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Spring Clean

Spring has sprung so here are some cheap and easy tips from readers to make the chore less of a bore.

 Read more Oily Rag articles by Frank and Muriel Newman

Spring has sprung which means its time to clean out the cupboards, dust the tellie and catch up on those cleaning and repair jobs that have a habit of ending up on the to do list. Well to do no longer – here are some cheap and easy tips from readers to make the chore less of a bore.

Allie from Nelson says, “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 tablespoon of cream cleaner (Jif) in a small glass bowl.  It works a treat. Wear rubber gloves as it's hard on the hands.”

S J, from Dunedin writes a wee squirt goes a long way. “Having had the grandchildren over I noticed how much dish washing 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 washing liquid.  A wee squirt goes a long way once it is whisked into the water.”

J.H. from Auckland has a low-cost cleaner for paths and exterior surfaces. “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. Gently scrub the mixture onto the surface and rinse. The result is great and lasting.”

Sue from Kaitaia also recommends sugar soap. “I use it 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.”

Ross writes, “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!”

K.C. from Hastings has a tip for cleaning burnt pots. “Put water in the pot with half cup or so of salt. Boil it for about five minutes and leave overnight.  The burn stains should come off in the morning.  Repeat as necessary.”

T.B. from Blenheim has a tip to remove unsightly stains around the base of your taps. “The stains are 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. It’s the acetic acid in the vinegar that does the trick!”

Do you have an oily rag idea to share? Send your comments and tips by visiting the oily rag website or write to Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag, PO Box 984, Whangarei. The book Living off the Smell of an Oily Rag by Frank & Muriel Newman is available online at

* Frank and Muriel Newman are the authors of Living Off the Smell of an Oily Rag in NZ. Readers can submit their oily rag tips on-line at The book is available from bookstores and online at