Thinking Allowed

Save Yourself a Fortune

By Mariam Mokhtar

There are difficult times ahead especially when increases in household incomes have not kept up with outgoings. As Malaysians gear up for more price hikes and families struggle to manage their household finances, 2014 will be a year of more belt-tightening measures.

The domestic chemical cleaning industry is a multi million ringgit business and we probably spend a small fortune on cleaning products. In the olden days, our mothers and grandmothers had many natural concoctions, for keeping the house clean. The ordinary stock of everyday kitchen goods, like tamarind and vinegar were useful for cleaning, or as a cure for swelling. Money can be saved when we do not have to pay for expensive, proprietary chemical cleaners.

Below, are some tips which I have used to keep the home clean, pleasant smelling and looking good. You would be surprised to know that many of the items used, are probably in your kitchen cupboard. It is surprising what you can do with old newspapers, a kitchen rag, some vinegar or even a can of cheap cola.


Shiny saucepans

Remove burnt-on stains in the saucepan, by bringing some water to the boil in the pan. As the water begins to boil, add a teaspoon of baking soda. Allow the water to boil for 5 minutes, then turn off the heat. Tip the water out and the burnt residue should go with it. Finish off by washing the pan.

Clean the microwave

Place a large slice of lemon into a mug which is half filled with water. Then heat them in the microwave, on full power for 1 minute. Remove the mug and wipe the inside of the microwave with a clean, damp cloth. Any food deposits will wipe away, easily.

Remove cooking odours

Any unwanted smells of curry or burnt food, can be removed by placing a few cloves in a mug (around 250 ml) of vinegar and boiling the two in a saucepan for a few minutes.

Clear mirrors and windows

Dab a few drops of vinegar onto some scrunched up newspaper and give windows or mirrors a good wipe to make them sparkle.

Removing food and grease from cooker hobs

Make a thick paste with bicarbonate of soda and rub this onto the cooker hobs. Leave for around 10-15 minutes before wiping it clean. The same mixture can be used to clean glass oven doors.

Cleaning an oven

An oven which is not too dirty can be cleaned whilst it is still warm, by wiping it with a little bicarbonate of soda on a damp cloth.

Making a fridge smell nice

The walls of the fridge can be wiped with a cloth dipped in lemon juice or if that is too much trouble, put a slice of lemon and leave it on a dish, in the fridge, to absorb the smell.

If you drink ‘real’ coffee, place coffee grounds in a small bowl in the fridge to remove any unwanted smells.


Cleaning the toilet bowl

Friends claim that cheap cola is an effective toilet bowl cleaner. Just pop a mugful of cola into the toilet bowl, leave for a few hours before scrubbing with a toilet brush.

Surface cleaner

Make a paste from one part vinegar to two parts of water and to this mix, add a dash of lemon juice. This works well on bathroom surfaces as well as in the kitchen. Clean behind the taps by dabbing an old toothbrush in this cleanser.


Rust treatment (Garage)

If you have to remove rust from small pieces of metal, soak them overnight in a bowl of cheap cola. By morning, the rust would have been reduced and the metal will be as shiny as new.

Emergency first aid for bee or wasp stings (Garden)

If you have no antihistamine cream or surgical spirit available for immediate relief, apply a solution of bicarbonate of soda to the sting. Remove the bee sting, if it is still in the wound, by flicking the sting away with the edge of a credit card. Do not squeeze the sack of poison, or you will inject more venom into the wound.

Emergency fire extinguisher (Garden)

If the food on the barbecue catches fire and you have no fire extinguisher handy, you can use a can of beer or cola (or other fizzy drink). Shake the can vigorously, then break open the can and direct the fizz onto the burning food to kill the flames. (Only use beer in extreme circumstances…only joking!).


Before shopping, make a list so that you will not be tempted to buy unnecessary items. Make sure you do not go shopping when you are hungry. Shopping on an empty stomach almost always makes you overspend. (Note: If lemon is not available, try lime).

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