hintsandthings.co.uk »Utility Room

Tips on cleaning, using inexpensive household products.


(for other cleaning tips see our Kitchen
and Living

This page gives some suggestions
on how to use everyday household products when cleaning;  making the
job easier and cheaper.


You can keep your bathroom shower cubicle
sparkling clean longer by washing the whole shower stall, then waxing with car wax (not
turtle wax as this is green, be sure to get clear wax). This keeps the dirt and grime from

Anita Jones

What has amazed me since setting up this site is
the number products that can be, and are, used for a multitude of tasks – some obvious and
others not so obvious.  I am always intrigued as to how these “quirky” uses
are initially found out and the first example explains just that –

Baking Soda (Bicarbonate of Soda)

  • Baking soda on a damp sponge removes grease
    easily from stove, back splash etc.

  • Also works great for carpet deodorising, just
    sprinkle onto carpet before going to bed and vacuum in the morning.

Thanks to Lisa
Mighell for these two tips

  • Better than any cleaner for cleaning baths and

This tip was sent in by
Linda Benedict who told me that her four year old grandson was in
the bathroom “making snow”.  When she investigated he had dumped the whole
box of baking soda in the sink.  As she cleaned it up it made the sink sparkle so she
tried it on the tub – same result with no scrubbing – tip was born!!!

  • Baking Soda can be used for
    many jobs around the house, scrubbing sinks, bath tub, stove, refrigerator and laundry.
      It leaves everything smelling nice and cleans just as good as any cleanser without
    scratching enamel.


  • Also for keeping pipes clean under the sink –
    pour about one quarter cup of baking soda down the drain
    with about 1 cup of vinegar, this makes a chemical reaction, then pour some hot water down
    the drain. Hey Presto!


  • Baking soda or Borax is also
    good for getting rid of unwanted insects, just sprinkle around cabinets and cupboards and
    other places the insects might run.

Elouise Baker

  • If you burn a saucepan put in some baking
    and believe it or not Avon’s Skin So Soft whilst it is
    still hot and allow to soak.  Apparently comes clean.

Emma Phillips
assures me this works! 

  • To minimise odours in your fridge, remove top
    from box of baking soda and place it on one of the shelves.  From
    time to time stir contents.


Alka-Seltzer can
be used to –

  • 3 tablets down the kitchen sink followed by a
    cup of white vinegar. Leave for a few minutes then run hot water – cleans pipes.

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

  • 1 tablet in a cup of warm water.  Drop in
    your jewelry (NOT PEARLS OR OPALS) and leave for a few minutes. Sparkling.


  • To freshen up a thermos flask,
    fill the flask with water, drop in four Alka Seltzer tablets and let soak for an hour (or
    longer if necessary).

  • To remove the stain from the
    bottom of a glass vase or cruet, fill with water and drop in two Alka-Seltzer tablets.

clickcleaning.com for a range cleaning
products & supplies; from floor & carpet cleaners, bleaches
and window cleaning products to environmentally friendly cleaning products
& specialist janitorial items.

Glass Cleaner

  • 1/3 cup of cheap white
    vinegar, 1/3 cup of non-sudsy ammonia (preferably the yellow colour) and 1/3 cup rubbing
    alcohol. (surgical spirit) Mix in a spray bottle and top of with water.  If you buy large
    containers of each ingredient this cuts costs even more.


  • Follow this up by drying with old newspapers and put a very
    light application of furniture polish on them.  This works well for keeping steam off
    mirrors after taking a bath or shower.  It also makes cleaning easier next time.


  • To save money buy a gallon of window cleaner for your vehicle
    then pour into a spray bottle.  It cleans as well as top brand cleaners and lasts a
    lot longer.

  • Use air freshener to clean mirrors.  It does a good job
    as well as leaving a lovely smell.

anonymous contributor


  • Find a container large enough to immerse the item to be
    cleaned. Put a  piece of aluminium foil into the container and add hot water and
    salt. Dip the silverware into the solution and after a few seconds it will become white
    and shining.

