Handy Home Hints

Find matching sheet sets quickly and easily

If you’re fed up of sleeping on mismatched sheets and pillowcases because you can never find the matching set; or forever seem to be frantically digging around in piles of fitted sheets, flat sheets and pillowcases to find a set for a single bed rather than a double, try this simple tip.

Fold each set (fitted sheet, flat sheet and pillowcases) neatly and put the entire set inside one of its matching pillowcases. This way the set stays together and doesn’t get creased and crumpled from all that searching!

Do this straight away after washing and drying each set.


DIY all-purpose cleaner

Cleaning products are in high demand at the moment, but what’s already in your cupboards may do the job just as well. Vinegar, bi-carb soda and lemon are common household ingredients that can keep your home clean and fresh. You will also save money into the bargain.

All-purpose cleaner recipe

  • 4 cups hot water
  • Quarter cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons bi-carb soda
  • Juice of half a lemon (strained)

Place all the ingredients together in a large jug or bowl. Let it sit and cool down then pour into a spray bottle using a funnel. To use, give the bottle a good shake, then spray surface and wipe clean with a damp cloth.

Vinegar, bi-carb soda and lemon can also be used in a variety of ways, combined or by themselves. Here are three uses for each:

More uses for vinegar

  • A 50/50 vinegar-water mixture can help to deodorise surfaces.
  • To clean your microwave, mix one cup of vinegar and one cup of water in a bowl and microwave on high for about 10 minutes. Stains and dried food should then wipe away easily.
  • Put one cup of vinegar in the bottom of your dishwasher before you switch it on and your glassware will come out sparkling clean.

More uses for bi-carb soda

  • Remove stains from coffee and tea mugs by filling them with one part bi-carb soda and two parts water. Let them sit overnight then scrub and rinse in the morning.
  • Sprinkle bi-carb soda over the burnt areas of your pots and pans. Add hot water, allow to sit overnight and then scrub.
  • Keep an open box of bi-carb soda in the fridge to eliminate odours.

More uses for lemons

  • Shine chrome taps with a cut lemon dipped in salt and then wipe with a dry cloth
  • Diluted lemon juice can remove cooking odours from your hands
  • Pour half a cup of lemon juice into the toilet and swish with toilet brush for a fresh-smelling loo.

How to clean your wooden chopping boards

For many people wood is the material of choice for a chopping board, but it’s important to keep them clean. Most aren’t dishwasher safe, so here are a few ways of cleaning and maintaining them.

Good old soap and water

Wash with a bit of dish soap, rinse in hot water, wipe clean and allow to air dry.

Salt and lemon

Sprinkle the board with coarse salt. Scrub the salt into the board using half a lemon (fleshy side down). Let the salt and lemon solution sit for about five minutes then rinse the board with hot water and allow to air dry.


Mix one-part white vinegar to four parts water. Soak your board in the solution for a few minutes then rinse off and air dry.

Bi-carb soda

Mix one tablespoon of bi-carb soda, one tablespoon of salt and one tablespoon of water to form a paste. Give your chopping board a good scrub with the paste, then rinse thoroughly with hot water and air dry.

When drying your cutting boards, place it in an upright position where air can circulate. This allows the board to dry out completely.

Chopping Board

Ginger trick

Use a spoon instead of a knife to take the skin off ginger. Its curved shape follows the contours of the bumps which means less wastage.


Slicing steak

To get a great result when finely slicing steak for a stir-fry, place the meat in the freezer for 10-15 minutes. The partially-frozen meat will slice much more evenly without sliding around.

Seedling protectors

Protect young seedlings or cuttings with domed mesh food covers. They will help to keep bugs off as well as providing a little shade on hot days. Plus they are easy to store when not in use.

Shower sparkle

For sparkling shower glass, put equal amounts of vinegar and water in a spray bottle and thoroughly spray the glass. Wait 10-15 minutes then wipe with a clean cloth.

3 uses for silica gel

Don’t throw out those packs of silica gel, they are useful wherever you need to keep moisture at bay.

  1. Store spare seeds with a few packs of silica gel.
  2. Add some packs to your jewellery box to help prevent tarnishing.
  3. A few packs in your gym bag will help keep it fresh.

DIY skin-soothing exfoliant

Mash together 2 tbs oats, 1 tsp honey, and 1/2 a banana. Gently massage the mixture into damp skin using a circular motion. Leave for 5 minutes. Rinse off with warm water, then pat your skin dry and moisturise.

Sock saver

Hang a large mesh laundry bag near your hamper and throw pairs of socks in there as you take them off. When you’re ready, zip it up and throw the whole bag in the wash.