hintsandthings.co.uk »Utility Room

Cleaning hints, tips, shortcuts to make those daily chores quicker and easier.




To clean heavily discoloured brass items – great for outside door furniture.

Cut a lemon in half – pour a good quantity of table salt on the exposed lemon surface.
Use the lemon as a ‘cleaning pad’ on the brass item. Add more salt if you need to as you go along.
Wash off with warm soap and water.

Doesn’t seem to do any harm to surrounding paintwork or wood and doesn’t leave white stains like commercial brass polish products.

Saw this tip on a ‘boating’ website for brass ships fittings and I have used it on old brass blowlamps to good effect.

Mike Halls

would not advise using this method on antique items as it could damage the
item and reduce the value.  It would probably not work so well on
lacquered pieces.

clean a burnt pot, chop some rhubarb into small pieces and boil it in
the pot for at least
minutes. You want something with the consistency of glue. 

Throw away the rhubarb
when you are done; it will not be suitable as a pie filling or to put
over ice cream.


remove burnt on food from a saucepan just boil a cup of cola for a
minute or two and it will remove the burnt on food. For very stubborn
areas repeat the process.

to Sue Wand

Just putting the Cola into
the pan and leaving to soak can also work.

a few squirts of liquid dishwashing detergent to the pan, fill with
water,  then bring to a boil for 5 or 10 minutes.  Should
clean up easily after that.

in by Johnny and Kelly

pan with water and add Comet or Ajax.  Allow to simmer for about
half an hour, depending on how burnt it is.

by Corinne Jacobs.

way to clean a burnt pan or dish is to put a “Dryer” sheet,
such as Bounce, into the dish with Hot water.  Leave it overnight (or
several hours) and then wipe it clean with the sheet.  The
conditioners in the dryer sheep will left the stuck on food with ease. 
I have done this ever since I read it on an email many years ago and
it has never failed me!

of Dani

time ago, my son burnt one of my pans and we got it as clean as we
could.  Shortly after that I cooked some Cream of Wheat** in it
and left the remains to sit for awhile.  When I went to clean the
pan, I pulled out the dried cream of wheat and it took all of the
carbon out with it.  The pan was good as new.

of Ohio

For those of
you, like me, who are not familiar with Cream of Wheat it is
apparently hot breakfast cereal similar in texture to grits, but
made with ground wheat instead of ground corn. 

clean the aluminium rings of a gas cooker, soak in a solution of
biological washing powder/liquid and warm water for about 30 minutes
and wipe over.


brushed steel or aluminium with a little baby oil to product a lovely
sheen and make it easier to clean next time. This tip can also be used
for enamelled cooker tops



trying to remove cheese from pans, utensils etc. soak in COLD water not hot. 
Hot water just melts it again giving you a sticky mess.  The cold water
loosens the cheese which can then be removed easily.

to Judi in Wyoming.

remove limescale from taps and toilets, scrape with copper coin.

in by Trisha Sloots

careful not to scratch the item though

To clean lime scale off shower
heads, place the shower head into a container containing equal amounts of malt vinegar and
boiling water.  Leave to soak overnight.  Rinse well.
To make a room smell pleasant,
spray polish behind a radiator – heat spreads aroma.
Use a soft, clean paintbrush
or make-up brush to clean the tops of books in a bookcase.
To clean grout around tiles,
squeeze a lemon into some water and rub into grout with an old toothbrush.  Wipe dirt
off with clean cloth.
To clean stainless steel,
spray with lubricating oil, rinse and polish up to a beautiful shine with clean, dry
If you have to keep your
freezer in the garage, spray with furniture polish to prevent it going rusty.
Clean mildew from the bottom
of windows with some bleach and an old toothbrush.  Wipe with clean dry cloth.
If you clean the outside of
windows vertically and the inside horizontally, you will be able to tell which side any
smears are on.
To prevent condensation on
windows, cut a potato in half, rub on window, buff up with dry cloth.
To keep flies away from
windows, soak a cloth in cold water into which a few drops of paraffin have been added and
rub over windows.
To keep long curtains out of
the way whilst cleaning, put the ends through a clothes hanger and hang up over window
If you stick a strong magnet
to the front of your vacuum cleaner or cleaner nozzle this will pick up metal objects
before they cause damage to your cleaner.
Mix cigarette ash and olive
oil into a paste to remove heat and ring marks on polished furniture.  Rub into mark
and buff up with dry cloth.
and heat marks can be removed by smearing petroleum jelly over the
stain, leave overnight.  Remove with a soft, clean, dry cloth.
Reduce static on TV and
computer screens by putting some fabric conditioner on a cloth and wiping over screen.
After cleaning the tops of
kitchen cupboards, put some newspapers down, then all you have to do is periodically
change the newspapers.
Never spray furniture polish
directly onto furniture as this can leave smears.  Spray onto cloth and then polish
Use nail varnish remover to
remove melted plastic from appliances (such as toasters etc.).


