Dealing With Grime One Day At A Time – Descaling An Iron

It’s been a while since I posted any home maintenance and cleaning tips on the blog but it’s something that I would like to share more of. When I chose the At Home With Ellen title, I wanted to encompass a variety of aspects of home living, from decor and enjoying the space you’re in, to looking after it, sharing opinions and reviews on products, meal ideas and recipes and more.

I have confessed many times that I am not the cleanest and tidiest person. I work, I’m planning a wedding and trying my best to keep on top of the blog too, and see myself as an ordinary kind of woman. Sometimes I cannot be bothered to wash up after dinner! Shock! Horror!

That doesn’t mean I’m not houseproud. I love my home, and I hate for people to see it when it’s messy. That’s why I my posts about home maintenance will never tell you to be more like me. Rather, I want to show you that I’m also on the journey of day to day life, and hope to create a place where we can share tips and ideas, and maybe give you a little inspiration and motivation along the way – I know having the blog certainly motivates me!

So with all that said, I thought I’d create a new little series – Dealing With Grime One Day At A Time. I’ve created a new category for it, so you’ll be able to search all posts in the future by the tag, and over the coming months I’ll be adding little posts like this one about those little jobs that you might not otherwise get around to.

So, descaling an iron. Yep, that’s what we’re talking about today. If you don’t already know, it’s an important bit of maintenance to maintain the lifespan of your iron, and save your lovely white shirts from the telltale signs of a scummy iron. If you’ve ever ruined a shirt with jets of brown steam, and little pieces of debris from the bottom of your iron, then you probably haven’t been descaling it often enough. I probably don’t do mine enough. Some companies recommend every 10 uses, but it will depend on your usage, and it’s always best to follow the recommendations of the manufacturer.

I’m going to try and do mine around once a month. I won’t always use a descaling product – if you clean your iron regularly (a lot of irons have a self clean button) then there shouldn’t be a need to, but I do live in a hard water area and that can make it worse.

I love the Oust sachets (not sponsored – it’s just the brand and type I’ve always used), and buy the ones that usually come as a pack of three and can be used in the kettle too. In fact, I bought this box to descale my kettle, and then decided it was definitely time I did the iron too.

I’m naughty and don’t bother to empty to water out after ironing (it’s recommended to) and I also use plain ol’ tap water (definitely not recommended) and the telltale white deposits end up presenting themselves around the steam holes.

It’s a simple case of heating up the iron, then unplugging, adding the Oust sachet and topping up with water, and using the self clean button or pressing the steam button a few times over the sink. If you’ve let it get really bad, you may have to do it more than once, but for regular maintenance, once will be just fine. I’ve also read you can get fantastic results with vinegar, so I may have to give that a go too, as I already use it for many other tasks around the home and get great results.

I like to flush out my iron with some fresh, clean water afterwards, and with a quick wipe of the soleplate, it’s as good as new. The descaler is so inexpensive (around £1-£1.50 for a box of three sachets), and it really will lengthen the life of your iron. So if the next time you’re ironing and you think yours is underperforming, give it a little tlc and enjoy the benefits!

I have another bargainous Top Picks under £10 post coming up next, so don’t forget to bookmark the blog and come back for that. If you’ve any tips to share, or anything you’d like to hear about from me, please do share in the comments section.

For now, with love,
Ellen

Tips For Quicker And Easier Cleaning

If you haven’t read my earlier posts, I’ll be totally honest yet again. I am not the tidiest or cleanest person. I wish I was. It isn’t difficult, and I could  definitely make more time for it. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the messiest person by a long shot, but I’m much happier in a very tidy space, and am working towards making my house so.

There are a few tips that spring to mind when I start tidying up, so I thought I’d share them today, and who knows, perhaps as I get a little tidier, I’ll have more tips to share.

1. Cleaning vs. Tidying
What is it you want to do? Do you need to clean, tidy up, or both? You can’t clean if you can’t see your surfaces. Or your floor. If you have a good tidy first, you might realise the house isn’t as bad as you first thought.

2. Little At A Time
I’m not suggesting you drag cleaning out, or procrastinate more than you tidy, but at the same time, don’t overwhelm yourself. If every room in the house needs sorting, start with one task. If you do the dishes, or tidy away everything that’s out of place, you’ll feel like you’ve achieved something, and most likely be motivated to carry on.

