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Retro cleaning hacks

With so many conventional cleaning products relying on strong chemicals, some people are beginning to turn their back on them in favour of more old-fashioned methods.

The benefit of using more retro cleaning materials is that they’re generally more affordable, that’s if you don’t already have them lying around. Sometimes, the old way is the best way, why not give these tips a go?

A sparkling surface

Surfaces in your home can take up most of your cleaning time and go through lots of cleaning solution. Go for something organic that won’t be toxic to family (that includes pets!) and make your own homemade grime and grease remover.

Mix one part distilled white vinegar, two parts water and a big squeeze of lemon juice. If you’re short on lemons, grab half a grapefruit instead and rub it over countertops, sprinkle with some salt and wash off with a sponge and hot water. Your sinks in particular will love it!

Oh, you need something to go over wood surfaces? Vinegar: if it’s good enough for your salad dressing, it’s good enough for your wood polish!

One part white vinegar mixed with one lemon juice and two parts olive oil will buff your wood to perfection! Windows and mirrors love vinegar too. Mix 50/50 with hot water and spray directly on to glass and give it a good rub with a cloth (or in proper Nana style: a scrunched-up piece of old newspaper). Leave it to dry streak-free and shiny.

Elbow grease on the pots and pans

Everyone has stubborn stains on pans and cutlery that won’t come off however much you douse them with washing up liquid and scrub like a person possessed. Well, forego the washing up liquid altogether!

Domestic goddess, Mrs Beeton, heartily recommended a solution of warm water and baking soda, scrubbed in hard using a crust of bread. We tried this, and it really does work!

For cutlery that has crossed the line from ‘a bit stained’ to ‘actively rusty’, plunge into a large onion a few times. We appreciate that it sounds like an old wives tale, but you’ll marvel at how much they sparkle.

Start from the top

We’re not sure where we heard this one, but we suspect it’s an age-old tip, where you simply start at the top and work your way down. Dust, like us, is entirely at the mercy of gravity, and floats towards the floor. By following this simple tip, you won’t end up cleaning your house more than you need to.

Deodorise the house

It comes as no surprise that air fresheners haven’t always been readily available to mask untoward odors. Back in the day, people kept things pleasant with a good spritz of lemon juice and water. It doesn’t just smell great either – it also has antibacterial qualities.

People also used to pop some blooms with a strong scent in a vase – lavender is perfect for this and keeps the moths at bay!

Go nuts!

Noticed a little scratch on the arm of your favourite wooden dining chair or display unit? You can hey presto it away… with a WALNUT. All you need to do is shell the fresh walnut and rub over the blemish. Once it’s rubbed in, place your finger on the mark to warm the oil and help it soak in better. After five minutes, buff the area with a soft cloth to smooth the scratch away.

Nature’s secret weapon

From keeping children’s hair lice free to eliminating spots, tea-tree oil is a powerful antiseptic that is a great ally against mould and mildew. If you mix two cups of water and two teaspoons of tea tree oil in a spray bottle, spray on areas of mildew build-up and leave for several minutes before rinsing with warm, soapy water.

In a snag with your shag?

A hoover only does so much on deep-pile carpets. If you need a truly thorough clean, sprinkle with bicarbonate of soda, leave for fifteen minutes and then sweep. You can also drag it quickly over fresh snow, but you first on that one!

Heirloom tomatoes on the actual heirlooms?

If your silverware is looking a tad tarnished, it can be cleaned up nicely by ketchup. Yes, really. This sweet staple sauce has high vinegar levels and several acids from the tomatoes which are a treat for removing copper oxide found in sterling silver.

All you need to do is squeeze the ketchup in a bowl, add the silverware ensuring it is completely covered and soak for five minutes before rinsing thoroughly. We recommend starting with a less valuable piece first as practice!

The saying goes that if it’s not broke, don’t fix it. We’ve come a long way with environmentally-conscious materials and modern tools for getting jobs done quickly, but we shouldn’t disregard these retro hacks when they still work a treat!

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