General cleaning

All-purpose cleaners

All-purpose liquid cleaner

  • Vinegar poured directly onto a cloth or diluted with water will clean the bath, toilet, sink, countertops, stovetop, fridge and appliances (as well as windows, mirrors and floors). Vinegar will also break down soap scum and hard water stains on tiles and fixtures, and break down lime scale.
  • Use diluted one part water to one part vinegar for tiles (otherwise it is too acidic and can eat at grout) and do not use on marble surfaces.
  • Keep vinegar (neat or diluted 1:1) in a spray bottle for handy use on most surfaces.
  • Lemon juice, neat or diluted 1:1 can be used in the same way to clean surfaces all around the home.
  • Using lemon juice to clean inside the fridge leaves it smelling wonderfully fresh.
  • Add a few lemon, orange, or any citrus fruit peels to your bottle of vinegar to create a powerful and fresh smelling citrus cleaner. The more peels you add and the longer you leave them in the vinegar, the stronger the infusion will be. You can use your citrus vinegar in place of ordinary vinegar for all your cleaning jobs.
  • Alternatively, use 3% (10 volume) hydrogen peroxide in the kitchen and bathroom to clean, deodorise and disinfect. Again, spray onto the surface or apply directly to a sponge or cloth. Dilute if you wish. Store peroxide in a dark or opaque bottle away from sunlight.
  • Spraying any surfaces (or even food) with 3% (10 volume) hydrogen peroxide and then vinegar (or vice versa) will disinfect them more effectively than chlorine bleach or any commercially available cleaning product (Science News, 8 August 1998, Vol. 154, issue 6, pg. 83-85) and leaves no toxic residue. Vinegar and peroxide should be kept in separate containers and you can spray them on in any order with the same effect. The peroxide also eliminates the smell of vinegar straight away.

In brief: Spray surfaces with vinegar and / or 3% (10 volume) hydrogen peroxide (in dark bottle) and wipe down

All-purpose cleaning scrub

  • For a gentle yet effective scourer, sprinkle bicarb into bath and sinks or onto countertops, stovetops, tiles, fridge and appliances.
  • Bicarb will not scratch shiny surfaces but is abrasive enough to lift caked dirt and stains.
  •  Moisten slightly and rub with a cloth, brush or sponge.
  • Bicarb also deodorises fridges, flasks and plastic containers.
  • Salt has a similar cleaning effect and can be used alone or together with bicarb as a cleaning scrub. (We use a 50:50 mix of kitchen salt and bicarb for most surfaces and bicarb alone for very delicate ones.)
  • Keep some bicarb (or a mix of bicarb and salt) in a flour shaker or an empty spice shaker to make it easy to sprinkle onto surfaces. Then wipe with a damp cloth.

Heavy duty scourer

  • Mix vinegar or lemon juice with salt or bicarb to make a strong cleaning paste, which is even more effective if left to act for a few minutes. (It will fizz.)
  • Cover stubborn oven or stovetop spills with dry salt and/or bicarb and allow to stand for a few minutes. Grease, grime and liquids are absorbed and the dirt lifts easily when wiped away with a damp cloth. (Moisten the cloth with vinegar for extra cleaning power.)
  • Also cover greasy or burnt residues on pots, pans or dishes with dry salt and/or bicarb and allow it to stand for a few minutes, as above. It will wipe away much more easily when you come back to it. Wipe away dirt with a cloth moistened with water or vinegar and rinse clean.

Window and glass cleaner

  • Mix equal parts of water and vinegar (or lemon juice) in a spray bottle.
  • Alternatively, use vinegar infused with lemon peels (just add a few peels to your bottle of vinegar and allow to stand for a couple of days before using.)
  • Spray onto any windows or any glass surface and wipe clean with a rag, or buff to a shine with crumpled newspaper.
  • Or, apply 3% (10 volume) hydrogen peroxide to a clean rag to shine up windows, mirrors, etc.


  • Use a cupful of vinegar in warm water to clean and disinfect floors. Add a splash of lemon juice for a fresh smell and extra cleaning.
  • You can also add bicarb (a tablespoon or more) to the mix for a gentle scrub action.
  • Alternatively, add a cup of 3% (10 volume) hydrogen peroxide to your cleaning water to wash and disinfect floors, leaving a clean fresh smell.
  • To preserve and polish vinyl and linoleum, add a tablespoon of olive oil to the solution.
  • For wooden floors, see here.

Odd jobs

To clean paintbrushes

  • Soften paintbrush bristles by soaking in a cup of hot vinegar.
  • Then sprinkle on a little bicarb and stir around.
  • Rinse with warm water.

To dissolve hard water scum, limescale, grimy build-up and rust from taps, screws etc.

  • Soak the parts in vinegar and rinse clean.

To remove bumper stickers, price stickers, labels from jars etc.

  • Spray or wipe the sticker repeatedly with vinegar till it is soaked
  • Wait a few minutes and it will come away easily. Repeat with any sticky residue.
  • For stubborn glues, soak a cloth in water and vinegar and wrap around the jar or leave draped on the sticker for half an hour or longer to loosen it.
  • Some glues let go better when smeared with coconut oil instead of using vinegar. Cover the sticky area with coconut oil and allow it to sink in for a few minutes and begin to soften and dissolve the glue. Now it will come away much more easily.

To clean hairbrushes and combs

  • Remove hair from your brushes and combs by running the bristles through each other .
  • Find a tall narrow container that they can fit standing up in, such as a tall drinking glass.
  • Fill it 3/4 full with hot water and add one to two teaspoons of bicarb.
  • Stir to dissolve the bicarb and then allow them to soak for at least an hour.
  • Lay them on a towel to air dry.


  • Check out the rest of household cleaning for other jobs round the home you can easily and cheaply get done without exposing yourself, others or the environment to harmful chemicals.
  • Pamper your body too.

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