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  • I have bought ammonia readily in my local supermarket. Not the cheapest supermarket, but another one. Keep looking! I think you can also buy it in large hardware stores. - Fiona, Hamilton.

Baby wipes

  • Baby wipes are wonderful for removing fly-spots from walls and ceilings. - KASW, Waikanae.


  • Sprinkle baking soda on the bath without water and use brush to scrub off build up of oils from bodies. – D.G.

Baking soda

  • Buy baking soda from Binn Inn and add to wash with laundry powder. You can also reduce the amount of laundry powder by about 1/5 as baking soda is also a cleaner. I use equal amount of baking soda and laundry powder. - Motel Owner, Whakatane.

  • Use Baking Soda and White Vinegar to unblock drains.  After the commercial drain cleaner failed I used the above (1/2 Litre water to half a packet of Baking Soda) and left it for 15 mins to bubble away then turned the hot water tap on for several mins.  Drain cleared. - TM, Waiuku

  • A Reporoa reader says baking soda when applied with a damp cloth is good for cleaning sinks, basins, polishing stainless steel, deodorising and cleaning thermos flasks.

Ballpoint pen marks

  • In today's edition of The Northland Age someone wanted to know how to remove ballpoint pen marks from wallpaper. Although I haven't used it on wallpaper, I have found methylated spirits gets it off painted walls and also clothing and upholstery. Use a white rag, cotton wool or white kitchen paper and dab or rub gently. If the wallpaper is coloured, test it on a hidden bit first in case it affects the colour. Good luck! - SW, Mangonui

Burnt pots

  • To clean burnt pots, cut a lemon in half, squeeze the juice and rub the lemon on the burnt area, then scrub with goldilocks or the steel pot mitts which are a lot cheaper. I find the burnt-on food comes off easily. - Tess, Auckland

  • The easiest way to clean a burnt pot is to add water after the pot has cooled, then simmer on low heat.  Use a wooden ladle to stir and scrap the pot now and then until all the burnt bits come off. - Lily, Christchurch. 


  • Use baking soda as a carpet deoderizer. Sprinkle on and leave for 1- hours to absorb odours. Vacuum off. – D.G.
  • Carpets need a clean? There is no doubt that the occasional steam clean does wonders for reviving worn carpet. Rather than call in the experts, you could for half the price hire a steam cleaner. Ask about the neighbourhood to see if there is anyone else that would like to have their carpets done. The cost of a full day’s hire is only about $5 or $10 more than a half day, so it is well worth having the gear for a full day and doing a number of houses. Not only will you save money but it is an opportunity to make some as well.

Cat urine

  • DM from Christchurch asks: "How do I get the smell of cat urine out of a fabric covered lounge suite?" Chooki1from Wanganui replies: "Try sponging with baking soda and water until just damp. Sprinkle baking soda onto this dampened patch, wait until it is dry, then vacuum off. Repeat if there is still an odour there. When dry, spray lightly with white vinegar (acts as a deterrent). Good luck! If kitty continues to use that spot, try feeding him/her there - they don't like to eat where they wee or wee where they eat."

Caustic soda

  • Never, never, never pour anything into caustic soda! You can add it to a liquid, but you must not add a liquid to it. The reaction is exothermic & serious burns are likely, as well as giving off toxic fumes! - P.W., Whangamata.


  • To clean rust marks from clothing simply squeeze lemon juice on the stain then liberally coat with plain salt. Then place out in strong sunlight. You might have to repeat the process, but most times once does the trick. - Anonymous, Whangarei. 


  • To clean oil from concrete, place wood ash on the affected area and leave for a couple of days. You wouldn’t know there was any oil spilt when you clean it up. - Diesil Den, Christchurch.

