Look after your iron

Does your iron spit out occasional brown splashes of water (why’s it always on a white shirt?), even though you empty it after every session?

What’s happening is that the iron acts like a vacuum, sucking up fibres and impurities from your clothes as you work and, over time, they build up and discolour the tank water, hence the brown splashes.

Get into the habit of using the self-clean function, say every second time (most irons over £25 have this feature). Also avoid using scented or softened water – ordinary tap is the best as you need an element of hardness to get a good jet of steam.

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Woodlice indoors?

These crustaceans live on rotten wood and vegetable matter in cool damp areas, occasionally venturing from their homes under stones, clumps of plants, logs or doormats into yours, looking for shelter. Although they’re harmless, they indicate damp.

In centrally heated houses, they quickly dry out and die. No treatment is really necessary, but if they’re a nuisance, treat dampness and remove any leaf litter or logs from outside walls.

Seal off potential entry points and fill in gaps between skirting boards and paving stones (but take care not to block air vents).

Use an insecticide powder or long-lasting spray suitable for crawling insects around entry points into the house.

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Bath sealant spilled on clothes?

WD40’s the thing.

Spray it on, rub with an old cloth, and it will come right off.

Then stick your clothing in the machine for a normal wash through.

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Clogged-up old fountain pen

Take it apart and soak the pieces in a dilute clear vinegar solution (50:50 vinegar and warm water) overnight.

Then flush through with running water and dry carefully. It’ll now be ready to refill with ink.

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Why do you need a shredder?

If you have an open fire, use the papers to start it each time.

If not, just immerse everything in a bucket of water, or a filled bath, and gather the mushy mass up into a big pile before putting into the recycling bin.

Sorted!

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Stop your whites going grey

The usual reason whites end up grey is dye transferring from a non-fast colour, so always wash whites with whites. If you have white towels or sheets with a coloured detail, add a Spotless Colour Catcher sheet to your usual detergent. These hold on to any loose dye.

Use detergent containing brightening agents, such as Ariel, at the full recommended dose and the hottest temperature on the label. If you hang your washing on the line, keep the whites away from direct sunlight and take inside as soon as they are dry, as UV from sunlight can cause yellowing.

If you live in a hard water area and use insufficient detergent, mineral deposits can build up and cause greyness over time.

To restore whiteness, rewash using the maximum dose of detergent and wash temperature. You may have to first soak the load in a water softener such as Calgon. Don’t overload the machine. In very hard water areas, carry out an idle wash periodically with detergent and no clothes, to help reduce scale build-up.

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Do you need to obey Dry Clean Only labels?

I seldom do – it’s the endless rinsing that drives me mad, not to mention the expense of dry cleaning.

Most washing machines nowadays have a delicates programme. I like Woolite and use the shortest wash time and slowest spin (600-700rpm is good).

I wouldn’t risk tailored jackets or coats, though.  And I’ve got into trouble a couple of times with colours running, so be aware of the possible risk.

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How to clean the anti-slip bath mat that gets grotty with soap stains and mould

The easiest way is to soak in a bath of hot water with a cup of biological washing powder then run through a warm machine wash. To stop it ever happening, you need to lift it every time, rinse under the tap or shower and leave to dry over the bath or rail.

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The easiest way to clean windows

My tried and tested best-ever method: wash down insides first with a clean cotton cloth rinsed out in warm water with a few drops of washing-up liquid, then buff dry with a microfibre cloth especially for glass or mirrors. Then tackle the outsides in the same way.

Quick, easy and streak-free.

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Ink marks on clothing

If it’s permanent, there’s not much hope (clue’s in the name).

Otherwise, soak the area in either milk or douse in good quality hairspray (cheap stuff doesn’t work so well!) before washing as normal.

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