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  • 20 Old-Fashioned Cleaning Tips That Work

    When it comes to household cleaning, doing away with harsh chemicals and cleaning products and instead choosing those good old-fashioned cleaning remedies of yesteryear is kinder to our bodies, the environment and your bank balance too! Check out these 20 simple and natural solutions to your cleaning problems.

    Non-toxic toilet cleaner
    Before you go to bed, sprinkle 1 cup of Borax around your toilet bowl, then trickle 1/2 cup white vinegar over it. Leave overnight before scrubbing with a toilet brush.

    Sparkling up silver
    Why fork out a lot of money for silver polish when good old toothpaste will do? Simply apply a plain white toothpaste (not the gel or coloured types) to the surface of the silver with an old soft-bristle toothbrush and gently scrub away the tarnish. Rinse your silver with warm water and dry immediately with a soft cloth.

    Spot-free dishwasher rinse
    Sick of spotty dishes coming out of the dishwasher? Forget chemical rinsing agents, simply add 1 – 1 1/2 cups white vinegar to the rinse compartment of your automatic dishwasher, then wash dishes as usual.

    Shampoo your Sofa
    Anyone who has kids can benefit from this upholstery shampoo for furniture fabric. Mix 6 tablespoons of pure soap flakes and 2 tablespoons of Borax together. Slowly add 500ml boiling water, stirring well, until dry ingredients are dissolved. Allow to cool, then whip into a foam with an egg beater. Brush dry suds onto the furniture, concentrating on soiled areas, before quickly wiping them off with a damp sponge.

    Safe and Easy Oven Cleaner
    For rough, baked-on grease in your oven, mix one box baking soda (around 500g), with 1/4 cup washing soda. Wet the floor and walls of the oven with a wet rag or paper towels and generously sprinkle the mixture on the surface. Repeat and leave it to sit overnight. In the morning, wipe the mixture and the grease away, rinsing well to remove any filmy residue. You may need to scour with salt and an abrasive pad for really stubborn baked-on stains.

    Shoe deodoriser
    Stinky shoes? Fill a spare pair of socks with a mixture of coarsely crushed dried herbs and spices – any combination of rosemary, bay leaves, cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, orange peel, lemon peel, thyme, lavender, and pine needles. Tie the socks at the top and leave them in the shoes between each wear.

    All natural pine floor cleaner
    Washing soda (from the laundry section of the supermarket) is a cheap and effective way of cutting through grease and removing stubborn stains. Mix 1/2 cup soap flakes with 1/4 cup washing soda (sodium carbonate), 1 cup salt and 2 cups water in a saucepan and heat gently until dissolved. When mixture has cooled to lukewarm, add 2 teaspoons pine essential oil (available at health food or aromatherapy stores) and stir well. Store in a jar and simply use two to three tablespoons in half a bucket of hot water to clean floors. After cleaning, rinse floor with half a bucket of clean water mixed with a cup of white vinegar.

    Cheap and Easy Dishwasher Soap
    Mix 2 cups Borax and 2 cups washing soda and store in a closed plastic container, then simply add 2 tablespoons to the dishwasher soap compartment before use. Much cheaper than your regular dish-washing powder or tablets.

    Home-Made Dish-Washing Liquid
    If you wash your dishes by hand, this suds-free liquid gel cleans dishes beautifully. Combine 1/4 cup soap flakes and 2 cups of hot water in a bowl and stir until the flakes have dissolved. Allow to cool until lukewarm, then stir in 1/4 cup of glycerine and 1/2 teaspoon lemon essential oil. As the mixture cools, it forms a loose gel. Stir with a fork to break up the gel and, using a funnel, pour into a narrow-necked plastic bottle (an old shampoo bottle works a charm). To use, squirt two to three teaspoonfuls under running water into the sink.

    Streak-free and chemical-free glass cleaner
    Mix 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 2 cups warm water in a spray bottle and shake well to dissolve cornstarch. Spray generously onto glass surface then wipe dry with a clean cloth or old newspapers, buffing to a streak-free shine.

