Sheets and pillowcases ought to be washed once a week. It’s a good idea to do it on a specific day; that way it becomes part of your routine.
A 60C cycle is best for cottons, particularly if you have an asthma-related condition (anything below this temperature probably won’t kill dust mites).
Duvets should be washed once a year. A single size can usually go in the washing machine but anything bigger will have to be taken to the launderette. Make sure it’s completely dried before using again, if particularly down- or feather-filled. And dry quickly because if not the feathers can go mouldy, which will give a nasty smell you’ll never get rid of. Avoid dry-cleaning duvets because the solvent will leave a residue on the feathers.
Pillows will be filled with either feather, down or synthetic material. See the label for wash instructions, but normally you’ll be able to wash two at a time. Once or twice a year will be enough. Again, dry thoroughly and as quickly as possible to avoid mould. You may notice a difference in the weight post-wash! Pillow protectors are well worth using between washes.
Headboards can take on marks where a greasy head has been in contact. If it’s fabric, spot clean with an upholstery cleaner, but don’t overwet or you could end up with watermarks. If veneer or vinyl, wipe with warm soapy water and dry with a clean cotton cloth.
The space under the bed will get very dusty so pull out everything about once a month, and move the bed to one side to vacuum thoroughly. This will keep moths and carpet beetles away, and the dustmites under control.
Mattresses can end up looking pretty nasty. Unless the label says ‘Do not turn’, turn it over every three months to extend its life (and your comfort). Vacuuming it will make a huge difference to reducing the dustmite population. If you don’t have one already, use a mattress protector (waterproof for young children or anyone with incontinence problems). To remove stains, use a foamy mix of hand-wash detergent. Don’t overwet. Make sure it is completely dry before making up the bed again (use a hairdryer to speed things up). If there are any nasty smells there, sprinkle with bicarbonate of soda, leave a few hours then vacuum off.
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Phone (plus case)
Tablet (plus case)
Dishcloths/washing up brushes/floor mops
Backs of chairs
If your carpets are a bit grubby, why not give them the Rug Doctor treatment? This easy-to-operate system is available for hire at many supermarkets from £23 for 24 hours.
Add a few drops of tea tree oil to your normal washing detergent and everything will come out smelling lovely and fresh.
To remove mould spots from leather, apply a layer of Vaseline, leave overnight then rub off with a soft cotton cloth.
Are you conscious of having garlic-smelling breath but don’t have any parsley to hand? Good alternatives might be right there in your spice rack: either fennel seeds or cardamom will do the job just as well.
Is the avocado or mango you want to eat right now not yet ripe? Stick it in the microwave and heat on medium for 20 or 30 seconds. Leave it to cool completely then enjoy!
Top tip from leading patissier Eric Lanlard: by adding a teaspoon of caster sugar to the bowl before you start whisking egg whites, the whites will instantly liquefy and they’ll whip up much more quickly!
To unknot a chain, work the knot free using a pair of pins – it’s far easier than using your fingers.
If you rub a tiny amount of lemon oil (available from most health food shops) on your glass shower screen say once a fortnight, this will help the water to bead, roll down the screen and keep it clear.
I love a glass of fizz, and as it’s my birthday today I’ll be indulging. The only problem is, the older I get, the more difficulty I have getting the cork out. No more: with VacuVin’s champagne (and prosecco and cava) opener, £3.50 from HartsofStur.com, you sink its claws into the cork and, with an almost effortless twist, out it pops!
If you have a cupboardful of denture cleaning tablets, drop a tablet into a glass of water, and any of your diamond jewellery. Let it sit for a few minutes, remove, rinse and admire the sparkling results!