterworks
Water contains minerals depending on the geology of where your water supply originates.
Brown or black stains - your water has traces of manganese and calcium that form lime scale.
Applying a paste of cream of tartar and hydrogen peroxide.
A solution of one teaspoon of water softener to a gallon of water.
Applying a paste of white vinegar and baking soda.
Green or blue stains - these stains come from copper or acid in your water. The tell tale sign is green or blue stains around your plumbing fittings.
Remove with a proprietary acid cleaner or treat with white vinegar or lemon juice.
These stains on enamel baths come from dripping taps. Change the tap washer to solve the problem, then clean the stain away.
Red or brown stains - iron in your water causes these stains, which are effectively rust. Different treatments work in different areas, depending on the proportion of iron in the water. Try:
A paste of lemon juice and borax powder left to dry on the stain then rinsed off.
Oxalic acid is a rust remover. A solution of one part oxalic acid to 10 parts water is recommended.
A paste of scouring powder, cream of tartar and hydrogen peroxide takes about 30 minutes to clear the staining.
Keeping the bathroom clean and fresh not only makes the room look good, but also avoids creating a breeding place for germs and bacteria.
Blitzing basins, bidets and baths
Cleaning methods for basins, bidets and baths depends on the material they are made from:
• Acrylic - rinse and dry with a soft cloth after your bath, especially if you relaxed with a bubble bath that leaves a film on the acrylic. If you need to give the bath a good clean, rub in a non-abrasive cream cleaner, rinse and buff. Scratches are easily removed by rubbing gently with a metal cleaner.
• Glass fibre - clean with a neutral detergent and take care not to scratch as the colour is often just a thin surface coating. Do not scrub with abrasive or metal cleaners, as they will eventually scour the surface away.
• Vitreous or porcelain enamel - do not use abrasives as they will dull the sheen. Try white spirit on stubborn surface marks and tidemarks. Wash the white spirit off straight away with a neutral detergent.
Assaulting mouldy sealant
Get to grips with mouldy bath sealant with bleach on an old toothbrush. Rinse when clean then treat with a fungicidal wash to deter the mould returning.
A knight on the tiles
Wipe over with a solution of one part white vinegar to four parts water, rinse and buff. Groom grout with an old toothbrush dipped in a solution of one part bleach to six parts water.
Top tips for taps
Just like baths, the cleaning method depends on what the taps are made from:
• Chrome taps need a wipe with a damp cloth and buffing dry. Grease comes off with a neutral detergent and more serious stains are removed with a nonabrasive liquid metal cleaner.
• Gold-plated taps need wiping with a soft cloth while they are still damp to stop marks.
If the tap has lime scale on the spout, fill a small container with white vinegar and tape the container to the tap, so the spout is in the vinegar to dissolve the lime scale. An hour soaking is generally long enough, but if the scale remains, try for another hour.
Going with the flow
Clean plugs and overflows with a bottlebrush. Pour some bleach down the plug and rinse after a minute or two to kill smells.
Turpentine will bring the shine back to rubber plugs.
Magic with the mirror
Rub a little liquid soap on the mirror, then dry off with kitchen roll to eliminate steaming up when you run a bath or shower.
Treating the WC gracefully
Cleaning with a lavatory cleaner weekly will keep the bowl clean.
Hold off the bleach as it damages the glaze and makes the bowl harder to keep clean. Where lime scale stains inside the bowl, you will first need to remove the water with a small, disposable container then apply a descaler.
Don’t mix and match chemical cleaners as they may give off dangerous fumes.
Wash the lavatory brush in hot, soap water and rinse in cold water containing a few drops of disinfectant to stiffen the bristles. Wash and disinfect the holder as well.
Wipe the lavatory seat on top and underneath with a germicidal solution. Dry with kitchen paper.
Always keep any cloths for the bathroom separate from others to prevent cross contamination.
Game, set and mat
Scrub any non-slip rubber mats with a brush and neutral detergent. Rinse well so they remain non-slip
Power shower cleaning tips
Clean the shower cubicle according to the hints above for tiles, taps and baths.
Methods for descaling shower heads depends whether they are metal or plastic.
The formula for a shower head descaling solution is one part white vinegar to two parts water. Cook up the same solution for both types of shower heads - using warm on metal and cold on plastic.
If you can detach the shower head, make the solution in a small saucepan from half a litre of white vinegar to a litre of water. Bring to the boil and submerge a metal shower head for about 15 minutes.
Allow the solution to cool for plastic shower heads.
If the shower head is not removable, let the solution cool, pour in to a plastic bag, tape to the shower head and leave overnight.
Many people do not understand the dangers of the enemy that lurks within their beds - the dust mite.
These microscopic creepy-crawlies, that are invisible to the naked eye, feed on skin flakes we shed in bed as we sleep. It is not so much the mite but what the mite excretes that is the problem.
A typical dust mite lives for up to 150 days and excretes 200 times its body weight in that time... the excrement includes a compound called guanine, that is associated with asthma, bronchitis, red itchy eyes, sneezing, coughing, headaches, depression and a lot more allergic reactions.
A bed can have between 100,000 and 10 million microscopic mites living in the fabrics. Mattresses also contain:
• Sweat and body fats - in one night a person can lose up to a pint of sweat and body fats
• Bacteria and viruses
• Skin - the average family will shed up to 1.5 kilos of skin in a year. Up to 10% of the weight of an old pillow is probably dead skin.
Keep your dust mite population down by airing your bedroom frequently. Low temperatures discourage breeding. Vacuum clean often to remove mite excrement and debris.
Stick the kids’soft toys in the freezer for 24 hours every now and then, as the cold will kill dust mites.
