Where does the murk lurk in your house? The dirtiest things in your house might seem obvious, but grime and bacteria sometimes lurk in unexpected places. Here’s where to look – and what you should be cleaning.
1. Kitchen sponge
Yes, the very thing you use to clean other things is often teeming with grime itself. The Global Hygiene Council found that an average of 19.6 billion bacteria live in kitchen sponges in British homes. You might not want to think about that too much! The good news is that it’s easy to send those 19.6 billion bacteria on their merry way.
How to clean: Just pop the sponge into the dishwasher or washing machine, or give it a scrub with hot soapy water yourself. You could also put it in the microwave on high for a minute or two – and while you’re at it, it’s a good idea to to stick in any other sponges or cloths you use to clean regularly too (bathroom sponges and flannels come in a close second as bacteria parties).
2. Mobile phone
It makes sense really, your phone goes everywhere you do and you quite possibly touch it more often than any other object. Researchers at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Queen Mary, University of London found that one in six mobiles is contaminated by — look away now if you’re squeamish — fecal matter.
How to clean: a quick swipe with a disinfectant wipe should do the trick.
3. Fridge – inside and out
You store uncooked food in your fridge, so it’s important to make sure that everything is in a sealed container, and give the fridge a good clean once a week. Don’t forget the outside – the Global Hygiene Council found no less than 217,000 bacteria living on fridge door handles in the average British home.
How to clean: Make sure you clean the inside and outside of your fridge with warm soapy water or an anti-bacterial spray.
4. Washing machine
Did you know you should always wash your hands after removing clothes from the machine? All the dirt and grime from cleaning your clothes has to go somewhere, and some of it ends up in the machine itself.
How to clean: Run a small, hot white load and add some bleach. It’s also worthwhile leaving the door open for a little while after removing a load to let it air out.
5. Bathroom walls and toilet base
Okay, this one probably wasn’t too surprising. If you have small children – or men – in your house, there’s a good chance that the area around the toilet will need some disinfectant TLC.
How to clean: Wipe the area down using hot water with a few splashes of vinegar to deodorise the area too.
Experience a palette of golds, browns, coppers, bronzes and reds that are the ever-changing colours of Autumn. Rather than complain about the cooler weather, MOLLY MAID, the house cleaning experts, suggest that you wrap up and celebrate Autumn by embracing the beautiful seasonal changes with your family. There’s no better time to do it than over the half-term holidays. Here are some ideas:
Autumn family walk: Nothing beats heading out with the family and your dog for a walk on a crisp autumn day. Take them to an area that has a beautiful landscape with changing leaves. Don’t forget to take your camera too to capture the amazing array of colours and the fun that is enjoyed by all. You are bound to snap some fantastically impromptu pictures.
Leaf raking party: It sounds like a lot of work, but really when you invite all your favourite people, entice them in with delicious hot chocolate (or hot toddies) and cake, what’s not to like? You could even have a Halloween themed prize for those who have collected the most leaves.
Autumn Picnic: Pack a picnic and spend an hour in a conservation area or nearby park that has many different tree varieties – and changing Autumn leaves. Bring a game like Frisbee, Football or Rugby, but mostly bring your curiosity (and a camera). If you’re feeling like being particularly adventurous, why not visit nationaltrust.org.uk for ideas on where you can enjoy the glorious Autumn colours.
Leaf Art: There are so many different things that you can do with Autumn leaves so there is definitely something to keep everybody entertained. Start by collecting as many different shapes and colours of leaves. The key is variety.
Pressed Leaves Between Panes
Preserve the vibrant hues of autumn leaves between two pieces of glass. First press leaves between the pages of a book. When completely dry, place a pressed leaf between two pieces of glass. Wrap coloured linen book cloth tape around the edges of the glass to secure.
Decorate pumpkins with leaves
For a more elegant approach to decorating pumpkins, consider sticking a collection of the leaves you have gathered onto the pumpkins in a pattern.
Pressed leafed decorations
Find a wide leaf (such as an oak leaf) and trim out a butterfly head from the top point of the leaf. Press the leaf in a book until dry. Spray with varnish to help preserve the colour. Use spray adhesive to glue the pressed, varnished leaves to card. Trim around the edges, leaving a 1/4-inch space. Punch a hole at the top and tie pretty ribbon through it. These can then be hung from some twigs to form a centre piece, or used as tags for presents. This is a great one for the children to have a go at.
