Monday, April 26, 2010

The 21st Century Housewife’s© Household Tips

It’s Homemaker Monday over at 11th Heaven’s Homemaking Haven, so in honour of that I have posted twelve of my favourite household tips here today and linked up. Do go along and visit. And for more tips from me, please click here.

1) It’s a pain trying to keep the doors of shower cubicles spot free, but if you keep a window cleaning squeegee in your showers it becomes really easy.  If everyone runs the squeegee over the doors when they have finished showering, it will look much nicer and be so much easier to clean! 

2) I don’t like using chemicals around the home, particularly when it comes to de-scaling the kettle.  So I put about ¼ cup of plain white vinegar in bottom of the kettle, top it up with cold water and then boil it.  Then I empty the kettle and rinse it thoroughly.  Next I fill the kettle with clean water, bring it to the boil, empty and rinse it.  Then I repeat this process a couple of times just to avoid any residual vinegar taste.   If for any reason your kettle is not sparkling at this point, simply repeat the whole process one more time.  You will end up with a lovely scale free kettle without the use of harmful chemicals. 

3) If you have an old battery operated or rechargeable electric toothbrush (the whole unit, not just the brush), it is great to use for cleaning those tricky places on the stove, hob, cupboards or just about anywhere.  It can also be used to remove lime scale on sinks, especially round the taps.  I have one I keep charged up all the time and just keep replacing the brush with ones we have finished with. 

4) A fifty / fifty mix of water and plain vinegar in an atomiser bottle (like you would use to spray plants) makes a great window and glass cleaner.  A fifty / fifty mix of water and surgical spirit/rubbing alcohol in an atomiser bottle makes a super disinfectant for door handles.  Spray and wipe off with a damp cloth.
5) Do try some of the environmentally friendly cleaners available today.  Many of them are just as good, if not better than, chemical cleaners. I particularly like the Ecover hard surface cleaners. Another one of my favourites is Method Tub + Tile Spray which has a really gorgeous spa-like scent.

6) Lemons are incredibly versatile in the kitchen and not just for cooking and eating.  A leftover half lemon placed in the cutlery tray of your dishwasher during the load freshens and makes your dishes sparkle (only use each half once though!).   If you have been chopping something smelly like garlic, rub some lemon over your hands before washing and then wash in warm, soapy water for hands without any lingering traces of odour.  Of course, don’t do this if you have any hangnails or broken skin – ouch!  Lemon can also be used to freshen chopping boards before washing in warm, soapy water too.  And if you are washing dishes by hand, a few slices of lemon in the washing water really helps cut grease and make the dishes sparkle.

7) Although I would never recommend freezing a whole lemon, parts thereof can be frozen very effectively so that you always have this very handy fruit on hand.  The zest of unwaxed lemons can be grated and frozen in small containers, and the juice can be frozen separately in ice cube trays.  Unwaxed lemons can be sliced and frozen for use in cold drinks.  I slice the lemons medium thick, then cut the slices in half and freeze on a flat tray.  Once they are frozen you can remove them from the tray and place in a freezer bag.  Pop them frozen in a glass and you have instant “ice and a slice” for your gin and tonic, lemonade or ice tea!

8) I have a terrible habit of not washing my flower vases properly and then they end up stained.  To make them sparkle again, simply fill them with warm water and add a tablespoon or two of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda).  Leave to soak for about ten minutes and then wipe round the inside with a paper towel to remove any stubborn stuck on bits.   Now rinse the vase with warm water.  In my experience, this leaves me with a sparkling clean vase.  This works particularly well on crystal and glass. 
9) When I buy flowers in the grocery store, I sometimes find on returning home that one or two of the flowers have bent stems.  They have not actually broken through, but are sadly drooping or listing to one side.  Provided that the stem is still intact, most fairly firm stems can be straightened up again almost invisibly if you use clear Scotch Magic Tape.  Just take a piece about an inch long and wrap it round the stem.  In most cases it will support the flower enough to keep it totally upright and the repair is virtually undetectable. 

10) Roses in bouquets often wilt at different speeds, and by the time you have removed the few that are wilting, suddenly your bouquet looks less very Spartan and less than gorgeous.  Instead of leaving it like that – or discarding roses that are still okay - take the roses which are still looking good and cut the stems quite short.  Arrange them, tightly packed together in a clean jam jar – such as one of the ones from Bonne Maman or Roses marmalade. The effect is quite spectacular.  If you only have one or two roses that are still looking good, cut the stems very short, leaving only about an inch.  Half fill a crystal brandy glass (snifter) with water and then pop the rose in.  My Mom used to do this and it always looked gorgeous.  Two or three of these arranged on a mantle are just gorgeous.

11) A tip from a reader in Grimsby - “If you are arranging flowers, particularly lilies, and you find some pollen has fallen on to your clothes, do not wipe it away.  Instead take a piece of sellotape (Scotch tape), and gently lift the pollen off the clothing.” By coincidence, I was able to test this tip out late last week, and it does work.  In fact, it saved my favourite sweater from certain ruin.  Thank you dear reader!

12) The florists at The Green Parlour in Pangbourne shared this tip with me. Apparently bacteria in flower vases can actually shorten the life of your blooms. It’s important to disinfect vases regularly, but you have to be careful not to leave any disinfectant in the vases as this could damage your blooms as well. Spray a tiny spritz of Dettox spray or put the tiniest drop of Lysol in your vases, swish round with some water, and rinse really thoroughly. Your vases will look better, and your flowers will last longer.

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