Category Creative Kitchen Cleaning

Bits and pieces

  •  Shake it freely

Salt and pepper shakers tend to clog up in humid weather. To keep the moisture out of salt, add a few grains of raw rice or some crumbled salty crackers to the shaker. To keep ground black pepper from clogging, add a few black or white peppercorns.

  •  Keep brown sugar from hardening

Prevent brown sugar from turning into a brick by putting either a few dried prunes or a 2cm x 6cm-strip of orange peel in the packet. Then tape the packet closed and stores it in a sealed plastic bag — preferably in the freezer.

  •  Keep olive oil fresh

Unless you use olive oil in large quantities, try this trick to make your supply last: add a drop of sugar to the bottle and it will stay fresher longer. And keep it away from your oven or stove, where the heat will turn it rancid.

  •  Storing things within things

If you don’t have much kitchen storage space, store other items in containers that you rarely use. One neglected container is a esky that is only likely to be used in the summer months. Likewise, a little-used casserole dish at the back of a cupboard could hold serviettes and other items bought in bulk.

  •  Number your containers

If you have lots of plastic containers, you know how frustrating it can be to match them to their lids. A simple solution is to label both container and lid with a number. It’s much easier to match a 2 with a 2 or a 5 with a 5 than repeatedly trying lids on for size.

  •  Hang paper bags

If you’re a natural-born hoarder but don’t have the space to store paper bags you have collected while shopping, clamp them together with an old trouser hanger, then hang them from a hook on the pantry door.

  •  Clean that can-opener

To loosen the grime on an electric or manual can-opener, spray the blade and gears with WD-40 and let it sit for 6-8 minutes. Then brush away the grime with an old hard-bristle toothbrush. You could also tackle the blade and gears with a toothbrush dipped in hot soapy water — an anti-bacterial washing-up liquid is ideal.

  •  Storing a Thermos

Empty Thermos flasks tucked away in cup-boards can take on a sour smell, but you can guard against odours after washing and drying a just-used Thermos:

  1.  Drop a few denture-cleaning tablets into the Thermos and fill it with water. Let it sit for an hour or so, then wash, rinse and dry.
  2.  Put a teaspoon of sugar in the Thermos and screw the lid on tightly. The sugar will absorb unwanted odours.
  •  Keep your board from sliding

To keep a chopping board from slip-sliding away while you’re trying to chop on it, try this simple trick: dampen a small piece of paper towel and place it between the bottom of the board and the benchtop. Press down and your board won’t budge.

  •  Cleaning chopping boards

Freshen both the look and smell or a stained or greasy chopping board by sprinkling it with salt and rubbing the board with the cut side of half a lemon. If a much-used wooden chopping board really won’t come clean, try sanding the entire surface with very fine-grit sandpaper, pressing lightly. When it is smooth, coat with olive oil to stop the wood from drying out and to give it an attractive sheen.

  •  Keep garlic fresh for longer

When the papery peel from garlic is left with the bulb, it releases enzymes that help to keep garlic fresh. So when you peel a clove, put the skin back in the container with the rest of the bulb.

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Cleaning china, glassware and utensils

  •  Spot-free glassware

To prevent spotting on glass jugs, candlesticks, drinking glasses and any other glassware, soak each piece for 3-4 minutes in a bath of 8 litres water and 1/2 cup (125ml) white vinegar. Shake off any remaining water droplets and then dry and polish the piece with a clean soft cloth.

  •  Protect a teapot

When you store a treasured china teapot at the back of a cupboard for a long time, chances are it will be knocked by the dishes up front at some point. To protect the spout from damage, slip a toilet paper tube over it and secure the tube with masking tape. Or sheathe the spout with the thumb from an old leather glove or thick mitten. It’s also worth using one of these protective sheathes when you’re packing a teapot for a move.

  •  Remove invisible film

Though drinking glasses, mugs and everyday plates and bowls might look clean after they have been washed, they may still be covered with a thin film of grease that is invisible to the naked eye. See for yourself by making a thin paste of bicarbonate of soda and water, dipping a sponge into it and rubbing the glass or china surface well. Rinse, then dry with a soft cloth and your dishes may sparkle as never before and even feel different to the touch.