Have you ever wondered how convenient and satisfying it would be to create your own homemade beauty mask? There are so many different beauty masks that can be created from everyday food in your kitchen that it seems crazy not to give it a go. Not only is it likely to be fresher, but also more economical too. MOLLY MAID, the domestic cleaning experts, share some of their favourite recipes to help you nourish your skin.
The thirst-quenching Avocado Beauty Mask
1/2 ripe avocado
1 teaspoon plain organic yogurt
1 teaspoon of honey
This hydrating homemade beauty mask is great to sooth a weather beaten skin from a day outdoors. Mash the avocado until it’s soft and then mix in the yogurt and honey until it forms a paste. Apply to your face and leave for 10-15 minutes. For a more intense dose of hydration, incorporate one or two teaspoons of virgin olive oil into the formula, which instantly softens and soothes skin. The mix is good enough to eat.
Brown Sugar Scrub Mask
2 tablespoons of brown sugar
2 tablespoons of virgin coconut oil
The brown sugar helps to exfoliate the dead skin while the coconut oil packs it with moisture resulting in a softy and radiant feel. It’s so simple: just use equal parts of brown sugar and coconut oil to form an easy scrub, apply it on your face in gentle circular motions, let it sink in for a few minutes and wash it off with warm water.
Acne-fighting Milk Beauty Mask
2 tablespoons of honey
2 tablespoons of nutmeg
2 teaspoons of milk
Slather on this honey milk beauty mask to treat acne-prone skin. Honey is known to contain great anti-bacterial qualities and therefore, this beauty mask will naturally kill off bacteria to prevent future breakouts, while nutmeg acts as a gentle exfoliator that’s perfect for sensitive skin. Leave it on your skin for 10-15 minutes before rinsing and then follow up with your favourite moisturiser.
Classic Oatmeal Beauty Mask
2 tablespoons of raw oats
1 teaspoon of honey
1/2 of a banana
It is a well-known fact that oats are a natural, gentle exfoliator as well as being extremely soothing for the skin and therefore, incredibly versatile. Mash it up with ripe banana to form a paste. Honey gives it some sticking consistency, whilst also having the anti-bacterial properties that can sooth irritated and sore skin.
So, as you can see, making a homemade beauty mask can be incredibly easy, whilst also being satisfying knowing that all the ingredients are 100% natural and even better, they don’t have to cost the earth!
It’s that time of year when all the talk is about Halloween and Halloween parties so why not give it a go yourself organise an impromptu party for friends and family? Do remember that friends are generally very happy to be invited to a party and will often ask if they can bring something with them… so do take them up on the offer and learn to delegate! Here are a few things to remember when organising a Halloween party.
You don’t have to spend a fortune on decorations to throw an impressive Halloween party – just stick to a simple colour scheme with bright, bold colours such as black, white and orange. Why not try incorporating a mix of plain, dots and stripe to give the party a more updated feel this Halloween! The trick is to keep things simple.
Halloween treasure hunt
Although this requires a little forward planning, you can be certain that a Halloween treasure hunt will keep the children occupied. Before the party, hide the Halloween themed treasure hunt clues with some small toys and Halloween themed sweets around the house. Then give the children the first clue and let the hunt begin!
Halloween Costume competition
Think about hosting a Halloween costume competition for the adults and make sure that you include a 10 second catwalk accompanied to spooky music from Michael Jackson’s Thriller to AC/DCs to Highway to Hell! You are guaranteed to entertain your friends and family.
Pumpkin carving competition
If the children are of a suitable age to carve their own pumpkins safely, ask them to create their own ‘spooky pumpkin’ in a set time and then judge the finished article. There will have to be a suitably spooky prize to incentivise them, but it could keep them entertained and happy for a good 30 minutes.
This is where you delegate and ask half of your friends and family to each bring a savoury ‘spooky’ dish and then ask the other half to bring an equally scary and Halloween themed desert. This should this in turn provide most of the nibbles required for a fun-filled party. Why not think about concocting some terrifyingly delicious drinks?
Most importantly, have a spooky spectacular Halloween!
Halloween and ‘trick and treating’ is growing in popularity in the UK and although we don’t all go to town with decorating the exterior of our homes, we do like to partake in a little celebratory frivolity. Children love to be involved in decorating for an occasion, so what better way to have some much-needed family time than to undertake some pumpkin carving? Younger children will naturally need to be supervised and often it’s best to only give them the blunter pumpkin carving tools to create their masterpieces! However, pumpkin carving isn’t just for children, it can be a form of art for adults too. MOLLY MAID, the house cleaning professionals, have some top advice on how to get started.