    Non-toxic mould remover
    If you live in an area where the humidity levels are high, try adding a cupful of Borax – a natural mould retardant – to your soapy water whenever you wash down the walls. Alternatively, mix 1/2 cup borax with 1/2 cup vinegar and 1 cup water in a spray bottle and spray generously on mouldy surfaces before wiping clean with a damp sponge.

    Car Interior Cleaner
    To clean vinyl and leather upholstery in your car, mix 2 tablespoons vegetable oil-based liquid soap with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1 teaspoon lemon essential oil and apply with a sponge. Your car won’t recognise itself.

    Easy drain cleaner
    Drains taking a long time to clear? Keep them clog-free by pouring 1/2 cup baking soda down the drain, followed by 1 cup white vinegar. Allow the mixture to fizz for several minutes, then flush down a litre of hot water. Do this weekly to keep drains in good running order.

    Home-Made Fabric Softener
    For soft, fluffy fabrics, fill your washing machine with water, then add 14 cups baking soda. Add your clothing, then during the final rinse cycle, add 1/2 cup white vinegar (pour it into the softener dispenser if you have one).

    Garbage Disposal Freshener
    If you have one, keep your garbage disposal smelling fresh by simply dropping half a used lemon into the disposal and running the motor until the lemon is pulverised and washed down the drain.

    Gel Type Fabric Wash
    This gel wash has a built-in water softener, making it particularly good for washing in hard water. Your clothes are guaranteed to come out beautifully clean. Heat 2 cups pure soap flakes, 1 1/2 cups borax and 6 cups of water in a saucepan, stirring until the liquid is clean, then add 1/2 cup glycerine. Once the mixture has cooled to lukewarm, add 2 teaspoons essential oil of eucalyptus, lemon or lavender (available at health food or aromatherapy stores) and stir well. Store in a wide-mouthed jar and simply add a cupful to your washing machine, ensuring the soap is fully dissolved before adding your clothes. For best results, use warm or hot water.

    Carpet Protection
    For a lovely fresh-smelling carpet devoid of any of the stinky evidence of the children and pets who have wreaked havoc upon it, crush 1/2 cup of lavender flowers to release their scent, then mix with 1 cup of baking soda and sprinkle liberally on carpet. Leave for 30 minutes, then vacuum.

    Mildew remover
    For stubborn mildew on light coloured items, wash fabric in warm soapy water, then make a mixture of 2 parts salt to 1 part lemon juice and apply it to the mildewed area. Place the item in full sun, rinsing after several hours. Repeat if necessary. Don’t use on dark items though, as the lemon juice will bleach them.

    Protective furniture polish
    For a furniture polish that both protects the wood surface and makes it shine, combine 1 cup olive or vegetable oil with 1 teaspoon lemon essential oil (available at health food or aromatherapy stores). Mix the oils together thoroughly and apply sparingly with a soft rag, then wipe dry with a clean, soft cloth, buffing to a gleaming finish.

    Natural Stain Removal
    Those stubborn stains need a bit of extra help, but there’s no need for expensive chemicals – try these more natural remedies.

    • Blood, chocolate or coffee stains: Soak overnight in a solution of 1/4 cup borax and 2 cups cold water. Wash as usual the next day.
    • Grease: Apply a paste of cornstarch and water and allow to dry before brushing away the powder and grease.
    • Red wine: Sprinkle stain with salt; let sit for several hours. When dry, brush away salt and wash, or clean immediately with soda water.
    • Grass: Soak stain in a 3 percent solution of hydrogen peroxide, then wash.
    • Ink on a white shirt: Wet fabric with cold water and apply a paste of cream of tartar and lemon juice one hour before washing.
    • Scorch marks: Rub area with a cut raw onion. After the onion juice has been absorbed, soak the stain in water for a few hours.