  •  Tea for crystal

If residue dries inside a crystal jug or vase that won’t bear hard scrubbing without becoming scratched, fill it with a mixture of 2 parts strong black tea to 1 part white vinegar. Leave over-night, discard the solution and wash the item with a soft cloth dipped in soapy water.

  •  Cleaning etched crystal

If you have some pieces of deeply etched crystal, use an old-fashioned shaving brush or large make-up brush to work soapy water into the ridges and crevices when you’re cleaning them. These brushes are rigid enough to root out dirt without scratching the crystal. To rinse, hold each piece under running water.

  •  Smooth out nicks and scratches

If you notice a small nick on the edge of a drinking glass, use an emery board to smooth it out. To eliminate a scratch on a glass, rub it out with non-gel white toothpaste on a soft cloth, then rinse. The mildly abrasive toothpaste will smooth the glass just enough to make the scratch invisible.

  •  No spots on your stainless steel

If you think that vinegar and a paper towel are all you need to rub spots off stainless-steel knives, forks and spoons, you’re missing a trick. The spots will come clean only if you dip the vinegar-soaked paper towel into a saucer of bicarbonate of soda. After rubbing off the spots, wash the utensils as you usually do and dry them thoroughly straight away.

  •  Whiten bone handles

In time, bone-handled knives begin to yellow. Unless you love the antiqued look, wrap a yellowed handle in a piece of flannel moistened with hydrogen peroxide. Let it sit for a day or so, and then unwrap. Rinse and dry the knife, and the handle will be as good as new.

  •  Easy waxing for wood

To keep wooden spoons and salad servers looking like new, wash and dry them, then rub them down with waxed paper. The thin coating of wax will help stop the wood from drying out.

  •  Scrub a chopping board

Keep your chopping board clean by scrubbing it well with a lightly abrasive cleansing powder and a scrubbing pad or brush, then wiping down with hot soapy water. Rinse, then dry and the board will be free from bacteria.

  •  Wrap silver in plastic

When putting away silverware, wrap each utensil in two layers of plastic wrap to shut out air. Exposure to air causes the oxidation that tarnishes silver.

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Pristine pots and pans

  •  Choice cast-iron cleaners

Both coarse salt and borax (sodium borate) are better for cast iron than washing-up and dishwasher detergents, so use either to get burned food off a treasured pan. Sprinkle the crystals into the pan and scrub with a wet sponge or paper towel. Then rinse with fresh cold water and dry immediately, because cast iron rusts easily.

  •  Oil your grill pan

Rub vegetable oil on the inside of a cast-iron ridged grill pan to keep it seasoned — do it after each wash and any time you feel it is necessary.

  •  Don’t soak a cast-iron grill pan

Soaking a cast-iron grill pan in soapy water can deplete the fat that seeps into the porous surface and seasons the pan — and an unseasoned grill pan is a recipe for frustration. Food will stick and burn and become almost impossible to clean off.

  •  Scrub away scorched milk

If you’ve let a saucepan of milk boil over, it’s probably burned onto the stove and filled the air with a scorching smell. Get rid of it by wetting the bottom of the pan — and the stove —and sprinkling it with salt. Let the salt sit for about 10 minutes and then wash the pan as you usually do. The pan and stove will be clean and the odour will vanish.

  •  Boil away burned-on food

If burned food won’t come off a pan, fill it with water and add a squirt of washing-up liquid and 1 tablespoon salt. Bring the water to the boil and then turn off the heat. After about 15 minutes, discard the mixture and use a scourer or scrubbing brush to remove the loosened material.

  •  Two aluminium restorers

When aluminium pots and pans become discoloured after extended use, you can revive the lustre with either cream of tartar or vinegar and then wash and dry as usual.

  1. Cream of tartar Fill the pan with hot water and add cream of tartar (2 tablespoons powder to 1 litre water). Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Vinegar Combine equal parts white vinegar and water in the pan and simmer for 10-12 minutes.

Note: avoid using alkaline cleaners such as bicarbonate of soda or bleach on aluminium, as they may discolour it further.

  •  Rub out rust with a potato

With regular use, metal pie tins can rust. To get rid of rust, cut a potato in half, dip the exposed flesh into scouring powder or salt and rub the rust with your spud ‘sponge’.

