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 you have a cat that’s susceptible to fleas (or intruding cats via the flap!), put a flea collar at the bottom of your vacuum cleaner bag to prevent them from nesting.
When you’re vacuuming a rug with fringes, don’t go back and forwards as the fringes will get stuck. Instead, pull the nozzle back towards yourself each time.
Bone-handled cutlery should not be put in the dishwasher – the heat can loosen the glue that fixes blade and handle together. Hand-wash in warm soapy water and dry immediately.
If you live in a hard water area and add 100g soda crystals to your washload, you can reduce the amount of detergent to the guidelines for soft water (it also helps prevent limescale build-up and lessens the risk of machine breakdown).
Get rid of grey stains around the inside of shirt collars by rubbing the marks heavily with chalk before washing – chalk will absorb the oils that hold the dirt in.
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The best remedy is to get a wire pot scrubber (or Brillo pad) and go at the rust with hot soapy water until it’s all gone. Dry well, then apply a light film of vegetable oil with kitchen paper. Store in a plastic bag to prevent any dust sticking to the surface.
Save time trying to unpick sticky tape from the roll by always placing a toothpick under the end every time you finish using it.
Do your towels always end up stiff? Chances are you’re using too much detergent, which is not being rinsed properly from the fabric. Try running a few clean ones, without detergent, in the rinse programme and see how many suds are there! If so, use less detergent in future.
If you leave your Le Creuset pan a long time before cleaning (tut!), it can be a pain. Ease the strain with a slice of fresh pineapple – the enzyme within cuts right through the food stain, making cleaning easier.