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Quick and Easy Stain Removal.

Cleaning bucketWe've all been there haven't we. The party where the carpet mysteriously develops drink stains, the visit by friends with their prize pooches and charming children, who leave their muddy and sticky signatures on any available surface upon departure. The thing is, how do we banish these marks of misuse - without putting our back out scrubbing with brush, hot water and prayers, because we don't want to use that tub of chemical cleaner lurking under the sink, as we don't know what it may do to our precious carpet/chair…

Here I hope to compile a quick and useful guide to banishing a few of the more common dirt demons that can be the bane of any householders life without resorting to the time honoured tradition of buying a new rug to cover it up! Along with a list of useful household items you may not traditionally think of as cleaning products.

A few quick tricks:

To remove chewing gum from upholstery, place some ice cubes in a bag and leave sat on the gum until it becomes brittle, then you can simply scrape it off. (this works on clothes too…)

Crayon on the walls can be easily removed using toothpaste to scrub over it, the gentle abrasive action lifts it off.

To remove tomato ketchup from a carpet, dab up as much as possible with kitchen roll as you can. Squirt sparingly with shaving foam and then wipe with a damp cloth - the residue will come away with the foam.

Soda water can be a carpet saver, so keep a bottle to hand as the bubbles will help lift stains such as coffee and red wine. Simply pour a small amount over the stain and then apply firm pressure with a clean white towel.

To remove the stains from a grungy old loo - try pouring a can of coke into the bowl and leaving it to stand for an hour before flushing.

A damp chamois leather rung out carefully wiped over upholstery will cause pet fur to gather, allowing for easy removal.

Unconventional cleaning products:

Distilled white vinegar - Great for removing lime-scale, getting a smear free finish on windows, and eliminating pet odours - it can even be wiped over stainless steel sinks to remove rust and water spots. Just be wary of using it on really delicate fabrics or plated surfaces. A mix of 50/50 vinegar and water in a spray bottle will aid in the cleaning of tiles, baths, mirrors, basins and windows, rinse thoroughly and polish with a dry cloth. Apply a mix of 50/50 vinegar and salt to remove the residue inside cups used for coffee and tea.

Lemon juice works well on stains such as grass, mildew, pet accidents and blood as it is a natural bleaching agent as well as a disinfectant.

A good old bar of soap can be very useful to get rid of dirt and grease based stains and is especially handy for delicate fabrics.

Denture cleaning tablets - these humble tablets can be used for far more then keeping granny's false teeth clean. They can remove the rings left in mugs from tea and coffee, strip out the yellow of stored cotton bedding and dissolve the scum stains from old vases.

Shaving foam - As has already been mentioned, this is a handy cleaner for lifting grease based stains, as the foam sits on the carpet drawing the stain out to it. As well as ketchup, it can be used for spilt cosmetics and body lotions.

Hairspray is invaluable when it comes to removing biro from suede type leather as it breaks down the enzymes in the ink. Make sure you test it to make sure it won't strip out the colour on an inconspicuous area first.

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