When it comes to cleaning tips and tricks, there's a lot of information out there - but not all of it actually works. Here at Good Housekeeping, we've thoroughly tried and tested everything we share, whether that's a fool-proof guide to roasting a chicken or the best red lipsticks for every skin tone.
So if you're looking for tips on how to remove those burnt-on bits from your casserole dish, or the best way to get your windows sparkling clean, we can help.
We recently asked you for your cleaning questions over on Instagram, and put them to our Consumer Affairs Director, Caroline Bloor. Here are her answers...
Stain removal tactics depend on the fabric. The most common stains are tea and coffee, chocolate, wine and juice. If you tackle them quickly with water and a cloth, you should be able to remove most marks.
For stubborn stains, try a branded carpet or upholstery cleaner such as Vanish Oxi Action Carpet and Upholstery Powerspray (but always check a hidden area first for colour fastness and check manufacturer’s advice).
Make sure the clothes are clean first – otherwise you’ll encourage moths. Store clothes in plastic rather than wood, paper or cardboard boxes. It’s waterproof and protects from pests.
Put boxes in a cool place away from damp, sunlight and heat. Special items should be wrapped in acid-free tissue paper for more protection. Consider vacuum packing bags if you’re short on space. We like Packmate Vacuum Storage Bags.
Don’t clean them on very sunny days for a start – the heat will make the glass dry too quickly and cause smears.
There are loads of window cleaning sprays out there – cheap is fine. Or make your own with a solution of one-part white vinegar to nine parts water in a spray bottle.
Use a microfibre cloth to wipe down - we love e-cloths. Or, use a few drops of dishwasher rinse aid in water. For large expanses of glass, it’s worth investing in a window vacuum, we rate the Karcher WV5 Premium.
Fill the casserole with water and add a dishwasher tablet or one tablespoon of biological washing powder (these are designed to tackle food-based stains).
Put it back on the hob and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer for 10 mins and the burnt bits will lift away. Repeat if necessary and wash thoroughly as normal. It really works – and for roasting trays too!
If something is stuck in the pipe, other small bits of waste soon become trapped and form a blockage. I assume you’ve tried chemicals? We rate Mr Muscle Power Gel.
Another approach is to use a rubber plunger or one of those flexible metal coils (drain auger) that can be fed through the pipes until it reaches the blockage. If you plan on buying a drain auger, check it will fit down the plug hole of your sink first.
Use mats for hot drinks and foods and deal with any spills straightaway. Wipe the surface regularly with a damp cloth and dry. Once a year you could wax the varnished surface to protect it but don’t overdo it or you’ll just create a build-up of wax.
That grime is probably limescale. The good news is that you don’t need a trolley full of chemical cleaners. Get an old spray bottle and mix up a solution of half water, half white vinegar. If there’s a real build-up use the rougher side of a non-scratch scouring pad to shift it.
Bicarb is also a natural abrasive so you can use this on a damp cloth rubbed on the screen. Rinse and buff with a dry cloth.
Keep the house as well-aired as possible. If some rooms have a big condensation problem, think about getting a room dehumidifier (these cost from around £100 and could be worth the spend - see our guide to the best ones here).
Soak mouldy shower curtains in a solution of soda crystals and dry well before rehanging. For grouting and sealant, use a fungicidal bathroom spray regularly to prevent regrowth. In hard water areas, you may need to use a limescale remover once a week.
The GHI have tried pretty much every home remedy and unfortunately none of them really hard to burnt-on bits. If your oven is really bad, we recommend calling in a professional oven cleaning company. Some of which do make a point of using eco products.
If you’re tackling it yourself, we rate Oven Pride. Keep the oven clean by using oven liners, lidded casseroles and roasting bags, and after use, put a heat resistant bowl of water inside and heat at a high temp for 20 mins. This will help loosen dirt and grease. Wipe down the inside once cooled.
A really dirty oven will need repeat usage of an oven cleaner, like Oven Pride, and you may need to work away at the area with a blunt-ended knife or spatula.
Don’t despair, this will come out! For fresh blood, blot it with white paper towels, then rinse the stain thoroughly under cold water.
Automated Tissue Packing Machine
If the stain has dried, soak first in an enzyme-based pre-soaking agent, such as Dr Beckmann Pre-Wash Stain Devils, or biological detergent (but this won’t be suitable for silk, so check care label). Then wash in as hot a cycle as the care instructions allow. For silk, machine wash at 30 on delicate cycle.
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