  •  Toothpaste for stainless-steel cookware

If there are fingerprints all over your sparkling new stainless-steel cookware, dampen it with lukewarm water, apply 2cm low-abrasion toothpaste and brush away the unsightly marks. Rinse, dry and you can enjoy your new shiny cookware again.

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Cleaning gadgets and appliances

  •  De-bitter your coffee grinder with rice

When you grind your own coffee beans, it’s almost impossible to brush all of the residue out of the grinder when you have finished — and accumulated residue can make coffee taste bitter. To get rid of the residue, run a cup of raw white rice through the grinder once a month. The rice will clean the grinder and sharpen the blades at the same time.

  •  Hold the spices

If you sometimes use your coffee grinder to grind spices, which isn’t a great idea, by the way, make sure you clean all of the remnants out of the grinder before switching back to coffee beans or you’ll affect the taste of the coffee. Clean it by grinding two or three slices of cut-up, plain white bread in the machine.

  •  Grind bread, clean meat grinder

Before cleaning a meat grinder, run a piece of bread through it to clean fatty meat particles out of the feed screw. Even regularly washing the parts won’t get the feed screw truly clean.

  •  Purge coffee stains from a glass jug

Over time, caffeine will discolour the glass jug in an automatic coffeemaker, but you can easily make it look like new. Here’s how:

  1. Fill the carafe a quarter full of water.
  2. Cut a lemon into four wedges, squeeze the juice of two of them into the water and drop all four wedges into the carafe.
  3. Add 2 tablespoons salt and swirl the carafe around for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Empty the carafe and scrub the inside with soapy water. Rinse and dry and return the crystal-clear carafe to its base.
  •  Clean your toaster with a toothbrush

If your toaster is clogged with hard-to-reach crumbs, unplug it and loosen the crumbs with a small paintbrush or soft toothbrush. Avoid damaging the machine’s heating elements by brushing very lightly. Once you’ve broken the stubborn crumbs apart, turn the toaster upside down, hold it over the kitchen sink and gently shake out the debris.

  •  Clean your oven window

If the window of your oven gets caked with grime, try one of the following easy fixes:

  1.  Open the oven door and the spray the glass with a solution of 2 parts hydrogen peroxide, 2 parts white vinegar and 1 part dishwashing liquid. Let stand for half an hour.
  2.  Wipe the window with household ammonia and let stand for 20-30 minutes.

Wipe off either substance with paper towels. If any residue remains, scrape it off with a plastic (not metal) ice scraper or an old credit card. Finally, clean the oven window with a spray of vinegar or commercial glass cleaner.

  •  Melted plastic on your toaster?

If you accidentally leave a plastic bag or plastic wrapping so close to a toaster that it touches the metal surface, the plastic will melt onto it when you toast bread — and won’t come off with normal washing. To get rid of it, let the toaster cool down thoroughly and try one of the following methods:

  1.  Rub the melted plastic vigorously with a damp sponge coated with bicarbonate of soda.
  2.  Coat the plastic with petroleum jelly and then toast a slice of bread. The heated jelly will soften the plastic and make it easier to wipe off with a soft cloth. When the toaster cools, scrub the residue with bicarbonate of soda and a damp sponge.
  3.  Spray the plastic with WD-40 and let it soak in for a few minutes. Then wipe off with a damp cloth.
  •  Easy blender cleaning

Although you probably flush out your blender jug under the kitchen tap and sometimes even give it a proper wash, that isn’t enough to keep it really clean and hygienic. Pour 1 cup (250ml) water and 1/4 cup (60ml) vinegar into the jug and add a squirt of washing-up liquid. Put the lid on and blend the mixture for 1 minute. Now rinse the jug and wipe it dry and your blender will be ready to whir and free of germs.

  •  Hose out stuck food

If a bit of food has become lodged in a food processor or blender and trying to remove it is driving you mad, take the machine’s bowl or jug outside to direct a strong stream of water from the garden hose onto the clogged-up works. Take a newspaper with you and place the machine on it so that it doesn’t get soiled.

  •  Keep appliances dust-free

Sometimes it seems that dust gathers more quickly on benchtop appliances than anywhere else. If this happens to you, cover the appliances with tea towels or — if you’re always looking for still one more way to use an old pair of pantihose — a stocking leg cut to size.

