Moved into a flat that was occupied by smokers?

Open the windows as much as possible. Buy a couple of tubs of bicarbonate of soda (cheaper on the internet) and sprinkle plenty of it over the carpets and any upholstered furniture left by the previous owner, leave overnight and vacuum off. This will absorb the smoky smell without masking the odour or harming the fabric. Use a fabric deodoriser for any curtains.

You should wash all wood and paintwork with a mild solution of sugar soap (from hardware shops) and place a few homemade air fresheners around the place: put three tablespoons bicarbonate of soda in a bowl and add a few drops of your favourite essential oil. Rub a little of the oil on to light bulbs.

You could also try the Moso air purifying bag, which contains bamboo charcoal and absorbs nasty smells produced by smoke, pets, mildew, etc. It will also pick up airborne bacteria, allergens and excessive moisture.

If you’re going to redecorate, this will help hugely to freshen the place.

When your suede shoes need a bit of TLC…

If your once-lovely suede slingbacks are looking less than pristine, here’s what to do.

Boil a kettle and carefully steam the stained area, then gently but firmly buff up the surface with a stiff suede brush.

You might see some shedding from the surface, but this won’t damage the shoe  – it’ll freshen it up nicely instead.

How to look after your Lloyd Loom furniture

This is best done on a sunny day. Lloyd Loom pieces are made from twisted paper and wire and have to be treated with care.

Vacuum with the nozzle attachment and use a dry, stiffish brush (an old scrubbing brush is good) to loosen the dust. Then wash down with a weak solution of washing-up liquid and warm water, paying attention to any very dirty areas.

Use a softer brush to help dislodge the dirt in between the weave, but take great care not to over-wet.

Rinse and allow to air-dry outside in the sun.

When a rodent comes calling…

Rats are actually easier to get rid of than mice, preferring sewers and dumps to houses.

But you must act fast as besides spreading disease rats need to sharpen their teeth constantly and so will chew through virtually anything, including brick, wiring and metal pipes, causing massive damage.

The pest control service at your local council is the first port of call – pronto!

Never wash raw chicken!

If you think you’re being hygienic by washing chicken before roasting or barbecuing…you’re wrong.

A high proportion of poultry harbours salmonella and campylobacter, and if you hold it under a running tap, the water that splashes off the meat and lands on the surface surrounding the sink will be contaminated.

And if you wipe it up with a cloth, chances are you’ll only be spreading the germs across a bigger area, increasing the risk of food poisoning!

The best way to remove limescale from your loo bowl

If you live in a hard water area, you’re probably plagued with limescale deposits on the loo bowl, enamel bath and sink. If, like me, you’d rather not use expensive strong chemicals to deal with this, here’s the alternative (and a lot cheaper too).

Take a pumice stone – the sort that deals with the hard skin on heels – dampen it, and rub, rub, rub until it’s all gone. It won’t scratch the surface, because the pumice is harder than the scale yet softer than either the porcelain of the bowl and sink or the enamel of the bath.

The easy way to clean a roasting tray

Don’t waste your precious time scrubbing away endlessly at bake-on grime on a roasting dish.

Fill with hot water to cover the stains, add a handful of biological washing power or a dishwasher tablet, bring to the boil and simmer away for about 15 minutes.

Leave to soak for a further few hours and then everything will come off really easily.

How to keep your chopping board hygienic

If it’s wooden, scrub thoroughly after every use with very hot soapy water, then rinse with hot running water. Never leave it to soak – it’ll swell and crack. Dry with paper towels to avoid germs from a used tea towel. Leave to air, resting on its edge (it can warp if dried flat).

To get rid of strong smells, squeeze lemon juice (or sprinkle mustard powder) on the board and wipe with a clean damp cloth.

A plastic board can go in the dishwasher, but otherwise treat in exactly the same way.

Always use separate boards for raw meat and veg, and replace a cracked or badly scored board, whatever it’s made from.