Aggie's Christmas cleaning tips

Aggie MacKenzie

That nasty looking shower screen has got to sparkle before the guests arrive...

Mix bicarbonate of soda and clear vinegar to a paste and apply with a nylon scourer and a little elbow grease. Leave for a few minutes then rinse off and buff dry with a sheet of scrunched-up newspaper.

The furniture could do with a polish...perhaps you can persuade a teenager away from Facebook for half an hour to lend a hand...

Mix your own polish in a spray bottle: two parts olive oil to one part lemon juice. It smells wonderful, cuts through marks with ease and leaves surfaces with an impressive shine.

Don't even talk to me about the state of the oven. And that's before it has to deal with the mammoth turkey!

Put an ovenproof bowl of water inside a 200 degree oven and leave for 30 minutes to soften the dirt (makes it easier to shift). Allow oven to cool. Make a scouring paste from equal parts borax substitute, bicarbonate of soda, salt and warm water. Apply and scrub with a damp sponge (but not on self-clean linings) and leave for two hours. Rinse with warm water. Afterwards, smear a thin paste of bicarb and water on the enamel linings (again, not self-clean ones). This'll make it far easier to clean next time.

And the silverware for the table could do with a little attention...

Line a plastic bowl with tin foil. Fill with very hot water and add a handful of washing soda crystals. Immerse your silver (make sure it's in contact with the foil). Stand back and watch the tarnish leave the silver and deposit itself on the foil (don't leave more than 10 minutes). Magic, and so easy! Avoid getting dip on stainless steel blades - it can stain.

Uh-oh...that curry incident in the microwave hasn't been cleared up and the whiff is getting harder to ignore!

Put a few slices of lemon in a bowl of very hot water and heat in the microwave on high for about five minutes. The zesty steam will pass through the vents, extinguish the lingering odours and loosen any baked-on remains clinging to the roof and walls. It'll now be really easy to wipe down with a clean damp cloth.

Speaking of smells, the dishwasher could do with a freshen-up

Run a cupful of clear vinegar through a cycle of the dishwasher (empty and without detergent). It'll remove grease, limescale and soap scum, leaving it clean and fresh. Wipe around the door seals and hinges with the vinegar. While you're at it, do the spray arms: food and limescale can get clogged in the jets. Most can be unscrewed and removed for cleaning; wash in hot soapy water and give them a scrub with a nylon brush. Empty the filter and wash in hot soapy water. Now place half a spent lemon on the top rack before turning on.

There's a houseful coming for Christmas, including toddlers and oldies. How do you keep on top of the dirt and germs?

First, chuck out that antibacterial spray - most bacteria in our homes are good for us and protect our health; you don't want to kill them off and encourage the growth of superbugs. Much better to use Aggie's Probiotic cleaners which are 100 per cent natural and inhibit the growth of harmful bacteria for up to eight days! They also smell fantastic and give the most amazing shine. Available from selected branches of Sainsbury's and Lakeland from £2.99

Get your wine glasses smear-free and sparkling

Wash singly in hot soapy water, rinse, fill with hot tap water and line up on the drainer. Empty one at a time and immediately buff with a bone dry linen tea towel before moving on to the next.

Why does red wine always end up on the beige carpet?

Forget salt (it can set the stain) and as for white wine...well, what a waste, not to mention that it's another wine stain on top. No, what you need to hand is loads of soda water plus kitchen roll or old white towels. If there is an accident, mop up the excess with kitchen towel first, then douse the stain with soda water. Now put the terry towel on top and stand on it. You'll see that the wine colour will start to come out of the carpet and on to the towel. Carry on with this process, using a fresh area of towel each time until all the wine is out of the carpet and on to the towel.

Guests include a couple of adorable toddlers, but how do you protect an expensive sofa from those grubby fingers?

Short of covering it in a huge sheet of polythene which, let's face it, doesn't give the most welcoming message on Christmas Day, you could use a couple of strategically placed throws you can machine-wash afterwards.

Other than that, it wouldn't do any harm to pre-spray it with Scotchgard Protector For Soft Furnishings, Fabrics & Upholstery (£4.89/400ml). It forms an invisible barrier that repels water-based liquids and helps protect against stains. You should test on an inconspicuous area, say the back, and allow to dry for 12 hours (not suitable for leather).

There's always an elderly uncle, who's a smoker, and it's heartless to send him out into the cold. How do you get rid of the smell?

Open windows and doors and sprinkle lots of bicarbonate of soda over carpets and upholstered furniture, leave for a few hours and vacuum off. The bicarb will absorb the smell without harming the fabric. Dot homemade air fresheners over the house: put three tablespoons bicarb in a bowl and add a few drops of your favourite essential oil. Cheaper on the purse and delightful on the nose!

What's the best way to clean the sooty glass on a woodburning stove door?

Dampen scrunched-up newspaper with water, dip in the wood ash and rub the glass - the dirt dissolves like magic.

13) The party season's never without incident - how do you clean a mattress soiled with vomit and, even worse, urine?

This is a two-person job since you need to hold the mattress on its side while you clean it to stop it from getting too wet. Even though you may not be able to get rid of all the stains, the mattress will be clean and smell fresher. Lightly sponge the surface with a cold solution of washing-up liquid or upholstery cleaner - don't get it too wet. Rinse by sponging with cold water to which you've added a few drops of disinfectant. If the underside is soiled, repeat the treatment here as well. Once clean, let the mattress dry thoroughly on its side, preferably outside, before you put it back on the bed, otherwise you could have a problem with mildew.

Look here too...

Christmas homes: pile on the style

Gifts for the homelover: our brilliant ideas

Where Christmas trees come from

Find presents for everyone in our Christmas gift guides - all gifts available to buy online


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