Spring is brilliant – the days are longer, everyone has a spring in their step and the sun is shining. But that last one can cause a bit of a problem. The sun shows everything up brightly and beautifully – and that includes the dirt. So why not use that burst of energy from seeing some sunshine, and the inspiration of how much the dirt is now showing up, to have a really satisfying cleaning session? Before you begin though, there’s no need to go on an expensive shopping spree for cleaning products. Using some elbow grease and a few bits and bobs that you will probably already have around the house, here are some tips for spring cleaning on a budget.
We all have drawerfuls of odd socks that we hang on to, hoping against hope that the matching one will turn up soon. Rather than investing in cloths and sponges for cleaning surfaces, use the odd socks instead – do make sure you wash them first, otherwise that might defeat the purpose of the exercise! You can get your hands inside, using them like a wash mitt, and because they’re generally quite hard wearing, you can really give your scrubbing a bit of welly. The shape is perfect for those areas round the bottom of taps; hold each end of the sock and rub it vigorously side to side around the base. And if the impossible happens and the other sock does turn up, you’ll have a spare duster!
Vinegar works wonders on limescale in bathrooms. You can apply it neat to problem areas (you could soak your odd socks in it too, and put them on the sections that need treating). It is also brilliant on shower heads that have started spraying in all directions; break off the bigger pieces of limescale with your thumb and then leave the shower head to soak in a dish of vinegar. Do make sure you rinse it thoroughly before anyone uses the shower though; vinegar is not an acceptable shower gel fragrance!
Did you know toothpaste is a good alternative to wall filler? As anyone who has ever tried to remove it from carpets will know, once it has set it is remarkably tricky to shift, and so perfect for filling small gaps. Once it is dry, you can paint it the same colour as the wall and no-one will be any the wiser. Its slightly abrasive nature means it is also really good for rubbing away marks on the wall, and if you have any silver to polish, it works wonders!
Salt is great for soaking up spills and getting rid of stains. Pour the grains straight onto spillages, and mix to a thick paste for getting rid of stubborn stains on fabrics. Wash well afterwards to get rid of any stiffness in the material.
Olive oil is an excellent alternative to furniture polish. Mix it in equal parts with lemon juice, which will cut through any grease, and apply to your furniture with a soft cloth (another perfect job for your odd sock collection). Use another cloth to wipe it away and buff the furniture, leaving it with a beautiful gleam. In the bathroom it works really well on stainless steel.
Much the same way as old socks make great dusters and cloths, old toothbrushes make brilliant little scrubbing brushes. Being small means that they can get into hard to reach places, and having the long handle makes them very manoeuvrable – perfect for behind taps and down toilet bends.
Bicarb and Lemon Juice
Mixing bicarbonate of soda and lemon juice together will make a brilliant tile cleaner, and bring grubby grout back to sparkling white. Mix them into a paste and rub briskly onto the tiles (another job for those old mismatched socks). Leave for a few minutes and then rinse away before giving them another go with a cloth. It works really well on glass too, leaving you to admire your reflection in a beautifully shiny mirror.
While we’ve already seen that socks make great cloths, newspaper does as well! It’s not as versatile as a sock, and certainly doesn’t work when it’s wringing wet, but for use on a mirror or your windows, it’s brilliant. Screw it up into a ball rather than a flat sheet, into a size you can comfortably grip, apply your glass cleaner and then wipe quickly and firmly with your newspaper ball.
Baking soda is the king of store cupboard cleaning products. It’s a fantastic all-purpose cleaner; mixed with vinegar it will fizz away limescale, it will make your plugs and taps sparkle, mixed to a paste with water it is a jewellery cleaner, and if you put it down the drain, it will unblock pipes – there is almost no end to what you can do with it. One of its other uses is as an air freshener, so if your bathroom smells a little damp, place a dish of baking soda in there and that will solve the problem. It will also absorb excess moisture in the air. So there you have it: spring cleaning with nothing more than what you already have in your store cupboard and recycling box – enjoy yourself and revel in the satisfaction of a sparkling clean bathroom!