Copper pans

  • I have just cleaned my kitchen copper pans. Instead of buying copper cleaning powder ($29!!). I read the label and saw that the main ingredient was citric acids. I mixed a teaspoon of citric acid ($1.15 a packet) with 1 Tblsp of cream cleaner (Jif) in a small glass bowl.  Works a treat. Wear rubber gloves as it's hard on the hands. - Allie, Nelson.
  • Allie from Nelson could try out lemon juice and salt to clean her copper ornaments - or vinegar and salt and elbow gease. - - P Nilson, Dannevirke.


  • Lee from Rotorua asks, "How do other folk keep cups and mugs clean? I truly hate seeing the insides of dirty cups but need a quick and easy method not one that takes hours to work.  Click here >>> to help Lee.  
My grandmother taught me to put about half a teaspoon of baking soda in the cup and add a splash of water to make it into a paste.  Rub the inside of the cup with this solution and it will get rid of the stain.  If it doesn't work the first time, just add more baking soda and water!  I do this all the time and it works a treat! - Giselle

Try Chux Magic Eraser Hard Surface Cleaner to clean stains from cups. There are eight disposable blocks in the packet and they can be bought at the supermarket.  You can also buy them as a block and cut to the required size. It’s amazing also for cleaning around light switches, removing crayon, scuff marks off floors, etc - just wet and lightly rub! You can use each piece more than once. - Lee, Whangarei 

I have found that if you fill the stained mug or cup with water and drop in a generous dollop of bleach and leave it to stand- it cleans the mugs beautifully after about an hour. Rinse it out and wash as normal and there is no bleach taste or smell, just a nice shiny white cup or mug. - Anne, Auckland.

Hello, just to let you know, I have been for years putting a 'tiny' amount of bleach into glasses, coffee mugs, vases then fill with water, to be rid of stains. You do not need a 'dollop' and takes not very long to then wash as usual. I have no dishwasher and I always put a drop or two in the sink when doing dishes. Keeps the dish cloth white plus the white drain pipe nice. Great for grease to. - Maria  

To rid the inside of cups from tea and coffee stains use some bleach neat. Then wash thoroughly. - Kate, Hawera  

When cleaning stains off cups, try using baking soda, - works a treat! You could also try bleach for those incredible stubborn stains. - SPS, Tuakau

Des says people should NOT use bleech to wash cups; "I'm sure Poison Control would not wish to find out that this is being recommended."

To clean stains off cups sprinkle salt in them and rub with a damp cloth.  - Canny Scot, Christchurch


  • Dishwasher powder is really expensive and this works just as well if not better: equal parts borax and Baking soda. I bought both in bulk from Bin Inn. - P.W., Christchurch

  • I always buy a good quality dishwashing liquid and find I can water it down by about 3/4's and it is still effective. The cheaper liquids often lose their bubbles half way thru the wash. - HREK, Lower Hutt  

  • Having had the grandchildren over I noticed how much dish liquid we went through when they helped with the washing up. So I hung a hand whisk by the dish-rack. They only used a small amount of liquid and had a sink full of bubbles to keep them happy. Since they have gone home I've keep using the whisk and have increased the length between bottles of dish liquid.  A wee squirt goes a long way once it is whisked into the water. - S J, Dunedin.
  • S J from Dunedin can make the dishwasher detergent go even further. I kept an empty bottle and half filled it from a new one and added half with water and shake. Plenty of suds for normal use. (Use the undiluted one for the big roast dinner clean-ups. Repeat when needed. - P Nilson, Dannevirke.


  • You don't have to look specifically for products labelled "distilled vinegar" (distilled vinegar is a clear vinegar, too strong and bitter for cooking but excellent for cleaning glass and as a disinfectant).  As a substitute, you can use white vinegar instead - it will do the same job.  White vinegar, is readily available at most supermarkets and is cheap too.  I tend to buy the big 2L containers - more cost effective. - Bev, Auckland.

Exterior surfaces

  • To clean paths, walls etc here is a cheap 30 seconds. Simply save a bucket of washing water on wash days. Add a couple of handfuls of Baking Soda [bought at a bulk bin store] and add a good slurp of bleach. Scrub gently onto surface. Rinse and the result is great and lasting. - J.H. Auckland.

