Complete House Cleaning Tips, Remove Stain, and Laundy Tips
Almost everyone enjoys having a clean and tidy home; however, there aren’t very many of us that enjoys doing the work to get it (and keep it) in that condition!
In this section, we’ve put together some of our favourite house cleaning tips and time-savers, including alternative products to save you money, advice on getting the best results from your washing machine and a handy A-Z guide to stains and their treatment.
Cleaning Your House
Cleaning is one of the most resented chores and can cause friction if you’re sharing space. The key to handling household chores is to stay on top. Little and often is the most effective way to clean, making the job easier when you have time for a blitz.
Manufacturers know we want an easy life, and they are developing more and more products that, while convenient, are also expensive. Before you spend your money on them, consider some alternatives.
Cleaning Agents: What You Need
There’s no need to have a huge stock of specialist cleaning agents, as most basic items have a range of uses.
With the following selection, you can cope with all the demands of everyday cleaning.
- Non-Abrasive Cleaner. Liquid, spray, or cream, for cleaning floors and other surfaces.
- Abrasive Cleaner. Usually, comes as cream, and is good for ceramic sinks and baths. Don’t use on acrylic surfaces, which it might scratch.
- Lavatory Cleaner. Leave cleaner for an hour or two, or overnight if bleach-free.
- Furniture Polish. Spray or solid polish. No need to use too often, since regular dusting keeps furniture shiny.
- Metal Polish. Liquid or cream. Check the label for any restrictions on use – don’t use silver polish on stainless steel.
- Glass Cleaner. Spray or liquid. Use sparingly to avoid smearing.
- Scouring/Sponge Pads. Use non-scratch pads on delicate surfaces.
- Limescale Remover. Essential in hard-water areas. Use regularly around taps and plugholes to keep the scale from building up.
- Bleach. Used sparingly, it is good for disinfecting dishcloths and floorcloths. Bottles with nozzles are less likely to splash bleach on your clothes than the bigger, screw-cap bottles.
Cleaning Your Kitchen
To clean the Sinks ; Stainless-steel sinks and drainers sparkle if wiped with a little vinegar on a cloth.
To clean Worktops.
- Remove everything, then sweep up or vacuum crumbs, using crevice nozzle in corners.
- Use an all-surface cleaner in warm water to wash down worktops and tiling, tackling any hard deposits with a white nylon scourer. Dry and polish with an old cotton T-shirt.
Cleaning Your Bathroom
Take care with limescale removers, and check on the pack that they are suitable for the surface you want to treat. Enamel is easily damaged, even by mild solutions.
You can use a paste of flour and lemon juice or vinegar, but even these can eat into the surface below the limescale, so check frequently and remove as soon as possible. Once the limescale is softened, wash off completely.
Try rubbing stubborn deposits with the flat end of a wooden clothes peg, but go easy to avoid scratches.
Baths and Basins
- Check labels of proprietary cleaners and stain removers – not all of them are suitable for all materials.
- Wipe round baths, basins, bidets, showers, and taps straight after use, while still warm.
- Wipe off toothpaste splashes immediately – some brands, particularly those containing fluoride, can harm the glaze on vitreous china. Oily bath additives create rings round the tub – rinse off immediately after emptying bath. Dried-on rings can be removed with a damp sponge sprinkled with bicarbonate of soda or vinegar.
- Use an old toothbrush or baby’s bottlebrush for cleaning overflows and round plugholes.
- Rinse soap dishes often to prevent a build-up of hardened soap on basin, bath, or shower.
- Treat light scratches on acrylic baths by rubbing gently with metal polish.
- Never leave washing to soak in detergent in an enameled bath or basin.
WC/ Water Closet
- Scrub daily, including under the rim, with a lavatory brush.
- Wash lavatory brushes in hot soapy water, then rinse with hot water plus a shot of disinfectant.
- Don’t mix different toilet cleaners, and never mix a cleaner with bleach. Don’t use bleach if you are also using a cleaner block in the cistern.
- Flush away bleach cleaners after no more than an hour – they can discolour the glaze below the waterline if left for too long.
Taps and Showers
- Be gentle when cleaning these, as the finishes are easily damaged. Avoid abrasive cleaners – use warm soapy water instead. Dry taps after cleaning, and polish with a soft cloth.
- Clean glass shower doors with a damp sponge sprinkled with white vinegar.
- Before hanging it, soak a new shower curtain in a salt water solution to help prevent mildew forming.
- Dirt comes off tiles far more easily when loosened by steam, so run a hot shower for a few minutes before you start. Open a window when you’ve finished.
- Wipe tiles with warm soapy water, rinse, and dry with a soft cloth. Don’t use abrasive cleaners, which might damage the glaze.