3. Pick Up As You Go
This will make the whole cleaning process more straightforward and quicker to achieve. If you get into the habit of picking up as you go, and returning items to where they belong after you’ve finished with them, you won’t have the big task of tidying to complete before you get on with the cleaning. Just think, when you leave one room to go to another, is there anything you could take with you? Grabbing a snack from the kitchen, take your dirty cup with you. Need the bathroom? Grab the sweater you left on the chair and toss it in the laundry bin when you go. Leaving the house for work? Take the rubbish out. It really is just a habit, and one I’m trying hard to master myself!

4. Rubbish Out
So, with that said, a task I like to get done straight away is taking the trash out. I grab a big bag, empty the bedroom waste paper baskets, the bathroom bin, any loitering rubbish or receipts or junk mail and get it out the house. It instantly feels like you’re a little bit closer to clean!

5. Multitask And Make Your Time Count
If I have dishes from the night before (terrible, I know, but it’s regular here as we eat SO late), I run a bowl of hot water and let them soak. I run upstairs and spray the bathtub, toilet, sink and shower door, and then empty the rubbish as above.
Buy the time the rubbish is in the bin, the bathroom is ready to wipe down, and after the five minutes that all takes, the dishes are presoaked and simple to wash! No scrubbing for me!

6. Let Cleaner Sit For A Few Minutes
Always follow the instructions for your specific cleaning product, but a lot of deep cleaning or antibacterial sprays recommend being left for a couple of minutes before being wiped down. Let the cleaner do it’s job, and do the hard work for you. It cleans better, and saves you some elbow grease.

7. Tackle The Microwave
If you’ve let food splatter the microwave and not wiped it immediately, chances are it’s now a pain in the butt to remove, and a job you don’t want to face. Learn your lesson for next time, and get on and solve the current situation. Microwave a mug half full of water for a minute, and the wipe down with warm water and vinegar. I don’t like to use harsh chemicals on something like the microwave, and vinegar works perfectly. I usually use the hot water from the mug to help, so be careful.

8. Vinegar
In addition to that, vinegar is brilliant for loads of household chores. I won’t list here as it’s a post on it’s own and there’s HEAPS of information out there on the web. Have a gander. You’ll be surprised.

9. Newspaper For Glass
One vinegar use I will share here, however, is for glass. With newspaper, it works a treat. For mirrors, and even the shower door (get the soap off first) it works a treat and leaves a perfect streak free shine. The smell does not linger, and the newspaper doesn’t leave marks. It really works better than any artificial cleaner and cloth.

10. Lint Roller Lampshades
This is one of my favourite little tips. It’s not original, but it’s too good not to share. It picks up dust and fluff perfectly, just as you’d expect a lint roller to do.

11. Put Laundry Away Straight Away
If you tumble dry your clothes, put them away once it’s done. As soon as you leave a simple chore for a few hours, or even overnight (or longer) you start to dread it more. The longer you leave it, the less you want to do it. Which is strange, because it takes just minutes to do, is an easy task, and is so much nicer once it’s done.
We don’t use a tumble dryer, but I still make the effort to fold and put away the clothes as soon as they’ve air-dried.

12. Dust First, Vacuum Last
This is a simple one, but good to remember. Don’t go to the effort of hoovering only to cover your fresh carpets in dust from your surfaces and decorative objects. Dust first, and then vacuum. Then you can sit back and admire your tidy, fresh and clean house without spying dust on the carpet.

13. Steam Clean Floors
I only recently got a steam cleaner and I love it. I might review it in it’s own post, but it’s been so nice to quickly clean the kitchen and bathroom floors without the effort of mopping. It takes a couple of minutes, tops, and is super simple. Just remember to vacuum or sweep first.

14. Clean Your Tools
Last, but certainly not least, keep your equipment in check. After you vacuum, empty it. Put it away empty and it will always be ready for next time. Also, clean the filters. Follow the recommendations for your model and DO IT. It makes such a difference to efficient vacuuming and will make your machine last longer. Throw your cleaning rags and towels in the machine, and keep check of your cleaning equipment. Thoroughly rinse your mop and cloths, and everything will be clean and ready for next time. No excuses now!

For now, with love,
Ellen