Fire places

  • A friend taught me the best way to clean the glass in the door of my wood burner: scrunch up an old newspaper, make it wet and dip in the ash. Then clean your glass door. Works a treat! -Sadie, Katikati

    For cleaning glass-fronted wood burning fires - Use a damp paper towel dipped into the cold ash. Rub over the glass. Absolute magic. Spread a piece of newspaper on the hearth to catch the mess. - J.M, Whakatane

  • Cleaning glass fronted wood stoves. For many years I have cleaned the glass with a "window cleaning" type paint scraper. It is quick and easy. Plastic handled scrapers are available at any hardware store for a few dollars. The special razor blade insert is reversible and replaceable. I use a "Stanley" Brand scraper. - P.K., Te Puke

  • We have many friends with glass fronted wood-burners in their lounges. They use many commercial cleaning preparations to clean the glass - over time this amounts to a significant cost. A simple no-cost solution is to use the ash itself to clean the glass. We have used this for around ten years, and the glass is still like new. Take three pieces of paper towel. Hold one piece under a tap to saturate it with water. Dip this repeatedly in the cold ash and use it to clean the glass. It will come clean within seconds. Use the remaining two pieces to wipe the glass clean and dry. Make sure you have a piece of newspaper spread under the open door to catch the drips as you clean! - Ross.

  • Ross and his woodburner glass cleaner can economise further. Dip crumpled newspaper into hot water, then into the ask, to clean the glass. Polish dry with mroe crumpled newspaper and use it us when setting up the fire. Cheaoer than paper towels! - P Nilson, Dannevirke.


  • To keep flies out of the house wipe door-jambs, window frames and the inside glass with undiluted vinegar. Any vinegar will do. White vinegar added to window cleaning water will also keep them off the windows. To clear the house of flies boil up a cup of vinegar on the stove. You'll get one or two stubborn ones left but the majority depart at the whiff of vinegar. - Thrifty, Hamilton


  •  The best hint I was ever given is this. After de-frosting your freezer, out some glycerine on a cloth or paper towel, and rub this over all surfaces. The next time to need to de-frost, the ice will fall off quickly in big chunks, saving time and effort and much easier clean-up too. I used cooking oil last time as I had run out of glycerine, and it seems to work just as well. – J H Edwards, Christchurch.


  • I use WD40 for heaps of things. It is brilliant at removing oil stains from concrete drives - just spray on and hose off immediately. Also polish your stainless steel fridge and shower cabinet with it. Stops water marks on your shower and fingermarks on your fridge door. - Canny Scot, Christchurch.

Gaynor from Paraparaumu says she has read it may in fact make stains worse, and instead suggests baking soda and vinegar as a cheap and non-toxic cleaning agent for brass, silver, gold, bronze, enamel, stainless steel. Also toilets, glass, fibre glass and oil on concrete. [We have had a quick look at the WD40 website and it does recommend it for a number of cleaning purposes. However, baking soda and vinegar would be cheaper. - Oily Rag Ed']

  • An 'Awesome' brand of calcium lime and rust removal is available in a green bottle (US 32 fl oz - 946 mls to us) selling for between $3-5 at some $2 shops, The Warehouse or Bin Inn. Just as good as more expensive brands. Worked well for me - I got rid of the white spots around my shower head, cleaned up the base of my taps, and removed a rust stain in the toilet bowl, all for the princely sum of $5 - and I still have 3/4 of a bottle left! As I'm flatting that is about all I'm prepared to spend. - Thrifty, Hamilton.

