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When living away from home for the first time you may encounter situations you have managed to avoid up until now, like cleaning the toilet or disguising a cigarette burn in a carpet. So you will have answers to hand, should the occasion arise, I have tried to provide some hints and tips on the most popular subjects.

In compiling these I have also tried to keep in mind that you will not want to spend all your time cooking and cleaning, nor will you want to spend your money on many different cleaning materials.

I must however stress, I cannot guarantee results, any remedy is undertaken at your own risk.  Test on a hidden area first and read our disclaimer.



On fabrics/carpets –  Fresh carpet stains can be reduced by gently soaking up with kitchen roll, then spraying with shaving foam.  Leave to soak in and repeat if necessary.

Coffee or Curry - if dealt with quickly ,can usually be removed by normal washing. To soften the stain apply a glycerine solution (diluted 1 part to 2 parts water), leave for about an hour then wash in detergent.

Urine/Vomit (on washable fabric) - Soak in cold water and a biological detergent, then wash in a strong detergent.

Alternatively, sponge with a vinegar solution (1 tablespoon/15ml to 1 pint/500ml cold water).

On non-washable fabrics, remove surface deposits, sponge with warm water into which a few drops of ammonia have been added. Blot dry with absorbent paper

Vomit (on carpets) - Remove surface deposits. Wipe with damp cloth, squirt with a soda siphon or borax solution (15ml/1 tablespoon to 500ml/1pint warm water). Blot well with absorbent paper to remove excess liquid from carpet. Clean with carpet cleaner, rinse and blot, repeating as necessary.

White Wine - soften a dried stain with glycerine (1 part to 2 parts water) before washing. Rinse in warm water, sponge with borax solution (1 tbls. To 1 pint water) if necessary. Wash in the usual manner.

Red Wine - Sponge immediately with White Wine to remove the red stain then follow the instructions for White wine stains.

Beer - Rinse or soak in lukewarm water, then wash in detergent.

Alcohol - Squirt from soda siphon.


Having cleared up from that party, you are left with some more serious problems, a cigarette burn in the carpet, marks on the wallpaper etc, etc. No problem, help is at hand –

Burn holes in carpets – Remove scorched fibres with a sharp knife exposing the backing underneath. Cut matching tufts from a piece of carpet that will not show. Put some adhesive into the hole and on the ends of the tufts, insert the tufts into the hole, trim as necessary and blend in with rest of carpet.

Stains on wallpaper – rub gently with a piece of fresh bread. For greasy, e.g. food stains use a light application of a solvent such as lighter fuel.

To remove all traces of cigarette smoke, leave a saucer of vinegar in the room overnight.

To remove candle wax from material.  Heat bowl of spoon over candle, wet some newspaper and squeeze out excess water. Place damp paper over candle wax to be removed.  Rub hot spoon gently over paper where the wax is, remove paper and the wax should come away cleanly.

Remove heat  marks from dark furniture by gently rubbing with a walnut and then a little polish or mix cigarette ash and olive oil into a paste, rub into mark and buff up with dry cloth.

Stubborn stains on polished surfaces can sometimes be removed with a little toothpaste.


Never close the door if the fridge is switched off, this will cause mildew and a terrible smell.

To prevent smells in the first place, leave a piece of charcoal on one of the shelves and this will absorb any odours. 

If, however, the fridge already smells, try –

    • Dissolve 2 - 3 teaspoons of Bicarbonate of Soda in a pint of water and wipe out the inside of the fridge.
    • Remove top from box of bicarbonate of soda and place it on one of the shelves. Stir contents from time to time.
    • Dampen some cotton wool with vanilla extract and put on the middle shelf.

Wipe microwave oven immediately after use with a cloth wrung out in hot water. Loosen stubborn stains by heating a bowl of water to boiling point on the cookers highest setting.

To clear lingering smells add a few drops of lemon juice to a basin of hot water and bring to the boil.

Non self cleaning Conventional ovens - smear a thin paste of bicarbonate of soda and water on the oven panels. It looks messy but is easily wiped off next time you clean

Keeping Toilets clean – So long as the toilet is in fairly good condition, this can generally be done by the regular use of bleach.

4 tablets Alka Seltzer in the toilet will bring your bowl up sparkling clean.  Leave for an hour and then brush.

Bicarbonate of Soda and washing up liquid are very versatile and inexpensive, they can be used for many jobs around the house, scrubbing sinks, baths, ovens, refrigerator and laundry.  .


Soak coloured items in a salt water solution before washing in order to prevent colours running.

Always wash coloured items separately to whites, otherwise, even if the colour does not run, the light articles will look dingy.

Use washing up liquid to remove stains on collars, cuffs etc.   Just apply to the collar or grease stain direct and leave to soak in before washing as usual.  

Hand washing clothes

Dissolve detergent in warm water (unless label specifically says use cold water). Squeeze water gently through fabric. Do not rub, twist or wring (particularly with woollens).

Support garment at all times to avoid stretching due to the weight of the water. Squeeze out surplus water before rinsing in clean water until the water runs clear.

Wrap item in clean towel to absorb water. Remove from towel and finish drying flat, easing back to shape. Leave to dry naturally .


If you have added too much salt to your casserole, stew, soup or curry, don’t throw it out and starve - peel a potato, cut into medium size pieces and add to the casserole. Simmer and when the potato is soft lift carefully out. 

Other ways to disguise saltiness is by adding a small can of tomatoes, or a dash of sweet sherry or a little plain yoghurt, whichever is most suitable for the particular dish involved.

Chatted too long on the telephone and your supper is burnt to the bottom of the pan - don't panic.

Don't stir. Plunge the bottom of the pan into cold water to prevent further cooking.  Carefully remove as much of the unburnt food as possible and put into a clean pan, avoiding any burnt bits, add a little more liquid continue cooking.   If it still tastes burnt add something like Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree, spice or herbs, which usually disguises it.

Now to clean the burnt saucepan. Remove as much of the burnt food as possible.

Put some water into the pan and add a lot of salt, soak for an hour, wash in the usual way.

If badly burnt, put some water into the pan, add salt, bring to the boil and leave to soak for twelve hours, bring back to the boil.  The debris should wipe off.   If not, add more salt and bring to the boil again.

Alternatively, sprinkle the burnt food with baking soda, add some water and boil or simmer - this should remove it.

Can't get the ketchup out of the narrow necked bottle - try this.  Hold thumb over the end of a drinking straw, push straw to the bottom of the bottle, remove thumb.  Ketchup should now pour easily.

Put two or three lumps of sugar in with the cheese to stop it going mouldy.

Rub your hands with vinegar before and after slicing onions - this will eliminate the smell.

To prevent foam from forming and boiling over when boiling pasta in water, put a couple of drops of vegetable oil in the water.

To prevent egg cracking whilst boiling prick a hole with a pin into the round end of an egg, there is a vacuum there, and the tiny hole will prevent any cracks.           

Lynda Brown

If you don't bother to do this and the egg cracks add a pinch of salt to the water to prevent the egg white running into the water.

To remove food stains from hands, rub on raw potato and rinse with water.

To get rid of unwanted insects, just sprinkle Bicarbonate of Soda or Borax around cabinets and cupboards where they might run.


If your zip gets stuck, rub a pencil on the zipper. Make sure you don't get any marks on the fabric from the graphite dust though!

Clean dirty white shoes by dabbing with cotton wool and nail varnish remover.

White chalk removes marks from white material.

No iron, lay the creased item on a flat surface and pass a hair dryer (set to hot) from side to side about four to six inches above the fabric, using your other hand to flatten the material as you go - hey presto! 



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