Sent in by Cristobal
Reyes Perez – thanks.

As this is
obviously caused by a chemical reaction I don’t know if it would damage the silver in any

have now been sent an explanation by Joseph Collins
as to why the above works which is as follows:-

Cleaning silver with aluminium foil – the reason this works is
Aluminium is very active metal and silver is quite inert so
aluminium reacts with the (tarnished silver) and frees up the silver
metal and removes the rest in a chemical reaction. Silver is fairly
inert but will react with any sulphur compounds in the air which is
why Silver slowly tarnishes.


  • Clean silver with the juice of a lemon and polish up with a
    soft clean cloth.

Use cotton buds to get into difficult crevices.

After cleaning your good silver to prevent it tarnishing,
store it in an airtight plastic container.

Libby Tynan

  • Toothpaste is good for
    removing tarnish on Sliver. Coat the silver with toothpaste and then with it
    under warm water, work it into a foam using gentle pressure. Rinse well.

L. Allan

  • Easy way to clean
    sterling silver is to use Crest toothpaste a toothbrush and water. seconds
    of brushing and shine, shine, shine!


toothpaste is mildly abrasive so don’t rub hard.  Be very wary when
cleaning antiques or silver jewelry as this can not only damage the item but may also affect
it’s value.



*These are the
fabric conditioner sheets used in tumble dryers.

  • To remove baked on food from a
    pan, fill with very hot water and one dryer sheet and leave to soak for
    an hour or two.  Pour off the water, toss the sheet and wipe out the pan.  All
    the baked on food comes off easily.  If it does not come clean, leave to soak

Thank you
“bluejayfoxy” and also Doreen and Craig Stocker

  • When cleaning dust and animal
    hair from free standing fans, window unit air conditioner filters or venetian blinds, use
    a dryer sheet.  It not only removes dust and hair faster, but after
    prolonged use it creates a protective coating on the wires of the fan for even easier dust

George, Doreen and Craig Stocker

  • Dust your television and
    computer screens with a used dryer sheet as this will reduce the static and prevent dust

  • Clean shower doors with a used
    dryer sheet to dissolve soap scum.

  • Collect animal hair by rubbing
    the area with dryer sheets, they will magically attract all the loose hairs.

 Doreen and Craig Stocker

Cathy Young
has contacted me with the following warning regarding the above tip.
“According to Anitra Frazier in The New Natural Cat, the chemicals in
the fabric softener will adhere to your cat’s fur (if you use it on
something he lays on, such as a towel) and be licked off later. I stopped
using fabric softener except rarely after reading this years ago because of
my cats’ tendency to lay on my clothes and not knowing what kind of toxic
effects this could have for their liver over time.”

Dishwasher Powder

  • Another method of removing
    burnt food is to cover the area with dishwasher powder and enough water to make a paste.
      Let it soak overnight and wash it clean the next day.


Also recommended by an anonymous
contributor who says 3 tablespoons in hot water, left to soak for about an hour does the

  • To clean copper pans, give
    them a good scrub with dishwashing soap, then take a half a lemon and pour salt on it, use
    it to scrub the copper, you will see the shine come through.  Keep adding salt to the
    lemon as you clean.



  • If you have any empty
    trigger spray bottles handy, rinse out, and put a good squirt of
    Domestos (household bleach) in with a small squirt of Fairy liquid
    (hand dishwashing liquid), top up with water and you have the best all round cleaner.

    Shifts soap scum from showers and cleans
    the whole bathroom, kitchen, and believe it or not green algae from
    conservatory roofs. I have used this formula to clean pvc window
    frames and its a winner, try it.