- Clean blackened grout with a proprietary antifungal cleaner, or paint carefully with a mild bleach solution, leave for a few minutes, then rinse off. Do not attempt to clean with wire wool, which can produce rust stains. Avoid mould growth by ventilating the bathroom.
Check also this video tips for cleaning your bathroom
Cleaning the Rest of the House
- Vacuum regularly to remove dirt before it becomes ingrained.
- On smooth, cut-pile carpets, an upright cleaner with a ‘beater bar’ that raises dust and dirt gives the best results. For loop-pile (such as Berbers) and deep-pile carpets, a cylinder suction-cleaner is better.
- If carpets still look grimy after vacuuming, consider deep cleaning with either a shampooer or spray extraction-cleaner. Both can be hired, or the job can be done professionally – check the Yellow Pages for local contractors.
- Carpets treated with stain repellent, either during manufacture or after laying, are easier to clean.
Use a stain remover on small spots, or try a washing-up liquid solution – cheaper and often just as effective. Either way, test on a hidden spot first.
- Tackle carpet stains immediately. Don’t rub wet stains, but blot them with a white cloth. Rinse thoroughly, as deposits of stain remover left behind can attract more dirt.
- Make up a solution of 120 ml (4 fl oz) cider vinegar in 4 litres (8 pt) warm water. Squeeze out a soft cloth in this solution until just damp, then wipe floor.
- Dry with another cloth to bring up the shine.
- Sweep or vacuum with hard-floor attachment to remove loose debris, then mop with a solution of dishwasher detergent in warm water. Tackle ground-in grime with a white nylon scourer.
- Polish or wax the surface occasionally to help prevent dirt penetrating.
- Remove heel marks from solid floors with a pencil eraser.
Curtains and Blinds
- Use the vacuum cleaner dusting brush to remove dust from curtains and blinds.
- Clean venetian blinds by wiping slats with a damp cloth or using a special brush designed for blinds.
- A soft, clean paintbrush is good for winkling dust out of carved or awkward parts of furniture. An old toothbrush gets into really tight corners.
- Regularly move furniture to vacuum underneath.
Cane and Wicker
Vacuum with dusting brush. Wash down occasionally using a solution of 30 ml (1 fl oz) ammonia to 4 litres (8 pt) warm water. Wear rubber gloves and rinse well. Leave to dry outside, avoiding direct sunlight.
- Speed up by putting an old sock on each hand and dusting with both simultaneously.
- Don’t forget the tops of doors and pictures, light fittings, mouldings on doors, and skirting boards.
- Remove dust from wallpapered walls by vacuuming lightly with the dusting brush attachment.
- To reduce the static which encourages dust to collect on TV and computer screens, wipe them with a dampened fabric-softener sheet.
Vacuum fabric and pleated lampshades with the dusting brush. Don’t let dirt accumulate, as it may create grubby marks that are hard to remove.
Plain fabric lampshades can be dunked in warm soapy water, rinsed, and dried. Treat with caution any that are trimmed or edged with a different colour, as the colour may run.
Rub over glass with a little lemon juice on a soft cloth, dry, then polish with scrunched newspaper.
Stains & Marks
Spills and stains on clothes and carpets are best dealt with as quickly as possible. Luckily, many modern fabrics are easy to care for, and there’s a wide range of products that deal kindly and effectively with most everyday stains.
For stains that prove more stubborn, there are some specialist techniques to try.
Using the right technique on a specific stain can make all the difference to your success. If you don’t know what caused the stain on a garment, take the item to dry cleaners. Be sure to point out the stain, which otherwise might be missed.
For most stains on washable fabrics, an overnight soak in cold water can be an effective initial treatment. If this doesn’t clear the stain, use the branded stain remover of your choice and follow, if necessary, with a wash on the correct cycle for the fabric, using biological detergent. Most common stains will respond to this treatment.
For stubborn or tricky stains, try the techniques in the A – Z section. Give a DIY remedy a good chance to work before trying another method. If you use stain-shifters like glycerine or eucalyptus oil, work them well into the stain for maximum effect, but do it gently.
A – Z Tricky Stains
You need to remove stain from clothes? Watch this video. Also see other tips right below this video.
Another stain removal tips :
Many of the specialist stain removers deal with ballpoint ink. Alternatively, soak a pad of cotton wool in methylated spirits and hold it under the stain. Use dry cotton wool to dab from above to draw the meths up through the fibers and shift the stain. Another option is to apply a couple of squirts of hairspray to the stain, then rub gently with a dry cloth. Either way, launder as usual after treatment.
Leaves a brown mark if left to dry. Sponge gently with vinegar and warm water, then wash as usual. On dried stains, try rubbing gently with methylated spirits.
Clean washing is the usual victim. Scrape off any deposit, and rewash. Berry stains may be stubborn, use a stain remover before washing or soak in a solution of biological washing powder.