  •  Brush away espresso

If you’re a fan of espresso, you’ll also be familiar with how finely ground Italy’s favourite coffee is. To keep it from clogging up the filter screen on an espresso machine, scrub the screen gently after each use with a soft toothbrush. If any bits remain, remove them with a pin.

  •  Prevent sandwich toaster fires

One of the leading causes of fire in sandwich toasters comes from the greasy, grimy racks in older-style toasters (like mini ovens) — from burned cheese or baked-on sugar, with both leading to the possibility of a spark on the heating element. The next time you clean your regular oven — if it is a self-cleaning one – remove the rack from the sandwich toaster and wipe it down with non-toxic oven cleaner. Then simply place it inside the larger oven to be cleaned at the same time.

  •  De-pulp a juicer

It’s easy to forget that electric juicers are traps for all manner of fruit (and therefore, food) particles. Keep juicers spotlessly clean to prevent bacteria buildup by cleaning thoroughly: dismantle it, wipe out the pulp and discard and fill the kitchen sink with hot, soapy water. Soak everything except the motor casing for 10 minutes, remove the pieces from the sink and scrub with a soft toothbrush. Dry well and then reassemble the juicer.

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Delightful dishes

  •  Unclog dishwasher spray arms

If your dishwasher isn’t working as well as usual, its spray arms may be clogged. Look at the top of the spray arms to see if the holes appear blocked (in most dishwashers, one three-pronged spray arm sits above the top rack and the second arm sits on the floor). Stick a wooden toothpick into one of the holes; if it shows signs of dirt when pulled out, the holes need cleaning.

Unfasten the clips or screws holding the spray arms in place and put the arms in the kitchen sink. Then unbend a paper clip and insert it into each hole, moving it around to dislodge the blockage. Then rinse the spray arms under the tap and fasten them back into place. Your dishwasher should now be doing its job properly.

  •  Get ahead of dishwasher smells

A good way to keep odours out of your dish-washer in the first place is to simply add 1/2 cup (125ml) lemon juice to the detergent receptacle each time you use the machine.

  •  Give dishes the old-fashioned scrub

The simplest way to save on your electricity bill and get super-clean dishes in the process is to fill up the sink with warm water, add a few squirts of washing-up liquid, pull on a pair of rubber gloves and have a good scrub. If your dishes are a real mess, let them soak for 10 minutes in lemon juice-infused hot water; if they’re still sticky, sprinkle them with coarse salt and a little more washing-up liquid, before rinsing them until they are squeaky clean.

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Hot tips for oven cleaning

  •  Keep the sides of your oven tidy

If crumbs, spills and stains stick to the sides of your oven, pick up some inexpensive plastic gaskets (usually used for electrical insulation) from a hardware shop. Slipping them between a freestanding oven and the benchtops will keep dirt and grease from sticking to the oven’s sides. When the gaskets get soiled (and they will get filthy), simply remove them, wash them and reinstall them.

  •  Beat baked-on mess on a stovetop

If the pan supports on your stove are made of cast iron and a spilled substance has baked on, wipe them with non-toxic oven cleaner and place them in the oven the next time you self-clean it, then remove and wipe clean.


  •  Salt a grease spill while cooking

If grease spills over in your oven while you’re roasting meat, sprinkle salt over the grease before it has a chance to bake on. Close the oven door and let the cooking continue. By the time you come to clean it, the spill will have transformed into an easily removed pile of ash.

  •  A poultice for ridged grill pans

Grill pans with burned-on food are a major pain in the neck to clean. To make the job less of a chore, heat the pan and sprinkle washing powder over the affected area. Now cover the detergent with wet paper towels, wait for 15 minutes, remove the towels and you’ll find it much easier to scrape and scrub off the mess.

  •  In-the-bag oven-rack cleaning

Put the rack into a large, heavy-duty plastic rubbish bag that’s sitting in an empty bath, and add 2/3 cup (160ml) washing-up liquid, 1 cup (250ml) white vinegar and enough hot water to almost fill the bag. Seal the bag, half fill the bath with warm water and leave the bag there for an hour. Then empty the bath and release the water from the bag. Remove the rack from the bag to scrub, rinse and air-dry your now beautifully clean oven rack.

