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14 Old-fashioned Cleaning Tricks That Work to Tidy Up Your Home

When you think about your grandmother’s home, we bet it’s clean and tidy. Neat as a pin, right? Every surface dusted and polished, books and magazines tucked away out of sight and nary a crumb to be seen on her kitchen bench. How do they do it? Well, years of experience has taught them which home cleaning remedies — from the bizarre to the old and faithful — really work. They’re not the only ones however.

The Homes To Love team are finely tuned to pick up and try all the cleaning tips that come our way – think of us as your modern home hack filters — and between us, we have a few to share as well, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with even the most seasoned housekeepers.We’ve thrown them all into the pot to come up with the best of both worlds — 14 top old-fashioned cleaning tricks that actually work.

1. Dust Damp

“I dust everything with a damp cloth,” says Edith, 84. “Just make sure you dry any wooden surfaces with a separate towel afterwards, so you don’t get watermarks.”

2. Remove Stains

Methylated spirits will remove tea and coffee stains from some fabrics, says Beryl, 76. “Dilute it in some water first and then leave it on the fabric to soak in. Just wash as usual and it’ll come right out.” For blood stains, Beryl suggests soaking in extremely salty water, and then washing. (Note: it’s a good idea to do a spot test on an inconspicuous section of the fabric before using an alcohol-based cleaning solution.)

3. Nice and Natural

According to HTL Senior Content Producer Lucy, homemade and natural go hand-in-hand in the home. “I’m all for sustainability and making cleaning products as pretty as possible (I’m the daughter of a mother who decants her laundry powder, after all!),” she says. “I love using these waffle linen towels (Buy from, $18) instead of disposable wipes. They may be described as face cloths, but trust me when I say, they work a treat in the kitchen! An honorable mention also goes to using cleaning vinegar, warm water, detergent, and a squeegee for sparkling shower screens.”

4. Clean Your Drains

“I do this every week,” says Victoria, 63. “My own grandma taught me this trick, actually! Pour a tablespoon of bicarbonate of soda down your drain, followed by a cup of white vinegar. Let it fizz and then pour a kettleful of hot water down the drain.”

5. Sanitize Your Cutting Board

Got a stinky wooden board? Scrub with coarse salt and a halved lemon, then rinse with boiling water. “Leave it in the sun to dry,” says Anne, 75. “It’s the best sanitiser.”

6. Keep it Simple

“I love my little Vietnamese soft fan broom (Buy from, 6.99),” says HTL Senior Content Producer, Diana. “I have floorboards throughout my entire home and it’s lightweight and simple to use for a quick brush through between vacuums. The best part is that it’s made from natural fibers so, when it eventually wears out, I’ll throw it in the council green waste bin.”

7. Clean Your Toilet

For a fresh, clean talent, Beryl says she sprinkles Borax around the bowl, followed by half a cup of white vinegar. “Then you just leave it overnight, and flush in the morning.”

8. Deodorize Your Shoes

Penelope says she puts her husband’s smelly runners in the freezer overnight — in a plastic bag — and then leaves them out in the sun to thaw. “It’s like magic!” she says. If you don’t have room in your freezer, fill a spare pair of socks with dried herbs and spices (bay leaves, rosemary, cinnamon sticks, and so on) and leave them in your shoes between wears.

9. Cheap But Cheerful

“I can’t take the full credit for this one (thanks mom), but the Green Action Smooth Paste Cleanser from Aldi is one of my favorite cleaning products,” says HTL Content Producer, Maddison. “I’ve been using it for a couple of years now, and it’s a game-changer. It’s pretty much the same thing as Gumption, except it only costs $3.99. But don’t let the price tag fool you because the results are phenomenal. You can use it in your bathroom, on benches, the stovetop, anywhere really! The best thing about it is that it’s free of any harmful chemicals and doesn’t leave behind a milky residue when you’ve finished scrubbing. The catch? It’s a limited-edition product, so it’s definitely worth stockpiling this one.”

10. Get Rid of Nasty Smells in the Fridge

Victoria swears by this age-old trick: “Put a bowl of coffee grounds or bicarbonate of soda [baking soda] in the back of your fridge. It will soak up any yucky smells.” She says it also works in the bottom of your trash can.

11. Banish Streaking

It’s not just something that happens every summer. To avoid streaks after cleaning your windows, mix 1/4 cup of white vinegar with a tablespoon of cornflour and two cups of warm water in a spray bottle. Spray generously and buff away with a soft cloth or newspaper.

12. Shower Power

“I love using my leftover lemons to clean grime off my shower screen,” says HTL Senior Digital Content Producer, Emma. “I rub as much juice and pulp as I can over the glass and let it sit for 30 minutes. The natural acids do a great job of breaking down the dirt, and then all you need to do is rinse and wipe down with a cloth. It doesn’t cost a thing, plus it makes your shower smell super fresh.”

13. Eliminate Mildew

Mildew and grout, it’s not a great combination. To nix the mould, Penelope, 80, sprays a mixture of white vinegar and water (use a one to three ratio) on the mildew, leaves it to settle for 10 minutes, and then wipes away.

14. When All Else Fails

If you suscribe to Mary Randolph Carter’s theory that, “A Perfectly Kept House Is The Sign Of A Misspent Life,” perhaps a little less focus on the details is called for. HTL Digital Director Amber agrees. “My tip is to watch Hoarders so you feel better about the state of your home,” she says. Not a bad place to start.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, Homes to Love.

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