  • When cleaning any stainless steal
    appliances in the kitchen, wipe down as normal with a damp cloth. Then use a
    piece of kitchen towel with a little baby oil and wipe down the surface. You
    can also use baby wipes, but this way is more expensive. These methods brings
    a lovely shine to the appliance. Baby wipes are also good for cleaning leather
    settee’s and radiator’s.

    Jo Kulczycki
    – Cleaners For U Limited


  • Do you also hate the fact
    that the RVS splash back above the stove is never stripeless clean? 

    Clean first with a normal
    grease removing product. Then sprinkle some olive oil onto a paper towel,
    gently rub it on the RVS and the result is remarkable!

    Akkie Roll

  • Put a sterilising tablet (the
    kind you would use for baby bottles) into a vase that has once
    held flowers it comes up lovely and clean and ready for the next lot
    of flowers to go into the vase.



    • After boiling the kettle, instead of just pouring the excess down the sink,
      use the boiling water and pour it down that sink
      overflow to keep it clean and sterilised. Not only
      will this reduce unpleasant smells but should you in a busy period leave
      the tap running the over flow will allow the
      excess water to escape safely and not flood the


    • To remove burnt on food from Pyrex dishes,
      soak them in Steradent Denture cleaner and hot water.

    • To clean limescale from kettles or glass
      vases, soak in hot water and 1/3 brown vinegar.  Rinse kettle well, fill and boil
      water.  Empty completely, rinse again.

    Both the above have been
    contributed by Janet Bowen, thanks.

    • For stained or burnt coffee pot,
      sprinkle in
      “Comet” and add crushed ice.  Rotate the pot to make the ice do the
      scrubbing.  Also good for small necked glasses, bottles etc.


    • If you leave the coffee on too long and it burns. 
      Just pour the used coffee grounds in the pot, swish until you see the
      burnt particles are removed and it will just rinse out, no
      scrubbing needed.

    M. Harold Scaief 

    • If any colored
      liquid is spilled on your carpet, including Koolaid or wine, immediately
      the area in water and pat dry with a towel.  When my
      children were little they knew this and always ran for a large glass of
      water and a towel if they had a spill – my carpet was spotless.

    M. Harold Scaief 

    ***I would like to add a note
    of warning regarding this tip.  It is not really recommended to saturate
    carpets as this can cause the backing to rot and may also give rise to damp
    and mildew forming within the carpet.  After soaking ensure that as much
    excess moisture as possible is removed.  This can be done by using clean
    white towels (not coloured as the dye can transfer) or paper towels. 

    • According to
      Glover and Dyane Horner
      the best thing to remove “burnt stains” from pots and pans is good
      old drinking Coke.  Let is stand for about an hour and the stains practically wipe

    also sent in the following two useful tips

    • To clean tv screens
      – use a very damp cloth that has been placed in water/clothes condition
      mix. 2/3 water to 1/2 cap of condition. then buff with any lint free
      cloth or paper towel etc. watch a shine appear and be static free. Can
      be used on other glass surfaces. 

    • Limescale in kettle
      – use white vinegar – cover the element, boil the kettle. watch the
      scale disappear, may require to be repeated if heavy build up. Boil with
      fresh water before use. tip out, and is now ready for use.

    • To get label glue off hard surfaces; wood, china, glass etc. use metal polish wadding like Duraglit or

    Pip Neal

    • Wet toilet wipes are great for removing most stains from clothing.

    Pip Neal

    • If anyone still uses milk bottles; like us. It is easier to was them out using plain cold water.

    Pip Neal

    • To clean up shards of broken glass safely, put
      on some rubber gloves and use some masking tape to pick up the glass pieces.  Or,
      alternatively, use a piece of fresh bread, the shards of glass stick into the bread easily
      and safely.

    Please ensure the bread is
    discarded safely, away from people and pets.

    to Tiffany
    Clauson for pointing this out.

    • To get those encrusted bits of food off your
      work surface, move the lid of a milk carton over the surface pressing hard, it will scrape
      them off easily and quickly without harming the surface.