Rinse garments repeatedly, or soak them, in cold salty water. Remove as much of the stain as you can before machine washing. Dried blood is much harder to remove. Try a soak in a cold-water solution of biological washing detergent. Sponge carpets and upholstery with cold water, then use a carpet shampoo.
Leave until set, then chip and scrape off as much as possible. Next use a medium-to-hot iron, depending on the fabric, over a doubled sheet of white kitchen paper or a single sheet of brown wrapping paper (an opened-up brown envelope will do) to remove the remaining wax. You can also sandwich the stain between absorbent paper, then apply the hot iron to the top layer of paper. Any residual stains from coloured wax should respond to stain remover.
Don’t be tempted to pick, as you will end up pressing the gum deeper into the fabric. Rub the area with an ice cube wrapped in a plastic bag to harden the gum, or place the entire garment in a plastic carrier and put it in the freezer overnight, then chip off the frozen gum. Use dry-cleaning fluid to remove residues, then wash as usual.
Scrape off as much as you can. Use a specialist cleaner, or apply glycerine to loosen the stain before washing. If you have neither, work neat liquid detergent into the stain, then rinse thoroughly with tepid water. Wash in biological detergent, or have non-washables dry-cleaned.
Rinse or blot as much as possible. You may need to use a stain remover if milk in the coffee leaves a grease stain. Soak washables in biological detergent solution before laundering.
The combination of turmeric and oil that features in most curries creates a stain that can be very hard to remove. Try to keep the area wet. A speedy application of glycerine can keep the stain from setting. Rinse repeatedly with tepid water, or a mixture of 300 ml (1/2 pt) warm water with 10 ml (2 tsp) borax.
Otherwise known as red sock syndrome, where one non-fast coloured item sneaks into a load of whites and lightly colours the lot. You might get away with washing everything again immediately, with a generous dose of detergent, before laundry has had a chance to dry. If any colour is still left, you could try a branded run remover – unfortunately these can also affect the original colour of the garment. For whites, wash again with 20 ml (4 tsp) bleach in the detergent compartment of the washing machine – check the care label first to make sure the garments can withstand such strong treatment. Never use bleach on acetate, polyester, drip-dry cottons, silk, or wool.
If you’re lucky, the ink will be water-soluble and will come out with cold water. If not, try a branded stain remover.
Very hard to shift once dry. Wash through in cold water. Apply glycerine, leave for one hour, then sponge repeatedly with warm soapy water.
If the fabric will take it, soak in a mild bleach solution (follow directions on the bottle). Alternatively, apply glycerine, leave for several hours, then sponge well with warm soapy water and launder.
Dab immediately with dry-cleaning fluid on a pad of cotton wool, or sponge well with warm soapy water before laundering. For colourless grease stains on leather or upholstery, sprinkle on fuller’s earth (an earthy powder available from chemists), cover, and leave overnight. You may need several applications. Or use a specialist leather cleaner.
Try dry-cleaning fluid, followed by warm soapy water. Or apply eucalyptus oil, let it soak in and loosen the lipstick, then blot away the stain. Dry clean, or for washable fabrics, sponge with soapy water as hot as the fabric can stand, then launder.
Leave until completely dry, then brush off and then launder.
Wipe up puddles immediately, then wash the area with a tablespoon of vinegar in 600 ml (1 pt) water. For solid offerings, remove as much as possible from the surface. Wipe off thoroughly with kitchen paper. Sponge the area well with warm water, or use a carpet spot shampoo, testing first. To remove the unmistakable odour left by cat spray, sponge the area with a mixture of half warm water, half white vinegar.
Apply glycerine immediately, then sponge with warm soapy water and launder. For dried stains, leave glycerine on for longer before sponging.
Remove deposit, sponge well with warm soapy water, then launder as usual. On carpet, sponge with a teaspoonful of borax mixed with 600 ml (1 pt) warm water.
For red wine, quickly pour over some white wine or mineral water, then dab off with a cloth and, with luck, the stain will have disappeared. If not, apply glycerine to loosen the stain before laundering. Be wary of applying salt to red wine stains – although it works on some fabrics, on others it sets the stain permanently.
Laundry Kit & Tips
Ever thought that clothes get a much harder time in the wash than when they’re being worn? Some simple routines will limit the damage to garments on their journey from dirty clothes basket to cupboard, not least matching the wash cycle to the fabric.
And if you’re looking to buy a new washer or dryer, use these checklists to pinpoint the features that will be genuinely useful.
Choosing a Washing Machine
Look for the energy label displayed on every machine, giving a rating for energy consumption ranging from ‘A’ (the best) to ‘G’ (very poor).
Washing machines are also rated A – G for washing and spinning performance. A good spin rating, A – C, means that tumble-drying will be quicker and cheaper.
Some washing-machine features are far more useful than others. Don’t be tempted to pay over the odds for an impressive array of programmes, for instance – most people stick to the same three or four.
