Those little jobs around the house needn't take a lot of time—or money—when you know these tips and tricks.

Use a ruler to clean your louvres

ruler

The slats in louvred doors and shutters attract dust fast, and cleaning them can be a real chore. Speed up the job with fabric softener and a ruler. Wrap a fabric-softener sheet (or a cloth sprayed with fabric softener) around a ruler and clean the louvres by running this makeshift tool over each slat. A bonus with this method is that fabric-softening agents repel dust, so you won’t need to dust as often.

 

Freshen artificial flowers

Fake flowers attract lots of dust, and since you can’t use water to clean silk or crepe flowers, give them a bath in bicarbonate of soda instead. Put at least 1 cup (180g) bicarb in a large plastic bag, insert the flower heads and secure the bag around the stems. Grasp the top of the bag tightly and shake it hard so that the bicarb can absorb all the dust and grime. Remove flowers, then shake off bicarb and dust residue from the petals using a soft toothbrush or paintbrush.

 

Stained marble tabletop?

Marble makes a beautiful benchtop or tabletop, but this porous stone is a real stain magnet. To remove a drink stain, rub a paste of bicarbonate of soda and equal parts water and lemon juice into the area, rinse with water and wipe dry.

To remove other kinds of marble stains (including scuff marks on a marble floor), shake a good amount of salt over the area. Wet the salt with soured milk for as long as two days, checking periodically to see whether the salt–sour milk mixture has done its job. When it has, mop up the salty puddle with a sponge.

 

Scrub away soot

It’s hard to keep a fireplace spotless, but these easy tricks will help it to look a lot better:

  • Clean the tiles or bricks with a scrubbing brush moistened with white vinegar.
  • Rub soot marks off the hearth and tiles or bricks with an artist’s eraser.
  • After removing ashes from the fireplace, set a plate of bicarbonate of soda inside for a day to get rid of the sooty odour.

 

Vinegar for vases

It’s hard to clean dirty, long-necked vases and bottles. Make the task easier by filling the vessel with warm water and an equal amount of vinegar. Add up to 1 cup (150g) uncooked rice and shake vigorously. (If cleaning a vase or a bottle without a lid, put a sheet of aluminium foil on the top, mold it to the sides and grip the top tightly as you shake.) The rice acts as an abrasive that scrapes the glass clean.

 

Whiten piano keys

If your piano keys have become yellow, don’t despair: you can restore their whiteness in a few simple ways. Use a soft cloth to rub the keys with lemon juice and salt or with a 50:50 mix of surgical spirit and water; or apply mayonnaise and gently scrub with a soft cloth or soft toothbrush.

Whichever method you choose, prevent seepage by holding a piece of cardboard between the keys as you work your way down the keyboard. Wipe off each key with a slightly damp cloth before moving on to the next one. Let the keys air-dry and the piano will soon be ready to be played again.

 

Dusting a ceiling fan

All you need to clean a ceiling fan without getting covered in dust is a ladder, an old cotton sock and a bucket of soapy water. Stir 1 teaspoon washing-up liquid into 4 litres water. Dip the sock into the water and wring it out. Slip the sock over your hand, climb the ladder and rub your stockinged hand over each blade. Take care to clean the blades on both sides – the heaviest dust layer is on the top. The dust will be transferred directly to the damp sock, not into the air. 

 

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