  • I bought the cheapest bleach in a trigger spray bottle and keep it at hand to clean benches, tea stained cups etc. Using a trigger spray is very economical. By using bleach in kitchen, the summer flies are kept away too! - Denise, Auckland 

  • After years of dirty nails and hands after gardening I recently discovered that if I put disposable vinyl gloves on then the knit type gloves on top - my hands remained wonderfully clean, and the disposable gloves lasted a considerable time. - N.W., Waverley

  • I used to live near the sea where I had unlimited access to sand. When cleaning, I used to put a little sand in a dish followed by cheap dishwashing liquid, which I would mix together to make a sandy paste. Cheap, and just as good as "sand-soap". - Lisette of Mosgiel, Otago.

  • I'm actually surprised no one has said it yet but steam cleaning mops with surface and clothes/fabric attachments. They can be found cheaper new or even cheaper again, used, on Trademe. Nothing is going to clean better than boiling hot steam.  Save money on cleaning chemicals because they don't need them, save slaving away ironing, and save the environment. 

  • Multi-Purpose Cleaner. You need: 1/2 cup white vinegar, 1/4 cup baking soda, 1.8 litres of water. Combine ingredients in a clean container (a 3L milk bottle will do), shake to blend.  Then for ease of use, I pour into a spray bottle.  A great all-purpose cleaner for a fraction of the price. - B.W., Auckland

  • Liquid Laundry Detergent. You need: Hot water, 1 bar Sunlight Soap (grated), 1 cup washing soda. In a large saucepan add grated soap and enough hot water to cover. Heat over medium-low heat and stir until soap is melted. Fill a large bucket with 9.5L of hot water, add hot soap mixture. Stir until well mixed. Then add the washing soda, again stirring until well mixed. Set aside to cool. Use 1/2 cup per full load, stirring well before each use (will gel). - B.W., Auckland

  • There was a really horrible stain in our wall-to-wall carpet. Fortunately we had some off-cuts and did a successful repair job by cutting out a square (in our case 200x200 mm) and replacing it by fitting and gluing down a corresponding square taken from an off-cut. This method is not for the faint-hearted! However, it can be like invisible mending if done with utmost precision. You need to match the pattern and fit the size exactly (make the patch slightly larger than the hole to start with, then trim it back millimetre by millimetre as required). You need good tools and endless patience. If possible, have enough spare carpet ready to have a second go if at first you don't succeed. You can, of course, use a contrasting patch as well, e.g. in a child's or teenager's room. - Thirties Depression Baby, Auckland.

  • Household Cleaner. This solution also lasts forever. Household cleaner used to cost me $80 per month, but now I buy detergent every three months, vinegar once a year at $1.50, washing soda every 18 months at $0.98c and eucalyptus oil once every eight months at $3.50 - a saving of $880 a year minus $20 for the few items I do buy. In total I've saved around $2640 over three years.

    • 1 litre water

    • 200ml vinegar

    • 40ml detergent

    • 40ml eucualyptus oil

    • 2 dessertspoons of washing soda

    Mix all ingredients together, and it's ready to use. Use 60ml of solution in warm water to wash your floors. Fill a spray bottle and use it to clean your table, benches and bathroom. - B.R

  • For those with fireplaces/woodburners who do not know what to do with their ash: Ash can be dumped in the garden to add alkalinity. I use it to absorb oil from pots and pans and then wash, also on stovetops to absorb splatters, then just wipe clean. I got this tip from an Indian lady who says for places with no water, this is how they clean their kitchen utensils. - Joan, Wellington.

  • Through six children I cleaned many sweat-tops and most clothing of oil, food or grease stains by hand-washing (scrubbing the old fashioned way before there were washing machines) with a cake of sunlight soap and moderately hot water before putting them through a normal wash. Alternatively you can just soak them in a bucket of hottish water with a double dose of your normal washing powder prior to washing or do a hot wash! - as long as you know the material or garment can tolerate it and most can despite what the labels say. (Don't go overboard and use boiling water!) - EMS, Wellington.

