These easy hacks will make housework cheaper – and better for the planet too

WANT to clean without it costing the earth?

We’ll show you how in Day Two of our homes and life transformation series. Former Great British Bake Off winner Nancy Birtwhistle was so concerned by climate change that she started to use natural options – including rhubarb leaves, walnuts and eggshells – to solve many household cleaning problems.

A hit on social media, she has combined them all into a book, Clean & Green.

Nancy says: “My mission has always been to try to make cleaning completely green, effective and affordable.”

Last year The Sun’s Green Team campaign outlined a series of simple pledges you could make to help cut Earth-warming CO2 emissions.

Here, in an exclusive extract from Nancy’s book, we choose swaps towards a more sustainable goal. 

Eggshells to control pests


  • Eggshells
  • Table salt


Whenever you use an egg, get into the habit of rinsing the shell under the tap, removing the slimy membrane, then leaving it to dry and placing it in a bowl. 

Once a collection of six or seven shells has been accumulated, simply crush them with your hands to a fine crumb. Stir through half a teaspoon of table salt then sprinkle along your row of veggies and plants – but not too close, because although plants can tolerate an amount of salt, too much can be poisonous.

Slugs and snails will stay well clear – their slimy composition finds it impossible to navigate a crazy-paving path of dry eggshells. The coating of salt will create an immediate sting and they will slide away as the salt can be fatal. 

Walnuts for wood scratches 

TAKE a whole walnut, break it in half and use the raw side to rub the scratch. 

Rub the nut across, rather than in the direction of the scratch, and you will see the mark fill and disappear. 

Any greasy smears left on the wood can be polished off with a soft cloth. 

Salt to kill weeds


  • Table salt
  • Kettle of boiling water


When the weather is dry, pour a thin stream of boiling water over your weeds then immediately follow up with a direct sprinkle of table salt.

After four to five days the weeds will have shrivelled and died back, with no toxic chemicals being washed into waterways via the soil. 

When considering how much salt to apply, simply think about the size of the problem. A huge daisy or dandelion, which will have a sizeable, carrot-shaped root, requires a good teaspoon, whereas a tuft of wild grass will need much less. 

Aluminium can for cleaning silver cutlery


  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • Boiling water
  • 1 washed aluminium can 


Choose an aluminum can, remove the label and give the tin a thorough wash. Pop the tarnished cutlery into the tin, handle end up, add 1 tsp bicarbarbonate of soda and pour in the boiling water. 

Take care, the liquid will fizz and rise briefly to the top of the can, so only half-fill it with water.

Leave for 1-2 minutes. Remove your cutlery, rinse under the tap, dry and pop on to your table, ready for dinner. 

Coconut oil to shine dull ­glassware


  • White vinegar
  • Coconut oil
  • Clean, soft polishing cloth 


Take the slightest smear of coconut oil on to a clean, soft cloth and wipe over the outside of glass. Then use the same cloth to polish all over. The glass will be sparkling and clear. 

Rhubarb leaves for cleaning pots and pans

IF your pans and pan lids are stained, try placing four rhubarb leaves, torn into pieces, in the pot, half-fill with water and boil for at least ten minutes. 

To clean a lid, submerge it into a pan larger than the lid itself. 

Do not use this method on pans with a non-stick lining.

Colander to treat fruit juice and wine stains


  • Kettle of boiling water
  • Bowl or colander


Lay the stained part of the item over an empty bowl or colander and place in the sink.

Try to pull and hold the fabric fairly taut. Pour the boiling water over the stain in a thin, steady stream and see the stain disappear before your eyes. 

This is a perfect fix for cottons, linens and robust natural materials.

Toothpaste to remove stains on furniture

SIMPLY massage some toothpaste over any stains that are on your furniture. Leave for 15 minutes, then clean off.

This method is non-scratch, involves no rubbing and won’t make fabric dull – and the stains wipe off easily.

Uncooked rice to clean vases and decanters 


  • 2 tbsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 6 tbsp warm water
  • 2 tbsp uncooked rice


Put the ingredients in the base of the decanter, vase or bottle. Give it a shake and leave for 15 minutes. Discard the treatment down the sink (but use a sieve to catch and dispose of the rice in the food bin), then flush your container with warm water until all is sparkling clean. 

Lemon to clean the microwave


  • Half a used lemon
  • Hot water to cover the lemon
  • Bowl of warm water with a squirt of eco-friendly washing-up liquid
  • Small microwave-proof bowl
  • Dish cloth


Pop half a used lemon in a small, microwave-proof bowl, cover the lemon with recently boiled water or hot water from the tap and put it in the microwave on full power for 1½-2 minutes or until you see the water bubble.

Once the microwave has pinged, leave for 2 minutes then open the door, remove the bowl and lemon (be careful – it will be hot), then use a wrung-out cloth that has been dipped in warm water and eco-friendly washing-up liquid to wipe the inside of the microwave.

The steam softens any splashes that are cooked on and the lemon freshens up the unit. 

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