Oops – baby oil’s been splashed on a painted bedroom wall!

Wash the surface with warm soapy water and seal the stained area with Polycell Stain Stop (1 litre treats up to 9sq m).

This dries to form a barrier between the stain and the new paint and will stop the oil bleeding through. If you don’t seal the stain, the oil will come through, no matter how many layers of paint you apply. When you apply the Stain Stop, cover a slightly larger area than the stain.

When it’s dry, repaint the whole wall.

Perk up your patio

Get outside surfaces such as patios, decking, walls and garage doors looking as good as new with a jet power hose.

If you don’t own one, perhaps arrange with some neighbours to share costs and hire one for the weekend?  It’s a job that needs to be done about once a year and worth shelling out for.

In warmer weather, how to keep pests out of the house

Keep food covered, and preferably in the fridge.

Wrap rubbish well and dispose in sealed bags. Keep lids on bins and away from windows.

Keep sink wastes and drains clean and clear.

Clean up food spills and crumbs immediately.

Vacuum regularly, including under and behind furniture.

Clean up after pets.

Turn out kitchen cupboards every few months to check for food moths.

Keep gutters and chimneys clear to prevent birds nesting and insects breeding.

The wonders of WD-40

It’s amazing stuff and I’m never without a can under the sink. Not only for squeaky hinges, it’s just the job for loads of stain removal problems.

For example, apart from cleaning your bike and tools, removing grease, lubricating locks, hinges and all moving parts, it will remove paint, gum (from hair or carpet), rubber adhesive, stickers, rust stains and scuff marks.

It’ll also lubricate sticky drawers and clean crayon from walls. Almost as indispensable as vinegar!

Don’t be a clutterbug!

When you have too much clutter around you at home, you kind of lose touch with what you actually own, and the things you value the most.

Stuff is cheap nowadays. We’re constantly buying new things and bringing them home, without getting rid of redundant items. We pile new on top of old, keeping the old stuff ‘just in case’ or because someone gave it to us, or maybe we spent a lot of money on it, so it feels wrong to get rid of it.

My mother used to have spares of everything: vacuum cleaner, iron, food processor, all bought ‘in case the one in use broke’. All clogging up space in a small house!

What’s wrong with waiting till the appliance actually breaks, then go out and buy a new one?

Why do we hoard so much?

We hang on to stuff for all sorts of reasons (and often not really knowing why). Possessions can offer comfort and security; our identity is often closely associated with our belongings.

Sometimes we think that because we have paid for something, we shouldn’t throw it because we’ll feel guilty. Or we will lose information, which might lead to feeling a lack of control. If we hoard, it means we can put off the decision to discard, and the worry that comes with that decision (ie the worry that you might make a mistake).

How to begin the decluttering process

HThe things we have around us have an unconscious weight to them – the more we own, the more that can pull us down. Clutter is energy-depleting. If it all seems too much of a mountain to climb, start in a small area such as the bathroom, and go through everything ruthlessly, with fresh eyes, including the airing cupboard if it’s there. Really look at all the stuff that just sits there from one month to the next, taking up space. As you go through things one by one, keep asking yourself: do I really need this? Will I really use this? Do I really love this? Once you start, and see the surfaces clearing and space being freed up, you’ll feel the benefits, be lighter in yourself and energized to carry on.

Take as much as you can to your local charity shop – that will lessen any feelings of guilt. By giving something away, you will be restoring it to a new place and giving it a new life.

Sentimental items can be hard to part with. Just be selective. Instead of hanging on to boxes of old photos, for instance, pick out your favourites, frame them and display! Then be brave and ditch any duplicates or those that are not really special.

Face up to your fears of letting go. Nothing bad will happen, and trust this!

Don’t neglect your loft

It’s tempting not to go up there unless you absolutely have to, but it’s a good idea to keep an eye on dust and mould levels (not to mention pests).

A friend of mine had an invasion of grey squirrels whose urine, astonishingly, caused the ceiling below to collapse – a word of warning!