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It’s impossible to be on Instagram and miss the nation’s obsession with cleaning.
Mrs Hinch, hairdresser who dispenses cleaning advice to 2.4m Instagram followers, has been credited with newfound popularity of products such as Zoflora, Elbow Grease degreaser, Astonish glass cleaner, Cif and her beloved Minky sponges – all of which she stocks her “Narnia” cleaning cupboard. Sophie Hinchcliffe’s fans are so loyal, that the “Hinch effect” means that her latest favourite cleaning product often sells out at supermarkets.
Admittedly, I am not the world’s best housekeeper, but even I have found myself using some of these Instagrammers’ top tips. In fact, I’ve found myself actually drying my stainless steel sink and wiping it with Baby Oil to make it shine. I’ve shelled out for a jar of the Pink Stuff, bought bottles upon bottles of Zoflora – Winter Spice, is my fragrance of choice if you’re interested – and don’t even get me started on the Lenor Unstoppables that I’ve used to make my own air fresheners.
I even got my friend Rachel to pick me up some new microfibre cloths when she made a trip to B&M stores. Apparently, I have become the type of person who “needs” a pack of five cloths, each one with specific for a different cleaning job. Who am I now?
But, if you were to buy all the products recommended by the influencers, cleaning your home can be expensive but it’s not always necessary to buy the whole lot. The good news is that you can keep your home spotless with products that you already have to hand.
Your kitchen cupboard, for instance, contains a host of products that you can use to remove stains, kill bacteria and eliminate nasty odours.
When I was in university, I worked at The Body Shop. Other than doing make-up tutorials and makeovers, I also had to clean the glass shelves on a regular cycle. It felt like a proper Sisyphean task, but we were instructed to spray a combination of vinegar on the glass, and then wipe with newspaper. It was crazy effective, and began my life-long love of cleaning with vinegar.
It seems that I am not the only one – according to Lynsey, vinegar is cracking at kills germs, bacteria and mould. Make a general surface cleaner by mixing an equal quantity of vinegar and water and use in a spray bottle. What’s more, it’s great at removing tough stains if you leave it to soak for about 10 minutes. It also is brilliant as a descaler on your washing machine, shower head or kettle. At the supermarket, a 350ml bottle runs for about 80p at most supermarkets (22.9p/100ml), but you can buy in bulk online at retailers such as Amazon.co.uk for £7.25 for a 5L bottle (£0.15/100ml) with free delivery for Prime Members.
2 Bicarbonate of Soda
If you saw my Instagram stories last week, you’ll know that I’m a big fan of using Bicarb as a cheap cleaning hack. So much so, that on a trip back home to Canada a few years back, I stocked up. Only to discover that transporting several boxes of white powder would be viewed as suspicious by border control at Heathrow Airport. Head to my Stories highlights to hear the whole tale.
Bicarbonate Soda is great for eliminating odours. So, if you have a smelly fridge, just add a small dish to the middle shelf and this will soak up any funky smells.
My personal favourite is for cleaning drains. Pour some into the sink hole (is that what it’s called?), add some vinegar so that it bubbles up, let it sit for 15 minutes and then chase it with some boiling water. Works a treat.
3 Tumble dryer sheets
Not only are tumble dryer sheets ace at making your laundry smell lovely, but they are coated with stearic acid, which melts when heated and this helps to reduce static. Did you know that you can also use these to clean around your home?
Have you ever noticed how the electronics in your house seem to be magnets for dust? Take your TV screen, for instance. Because it is electronically charged, it will always be dusty, even if you wipe it over every day. But Lynsey told me that using a dryer sheet to wipe your screen clean, the static is counteracted, meaning less dust will be attracted to them in the future.
But that’s not all that you can use these fragrant sheets for. If you have a dry spill such as cereal, flour, sugar or soil grab a dryer sheet and see how quick it is to clear away the spillage. As the dryer sheets are slightly textured on the surface and have tiny fibres which will lift and hold onto dry particles. You can also use these sheets to wipe down your blinds and remove pet hair from furniture.
Kat and Nat, of @TwinkleCleaningDuo, swear by tumble dryer sheets for dusting fabric lampshades. Not only does the texture mean more dust is removed, but it prevents the static electricity that normally attracts so much dust to lampshades, which in turn repels dust. I’ve tried it – and it really works.
WD-40 has far more uses than just on squeaky hinges. If you live with a five-year-old girl who loves crafts as much as mine does, no doubt you’ve cleaned up a boat load of glue from just about every surface. But, if you spray WD-40 onto the spot, wait at least 30 seconds, and wipe clean with a damp cloth, the job’ll be done before your kiddo can reach for the Sharpies.
What’s more, if your little one goes crazy with the stickers and you find them on everything from the furniture to the walls, use spray some WD-40 on them. It also works for cello tape. Just spray them with WD-40, wait about 30 seconds, and wipe them away. Even better – you can use this on those pesky price tags on the goodies that you buy at TK Maxx. Works a treat – and saves your manicure!
Kat and Nat from @TwinkleCleaningDuo often use this to make their stainless steel shine and for outside metalwork found on doors or mailboxes. Really makes it come up a treat.
It’s also handy for those tough black scuff marks on your kitchen floor, left by those who insist on wearing their shoes indoors. Spray some WD-40 and you won’t have to scrub nearly as much – and it won’t damage the surface.
If you’ve ever spilt a glass of red wine on the carpet, you know the fear that immediately washes over you. But there’s hope for your flooring. While it is still wet, pour some white wine on it to dilute the colour – if you haven’t drunk it already! Then clean the spot with a sponge and cold water. Sprinkle the area with salt and wait about 10 minutes and then vacuum up the whole mess.
Watermarks left from glasses or bottles on a wood table really stand out. Just ask my friend Robin, as years ago, I left one on her brand new dining table. I was mortified.
But salt can save the day – just mix 1 teaspoon with a few drops of water to form a paste. Gently rub the paste onto the ring with a soft cloth or sponge and work it over the spot until it’s gone. Restore the luster of your wood with furniture polish.
Salt is also surprisingly useful if you’ve ever dropped an uncooked egg. We all know how hard it is to clean up that runny mess. But if you cover the spill with salt, it will draw the egg together and you can easily wipe it up. Hallelujah!