  •  Ease a rack’s slide

When you clean the shelves in your oven, don’t Forget to clean the ridges that they slide in and out on. Scrub with soap and nylon scrubbing pads, rinse off the soap and dry the ridges, then wipe them with a little vegetable oil to keep the racks gliding smoothly.

  •  A scrub for exhaust filters

Once a month, take the filter off the range hood above your oven and spray it all over with WD-40. After an hour, scrub with an old toothbrush then put it in the dishwasher or rinse it in hot water for a final cleaning.

  •  A shortcut to microwave cleaning

The quickest way to clean a microwave oven is to place a handful of wet paper towels inside and run it on High for 3-5 minutes. You don’t need a science lesson to know that the steam from the towels will soften the grime. Once the paper towels cool down, use them to wipe the oven’s interior.

  •  Clean the microwave base with bicarb

To remove cooked-on spills from the base or turntable of a microwave, make a paste of 2 parts bicarbonate of soda to 1 part water and apply it to the hardened substance. After 5-6 minutes, wipe up the bicarb with a wet sponge or cloth and remove any residue with a paper towel.

  •  Make a mini steam bath

The easiest way to melt the grease that accumulates on the walls of your microwave is to fill a heatproof glass bowl with water, run it on High for 2 minutes, don’t open the door for another 2 minutes and then wipe with a soft rag. The steam will have softened the caked-on dirt so it should wipe away easily.

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Caring for your fridge

  •  Keep it clean

The surfaces of white fridges and freezers seem to attract dirt, especially around the handles. Even the hardware shows fingerprints and spotting. But you can make your fridge or freezer look bright and shiny by using one of the following methods:

  1.  Scrub it with a mixture of equal parts of ammonia and water.
  2.  Rub it down with soda water, which cleans and polishes at the same time.
  3.  For a glossier finish, wash and rinse the surface, then apply car wax and buff it to a shine with a clean soft cloth.
  4.  Polish any chrome trim with a cloth dipped in surgical spirit.
  •  Keep a tight seal

The flexible rubber or plastic gasket framing the inside edge of your fridge door seals cold air in and warm air out. When cleaning the fridge, don’t neglect it. Wipe grime — and mould — off with a soft cloth dampened with surgical spirit and finish by rubbing the gasket with a little baby oil to prevent cracking.

  •  Scrub with salt

When new groceries get crammed into the fridge, it’s all too easy to displace a small bowl of leftover sauce at the back, which then gets wedged in at an angle and begins to leak. To get rid of any gummy mess that may result, sprinkle it with salt. Then dip a scrubbing pad or abrasive sponge in hot water and rub the stain vigorously. Repeat until it’s gone, each time wiping the area with a wet paper towel.

  •  Litter box lesson

If cat litter can absorb the really pungent smells that emanate from your cat’s litter tray, it can certainly soak up the lesser odours that so easily arise in the fridge. Keeping a small, uncovered bowl of natural clay cat litter on a shelf of the fridge will help to block odours before they take hold.

  •  Deodorize with a spud

To diminish fridge smells, peel a raw potato, cut it in half and place each half on a small saucer. Now place the potato halves on different shelves in the fridge. When the cut surface turns black, trim the black part and return the potato to the fridge with its absorbent powers restored.

  •  A lemon-fresh fridge

Mould and mildew can take hold of your fridge and not let go — and banishing their odours takes drastic action. Squeeze a lemon into a cup of water and throw the peel in with the mixture. Unplug the fridge and empty it (we said it was drastic), placing ice-cream and other frozen items in a bath, sink or freezer bag filled with ice. Then microwave the lemon water to almost boiling and place it inside the empty fridge. Close the door and let the deodorizer sit for half an hour. The citrus fumes will freshen the smell and soften any accumulated food. Remove the bowl, wash the interior of the fridge and restock.

  •  Two ways to speed up defrosting

If you have a freezer that doesn’t defrost itself, you can speed up defrosting to keep frozen foods from spoiling or going soft. Speed up the process by aiming a stream of hot air at the ice with a hair dryer. Another trick is to boil water in a couple of saucepans, place them in the freezer (on trivets if the floor is plastic) and close the freezer door to trap the steam. In no time at all you should be able to pry off large slabs of ice with an ice scraper.

  •  Use your oven when defrosting

If you have a self-cleaning oven, use it to store frozen foods as you defrost the freezer. These ovens are so well insulated that they should keep foods frozen for hours. Just remember not to turn it on.