Rather than cutting from the top of the pumpkin, try cutting the bottom out of your pumpkin. If you have a pumpkin with the perfect stem, you may wish to preserve the top of it. The advantage of cutting out the bottom is that you can simply lift the pumpkin over your candle or tea light instead of burning yourself. However, if you prefer to cut the top, then try cutting it to look like a ‘keyhole’ so that you can easily fit your lid back on your pumpkin.
Then, choose the side of the pumpkin you wish to carve. When clearing your pumpkin out of the seeds and string using a pumpkin scraper (or an ice cream scoop), try scraping the side that you wish to carve so that it is thinner than the other side. By making it thinner on the inside, it will make your carving much easier and the patterns will show up better.
Find a pattern that you wish to carve. Remember that as this is messy business, it’s a good idea to photocopy the design or pattern.
Attach the design to the pumpkin using masking tape. Secure the image to the pumpkin with masking tape.
Attempt a dot to dot type pattern by punching holes through your pattern and basically tracing the image onto your pumpkin. If you don’t have a pumpkin masters poker, you can use a small nail from your toolbox, but ensure that children are all supervised. It is important that there are holes on every line of your design.
Now remove the design, then dust some flour over the surface of the pumpkin as this will help to show up your design.
Now for the pumpkin carving! If you are using the carving saws or tools from supermarket (or any other tool), start cutting at the centre of your pattern and work your way out. The best motion to use is an ‘up and down’ one like a sewing machine. When needing to change directions on your pattern, remove your cutting tool, change direction, and start cutting again using the same motion as before.
Then, as you work along, pop your pieces out by pressing on the pumpkin from the inside. They should pop out fairly easily if you have.
If any of your pattern pieces break not all is lost with your pumpkin as you can secure broken pieces with a toothpick.
There are a few tricks to help preserve a pumpkin. You can try soaking your pumpkin in ice water with bleach. 3.5 litres of water to 1 teaspoon of bleach. This preparation also helps to kill any bacteria that will break it down. The other alternative is to run the inside of the pumpkin and the cuttings with petroleum jelly, such as Vaseline. The vaseline coats the pumpkin and helps it last longer.
Only place your pumpkin outside once it is dry. To help reflect the candle light, place some aluminium foil underneath. If the candles are not burning brightly, cut a small hole in the top of the pumpkin. The opening brings oxygen in and allows for the smoke and heat to escape the pumpkin!
Finally, take a photo and be proud of your pumpkin carving!
With traditional autumnal weather in full swing, it’s a good idea to start thinking about draft proofing your home and making sure that you don’t let the warmth out and the cold in. Draught proofing (or draught exclusion) is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to cut energy costs in the home, whether you live in a house or a flat. The concept is really simple: stop cold air coming in and prevent warm air from escaping, using things like draught-excluders. Keeping the warm air inside will save you money on your utility bills as the existing heating system will need to work less hard to keep the home at the required temperature.
It is estimated that installing draught proofing measures in an average UK home could save the household £60 per year on heating bills. According to the Energy Saving Trust, if every home were to do this in the UK, the total energy savings could be worth as much as £190 million, and the energy saved would heat nearly 400,000 homes.
By carrying out some easy DIY fixes, you will notice a difference in the draughts from under the doors and windows in your home. MOLLY MAID, the house cleaning professionals, will show you just how easy it is to implement a few tricks to make your home even more cosy this winter.
Try insulating around your letterbox if you have one that is part of your front door. Some people swear by the bolt-on plastic frames with brushes across the opening and others have found that an insulator called Ecoflap to be a good alternative. It is screwed onto the inside of the front door and removes draughts completely and can withstand an over-zealous postman posting post through it.
Not a new concept, but one that is being continually tinkered with in terms of design. If you have a draughty window or door, these little draught excluders or snakes are a must-have in your home. Placed at the bottom of the door or window, these weighted fabric tubes help to block out the unwanted draught and are an attractive way of minimising draughts.
Front Door: Draught stripping
Consider having a professional fit and install a wooden grooved strip on the external side of the door frame, alternatively there are many other options of door strips available from your local DIY shop.
If you have a chimney that is not being used and you may find that there is a considerable draft coming from it. Try inflating a transparent pillow (a chimney pillow) and this will help to reduce draughts. However, do not over-inflate the pillow as air needs to be able to circulate a little around it to allow ventilation so that condensation does not build up. Remember to remove this in the winter.
