1. Sponges in the microwave
Germs can gather and multiply on the cleaning sponges you use daily in the kitchen. Zap wet sponges in the microwave for a couple of minutes and nuke the bacteria. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Health found that the microwave killed more than 99% of germs and bacterial spores, including E. coli.
Read our tips for cleaning a microwave
2. Clean your blender
Fill a blender halfway with hot water and a drop of washing up liquid. Turn on for 30 seconds, then pour away, rinse and turn on again filled with more hot water, then rinse clean and dry.
3. De-gunk handles
Gunk collects around handles on kitchen cabinets. Remove it with a paste made from one part cheap vegetable oil to two parts bicarbonate of soda to make a gentle but abrasive cleaner that won’t harm your varnish or paintwork. Rub in with an old toothbrush, then wipe clean with hot, soapy water.
Read our top tips for getting rid of stubborn stains
4. Small toys
Toys collect bacteria from dirty, sticky fingers. Collect small, plastic toys together, including bits of Lego, put in a laundry bag and wash in the washing machine. You can even sterilise them in the dishwasher.
5. Sticky labels
Removing sticky stuff is time-consuming and exasperating. Add a scoopful of OxiClean or Vanish powder to a sink of hot water, carefully put in your glasses or whatever, and leave to soak for 30 minutes. The labels should float away.
6. Make your iron sparkle
Put an old pillow case on your ironing board, pour table salt (fine grains, not flakes) over it, then iron the salt. The dirt on the iron should stick to the salt (tip: don’t use the steamer!)
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7. Banish mildew
Leave your towels in the washing machine too long? Banish the mouldy smell by rewashing on a hot cycle and adding one cup of vinegar to the load (no detergent). No vinegar? Try bicarbonate of soda instead.
8. Get rid of pet hair
Use a damp rubber washing-up glove or a squeegee window cleaner to remove pet hair from furniture, carpets and clothes. Just rub over the surface and the hair will ball up and become easy to remove.
9. Cut through grease
To get rid of built-up grease from places like cooker hoods, add… more grease. Baby oil is perfect for stainless steel and other metal finishes, cutting through the grime and leaving a nice shine. Apply with a soft cloth, then buff with a clean cloth once the dirt is gone.
10. Silver solution
Is your silver dark and tarnished? Rub on toothpaste with a rag or an old toothbrush, then wipe off and buff. It’ll come up a treat.
Find out more ways to clean silver
11. Clean the loo
Got a nasty ring round the toilet where the water sits? Drop in two tablets of Alka Seltzer or a couple of denture tablets and leave fizzing away for up to 15 minutes, while they dissolve. Swirl the brush around, give it a flush, and you’re done.
12. Cloudy glass
Clean glasses that have a white bloom on them by pouring a cup of vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher, and turn it on. If they’re still cloudy, repeat the process.
Find out how to clean windows
13. Polish wood
Mix four parts olive oil to one part vinegar, shake well, then pour onto a soft cloth and work into dull-looking wood in the direction of the grain. Buff to a shine with a duster.
14. Deodorise with coffee
It sounds unlikely, but dry, unused coffee grounds poured onto a plate will remove smells from kitchens and fridges and freshen the air. Throw away or compost after use.
15. Burnt pans
Clean burnt-on food off saucepans with dishwasher tablets. Cut one in half, add water, then put in the pan and boil for up to half an hour. The burnt-on residue should rise to the surface, leaving the pan sparkling clean.
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