Sunday, 20 November 2011

Cleaning on the Cheap

I'm the first to admit I am not the best housekeeper. Ever since I had my first solo apartment in a high rise building mid-town Manhattan, I had a cleaner. It was an extravagance but I left for work around 7:45am and returned home around 8-10pm every night. The last thing I wanted to do late at night and on the weekends was to clean, do laundry and scrub the oven. So I spent $60 (£38) every two weeks for a housekeeper to come. It was wonderful to come home to a sparkling flat with clean laundry folded at the foot of my bed (which was remade with crisp sheets). Ah...those were the days.

Now, with our new economic situation, it's up to me. And I'll admit - I have a lot to learn. I've googled, read many blogs (favourites coming in a blog post soon!), pored over magazines (in waiting rooms and the few that I have saved for months), and even looked in a few books my mother ever-so-helpfully gave me regarding keeping house (honestly!).

With this new found information, I have tried and tested a few things to see if they work. I won't tell you about the ones that were disastrous - and oh, they were bad, but I did find a few gems that are cost effective, quick, eco-friendly and actually work wonders.

To save you the trouble of researching, I'm sharing a few of the winners here. I'm still on my journey to become wonder woman so please share any of your tips with me. I'm all ears here....

Removing baked-on hob (stove-top) stains: make a paste of baking soda (bicarbonate) and water and rub into the stain. The baking soda provides the abrasiveness you need to get he stuck on stuff off.

Cleaning your flat screen TV: you need to be extra gently while cleaning this. Use a soft dry cotton cloth to remove fingerprints and smudges from the screen. If this does not completely remove the dirt and splotches, use a small amount of rubbing alcohol on the cleaning cloth that has been dampened with water. A small amount of vinegar can be substituted for the alcohol). Spray the liquid on the cloth and never directly onto the screen. Do not use paper towels on the screen as they can scratch. Never use ammonia, or strong cleaners.

Cleaning the Microwave: Dampen a kitchen towel in water, then place it inside the microwave and run it for 30-45 second. Then, use the damp towel (careful, it will be hot) to wipe all the crusty food away.

Making Your Own Furniture Wipes: Mix equal parts water and lemon oil in a bowl and dip squares (6"X6") of cheesecloth into the mixture. Ring the square out so they are still slightly damp and store them in an air tight container - the next time you need to wipe down your furniture you're all set with eco-friendly wipes!


All-purpose Cleaner: Mix equal parts white vinegar and hydrogen peroxide Add a touch of tea tree oil. Put in a spray bottle (from your former store bought agent or buy at £ shop). Cleans and disinfects all bathroom and kitchen surfaces except granite (I do not have granite, btw). For the amount of ONE

Scouring Powder: Baking soda (bicarbonate) It does a fine job. It's a simple, less abrasvie way to quickly get all the toilets sparkling clean. Even cuts down on limescale!

Glass Cleaner: Add a few drops of pure lemon juice to plain water. Put in spray bottle and got. Ue is on windows, glass tabletops, mirrors, vases, and other other glass surface or object. It only keeps for a day or two and then you need to remix. I just make enough for one cleaning round each time, just in case.

A Few Tips for Easier Quick Cleaning:

I carry a small bucket filled with my spray bottles, an old toothbrush, a credit card (some free one that came in the post, rubber gloves, a reusable microfiber cloths and a sponge.

Toothbrush helps get into hard-to-reach areas and small crevices.

Credit card is fantastic for scraping up stuck-on gunk and dried foods

Rubber gloves I fold over to create a cuff on the ends to catch water. I don't like it when water runs down my arm and into the glove. Yick!

Microfiber cloths. I have a fine-woven one for glass and shiny surfaces and one large-loop clothes for general cleaning of dusty areas. they are a little bit of a cost, but they last forever. No more paper-towels or kitchen towels for me.


  1. Can I pick your brains please ? Do you know of any reasonable priced hotels in NYC ? I have stayed before in the Comfort Inn and Metro Hotel on 34th and also Sheraton Times Square but I wondered if you know of any that you could recommend?

  2. Comfort Inn on 35th is pretty reasonable. Also La Quinta on 33rd, right behind the Empire State Building. the rooms are a bit on the small side, but the rooftop bar/patio has the most amazing view of the Empire State building - it's practically on top of you. Amazing. Also good: Holiday Inn Express(all over Manhattan). You might want to look at B&B's in Brooklyn Heights. Lovely old Brooklyn brownstones that have reasonable prices and breakfast included. Close to the subway and a 15 minute ride to Manhattan. Like being a New Yorker!

  3. Thanks for the Brooklyn tip, I've usually stayed pretty central to Macys ( for obvious reasons lol ) but thanks for the insider knowledge ! I would love to be a New Yorker :-)

  4. Hi
    this is what i do for a living,another idea for the microwave is when you have used lemons for baking etc put in a glass bowl with water and put in microwave. turn on for a few mins the steam and lemon loosen gunk and you just wipe away.

  5. Never Too Old - thanks for the tip. I'm going to give it a go in the morning! Thanks for stopping by.


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