  • Buy the cheapest two-litre container of dish washing liquid. Tip half into a one-litre container. Top up the now half full container with water. Use the full strength solution for big washes and greasy dishes. Use the diluted mix for light everyday washes and small amounts of dishes.
  • Have a “bought-by” date. This is the opposite to a used by date. When you buy cleaning liquid, such as dish washing liquid, write the purchase date on the bottle. Challenge yourself to see how long the bottle lasts.
  • I use a tablespoon of soda with the detergent, which decreases the grease, and the detergent goes further. I also use soda to soak my toothbushes and combs, which gives them another lease of life! Or in the bath as bath salts. I only use a fraction of toothpaste of what they advertise; I have a theory, that if toothpaste falls off your brush while cleaning, you don’t need it. If I need warm water in the basin, I fill a small bucket with water till it runs hot and use that for other needs. I use old soap to put in a stocking, but I use it to wash myself with, no different to other soap! – J.O., Christchurch.

Glass cleaner

  • You don't have to look specifically for products labelled "distilled vinegar" (distilled vinegar is a clear vinegar, too strong and bitter for cooking but excellent for cleaning glass and as a disinfectant).  As a substitute, you can use white vinegar instead - it will do the same job.  White vinegar, is readily available at most supermarkets and is cheap too.  I tend to buy the big 2L containers - more cost effective. - Bev, Auckland.


  • I have found that Sugar Soap can be great for getting oily stains out of clothes.  It might be an idea to test it on an area that isn't visible in case the dye bleeds but I have found it to be quite successful. -Cheryl M, Greymouth.

  • Grease stain remover. Try making a paste of baking soda and a few drops of water. Work the paste into the grease stain and rinse with warm water. Repeat a couple of times if needed. The baking soda will help remove the grease while also removing any smell. - Twin Mum, Masterton.  


  • Can anybody help me clean the underside of my iron? It has black sticky residue on it which stains any clothes I might want to iron. I have tried baking soda, and ceramic cleaner (the iron is ceramic after all) but nothing will get it off as yet. – RJ, Auckland. Click here >>> to help our reader.

My mother would place salt (the fine pouring kitchen salt) onto a piece of brown paper and run the hot iron surface over the salt - work the iron back and forth until it comes clean. This was for metal iron but imagine it might also work on ceramic. – Jayasri, Christchurch.

Nowadays I use a detachable teflon sole plate, not cheap but they last a long time and nothing will stick to them! Before that, I used to do the old 'salt trick'. Spread a layer of table salt on a sheet of newspaper. Move warm iron back and forth until clean. Discard salt and repeat with clean salt if necessary. Wipe iron on clean, damp cloth, tapping on ironing board to dislodge any salt in the steam holes. Finish by rubbing a candle stub over the plate and iron over clean newspaper until all traces of dirt and grease are gone. Never, ever, use abrasives (like sandpaper) to clean! - Emma, Auckland.

I remember cleaning the base of the iron by turning it on and then ironing salt on brown paper. Worked a treat! - Summer Day, Auckland.

This is a tip that was given to me years ago and it really works. Use wet and dry sandpaper to clean the soleplate.  Use the sandpaper wet, then wipe off.  Take care not to get the steam holes gunked up with the resulting black goo and do a test iron on an old piece of cloth before you start ironing. – LM, Whangarei


  • I make my own washing liquid for the laundry which has saved our family of seven a fortune over the years. Use 1 cup Lux Soap Flakes (you can grate a bar of soap but I like the flakes) 1/2 cup washing soda (do not confuse with baking soda!). Bring 2 litres of water to the boil, drop in 1 cup Lux flakes and stir gently till melted. Remove from heat and add 1/2 cup washing soda and stir until melted. Use a large lidded bucket that easily contains 10 litres and fill with 8 litres of hot tap water. Pour the soap mixture into the bucket and stir. You can add drops of essential oil of your choice to this mixture. It will thicken on cooling. I use a very long soup paddle and mix it up several times and use 1/2 cup for a normal sized load. Keep this mixture locked up and well away from young children. - Tina, Christchurch


  • Magic Oven Cleaner - In a roasting dish put 3 tbsp ammonia, 3 tbsp washing powder and then fill with 2 litres od boiling water. Place in the oven, block all vents and leave overnight. Switch oven off at the wall. Next day use the water to wipe out the oven and clean the racks. So easy and baked on gunk comes off with very little effort. - Nora, Rangiora.


