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Clean & Green: 101 Hints and Tips for a More Eco-Friendly Home

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Once you are satisfied that it looks as it used to, take the towel and start rolling from the bottom, nice and tight, until the jumper is concealed in a huge towel and jumper sausage. Rolling tightly will extract much of the remaining moisture. When the towel feels quite wet, unroll and transfer the jumper to the second towel, which again has been laid out on a flat surface. Nancy Birtwhistle’s plant feed with added benefit Conkers … contain natural detergent. Photograph: Katie Shires Photography/Getty Images Remove scuff marks Nancy Birtwhistle at home … ‘I made the point of making it affordable.’ Photograph: Richard Saker/The Observer Bulk-buy ingredients

Books by Nancy Birtwhistle – Nancy Birtwhistle

Yellowing fabrics, such as pillow cases, can be transformed, says Birtwhistle. “Put them in a lemon juice or citric acid solution [3tbsp added to 600ml hot water], with salt, and leave to soak. You need a sunny day. Peg them outside – don’t rinse or wring them – and the sun will bleach them.” Screen cleanSimple swaps and innovative ideas for cleaning and maintaining your home that won't cost the Earth. The bicarbonate of soda cleans and gently rubs away stains, the washing-up liquid, while assisting with the clean, also emulsifies the ingredients, and the vegetable glycerine, as well as having gentle cleaning properties (it is used in many skin products), treats and feeds. My Pure Magic is not harmful, it kills germs, destroys limescale (which bleach alone doesn’t do) and smells fresh. We all want to do our best for our homes and the planet, but it's often hard to find the time and energy to think of alternatives. Nancy Birtwhistle makes it easy with 101 indispensable tips, ideas and recipes that will help you to live a more eco-friendly life without giving up on any home comforts.

Nancy Birtwhistle shares her eco-friendly Pure Magic: Nancy Birtwhistle shares her eco-friendly

Works a treat on my pine kitchen table, cleans silver and also removed red wine stains from tile grouting – just add a blob of my cream cleaner directly to the stain, rub in with an old toothbrush, leave for a minute or two then wipe off! Citric acid will dissolve limescale and kill germs. Photograph: kali9/Getty Images Deep-clean the loo

Nancy Birtwhistle's cream cleaner

But Nancy’s approach is really refreshing, and even I have been tempted to have another go, and I was more than a little over-excited to whup up a batch of Nancy’s toilet magic at the weekend and have been delightedly spraying it willy nilly around our looks all this week. It was super easy and seems to be coping with my kids spraying something else willy nilly around our loos well.


A horrible job – and one for which Birtwhistle used to use harsh chemicals in a big plastic bag. There are two methods, she says. “One is to simply put them out on the lawn overnight. The best results I’ve had is to do it when the grass has just been cut, and cover the shelf with grass clippings as well. It creates a sort of steamy environment and then the next day they just wipe clean.” One of her social media followers from South Africa gave her this tip. However, if you don’t have a garden or grass, “submerge them in washing soda overnight”. Stained casserole dishes Stir until the liquid is clear and the crystals have dissolved, then simply add the eco-friendly washing-up liquid and tea tree oil and mix well using a small whisk. I hope you enjoy listening to this as much as I enjoyed recording it – do let me know if you’re tempted to have a go at some homemade cleaning products, or if you’re now going to make the switch to an eco version of one your usual products! Last summer, Birtwhistle had two different sprays to keep bugs at bay. She made one from nettles (60g boiled in 600ml water) and another using rhubarb leaves (500g of leaves in a litre of water). Both also contained clove bud oil, thought to deter insects. “The oxalic acid in rhubarb is a mild poison, so I didn’t use that on my veg,” she says. “I used the nettle spray there and I used the rhubarb spray on non-edible plants.” Both were effective, she says. “I was delighted.”It takes years and years to break down, is toxic and the fumes can irritate the eyes, throat, lungs and skin. After a run-in with a rubber parking bollard (“These things happen”), Birtwhistle dabbed some bicarbonate of soda on the mark with a damp cloth and it was as if it had never happened. It also works on walls, skirting boards and appliances. Home-brew pesticide

Recipes – Nancy Birtwhistle Recipes – Nancy Birtwhistle

This is what Birtwhistle uses in her iron, rather than buying expensive distilled “ironing water” or using hard tap water, which can fur up an iron with limescale. She takes it from her water butt a litre at a time. “Boil it and, when it’s cold, add two or three drops of lily of the valley essential oil.” Make an all-purpose cleaner Note: If your oven shelves have been sprayed or coated with ‘self-clean’ substances, do not use this method. The chemical coating can be damaged by soaking. This method is not suitable for aluminium trays or shelves. Aluminium can be cleaned using bicarb or washing soda, but long soaks cause oxidization. As ever, please do leave a rating and review wherever you get your podcasts – it helps it to climb the charts and more importantly boosts my poor fragile ego no end…. Mix a thin paste and dab it over the stain, massaging it in circular motions with gloved hands. The residual stain will lift and so will the odour. If you can air-dry the item, even better. Birtwhistle says citric acid will “dissolve limescale and kill germs. When you move away from bleach, you find all these stains appearing, because all you’ve been doing is bleaching them out, but the limescale is still there. Use citric acid to get rid of that.” She makes her own loo cleaner using 200g citric acid and 150ml water, emulsified with a squirt of eco-friendly washing-up liquid. “The only downside is you need to rinse your nozzle afterwards. Otherwise, it does crystallise there.” Restore shower screensPop your metal shelves into the hot solution making sure they are submerged and leave them overnight. Here, Nancy shares some natural swaps to boost your budget and banish harmful toxins from your home. Toilet cleaner When ready to use (and I suggest you do this outside), take off the lid, give it a stir and the smell will send you reeling – it really is awful, but plants love it! Strain off the leaves, using simply the lid as an aid, then strain again using an old fine tea strainer. Fill the spray bottle, then add the eco-friendly washing-up liquid and clove-bud oil. Give it a good shake then spray away! It was a filthy washing machine that prompted Nancy Birtwhistle to embrace the power of eco-friendly cleaning. “I was nearly at the point where I thought I needed a new washing machine, because it was a disgrace,” she says. “And that’s the sort of culture we’ve become: ‘I’ll replace it.’” Instead, she gave it a thorough clean and switched to homemade detergent. She says her machine no longer gets gunked up from chemical overload.

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