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Chase off kitchen odours

  • Borax in the bin

Kitchen bins are great incubators for mould and bacteria that cause odours. To ward off accumulations of these microscopic marauders, sprinkle 1/3 cup (60g) borax in the bottom of your bin and renew it every time you empty the bin.

  • Cabbage as culprit

Boiled cabbage is one of the healthiest foods around, but the smell it creates as it cooks is a major turn-off. To sweeten the air (and improve the flavour), add half a lemon to the water.

  • Bake a batch of brownies

There’s no better natural kitchen deodorizer than a batch of baking brownies. The gorgeous chocolate and vanilla smell will enhance any kitchen — and your family will thank you for it.

  • Bake an air freshener

Don’t buy an air freshener when you can get rid of kitchen smells at a fraction of the cost with baked lemon. Simply slice 2 lemons, put them on a foil-lined baking tray and bake them in a low oven at 100°C for 60-90 minutes. To prolong the cleansing effect once the heat has been turned off, open the oven door and leave the lemons on the rack for a few hours.

  • Odour-killing drain cleaner

Using salt and bicarbonate of soda to unblock a drain will put an end to unpleasant smells at the same time. Pour 1/2 cup (100g) salt into the drain followed by 1/2 cup (90g) bicarbonate of soda. Then pour in a kettleful of boiling water and let the hard-working sodium freshen the drain.

  • Disposer deodorizers

In places where scraps of food gather, bacteria follow, thriving in the cracks and crevices deep inside a waste disposal unit. To keep unpleasant smells from wafting out of your unit, try grinding any of these super fresheners:

  1.  Citrus peel — lemon, lime, orange or grapefruit.
  2. Two or three bunches of fresh mint.

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Debugging the kitchen

  •  Store flour and rice with bay leaves

Tiny weevils and other small insects can enter paper or cardboard containers of flour, rice, porridge and breakfast cereal through the tiniest of cracks. Keep them at bay by putting a few dried bay leaves in the containers.

  •  Freeze them out

Some insect eggs may be in food containers before you bring your groceries home and have yet to hatch. Kill off any eggs by keeping new products in the freezer for the first day or two.

  •  Two other insect chasers

One or two whole nutmegs buried in a sack of flour or box of rice will help to keep weevils and other tiny invaders out. Some people claim to have successfully repelled insects by placing sticks of spearmint gum (unwrapped) at different points on the floor of the cupboard where susceptible foodstuffs are stored.

  •  Pop goes the weevil

If dried beans or peas are under attack by hungry weevils, add some dried hot chillies to the storage container. You’ll find that they hotfoot it out of the box or bag in a flash.

  •  Get ants on the run

Ants hate crawling over powdery or grainy substances. So if you see a line of ants on the march in your kitchen, spoon a long thin line of polenta, cornflour or another powdery foodstuff in their path and watch them beat a hasty retreat.

  •  Spicy ant repellents

If you want to stop ants from getting into the kitchen, sprinkle cayenne pepper or ground cinnamon outside the back door as an unmistakable ‘not welcome’ mat. Ants hate both the powdery texture and powerful smell of these spices.

  •  Fend off fruit flies

There’s no need to keep a fruit bowl empty just because these unwanted guests tend to help themselves to your apples and bananas. Send them packing with one of the following:

  1. Mint or basil leaves Scatter mint or basil sprigs near fresh fruit when you set it out; fruit flies hate the smell and will stay clear.
  2. Surgical spirit Rub a little surgical spirit on the benchtop next to a bunch of bananas or a ripening melon, tomato or avocado.
  3. Apple cider Pour cider into a jar or bowl and fruit flies will be drawn to the sweet-smelling liquid.
  •  Non-toxic cockroach traps

Wrap the outside of an empty jam jar with masking tape and rub the inside of the jar with petroleum jelly. Pour in 2cm beer and top it with a few small pieces of ripe fruit and 4-5 drops of almond extract. Place the open jar under the sink or anywhere else cockroaches lurk. Cockroaches will be drawn to the appetizing aroma, climb into the jar (the tape gives them traction) and drop inside to feast —but thanks to the slippery walls, they’ll be unable to escape. To dispose of the cockroaches, fill the jar with hot water, then flush the contents down the toilet.

