Cleaning products in our cupboards

Many people make their own cleaning products, partly to be able to control exactly what is used to clean surfaces in their homes, and also because they are often much cheaper than buying branded products.

Most homemade supplies are easy to make and are just as effective at doing the same job – and as an added bonus many of the ingredients required will be in your larder or fridge already.

Lemon juice
Lemon juice has a variety of uses in cleaning. It is acidic so will dissolve soap scum and hard water deposits. It also cleans and shines brass and copper. Try mixing lemon juice with vinegar or baking soda to make cleaning pastes.

If you cut a lemon in half and sprinkle it with baking soda, it can be used to scrub crockery, surfaces, chopping boards and stains. In addition, a cup of olive oil mixed with half a cup of lemon juice will make you a good polish for hardwood furniture. As lemon juice can act as natural bleach, make sure you test it out on a hidden area on all surfaces first.

Vinegar actually cleans much like an all-purpose cleaner. All you need is to mix a solution of equal parts of water and vinegar in a spray bottle and you’ll have a solution that will clean most of your home. It is also a disinfectant and deodoriser. It’s always best to make sure you test any cleaner on a small area first to make sure there are no colour changes or surface damage.

In the bathroom: Use pure vinegar in the toilet bowl to clear limescale. Flush the toilet to allow the water level to go down then pour undiluted vinegar around the inside of the rim. Mop the floor in the bathroom with a vinegar/water solution as it will dissolve the soap scum and hard water stains and leave tiles and sanitary ware with a real shine.

In the kitchen: Clean the top of the cooker with equal parts vinegar and water. This same all-purpose mix will work on most appliances. Work-top surfaces can be purified and disinfected with the same spray: although it’s best not to use it on marble or granite. It also cleans floors with a good finish.

For laundry: Vinegar can be used as a natural fabric softener, which is especially useful if you have sensitive skin. Adding ½ cup to the rinse will also clean the washing machine.

Baking soda
Baking soda is one of the most versatile cleaners on the planet. It can be used to scrub surfaces in much the same way as commercial non-abrasive cleaners. It is also an effective deodoriser so you can put some in a box in the fridge and freezer to absorb any odours. Or use it to neutralise unpleasant aromas such as rubbish bins and even smelly trainers.

Washing-wise it removes stains and softens water. Try rubbing a paste of 6 tablespoons of baking soda and 1/2 cup of warm water onto stains before washing, but check for colourfastness first!

Most of us have probably only ever used cornflour as a thickener when cooking, but it’s got a lot more to it than that. If you’ve got a nasty grease stain, cornflour can get rid of it by soaking up all the grease, pulling it out of the stained material. Because it’s non-abrasive, it’s also great for glass. Plus mixing equal parts cornflour and soap in water can make a pretty good window cleaner.

Salt works as an effective yet gentle scouring agent. It also serves as a catalyst for other ingredients, such as vinegar, to boost cleaning and deodorising action. For a basic soft scrub, make a paste with lots of salt, baking soda and washing up liquid and use on appliances, enamel, porcelain, copper and silver.

As toothpaste is a very mild abrasive, similar to soft scrubbing gel solutions, it can be used to clean silver, remove stains on white clothing, tennis shoes, and in many other places where light scrubbing is required. It is also brilliant for shining your taps.

Gin and Vodka
These white spirits are as effective as ammonia in shining glass, mirrors or stainless steel without leaving streaks and they are less pungent to inhale, which is an added bonus.

If you have any traditional cleaning secrets passed to you by your family we’d love to hear about them. Send your time-saving or unusual cleaning tips to