Another effective way to reduce draughts and retain heat in your home, is to hang insulated curtains. The only drawback is to be most effective, they need to be closed, so essentially if you prefer some rays of sunlight appearing throughout the winter, they will only be effective during the evenings.
Now that the children are well into the Autumn term, you have doubtless witnessed a variety of shirts and clothing making their way home with an array of stains on them. MOLLY MAID, the professional domestic cleaning company, recommend the following tricks to combat common stains endured from a day at school from biro, ink and glue to tipex. So here are some top tips to removing school stains from clothing.
Crayons: Place a folded some kitchen paper under the stained area. Spray the back of the fabric with WD-40 to help transfer the colour. Turn the fabric over and rub a little liquid washing up liquid onto the crayon marks to loosen them even more. Wash in the hottest water possible (that the clothing tolerates) with all-fabric washing detergent.
Ink Pens: Dab the ink spots with a little cotton wool that’s been dipped in surgical spirit. Allow the surface to air-dry and wash in the warmest water that’s safe for the fabric.
Biro: It’s uncanny how children manage to stain their clothes with biro pens at school, but feat not, all you need is hairspray! Lie the stained top or item of clothing out on a work surface. Spray liberally with hairspray, then take a damp cloth and blot the stain (but don’t rub it as it will make it worse). Repeat as many times as needed until the stain is lighter. Then spray with hairspray one more time, then wash as normal.
Tipex or White correction fluid: If we are talking about the water-based product, then scratch as much of it off with your fingernail or equivalent. Then, wash in the washing machine as normal. For petroleum-based correction fluid scratch off as much as possible. Then apply a citrus-base cleaner, like Goo Gone, to dissolve the stain.
Glue: Don’t stress over removing craft glue, just pre-treat and wash as normal. For tougher glues, like Super Glue, rub acetone on the fabric with an old toothbrush to remove the hardened layers. If necessary, apply the acetone to the back of the stain. Rinse the area very well and then wash in the washing machine as normal.
Grease: A simple solution for removing a greasy stain, but one that you may not think is logical for removing stains, is cola. Simply pour a litre of cola over the stain in a bowl and allow to soak for 30 minutes and then wash in the washing machine as normal.
As the dark nights draw in and seasons change, people often struggle with adapting and getting a good nights’ sleep. By making a few simple adjustments to sleeping routines and with a few tweaks from temperature, light control and bedding, it is quite possible to achieve a quality nights’ sleep in next to no time. The house cleaning experts at MOLLY MAID have a few top tips, which will help to settle you into a routine or healthy sleep pattern which, will in turn, result in quality sleep.
On average, an adult needs between seven and nine hours of sleep to function properly. As with children and pets, routines are so crucial to their well-being and the same is the case for adults too. Erratic sleep patterns can leave you feeling out of whack, so a regular sleeping schedule may be exactly what you need!
Bedtime and morning waking routines
The more you follow and stick to bedtime routines, the more likely you are to help regulate your natural body clock.
Decide on a bedtime and a wake-up time
Try to make gradual adjustments to your ‘new’ routine as you won’t be able to change things overnight – work in increments of 15-30 minutes to reach your desired bedtime.
Whether it is potential ‘white’ noise from a fan or a boiler, or a street light casting light into your bedroom, or even snoring by your partner, try to find a solution to overcoming these by either using ear plugs, eye masks or even black-out curtains for example.
We have all be told of the negative effects of ‘blue light’ too close to bedtime (it is recommended not to watch TV or other electronic devices one hour before you plan to go to sleep) and whilst this is true, similar applies to lights in general. Start dimming the lights one hour before bedtime to help your body clock come to a natural realisation that it is soon to go to sleep.
Relaxing bedtime rituals
You can’t expect your body to go from firing on all cylinders to suddenly going into sleep mode, so it important to practice a few relaxing bedtime rituals to help you switch off. Some swear by a warm bath (not too hot) with some essential oils such as lavender to help remove tension, others say that it’s important to take a few heavy breaths to allow the body to come to a natural rhythm and listen to your breathing.
Rise with the morning light
As humans, our body clock is naturally sensitive to light and darkness, therefore allowing a good dose of sunlight to fill the bedroom in the morning will help you to wake up and kick-start the brain.
Resist the snooze button
We have all fallen victim of the snooze button, but the extra 5 minutes of dozing gives your body few benefits and certainly not quality sleep. Why not try setting your alarm to the time that you actually need to get up and remember that it may take a few minutes for your body to adjust to a daytime rhythm.