If you have asthma or breathing difficulties, only vacuum with a ‘Hepa’filtered vacuum cleaner and keep the keep the carpet in stead of laying hardwood floors. Carpets trap and hold allergens that you can vacuum up, but they do not settle on a hard floor and tend to stay in the air causing more stress to allergy sufferers.
You can call in a specialist mattress cleaner - Bone-Dry Carpet Cleaning offer this service for a reasonable charge - www.bone-dry.co.uk
Sometimes we make our home cleaning job that little harder for ourselves because we go about the task the wrong way.
Over the years, professional home cleaners have learned short cuts, tips and tricks that save time and money. Here are a few of the common domestic cleaning problems and their solutions:
Most people will clean a hard wood or tiled floor with some sort of wet cleaner that includes soap or detergent.
The problem is when the cleaning solution dries out, the soap or detergent is left as a sticky residue on the surface. As soon as someone walks across the floor, they transfer the residue to the nearest carpet where the stickiness acts like a dirt magnet.
That’s why carpet nearest a hard floor is often dirtier than elsewhere. To stop the problem, just rinse the hard floor with water so no trace of soap or detergent is left.
Only suckers buy cheap vacuum cleaners
In a perfect world, floors are vacuumed every day to cut down the amount of dirt and grit in carpets and on hard floors. The trouble is few us live in a perfect world and have to rush the vacuum round once a week or so.
One of the best cleaning investments is a good quality vacuum with a ‘Hepa’filter.
Cheap vacuums generally have less powerful motors that give less suction and poorer filtering systems than the more expensive models.
This can mean that they blow out ‘dirty’ air laden with pollen, hair, dirt and house mites as exhaust, making rooms dusty again.
Most of the dirt in a carpet is trapped, dry soil. Hanging the carpet outside for a good beating is the best way to clear the pile of dirt.
Unfortunately, this isn’t possible with a fitted carpet. so vacuuming is the next best cleaning method, but won’t remove all the dirt and grime.
Lots of people try a wet cleaning system - like hiring a machine from the local DIY - but this makes the dirt muddy and difficult to clean up.
Beware. These carpet cleaning machines are not necessarily good for every carpet because some shrink if they become too wet. Even professional domestic cleaning firms sometimes have to call in experts who have the special equipment to do certain jobs effectively - like carpet and oven cleaning.
Don’t hire cowboys offering to do your carpet cleaning job for about £25 a room - even if they are well meaning, they won’t do a decent job and if something goes wrong, they will probably just take your money and run without offering a guarantee.
I would suggest a company called Bone-Dry Carpet Cleaning. They use a dry cleaning system that will not damage or shrink expensive carpets and offer a 100% guarantee - simply the best clean you have ever seen or it’s free. Unfortunately they don’t operate in all areas so you’ll have to seek out someone locally to you.
The best time to wash the outside of your windows is on an overcast day. Sunshine makes them dry too quickly and leaves streaks.
Add a couple of teaspoons of white vinegar to a gallon of cool water. Wash the windows with horizontal, side to side, strokes on the outside and vertical, up and down, strokes on the inside. This way you can tell which side any streaks are on.
Polish the windows dry with crumpled newspaper, but remember to wear rubber gloves to keep the ink off your hands.
Giving your doors a wash and brush up
Here’s an insider tip most professional house cleaners would rather you didn’t know - washing all the doors, including front door, gives the illusion of a bright, clean and friendly home.
Rinse the door, following the cleaning top to bottom rule, so you don’t drip dirty water over the area you have already cleaned. Your stiff bristle brush should remove any stubborn marks.
Don’t forget the top of the door frames - generally the place most forget when cleaning.
This is the part where we brush up on your house cleaning skills.
Good domestic cleaning requires a systematic approach and organisation, so you don’t have to keep going over the same place twice and exert minimum effort for maximum results.
1. Cleaning top to bottom
The phrase came about for a reason. Starting at the top and working down means any dust or dirt you dislodge does not fall on somewhere you have already cleaned.
Apply the same rule to every room - start at the top, dusting the cobwebs out of the ceiling corners and work down to the floor. If you live in a house, start with the room at the tops and work down the stairs floor by floor.
2. Getting in the zone
Break home cleaning down in to smaller tasks - zoning your house and spending an hour each day in a different zone is a great idea if you are pushed for time.
3. Cut the clutter
Those ornaments, books and magazines just get in the way and gather dust. Make sure everything has a place and everyone puts away what he or she uses.
4. Keep your cleaning caddy close by
Having your kit to hand cuts down running up and down the stairs every few minutes and speeds up the job.
5. Sweet smell of success
Make your home smell fresh as well as looking clean and tidy. Leave some bicarbonate of soda in the bin. You can also sprinkle dry bicarbonate of soda on carpets overnight to absorb musty smells. Vacuum the powder away the following morning.
6. Don’t move - extend
Plug your vacuum cleaner in to a six metre extension cord so the cable trails all round your home rather than having to keep unplugging and plugging in.
7. Letting the dust settle
Tackle the dry jobs first in a room - like dusting. Then move on to the wet jobs like cleaning glass and polishing so the dust has settled and does not cling to any wet surfaces.
Fighting dirt is an endless war where you must aim to win every battle.
You must have the tools at your disposal to deal effectively with everything thrown at you.
First, you need your cleaning caddy - one of those plastic trays with a handle - to keep all your cleaning materials together.
Next, you need to gather your basic day-to-day cleaning materials:
• Spray surface cleaner
• Glass cleaner
• Powder scourer, like soda crystals
• A ‘greenie’ scrubber
• Small, stiff-bristled brush, like a toothbrush
• Small, soft paintbrush for dusting delicates
• Micro fibre cloths that do not leave any lint
• Clean rags for applying polishes and cleaners
• Paper kitchen towels
• For collecting rubbish and used kitchen towels