Special surfaces

Window and glass cleaner

  • Mix equal parts of water and vinegar (or lemon juice) in a spray bottle.
  • Alternatively use vinegar infused with lemon or other citrus fruit peels. Simply add some peels to a bottle of vinegar and allow them to soak for a few days before using. The more peels and the longer you let them soak the more powerful and fragrant the infusion will become.
  • Spray onto windows or any glass surface and wipe clean with a rag, or buff to a shine with crumpled newspaper.
  • Or, spray glass with 3% (10 volume) hydrogen peroxide and wipe with a clean rag to shine up windows, mirrors, etc. Peroxide cleans glass beautifully without leaving marks or smears.

Carpet (and upholstery) cleaner

  • Sprinkle bicarb over carpets or upholstery half an hour before vacuuming or brushing to absorb spills, stains and odours, and then vacuum (or brush) away.
  • For stubborn stains on carpets and upholstery, sprinkle vinegar over the mark and wait a few minutes. Rub gently with a soft brush. Rinse with a damp towel and blot dry.
  • Salt is legendary at absorbing red wine spills from carpets. Pour salt liberally over the spill to absorb it, then clean as above.

Wood care

Furniture polish

  • Mix a quarter of a cup of grapeseed oil (or olive or jojoba oil) with half a cup of vinegar (preferably apple cider vinegar but any vinegar will do), to make a furniture polish that will clean and condition wooden furniture and surfaces, and remove water stains. Apply with the grain and allow to sink in, then buff well to remove any residue.
  • It is a good idea to use vinegar infused with lemon or other citrus peels for your wood cleaning and polishing as citrus is especially good for wood. Soak a few peels in the vinegar you will be using for a few days (the more peels and the longer they soak the better). Strain your vinegar before using it on wood. Alternatively you could add a drop or two of lemon or orange oil to your wood polish mixture. Mix well. (I find citrus infused vinegar is a better choice for wood than lemon juice, as the sugars in lemon juice can leave a sticky residue on wood over time.)
  • Only mix as much as you will use within a month. It is best stored in the fridge or in a dark cool place, inside a dark or opaque container.
  • If an oily residue remains after you have finished polishing, sprinkle lightly with a dry mixture of one part bicarb and six parts cornstarch, which will absorb excess oil. Wipe away the oil and cornstarch and buff with a soft cloth.
  • To remove stubborn ring marks from wood, rub on neat olive (or even better linseed) oil and buff with a soft cloth. Repeat if necessary till the mark has faded.

Wooden floor cleaner

  • First vacuum, sweep or dry mop the floor to remove dust and loose dirt.
  • Dilute a cup of vinegar in a bucket of warm water to mop a wooden floor.
  • Apple cider vinegar is especially good for wood but any vinegar is fine to use. As above, you can infuse your vinegar with some citrus peels for a lovely fresh smell, extra cleaning power, and an extra treat for your wood.
  • Immerse a clean mop in the solution and wring it out so that it is damp but not wet. (Excess water can harm wood.)
  • Mop the floor in the direction of the floorboards, rinsing the mop frequently and wringing it out thoroughly. Change the water if it appears dirty.
  • Allow the floor to air-dry or buff dry with a soft towel, especially if it appears quite wet or is not well-ventilated.
  • Treat stains or water marks with the wood furniture polish (above).

Metal cleaners


  • Fill an aluminium saucepan with water, add a teaspoon each of salt and bicarb and bring to the boil.
  • Then submerge your silver and allow it to stand for two minutes.
  • Remove and dry.
  • For large silver items, clean with a soft cloth using a salt and vinegar solution. Rinse and dry.


  • Submerge gold jewellery items in a cup of apple cider vinegar for fifteen minutes.
  • Remove and dry.

Copper, brass and pewter

  • Clean with a soft cloth dipped in a salt (or bicarb) and vinegar (or lemon) solution.
  • Or, sprinkle salt into a cut squeezed lemon and use it to rub down the metal.
  • Either way, rinse and buff with a soft cloth.

Stainless steel

  • Clean with undiluted vinegar.
  • Bicarb moistened with water or vinegar will also loosen caked dirt without scratching stainless steel.

To get rid of rust

  • Rub the area with a cut lemon dipped in salt.
  • Rinse off and dry.
  • For smaller items with a lot of rust, soak the whole object in neat vinegar for up to 24 hours. Scrub clean, rinse and dry.

Leather care

  • Clean and polish leather shoes, upholstery etc. with equal parts of vinegar and olive oil (or any vegetable oil).
  • Rub the mixture in and then polish with a soft cloth.

Wall wash

  • To clean painted walls or painted woodwork, mix one cup of vinegar, one cup of bicarb and three cups of warm water.
  • Wipe dirt from the surfaces with a soft cloth dipped in the mixture, and rinse with clean water.
  • Use this same mixture to prepare walls or surfaces for painting.


  • 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.