Cleaning Hacks for your Most Stubborn Problems

They say that you don’t realise how dirty something is until you start cleaning it and there’s a lot of truth in that idea. If you clean something every day, such as the basin in a hotel bathroom, the dirt won’t get a chance to build up and cleaning it is always easy. However, if you move into a brand-new home and only begin to clean your basin once you notice the dirt building up, it is almost already too late.

Except that it’s not. It’s never too late to start cleaning. It’s just that now, you need a different set of skills and hacks to get the job done. So, for those of us who have a stubborn stain or a build-up of dirt, or need to know about sterilising a kitchen for coeliac sufferers or people with dust mite allergies, we have compiled an easy how-to.

1. Deep Cleaning your Bed and Mattress

How on earth do you deep clean a mattress?

It’s a good question. It doesn’t fit in the washing machine and we don’t recommend taking it outside to spray it down with the hose either. While it is next to impossible to wash a mattress, you can make sure it’s clean, hygienic and pleasant smelling. First of all, you’ll need to vacuum it using the brush nozzle. To do this properly, run the nozzle slowly over the mattress, allowing the vacuum to do its job. Next, you can create a natural but effective sanitiser using water and essential oils, such as tea tree oil. Simply mix the two together in a spray bottle and apply to the surface of the mattress.

If your mattress is white, you can use lemon juice to remove stains by rubbing in the juice. Never use bleach on your mattress because you can’t rinse it away and it may come into contact with your skin. Once the water and oil mixture is completely dry, vacuum the mattress again. And that’s all there is to it.

2. Quickly Remove Rust from Garden Tools

Good gardening tools don’t come cheap, but if you or someone in your household fails to clean and store the tools properly after use, they can soon become rusty.

Dealing with rust can be a major headache for many gardeners, but there is a way to put the shine back on your spade. First of all, contrary to logic, you’ll need to get the tools wet. Get a bucket of warm soapy water and scrub all the stuck-on dirt and debris from the tool, then dry it thoroughly with an old towel. Next, make a vinegar and water solution (1:1), submerge the metal part of the tool into it and leave it there for 24 hours. After you take it out, give it a rinse and, using a Brillo pad, rub off the rust. Stubborn rust may need to be treated twice. If the vinegar doesn’t work, some people swear by cola or tea, but we would recommend upping the vinegar-to-water ratio.

3. How to Avoid Gluten Contamination in your Kitchen

For anyone who is not gluten intolerant, this won’t be a problem, but for anyone who is, finding that a crumb of gluten has made its way into your meal can mean an agonising night. So, sharing flats or visiting holiday homes often calls for a deep cleaning session. But how exactly do you rid a kitchen of gluten? Gluten is a persistent little substance. It can hide on kitchen surfaces, chopping boards and most famously between the prongs of a fork. It might not be visible to the naked eye, so there’s only one way to obliterate it – bleach.

To rid your kitchen area of gluten, all counters need to be washed down with a bleach solution and all plates and utensils intended for use by a coeliac sufferer should also be soaked in a bleach solution and then washed. Most importantly here, the post-washing should be done by hand in a sink that has already been washed down with bleach and the person washing should wear gloves. Dishwashers do not remove or kill gluten, so putting gluten-free plates into one might re-contaminate them.

4. How to Clean Non-Stick Pans Safely

Don’t you just love new non-stick pans – the way the eggs slide around and off onto your plate so easily? But you’re not the first person to wonder why the effect wears off after a month or so. And you’re not the first person to try cleaning the pan with nothing but running water either. But no matter what, the non-stick starts sticking. Ironically, to clean your non-stick pan correctly, you need to begin by cooking with it properly. All non-stick pans, Teflon ones included, need to be lubricated. That means rubbing a teaspoon of oil or butter into the pan while it’s still cold, before you place it on the heat. The second most important element to keeping your pan clean is not to overheat it – extreme heat causes the non-stick surface to crack and peel.

If you want to use high heat for cooking, look into buying a cast iron pan. But most importantly, never run the hot pan under water. Set it aside to cool completely, then clean the excess fat away with a paper towel. Real non-stick aficionados claim to only wash their pans twice a year. And remember – five years is about the maximum lifespan of a non-stick pan.

5. How to Clean your Toaster

Perhaps the bane of many a proud cleaner’s home is the toaster. Historically, toast was made under the easy-to-clean grill, but when electric toasters came along, we gained quick breakfasts, yet lost the simplicity of cleaning up after. The problem isn’t the outside or the crumb tray, which can be easily removed and washed, but rather the crumbs that manage to free themselves from the toast and stick to the heating elements and backing. Simply put, there is almost no way to clean this area, short of dismantling the toaster. However, there is a trick here too. When the toaster is completely cool, unplug it from the wall and use a dry baby-bottle cleaning brush to agitate the crumbs away from the side, then shake the toaster upside down over a sink. For best results, do this once a week.

Do you have any other cleaning hacks we should be recommending in future blog posts? We’d love to hear from you over on our Facebook page.