If you find yourself faced with a mightily grubby bath, try filling it with warm water, chucking in a scoop or two of biological washing powder and leaving overnight.
Enamelled baths are slightly tougher than acrylic, but are not totally scratch proof either, so leave the scrubbing brush alone. Stains on the enamel can be treated with a paste of bicarbonate of soda mixed with a drop of water. See below for limescale treatments.
Cast-iron baths – take great care with these – always test new products on an inconspicuous area before sloshing it all over. Avoid products with anti-limescale ingredients as they may cause the enamel to dull. Instead, remove limescale with a solution of half vinegar, half water, applied with a soft cloth to the area of limescale – avoiding other parts of the enamel.
Keep taps looking good by using a mild bathroom cleaner, or white toothpaste is effective for most tap finishes (except brass or gold) – add just a dab and buff to a shine.
Limescale-removing cleaners are useful, especially in hard-water areas – if it’s persistent, soak a cloth in the product and wrap it around the tap. To remove limescale from chrome taps, rub with half a lemon, then rinse with water and buff dry.
To clean up discoloured grout (caused by soap scum, mildew and other delights), arm yourself with an old toothbrush and a suitable cleaner and scrub over the grout lines.
Make your own mixture of bicarbonate of soda and a splash of vinegar or bleach. Ideally, you need to find a product with mould inhibitors, as these will discourage mould or mildew from returning.
Pour a suitable toilet cleaner into the bowl, leave for a few minutes then scrub, getting into the seat hinges and under the rim. Flush, make sure any cleaning product is rinsed away, then flush again.
Don’t forget the seat and handle – warm soapy water should be enough to tackle dirt and germs.
If limescale is really stubborn, you may have to part empty the toilet bowl (use an old cup), then use a limescale remover, before refilling the toilet bowl.
Save yourself a world of scrubbing by keeping a squeegee in the bathroom and go over the shower glass after each shower. Once the soap scum and limescale have set in, melt them away with a squirt of vinegar solution – half water and half clear vinegar. Really persistent scuzz can be attacked with two parts washing soda to one part vinegar or lemon juice. Apply this paste with a damp cloth, leave for 10 minutes then sponge off and rinse.
Glass furniture and mirrors can be buffed up in seconds with just water and a microfibre cloth. For very dirty surfaces, you might need to use some water diluted with washing-up liquid and applied with a sponge, then wiped and buffed dry with that microfibre cloth. To stop a bathroom mirror steaming up, rub shaving foam over it, then buff off with the microfiber cloth.
Glass and Mirrors
Windows will sparkle after a polish with the chip-shop favourite – vinegar and newspaper. Dilute your vinegar with water (roughly 1:4) and use a lint-free cloth or chamois leather to clean off grime.
For a really good shine, polish with crumpled newspaper.
Cleaning a dirty oven requires either natural materials and elbow grease or a pretty scary chemical attack.
The non-caustic method – bicarbonate of soda, mixed to a thick paste and smeared all over the inside of the oven. Leave overnight then brace yourself for some serious scrubbing with water and a scourer.The caustic method requires less graft but more preperation. You need a solution of ammonia bleach and water, a respiratory face mask, thick rubber gloves, protective clothes and the surrounding area needs to be well protected, too. Take the oven shelves outside, spray them with your solution and seal them into a bin bag. Spray the oven with the bleach. After a couple of hours, hose down the racks (keeping away from plants, pets etc) then wash them in warm soapy water. Rinse out the oven with plenty of clean water. Pregnant women and asthmatics should avoid this like the plague, and keep children and pets well out of it too.
Gas hobs can be dismantled somewhat for cleaning – put pan stands in the dishwasher or soak in biological laundry detergent and hot water. The burners can be scrubbed with bicarbonate of soda and water, and wipe down the base plate with warm soapy water. Polish glass or metal surfaces with a micro-fibre cloth for smear-free loveliness.
Disinfect the sink by filling it with warm water and adding a capful of bleach. Slosh some water into the overflow and scrub round the overflow and plug with an old toothbrush.
Acrylic sinks should not be cleaned with abrasive cleaners, which will scratch the surface. Zap stains by soaking with a weak bleach solution.
These only need warm water and a cream cleaner to keep them fresh, or a splash of vinegar on really determined stains.
Stainless steel sinks: Stainless steel sinks will scratch so just say no to harsh scourers – most cream cleaners will deal with stains or rust marks, or try a bicarbonate of soda paste. Get rid of limescale using lemon juice.
Remove fridge shelves and compartments and wash them in warm soapy water, then rinse. Wipe the inside of the fridge with a potion made up of two teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda for every litre of warm water. Get into the rubber door seal with an old toothbrush and don’t forget the outside of the door and the handle.
Stains inside the fridge can be rubbed with a stronger bicarbonate of soda paste or white toothpaste.
Fingermarks can be removed with a microfibre cloth or try a dab of baby oil on a clean cloth. Avoid any abrasive materials, which could scratch the surface.
Clean up the grouting with a solution of one part bleach to four parts water, using an old toothbrush to scrub between the tiles. Stains can be tackled with an all-purpose kitchen cleaner, but be careful of abrasive cleaners on glazed tiles.
Should only need a wipe down with warm soapy water – don’t use anything abrasive or it will scratch the surface. Discoloured marks may improve after rubbing them with a cut lemon.
Metal kettles will benefit from a clean with soapy water then a lovely buff with a microfibre cloth to banish streaks.
Unclog the filter regularly – open it up and remove the fluff, gubbins and (hopefully) valuables that have accumulated!Clean the detergent drawer – a wipe over with a cloth should remove gunged-up bits of soap – try the trusty old toothbrush to get into fiddly bits.Freshen up the machine by running it empty from time to time on a hot-wash programme with some washing-soda crystals or clear vinegar thrown in for good measure. This will remove odours and stop soap scum, limescale, mildew etc.
Ceramic tiles don’t take much cleaning – a mop with mild detergent is enough – but the grout does get grubby. Choose grey grout if possible, which will show the dirt less, and clean it with a soft brush and a mild bleach solution.Wash laminate flooring only with a flat mop that can be wrung out to within an inch of its life, so it gets a just-damp wipe rather than a wet soaking. Use clean warm water only or a specialist laminate cleaner suitable for your type of floor.
Regular oiling is required to prevent the wood soaking up water – follow manufacturer’s recommendations carefully. Firm rubbing with a cloth and a washing-up liquid solution should clean up the wood, but take care not to allow spills of tomato sauce, curry etc to sit on the surface as they can be tough to remove.
Stubborn stains can be cleaned with cream cleaners or a paste of bicarbonate of soda with a few drops of chlorine bleach.
Hard wearing and resistant to stains, washing-up liquid is all that’s required here. Avoid any abrasive materials, which could scratch the surface.
Clean up stainless steel with warm water and washing-up liquid.
Beat heavier marks with cream cleaner or a bicarbonate of soda and water paste. Avoid abrasive cleaners that might scratch the surface.
Perk up dull stainless steel with a bracing rub using a paste of baking soda and water. Remove limescale with vinegar or lemon juice.