1: WELCOME YOUR NEW BEST CHUM
Invest in the householder's best friend – a good doormat. Floors need less cleaning if you provide an efficient trap for dust and dirt where people come in, Barty Phillips writes for The Daily Mail.
Make the doormat as large as the floor space will permit – at least 120cm by 90cm. The best are the commercial ones you see in entrances to shops or offices. They're machine-washable, lightweight, but pretty indestructible. They are rubber-backed with a flat rubber edge, so don't slip around on the floor.
2: LEARN TO LOVE LEMONS
Keep a bowl of lemons in the kitchen. Not only are they perfect for your next G&T, they'll clean your microwave, freshen up the sink and detox your chopping board. Cut them in half for two fit-in-the-palm cleaning pads for rubbing on to greasy stains on anything from worktops to taps. Stand a bowl of water in the microwave with half a lemon squeezed into it and heat for ten minutes – the gadget will be pristine and smell delicious.
In conventional ovens, fill a third of an oven tray with water and the juice and rinds of two lemons. Bake at 250C for half an hour. With a filthy hob, worktop or chopping board, sprinkle on baking soda and wipe with half a lemon. It's a mild bleach, so can be used on delicate fabric stains and will even get rid of dog urine stains on a vinyl floor.
3: BRILLIANCE OF BAKING SODA
Baking soda, or bicarbonate of soda, can clean almost anything. Make your own natural cleaning fluid with one cup each of vinegar, baking soda and hot water in a jug. Stir and let it cool, then pour into a squeezy bottle and use it to remove fly marks on walls, grubby finger marks around light switches or dozens of other marks around the house.
Use it on the inside of the fridge, and keep a little pot of it there to absorb nasty smells. It'll clean stainless steel sinks or baked-on food in oven dishes.
Sprinkle it on pet bedding or sofas, leave for 15 minutes, then vacuum. Sprinkle into smelly trainers and leave for half an hour before shaking out. Place a spoonful in your food caddy or rubbish bin to neutralise smells.
4: VINEGAR'S NOT JUST FOR CHIPS
A cup of vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher before use will stop glassware becoming cloudy. If your kettle suffers from hard-water deposits, half-fill it with water and add an eggcupful of vinegar, then boil it up and leave for ten minutes. Vinegar will also remove hard-water scale from taps and shower heads. Tie a plastic bag containing vinegar around a tap head so that the end sits in the vinegar; leave for a few hours while you are out, then brush off the scale with an old toothbrush.
It can even unblock drains: pour half a cup of bicarbonate of soda down the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar and one of very hot water. Wait ten minutes, then pour down more hot water.
5: PUT AN END TO PESKY PESTS
Act fast on pests or they will multiply. To protect against moths, store clothes which aren't being used regularly in vacuum bags. Brushing clothes vigorously in bright light can dislodge most eggs and larvae.
Try also freezing a piece of fabric for several days at below minus 8C; or take affected clothes to be dry-cleaned. Stop ants coming in by blocking up entry points with cotton wool soaked in curry paste.
6: A CLEAR VIEW OF THE WORLD
Use crumpled newspaper instead of a cloth to finish off your window cleaning. It may leave some ink on your fingers but it gets smears off the glass.
The easiest way to clean a blind in situ is to slip on a cotton glove and run your hand along the slats. Specially designed tongs with foam rubber pads are almost certainly more trouble than using your hands.
7: BE BOLD WITH MOULD
Remove mildew from plastic shower curtains by washing them on a gentle cycle together with a couple of bath towels. For marks round the bath, use bleach according to the manufacturer's instructions (wear rubber gloves and an apron) and rub small areas of mildew, one at a time, with an old toothbrush. Rinse and dry.
8: DON'T WHINE ABOUT STAINS
Spray fabric protector on upholstery and carpets to prevent stains being absorbed. If wine is spilled on a carpet, absorb as much as you can immediately with salt (leave it in a heap overnight). If a slight discolouration remains, try dabbing and blotting it with one part hydrogen peroxide to six parts water. And keep a stain kit handy – this should include paper tissues, a small sponge, cotton wool balls and a soft, old toothbrush.
9: CLEANING'S FAB THREE
Three cleaning agents in squirty bottles are all you really need to clean your whole home: an all-purpose cleaner for surfaces, a disinfectant for killing germs, and a grease-busting cleaner for kitchen build-ups. Bin the rest of your bottles.
10: THE MAGICAL MANTRA
When it comes to housework, doing little but often will lessen your overall workload considerably. If you have ten minutes in the morning before catching a bus, you could use that time to put away five pairs of shoes, clean the sink, or put boxes in the recycle bin. Run a cloth around the bath or sink or shake out a couple of rugs.
Outwitting Housework, by Barty Phillips will be released in NZ, this Thursday. See Mighty Ape for pre-order information.