  • To clean burnt pots, put water in pot with half cup or so of salt.  Bring to boil and let boil 5 mins or so.  Leave overnight.  Should come off in the morning.  Repeat as necessary. Works well!! - KC, Hastings

Scuff marks

  • Got black scuff marks on walls. Use a dab off toothpaste on a damp cloth. Brilliant!! Can be used on any wall paint unlike expensive cleaning cloths or "white aways" which will remove matt paint... - J.M. Christchurch.


  • Use a cake of sand soap to clean bad water spots off your glass shower. You can pay up to $100 for simular products. - Mervyn, Dunedin

  • To keep a shower clean without harsh (and expensive) chemicals, get the last person to use the shower to hose down the walls (if you have a handheld showerhead), then wipe the walls and floor with a microfibre cleaning cloth. These cloths are indispensable for cleaning without much more than soap, baking soda, or vinegar for tough cleaning. Hosing and wiping down the shower prevents the build-up of soapy scum. - Wellington

Sugar soap

  • I use sugar soap for cleaning walls, ceilings, floors and to wash the car. It is really good at getting road grime off the car and does not leave waxy marks on the windows. In fact, it has been removing the wax spots that were already there. I also use it in the window washers of the car. It is cheaper than car wash products and does a better job. It is also great in the house and you don't need several different products. It removes mould and grease from walls and ceilings with ease and leaves everything looking nice. Spray and Wipe unusually bleaches the patch where it is sprayed and the walls end up looking blotchy. Sugar Soap is not too expensive and is available at supermarkets. - Sue Lunjevich, Kaitaia.


  • Annoyed with unsightly stains around the base of your taps? It's caused by calcium deposits in the water. An easy way to get the stain off is to wrap a piece of cloth soaked in vinegar around the tap, after a day or so the stain will wipe off. Its the acetic acid in the vinegar that does the trick! - TB, Blenheim

Tee tree oil

  • I use 10 drops of tea tree oil and water put into a spray bottle shake and you're ready to go, tea tree oil is antifungal and antibacterial so I use it counter tops and hard surfaces.  - L.M., Waikanae.

Toilet cleaner

  • For a toilet cleaner mix 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar, pour into the bowl and leave for a few hours or overnight. Scrub the bowl with a brush and rinse. - Aliza, Dunedin

  • Dishwasher powder makes an excellent toilet cleaner. Place a tablespoon in a small bowl, add hot water to dissolve. Throw in toilet bowl and brush around. Leave 10 mins and flush! - Brian, Tauranga.

  • Toilet bowl cleaner. You need: 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 cup white vinegar. Combine ingredients, pour into clean container and let it set for a few minutes. Scrub with brush and rinse. - B.W., Auckland


  • Question: Cleaning/ Sterilising Your Toothbrush: I have tried before the boiling water/soda and (I think) vinegar soaks but always seem to still end up with that strong "toothpasty" smell so it never quite feels as fresh as new. Any ideas guys? Thank-you – Wendy (Kapiti) Click here >>> to help Wendy.  

I have found that if you fill the stained mug or cup with water and drop in a generous dollop of bleach and leave it to stand- it cleans the mugs beautifully after about an hour. Rinse it out and wash as normal and there is no bleach taste or smell, just a nice shiny white cup or mug. - Anne, Auckland.  

