Tips and Advice

9 old-fashioned cleaning hacks that actually work

Grandmothers have always been our go-to gals when it comes to advice, so we quizzed five of them for their best-ever cleaning hacks

When you think about your grandmother’s home, we bet it’s clean and tidy. Neat as a pin, right? Every surface dusted and polished, books and magazines tucked away out of sight and nary a crumb to be seen on her kitchen bench.

How do they do it? Well, years of experience has taught them which home cleaning remedies – from the bizarre to the old and faithful – really work. Here, they share their top old-fashioned cleaning tricks that actually work.

1. Dust damp

“I dust everything with a damp cloth,” says Edith, 84. “Just make sure you dry any wooden surfaces with a separate towel afterwards, so you don’t get watermarks.”

2. Remove stains

Methylated spirits will remove tea and coffee stains from some fabrics, says Beryl, 76.

“Dilute it in some water first and then leave it on the fabric to soak in. Just wash as usual and it’ll come right out.”

(Note: it’s a good idea to do a spot test on an inconspicuous section of the fabric before using an alcohol-based cleaning solution.)

For blood stains, Beryl suggests soaking in extremely salty water, and then washing.

3. Clean your drains

“I do this every week,” says Victoria, 63.

“My own grandma taught me this trick, actually! Pour a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda down your drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar. Let it fizz and then pour a kettleful of hot water down the drain.”

4. Sanitise your chopping board

Got a stinky wooden board? Scrub with coarse salt and a halved lemon, then rinse with boiling water.

“Leave it in the sun to dry,” says Anne, 75. “It’s the best sanitiser.”

5. Eliminate mildew

Mildew and grout, it’s not a great combination.

To nix the mould, Penelope, 80, sprays a mixture of white vinegar and water (use a 1:3 ratio) on the mildew, leaves it to settle for 10 minutes, and then wipes away.

6. Clean your toilet

For a fresh, clean loo, Beryl says she sprinkles Borax around the bowl, followed by half a cup of white vinegar.

“Then you just leave it overnight, and flush in the morning.”

7. Deodorise your shoes

Penelope says she puts her husband’s smelly runners in the freezer overnight — in a plastic bag — and then leaves them out in the sun to thaw.

“It’s like magic!” she says.

If you don’t have room in your freezer, fill a spare pair of socks with dried herbs and spices (bay leaves, rosemary, cinnamon sticks and so on) and leave them in your shoes between wears.

8. Banish streaking

It’s not just something that happens at the cricket every summer.

To avoid streaks after cleaning your windows, mix ¼ cup of white vinegar with a tablespoon of cornflour and two cups of warm water in a spray bottle.

Spray generously and buff away with a soft cloth or newspaper.

9. Get rid of nasty smells in the fridge

Victoria swears by this age-old trick: “Put a bowl of coffee grounds or bicarbonate of soda in the back of your fridge. It will soak up any yucky smells.”

She says it also works in the bottom of your bin.

Words by:  Lauren Sams. Photography by: Brett Stevens, Guy Bailey, Maree Homer, Brett Stevens/bauersyndication.com.au

This article originally appeared on Homes to Love Australia. 

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