Natural solutions for household accidents

What's your worst mishap at home? Coffee on the cream carpet? Candle wax explosion up the curtains, indelible marker pen scrawled across the fridge or fish pie stench that lingers for weeks? It could be any or all of these in just one day, right? Or, it could be much worse. Yes, readers, we're talking white jeans and a new puppy dog.

The average home takes more knocks in a week than Anton du Beke does teaching Judy Murray the Tango, writes Sarah Woodhead. And it's not just thanks to enthusiastic children. Friday night dinner party guests, after a tough week at the office, can be a disaster in waiting, workmen can create more work than they actually do, and elderly relations can be the very devil with, well, let's leave it at that.

We've all come a cropper at some point, and a home isn't a home without an ever-expanding emergency repair kit. But, what should you do if you prefer to use natural methods and natural cleaning products to solve those everyday accidents and signs of wear and tear?

It's at this point that I say thank heavens for mothers-in-law. Mine earned her housekeeping stripes before modern products, packed with potentially harmful toxic nasties, existed. Below is a selection of her top tips for solving some common bloopers, alongside some natural cleaning product recommendations for those of you too time-strapped to squeeze a lemon. They won't fix a TV remote dropped in the goldfish bowl, but they're the very enemy of sloppy drinkers. 


Rescue the carpet!

Treat beer stains with a squirt of soda water, apply ice to chewing gum to harden it before picking off, use cornflour on grease marks or salt on red wine to soak it up before vacuuming.

If, like many of us, you have found yourself with a rather obnoxious coffee stain, having had your caffeine fix spoiled by bouncing child, you don’t need chemicals to clean up.  Natural & Clean have a variety of products from their Spot Remover Wipes, to their Whoops a Daisy carpet cleaning crystals. All of their products use environmentally aware ingredients and do not contain animal ingredients or animal by-products and none are tested on animals.They vary in what they target specifically, but most are effective on coffee, tea, food, grease, pet accidents, soft drinks. Take a look at the range to see what suits your spillage.

Obliterate the fish pie

Counteract pongy smells by placing a cotton wool ball soaked in wintergreen oil in a glass container. The scent will last for months. Or, leave a half-cut lemon in the kitchen while cooking to soak up smells. or even in the fridge to stop that initial whiff of cheesy feet when you open the door. To remove fishy smells from the microwave, heat half a cup of, yes you guessed it, vinegar.

Heck, go the whole hog with vinegar!

Vinegar contains no poisonous additives, releases no fumes, is inexpensive and, if you haven't noticed already, it can solve any problem, from burnt pans to the global financial crisis. Soak the showerhead in vinegar to remove limescale, add it to handwash rinsing water to remove soap, dab on skin to relieve the itching from shingles (proceed with caution!), remove hardened paint from brushes with a soaking and sprinkle on a lottery ticket to see your numbers come up. No vinegar? Try our White Vinegar .

Blitz mayo splats from clothing

TV dinners are causing havoc with our wardrobes, especially now that Mastershef is back on, and the sheer food envy leads to such distraction whilst eating, that half my food ends up down my front. It wouldn’t have tasted as yummy as that hand rolled tortellini anyway.... I don't know about you, but I can't get a potato wedge from my plate to my mouth while watching Wagner she-bang without spilling mayo on my T-shirt. Surprisingly, I haven't found a vinegar solution for this one. I have, however, found Ecover's Stain Remover.

Photo credit: Breibeest

Keep the bathroom fresh

Use a baking soda and water paste to remove fungus from tile grout. Remove limescale and restore the shine on taps by soaking cotton wool in vinegar and leaving it padded around the taps overnight (a personal favourite). Use a cut lemon dipped in salt to treat light stains on the bath. Clean glass and mirrors with old newspapers. Wash tired-looking white towels with Clean & Natural Oxygen Bleach, a blend of hydrogen peroxide and soda crystals for whitening and brightening linens.

Tackle the baby

Not literally of course. Instead, tackle re-usable baby nappies with a natural cleaning product like Bio-D Nappy Fresh, an anti-bacterial, sodium carbonate-based powder that will shift the aftermath of breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

However if you’re not a cloth nappy mama, but still an eco-warrior goddess, you’ll probably already know about all of our range of eco-friendly disposable nappies. Check out these Beaming Baby Degradable Nappy Sacks to complete the eco-friendly changing kit, and limit the used nappy pong around the changing table!

Photo credit: Basykes

Trounce the dog

You love him, but you don't always love his doggy-ness, especially when it's left on the rug. Avoid the bleach and reach for Earth Friendly's Pet Stain and Odour Remover. It's pretty good for car upholstery too. It's natural and biodegradable, petrochemical-free and made from plants.

Beat moths

Always wash woollens before storing. Pack into vacuum-packed bags with dried orange peel or cloves. Line drawers with damp-proof white paper from wallpaper shops. This draws any damp from clothes, helping to discourage moths. From eating your clothes, not decorating, that is.

Finally, the apparently tried-and-tested tips which sound too strange to be true...

  • Use white bread to rub off fingerprints from wallpaper.
  • Rub the cut surface of an onion on oil paintings to clean them.
  • Slight scratches on wooden furniture can be diminished by rubbing with a freshly cut Brazil or walnut. (If cleaning with nuts is your thing, you might like the soap nut Alma Win Cleanut laundry liquid).
  • Pop a slice of lemon in a bowl of water and microwave for forty seconds. The steam from the lemon water will loosen any gunk stuck to the roof and sides, so you’ll be able to wipe it away with ease. Plus your microwave will smell lemony fresh. 
  • Apparently, adding a couple of spoons of sugar to the rinsing water will help silk garments maintain more body.
  • Garlic gets rid of vampires.