Reply to Wendy and her toothbrush. Use conventional supermarket toothpaste- Aim or Colgate.   It's dental assoc approved, and best for you tooth and gum health..  ....probably cheapest too! Use only a blob the size of a pea.  I do this and rinse T. brush between use...with no after taste. Good Luck. - C.  I., Tauranga  

Cleaning and freshening toothbrushes. I use Steradent, and if you have someone in the house with false teeth pop your toothbrush in the glass with them.   Don't worry about picking up their germs, Steradent is a steriliser and you can wash your toothbrush in jot water before you use it again. - Jacque, Napier

Vacuum cleaning

  • "If you are like me and by yourself, vacuuming under the bed is difficult. Here is a tip. Get the scissor jack out of the car and use it to lift up the bed. Lift, vacuum, put the jack back in the car - job done. Very easy." -  Douglas, Featherston. [Great idea Douglas, and a lot easier than changing a car tyre! - oily rag ed']

Walls, kids drawings

  • Annette from New Plymouth has a question about an all-too common problem. “Have you any ideas what takes ball point pen off wall paper (small child drawing!)”. Click here >>> if you can help Annette. 

Steph from Tauranga suggested, “To get ball point pen off walls, spray hair spray onto it then wipe off - works every time!”

KS from Morrinsville wrote, “Try using white toothpaste and very gently rub on the ball point pen stain.”

PB from Auckland said, “To get ballpoint ink off of anything try sponging with white spirits, working from the outside in. If white spirits are unavailable, meths will do the job also, but strain through a slice of bread to remove the colour, or you may have a problem with another stain.”

Mike has this suggestion. “
Use a spray can of WD40 to dissolve and remove the ball-point ink. Use it sparingly. Only use enough to get a result; do not flood the liquid onto the stain. Good Luck!”

Washing machine

  • I use straight washing soda or soda ash in my washing machine - it works really well and is very reasonably priced. For my dishwasher I use washing soda and baking soda and citric acid with a white vinegar rinse aid. They both work really well. - Miriam, Kaitaia

Washing soda

  • Most bulk stores and supermarkets sell washing soda but if you live in a small town with only one store, mobilize your friends and get everyone to urge your local store to stock it. If enough customers ask for a product, the store is sure to respond. An excellent alternative for cleaning burnt pots is a thickish paste of water and baking soda (bicarbonate of soda). In bulk stores this is very much cheaper than the packaged product. Apply and leave to stand, rub gently. Repeat, many times if necessary! Burnt pots are notoriously hard to clean. Some never come right, but most do with gentle, patient treatment. - Thirties Depression Baby, Auckland.


  • I use white vinegar for all my cleaning, pure in toilet, a dash of detergent/janola/water for very grubby spots.  Great for windows, use in spray bottle.  Ovens, white vinegar,  juice of a lemon, another dash of Janola and detergent. USE GLOVES.  Leave for several hours. And its CHEAP. I take an empty 2lt milk bottle and fill up from the Bulk Bin/Bin Inn. - Peg, Palmerston North.

  • You don't have to look specifically for products labelled "distilled vinegar" (distilled vinegar is a clear vinegar, too strong and bitter for cooking but excellent for cleaning glass and as a disinfectant).  As a substitute, you can use white vinegar instead - it will do the same job.  White vinegar, is readily available at most supermarkets and is cheap too.  I tend to buy the big 2L containers - more cost effective. - Bev, Auckland.


  • To remove a stain from vinyl flooring (wine, curry, etc) soak a small piece of white cloth in one part bleach to three parts water. Place the cloth on top of stain, and leave for one hour (no longer or it may discolour the vinyl). You may have to do this a few times until stain is gone. Works really well on porcelain too. - Honey, Christchurch


  • For the cleanest windows in the world mix Equal parts water, meths and kerosene [and elbow grease! - ed]. - Miriam, Christchurch 

  • Washing windows, get one piece of wet newspaper scrunched up into a loose ball and wipe all over the area of window, rubbing over dirt until it moves then wipe over with a piece of dry newspaper scrunched into a loose ball until the area is dry and clear of marks. - LS, Christchurch.

  • Clean windows with scrunched up newspaper and vinegar. Wipe off with a dry cloth. Works every time! - D., Culverden.

  • A reader from Russell says for years she has cleaned windows with a scrunched up damp newspaper.

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