just want to let you know that the above is unbelievably correct.

while cooking pizza I noticed burnt smell, when checked found a black
plastic big spoon was left there by accident which got burnt and
melted and fell on the oven floor. I thought using ‘self clean’
feature will held get rid of it, but didn’t work rather made it worse.
Tried scraping, lemon didn’t work. Thought of surfing net for help and
found this hint. To my surprise it worked amazingly well and quickly.
Now my oven is clean like before, thanks.



Place a saucer of vinegar in
the corner of your room to act as an air freshener.  It will absorb odours such as
cigarette smoke etc.

Thanks to Elaine Prentice for this gem.

Use a wide tooth comb to clean
brooms after use – particularly good for removing animal fur.

Contribution from Krystal G – thank you

you have a pressure-washer, then the addition of an accessory called
an “Under-body Lance” cannot only be used to clean the underside
of your car easily, but will also clean out your roof guttering,
without having to climb up too high on a ladder.


sparkling cleaning windows – you will need:

blunt wooden stick (the type for skewing meat for barbeque)
dry lint free cloth
soapy water

First, wipe windows with cloth dipped in
soapy water; while waiting for it to dry, get rid of stubborn little
spots with blunt wooden stick. Then, use dry cloth to wipe the glass
free of watermarks. As a finishing touch, use a fresh piece of tissue
to wipe the whole glass pane to get rid of any remaining marks or dust
left by the dry cloth. 

Gets glass really sparkling clean that it
looks like I am using chemicals, but actually, its just good, old
soap. its effortless – you don’t have to scrub. just wipe. its
environmentally friendly too.

The same method works for cleaning
mirrors too. just be careful not to let the water seep into the edge
of or behind of the mirror backing



  To clean a
microwave oven all you need to do is put a couple of tablespoons of vinegar in a bowl.
  Microwave on high for 45 seconds to 1 minute (time depends on your particular
model). Carefully take the bowl out and wipe out the oven. 

Now I am not too sure about the next bit, it
sounds too frightening to me but if you want to try it it is up to you.

If you have some food that won’t come off then put the
vinegar back into the microwave and heat until it explodes out of the bowl.  It makes
a loud pop but that way it gets into every corner.  It usually takes about a minute
and a half to explode but you know when it happens!

This contribution was
sent in by Lynn – Many thanks.

A have
been contacted by someone who had the courage to try the above (and has
lived to tell the tale!).  She tells me that it did work, however,
she suggests it is done on a day when you can have the doors and windows
open and perhaps sit outside for a bit as the smell of the vinegar was
unbelievably vile.

thanks go to Mrs. Mel Seaby for not only trying it but taking the time and
trouble to let me know the outcome.


Cleaning a microwave. Rather than using
vinegar, which smells vile, use a few drops of lemon juice in a 3/4
full mug of water and microwave until boiling****,
then set the microwave to simmer for about 10 minutes. Once it’s
finished wait another 5-10 minutes (put your feet up and have a cuppa)
and then simply wipe out the microwave. The steam created and time
will have softened any burnt on food and also leaves a pleasant smell
and removes any lingering food odours.

If you have any really stubborn areas,
just repeat the process.

Sent in by
Sue Wand and Ann Cook


It has recently been brought to my attention that there is a remote
problem to be aware of when heating liquid in a microwave oven, this
is called “superheating”.  For precise information on
this subject please visit




is one my family swear by: 

We found that some
chemical based window cleaners leave streaks on the window, and some
that use just vinegar don’t work properly either. 

So, in order to be
both green AND have a solution that actually works we use the
following recipe – it is much greener than using a chemical window
cleaner and leaves a better finish:

Half a tea spoon
of liquid soap

¼ cup of white
vinegar – distilled

2 cups of water

Mix and put them
in to an old empty (Washed!) trigger spray bottle 

Nick –