It is common knowledge that it’s unhealthy to eat too close to bedtime and that you shouldn’t go to sleep on an empty stomach either. However, having your evening meal around the same time every night will help to keep your whole body on track. Also, limit how much you drink before bedtime to avoid trips to the bathroom in the middle of the night. A good rule of thumb is to eat your last meal two to three hours before bedtime.
We hope that by following some of the above sleeping tips, you will start to feel the benefits of good quality sleep.
Have you ever found yourself struggling with how best to defrost your freezer? It’s always a good idea to clear out your freezer once in a while, especially if it has been working hard for you over the summer and in advance of the busy winter season ahead with Christmas just around the corner.
Freezers need to be defrosted because the more a freezer is opened, which tends to happen more frequently in the summer, the more moisture settles in the interior of the freezer to form ice. The problem with this is that it not only requires more energy to run a freezer but it can be difficult to open drawers for example. Generally speaking, you should try to defrost your freezer around twice a year to keep on top of the ice forming and ensuring that you are running it as efficiently as possible.
MOLLY MAID, the domestic cleaning professionals, have some top tips to share with you on how to rid your freezer of excess ice and to give it a good clean.
It’s a good idea to clear out your freezer or throw a dinner party with all your goodies. Alternatively, wrap your food in newspaper and store it somewhere cool or in a cool bag to help to delay the thawing.
Then, switch off your freezer and open the freezer door so that the ice can melt slowly or you can help to speed up this process by placing a bowl of hot water inside the appliance and closing the door.
Once any loosened ice starts to melt on the side panels, gently pull away any pieces without forcing them.
The best way to collect the defrost water and excess ice is with a sponge or cloth, thereby preventing too much water from ending up on the floor.
If much water is expected, try using a deep baking tray at the very bottom of the freezer.
Keep an eye on your freezer and avoid going out as the freezing process will need to be supervised.
Clean your freezer with a little warm water with a little washing-up liquid added. Do not use substances such as vinegar as these corrode the plastic.
Then rinse it with clean water and dry it well.
Now it’s ready to use once again so plug it back in, switch it on and as soon as the temperature is low enough, you can restock it with food.
Please be careful never to re-freeze defrosted foods.
With longer night’s drawing in and temperatures dropping, it’s important to stay healthy, motivated and positive this Autumn. Already we are hearing of lurgies, colds and stomach upsets but by following a few simple pieces of advice, MOLLY MAID, the house cleaning professionals, can help you and your family stay healthy this Autumn.
Flu jab: If you are concerned about the coming down with flu, the best thing you can do is organise to have the flu jab. While no vaccination is 100% effective, it will help to prepare your body’s defences if you come in contact with the flu virus.
Wash Hands: It is important to understand the washing hands regularly, especially before eating, can really help to reduce the chances of picking up unnecessary virus’ or bacteria.
Don’t touch your eyes, nose or mouth: This is where all your germs are, so try hard not to touch these areas as you will inevitably touch something else and then spread your germs elsewhere.
Carry antibacterial hand gel: Whilst these gels seem to have become a bit of a fashion accessory, they can be useful in trying to reduce the chances of picking up unwanted lurgies and staying healthy this Autumn. Simply squirt a small amount onto your hands after being in heavily populated areas where you may have touched several handrails or door knobs for instance.
Healthy Eating: Maintaining a healthy balance of fruits and vegetables in your diet every day is vital to help your body achieve that healthy equilibrium to fight off bugs and to stay healthy. The recommended amount is five portions of fruit and vegetables a day, plus low-fat dairy, lean protein and wholegrain carbohydrates. Try adding a portion of oily fish once a week and pay particular attention to vitamin C intake (in citrus fruits and dark green vegetables such as kale and spinach) as this helps to support the immune function.
Exercise: We all know that we’re most likely to ‘catch’ something when we are immune systems are run down and it’s not just lack of sleep that can do this, but also stress. So, to keep you and your family healthy this Autumn, ensure that you incorporate some exercise into your week-end routine for example and perhaps a relaxing meditation or yoga session during the week. It is doesn’t have to be for long, but a chance to switch off, helps to increase your antibodies making it more difficult for the nasties to have a fighting chance!
Pace yourself: We all know that with Christmas just around the corner, diaries and work schedules get busier and then there are the usual family commitments to throw into the mix. We want to be healthy this Autumn, but also on top form for the festivities, so now is the time to re-charge the batteries, enjoy some quieter evenings at home, ready for the busy season. Burning the candle at both ends often ends in a disaster!
We hope you find these how to stay healthy this Autumn tips useful and good luck!