Some machines can be loaded then left to turn themselves on automatically – useful for taking advantage of off-peak electricity, or for getting the washing done while you’re out.
Worth considering for anyone whose skin reacts to detergent traces left in clothes.
Many machines come equipped with sensors that monitor the wash and alter different aspects of the performance accordingly. A machine with fuzzy logic might adjust the water intake and temperature, add an extra rinse to clear excess foam, and choose the best spin speed for the load. These machines cost more than standard models, but they do make the most economic use of energy, and will save you money if you do more than three full loads each week.
A few machines, made from top-quality materials and using sophisticated electronic technology, claim to have a life of up to 20 years, rather than the 5-10 year life expectancy that is realistic for other machines. These machines are at the top end of the price range, but over time could prove to be worth the extra initial investment.
Compact machines can squeeze into a small space, but have a smaller capacity and a limited range of programmes. Top-loaders are not as wide as front-loaders, so are useful if you’re short of space. They can be awkward to use, however, if they have to be wheeled out from under a worktop, and they can be noisy. Some standard-sized machines have a large drum that can accommodate 6 kg (13 lb) of laundry rather than the usual 5 kg (11 lb). Only useful if you regularly do a large amount of washing.
Quick-Wash or Economy Settings. Useful for lightly soiled clothes.
Higher spin speeds mean drier washing, so look for a machine that offers a top speed of 1,100 revolutions per minute (rpm) or more. Some machines have variable speeds, so you can give fabrics that crease badly a very slow spin.
Choosing a Tumble Dryer
The main choice is between air-vented and condenser dryers. Air-vented are cheaper and dry washing faster, but the steam is removed through a broad hose that has to be ducted through an external wall or hung out of a window or open door, restricting where you can put the machine.
Condenser dryers are a little more expensive, but you can position them anywhere. They work by condensing the steam back into water, which collects in a built-in container that you empty when necessary.
If you can position the dryer near a sink, it can be plumbed in so that the water goes down the drain.
Some machines can be loaded then left to turn themselves on automatically – useful for taking advantage of off-peak electricity, or for getting the drying done while you’re out.
All machines have these fluff traps, which need regular cleaning. Choose a machine with a filter that is easy to get at.
Most people use just two: a low setting for synthetics, high for cottons. A cool phase at the end of the cycle allows clothes to cool down gradually and helps prevent creasing.
A light that comes on when the container in a condenser dryer is full. Prevents overflows.
This fairly standard feature prevents tangling. It may be missing from economy-range compacts.
Compact machines are handy if you have limited space, but can handle only 2 kg (4 1/2 lb) rather than the standard 5 kg (11 lb) load.
Designed to prevent an automatic start-up when the door is shut, in case children or pets climb into the dryer.
Two machines in one can be the answer if you are short of space or cash.
- These machines don’t dry as fast or as efficiently as a standard tumble-dryer .
- The whole process takes longer, because the dryer can only dry half a normal wash-load at a time. And, of course, you have to wait for a wash to finish before you can dry anything.
Getting The Best From Your Washer
Sort Washing Carefully
- Ideally you should separate your laundry into three groups by colour: whites, light colours, and dark colours, so that whites stay white, and dark dyes from black and navy garments don’t turn paler colours dingy.
- If you don’t have enough for three loads, at least keep whites separate – it’s worth doing a half load.
- It pays to wash items of certain fabric types together. For example, synthetics need a cool rinse and short spin, whereas heavy cotton items like towels, can take a hotter wash and longer spin.
Loading the Machine
- Don’t be tempted to overload the drum. Performance will be reduced and your machine will suffer greater wear and tear. The motor might even burn out if you overdo it too often.
- Empty pockets and remove badges, brooches, or any loose buttons before you wash. Small loose items can lodge in the machine and cause considerable and expensive damage.
If your washing machine consistently produces poor results, pour a little bleach into the detergent compartment, then let the machine run empty through a complete warm wash cycle.
The bleach will remove any clogged soap scum in the machine and should improve washing and rinsing.
Detergents & Softeners
The first choice is between detergent in powder, tablet, or liquid form. Tests carried out by the Consumers’ Association found that powders and tablets are more effective at removing stains than liquid detergents.
Beyond that, the choice is between different types of product, designed for different uses.
- Biological. Excellent for stain removal, even at low temperatures.
- Non-Biological. Good for sensitive skins (including babies), especially for anyone with an allergy to enzyme detergents. May not remove deep staining.
- Colour. Lower bleach content means colours are less likely to fade.
- Wool Wash. A liquid that’s appropriate for delicate fabrics, particularly silk and wool.
- Fabric Softeners. Produce fragrant, soft garments that shed creases more easily and may need less ironing.
- Water-Softener Tablets. Stop the limescale build-up that damages the insides of washing machines.