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Simple Cleaning and DIY Tips

1. Cleaning Windows
Scrunch newspaper up in a ball and use with window cleaner – you can make your own using: 1 cup rubbing alcohol, 1 cup water an 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.

2. Scratched Glass
Try using jeweller’s rouge. Rouge can be bought from glass-processing suppliers and is widely available on the internet. First wet it, apply it to the glass with a soft cloth and rub – you will need to use a fair amount of elbow grease! Eventually the scratches will disappear.

3. Wood Rot
Open timber windows and check for areas damaged by wood rot. Repair by cutting out the damaged areas so only firm, dry timber remains and ideally treat with wood preserver. Fill using two-part epoxy wood filler. This has less chance of shrinking and falling out, and is more resilient to movement and impact than soft powder-type filler. Large areas of damage might need timber blocks setting in to damaged area.

4. Creaky Wooden Floorboards 
Fix creaking floorboards by screwing down to the joists. Check first for cables and below-floor pipes, using a battery-powered pipe-and-cable detector. If one or more joists have sagged lower than the others, use timber or plastic shims under the boards to level them first.

5. Squeaky Doors
Treat squeaking hinges or a stiff lock with a small amount of light oil, either into the latch or on to the hinge pins. After oiling, open and close the door a few times to allow the oil to spread and ensure no drips form on the timber work. If they do clean up with kitchen roll.

6. Sticking Doors
Check for marks on the paintwork to identify where they are sticking. If it is along the top edge or side, you may be able to plane and sand it without taking the door off the hinges. If it is sticking near the floor, remove the door and secure it to a workbench. After planning and sanding, prime the wood before re-painting. Ensure paint is thoroughly dry before re-hanging the door.

7. Tired Wooden Work Surface
Wooden work surfaces that have seen better days can be brought back to life by rubbing them down with 120 grit sandpaper. Vacuum with brush attachment before applying a light coat of Danish Oil as per manufacturer’s instructions. It brings out the grain in the wood and restores its natural lustre. It dries to a hard, water-resistant seal.

8. Polish Build Up
Restore furniture coated in spray-on furniture polish using one part cider vinegar to three parts water. Dampen a rag and apply sparingly with a lot of elbow grease (don't saturate the wood). Then polish with natural beeswax polish or Antiquax original wax polish.

9. Scratched Wood
To cover scratches on wood furniture or floorboards, make a thick paste of instant coffee and a little water. Rub it into the nicks and scratches. You may need to apply several layers before the scratch is covered. Allow to dry, and then apply a layer of furniture polish. Shoe polish is an excellent alternative and comes in a variety of colours.

10. Unvarnished Wood 
To remove small dents in unvarnished wood, wet the area with a small amount of water then cover with brown paper and apply a hot iron for a short period. The heat evaporates the water, while the steam expands the squashed wood fibres back to their original level. 

11. Brighter Brass 
Brass will look brighter and require less polishing if rubbed with a cloth moistened with olive oil after each polishing. 

12. Lemon Power 
Use lemon juice to remove grease in the kitchen and as an alternative to bleach on fabrics.

13. Fresher Fridge 
To clean and deodorise the fridge: dissolve one tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda in a bowl of hot water and wipe the inside. 

14. Mucky Microwave 
To steam-clean a microwave: get rid of burnt-on splatters by mixing equal quantities of distilled white vinegar and water, placing in a microwavable container and setting on full power for five minutes. Then wipe the interior clean. 

15. Stained Crockery and Stainless Steel 
To clean stains from tea and coffee cups: scrub with a paste made from bicarbonate of soda and water. Use the same paste to polish silver and stainless steel. 

16. Limescale 
To remove limescale from taps make a paste from baking soda mixed with distilled white vinegar and rub area well. For awkward areas around the back of taps try using an old toothbrush. To remove limescale from kettles: fill kettle with distilled white vinegar overnight. Make sure you rinse well the next day before making your morning cup of tea! 

18. Burnt Saucepans 
To clean burnt pans: place half a cup of soap flakes in the pan, fill with boiling water and wash out when cold. 

19. Bathroom Mould 
Remove black mould from bathrooms and shower rooms by wiping down with a dilute solution of bleach in water. Heavily-ingrained mould on silicone or acrylic sealants needs something stronger - try HG mould spray. (For a cheaper, non-chemical alternative, white vinegar works on mould and mildew, cleans linoleum and glass, and can be used as a general household cleaner when mixed with water and vegetable-based liquid soap). 

Continuing outbreaks of black mould growth in bath or shower rooms indicate a problem with heating and ventilation. Ensure extractor fan is working efficiently and during colder weather there is sufficient heat. Keep the room door closed and window open, during and after bathing or showering. 

20. Murky Mirrors 
To clean mirrors, remove the worst dirt with warm water and washing up liquid. Wipe dry and rub with distilled white vinegar before shining up with newspaper. 

21. Checking Central Heating 
Check your central heating by running it every few weeks over the summer. Sludge can settle in the system if water is not circulated through it for extended periods, blocking radiator valves and clogging up the water pump. Turn the valves fully off and on again, check that all the radiators are warming up, and bleed air from them if necessary. 

22. Blocked Drains 
To unblock drains: place two tablespoons of soda crystals over the plug hole and pour down a kettle full of boiling water. Repeat monthly to prevent blockages.

23. Clinging Ivy 
Take care when removing unwanted climbers such as ivy that are damaging outside walls. Cut off all shoots just above ground level. Don't try to pull off the climber till the suckers or pads have died and lost their hold or you may remove mortar and bricks too. When the plant re-grows from the base, just let it get to around 150mm high, then spray with glyphosate. It may require a couple of successive applications but will kill the plant right back to its roots. 

24. Carpet Indentations 
If you’ve moved your furniture around and the carpet is left with indentations. Place a small ice cube on top. Let it melt and dry and it will lift the carpet pile. 

25. Drilling Walls 
When you’ve marked where you want to drill a hole in your wall, making sure you’ve avoided cable and pipe work, place an envelope or small bag and secure it with masking tape (not sellotape). As you drill the dust will fall into the bag. 

26. Paint Brush Timesaving 
Don’t waste water by washing paintbrushes and rollers in between coats. Instead, wrap tightly in plastic cling film and they will stay moist – even overnight. 

27. Covering Radiator Pipes 
A tiny DIY job that does make a noticeable difference to a room is fitting white plastic radiator pipe sleeves, to cover the unsightly metal. These can be cut to the required length with scissors and have a slit in the back so you can just wrap round the pipe in five minutes. 

28. Scuff Marks on Painted Walls 
If a painted wall has a few scuff marks on. Dampen a sponge and sprinkle with a little Baking Powder – wipe area gently.

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