No need to pack the travel iron

On arrival at your destination, unpack your pre-ironed clothes, hang them up individually and run over any creases with the warm air of the hairdryer.

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Wicker table and chairs turned mouldy?

Cane furniture normally has a light varnish and to clean it you should wipe down with a damp cloth wrung out in mild soapy water

If this doesn’t remove the marks left by the mould, you should stain it with a darkish colour to hide them instead.

Rustin’s does a good range of wood care products; available from diy shops.

Never have to clean the oven floor again!

If you use a Magic Oven Liner (Lakeland, £9.99), it will save you so much cleaning time.

Splashes and spills on this heavy-duty non-stick liner just rinse away. Suitable for all ovens (except where the element is in the base) and it’ll last at least five years. Worth every penny!

The case for decluttering

It’s more difficult to clean when the contents of wardrobes, cupboards and drawers are overflowing on to every surface.

When there’s nowhere left to tidy anything away to, cleaning becomes impossible. And you start losing things…then you replace them…which leads to more clutter.

If you need an incentive to declutter, imagine how you will use the extra space, or how much time you’ll save by not cleaning or searching for things.

And don’t get sidetracked into reading old letters or looking at photographs. Put them aside for later!

How to deal with unwanted gifts

What do you do about unwanted gifts from friends or family who visit regularly?

Tricky, but remember that it is your living space and you need to put your enjoyment of it first and foremost.

And if you recycle gifts (don’t we all from time to time?), keep a note of who gave what to you to avoid embarrassment!

Free up wardrobe space

One thing many of us are guilty of is hanging on to clothes that no longer fit, in the hope that one day they will.

Trouble is, if that ever did happen, chances are the item would look out of fashion!

Much better to put it to a charity shop or give to a friend. That way you’ll stop feeling guilty when you have to overlook those ill-fitting items, and when you do get back to the size you want, you can treat yourself to something new!

How to make a start on decluttering

Empty every cupboard/surface into three piles: stuff you use all the time, things you want to keep but haven’t used for over a year, and stuff you’ve not used in two years and can live without. For the second two categories, be ruthless and chuck anything broken, and from what’s left consider either running a car boot sale or giving to a charity shop.

Now go through the remainder once again. Then sort into groups – ie jewellery, travel, sports, thus creating a permanent home for each group (line drawers and shelves with pretty paper).

Make a diary note to re-edit in six months. And in future: edit as you go – one new purchase in, one old thing out! That way, you’ll stay in control of your possessions instead of them being in control of you.

My golden rule for keeping the place tidy and clutter free is never to go upstairs or downstairs empty-handed. And leave items at the bottom of the stairs to take up next time (though somehow male family members can be blissfully blind to this!). 

How to de-flea your pet

For anyone with a cat or dog, fleas can be a problem – in fact any animal that goes outside at all is at risk of picking up the occasional flea.

Most are 2-3mm long, red or brown and feed on the animal by sucking its blood. They move around on the skin’s surface and are difficult to see, let alone remove.

When fleas infest your pet, they lay large numbers of eggs that fall to the floor and develop into larvae around your home. Once you start treating your pet, any fleas will hatch, leap aboard the pet and die without laying any more eggs.

You need to keep your pet permanently protected; depending on your pet and budget, there are lots of different types of treatment, so check with your vet about which one to use.