  •  Borax on high shelves

Cockroaches like to roam any high spots they can reach, so use a stepladder to get high enough to sprinkle borax along the top of your kitchen cupboards. Cockroaches poisoned by the borax will take it back to the nest, where fellow cockroaches will start dropping like flies.

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Wash up and wipe down

  • Add vinegar to your bucket

Add a few drops of white vinegar to your mopping bucket to remove traces of soap. If the floor is linoleum or vinyl, adds a little baby oil to the mop water to bring a soft gleam to the surface — but use a mere 1-2 capfuls at most or you’ll turn the floor into a skating rink.

  • Bleach painted walls

Mix a solution of 8 litres water and 1/2 cup (125ml) chlorine bleach to give your kitchen walls a brightening sponge-down after you’ve done a lot of cooking in a frying pan.

  • Erase pencil marks with rye bread

Remove pencil sketches from the kitchen wall with a slice of fresh rye bread (seeded or not). An artist’s eraser can also get rid of the marks.

  • Wash away wallpaper grime

If your kitchen walls are covered with water-proof wallpaper, remove excess dirt with a vacuum cleaner, then wash the walls with a solution of 1/2 cup (125ml) lemon juice, 1/2 cup (125ml) washing-up liquid and 4 cups (1 litre) water. Before starting, wash a tiny section in an inconspicuous place to make sure the paper will tolerate the mixture.

  • Keep stainless steel stainless

Stainless-steel kitchen sinks aren’t quite as immune to stains and marks as their name implies. Here are solutions to various problems:

  1. Rust marks Rub the area with a drop of lighter fluid and then clean it with non-abrasive scouring powder and water.
  2. Water marks Rub with a cloth dampened with surgical spirit.
  3. Other marks Rub marks with white vinegar or soda water, both of which are excellent stainless-steel polishers.
  • Lemon stain lifter

Getting a tomato sauce stain off a benchtop or cupboard door is easier than you think. Just wet the stain with lemon juice, let sit for 30 minutes or so and then sprinkle bicarbonate of soda onto the abrasive side of a kitchen sponge and scrub the discoloured area. Most stains will vanish and your kitchen will smell fresher, too.

  • Sterilise your sink

Germs can lurk around in a sink on microscopic food particles. To kill them off, fill a spray bottle with full-strength surgical spirit. After you have finished washing dishes, spray the sink with the surgical spirit and then rub it down with a clean tea towel or paper towel.

  • Tea thyme for porcelain

Attractive though they are, porcelain sinks can be hard to clean because abrasive cleaners dull (and often scratch) porcelain surfaces. Take the gentle route and clean your sink with fresh lemon thyme tea. Place 4-5 bunches of fresh lemon thyme in a large metal bucket and fill it with boiling water. Steep the thyme for 5-6 hours, and then strain it. Put the plug in the sink, pour in the tea and let it sit overnight. When you drain it the next morning, you will find a gleaming white sink with a delightfully fresh smell.

  • Almost-free all-purpose cleaner

Why buy an antibacterial spray cleaner if you can make one in less than 5 minutes? Combine 1 cup (250ml) surgical spirit, 1 cup (250ml) water and 1 tablespoon white vinegar in a spray bottle. Spray onto kitchen surfaces, including tiles and chrome, then wipe off and watch how quickly the germ-killing polish evaporates.

  • The dynamic grease-busting duo

The chemistry between bicarbonate of soda and vinegar is so powerful that the mix can flush grease out of kitchen drains. Pour 1/2 cup (90g) bicarbonate of soda into a blocked drain, followed by 1 cup (250 ml) white vinegar. Cover the drain for a few minutes as the chemical reaction dissolves the grease — then flush the drain with warm water. Caution: you should never use this method after using a commercial drain cleaner, which may react with the vinegar to create dangerous fumes.

  • Ice-cold degreaser for waste disposal units

Degrease a waste disposal unit by occasionally grinding five or six ice cubes along with 1/3 cup (60g) bicarbonate of soda. The ice congeals the grease, priming it for attack by the bicarb and sending it down the drain. To flush out any residue, fill the plugged-up sink with 5-8cm hot water and run the water through the unit.

Credit : Reader’s Digest

Picture Credit : Google