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Amid allegations of price gouging, it’s time for big supermarkets to come clean on how they price their products

<p><em><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sanjoy-paul-1141384">Sanjoy Paul</a>, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a></em></p> <p>With inflation driving up the cost of living, many are dreading not just the hassle of a big grocery shop, but also the bruising cost.</p> <p>But while Australians struggle with their budget and spending, several major supermarkets made large profits in 2022–23. Coles and Woolworths, for example, made net profits of <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/business/2023/aug/23/woolworths-posts-162bn-profit-with-dramatic-lift-in-margins-despite-cost-of-living-crisis">A$1.1 billion and A$1.62 billion</a>, respectively.</p> <p><a href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/money/costs/coles-and-woolworths-chief-executives-to-face-senate-inquiry-into-supermarket-price-hikes/news-story/0f74b6d4cac20ee65b818642f4f554ba">Allegations of price gouging</a> by Australian supermarkets have even led to a <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-12-03/greens-move-to-establish-senate-inquiry-into-supermarkets/103179656">Senate inquiry</a> into supermarket pricing.</p> <p>Coles chief executive Leah Weckert has <a href="https://www.colesgroup.com.au/media-releases/?page=coles-group-statement-on-senate-inquiry-into-supermarket-prices">promised</a> to appear at the inquiry, saying the company “works hard to keep prices affordable for Australian households […]” and is ready to “engage in an informed discussion on the factors that influence supermarket pricing.”</p> <p>Woolworths Group chief executive Brad Banducci, meanwhile, <a href="https://www.woolworthsgroup.com.au/au/en/media/latest-news/2023/woolworths-group-confirms-ceo-will-appear-at-senate-inquiry-on-s.html">said</a> he welcomes the chance to explain to the Senate “how we are working to balance the needs of our customers, our team and our suppliers in the context of economy-wide inflationary pressure”.</p> <p>But why wait until a Senate inquiry to explain all that? There’s an opportunity <em>now</em> for the big supermarkets to be more transparent about how they decide what prices to put on products.</p> <h2>Allegations of price gouging</h2> <p>It’s not just <a href="https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-12-03/greens-move-to-establish-senate-inquiry-into-supermarkets/103179656">politicians</a> and <a href="https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/woolworths-photo-exposes-everything-wrong-with-supermarkets-002726485.html">customers</a> complaining about supermarket prices.</p> <p>Australian farmers have also accused Coles and Woolworths of price gouging for <a href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/retail/aussie-farmer-shipping-beautiful-melons-to-japan-rather-than-deal-with-coles-and-woolworths/news-story/bd685cd91f934f31c02c764097f496ae">fruits and vegetables</a>, claiming supermarkets profit too much from their crops.</p> <p>The National Farmers’ Federation has <a href="https://www.freshplaza.com/oceania/article/9583132/farmers-call-for-price-transparency-beyond-supermarket-inquiry/">called</a> for greater transparency from the supermarkets on how they decide prices.</p> <p>A recent <a href="https://www.freshplaza.com/oceania/article/9583132/farmers-call-for-price-transparency-beyond-supermarket-inquiry/">survey</a> by AUSVEG (the peak industry body for the Australian vegetable and potato industries) found 34% of vegetable growers are considering leaving the industry in the next 12 months as they <a href="https://www.news.com.au/finance/business/retail/aussie-farmer-shipping-beautiful-melons-to-japan-rather-than-deal-with-coles-and-woolworths/news-story/bd685cd91f934f31c02c764097f496ae">struggle</a> to turn a profit.</p> <p>When asked about calls for more transparent pricing, a Woolworths spokesperson told The Conversation:</p> <blockquote> <p>We publish both our average gross margin and EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) margin transparently in our public financial reports.</p> <p>Supply chain costs are different for every product and they are constantly fluctuating, as are our buying costs in the case of fresh food like fruit and vegetables.</p> <p>Shoppers are very savvy. We operate in a highly competitive industry and we know our customers will – and do – shop around to find the best value.</p> <p>As we start to see the rate of inflation ease, we will continue to focus on delivering savings to our customers.</p> </blockquote> <p>Coles was also contacted for comment but did not reply before publication deadline.</p> <h2>Factoring in many costs</h2> <p>When a retailer buys products from their suppliers, it involves a supply chain that includes supply, manufacturing, transportation and distribution, warehouse and storage.</p> <p>There are several costs – such as product costs, transportation fees, labour, rent, inventory and more – involved at every step of the process.</p> <p>The supermarket must factor in all costs, as well as its profit margin, when it sets the selling price for a product.</p> <p>Organisations usually have these cost breakdowns as part of their internal decision-making – but they don’t typically disclose these calculations to their customers.</p> <h2>Not disclosing the cost breakdowns</h2> <p>The problem for supermarkets is that when they don’t disclose details such as their buying price or supply chain costs, it can contribute to anger among customers and suppliers.</p> <p>Apple and Pear Australia Limited – the national peak industry body for apple and pear growers – has <a href="https://apal.org.au/retailers-need-to-demonstrate-greater-price-transparency/">called for</a> retailers to demonstrate greater price transparency, saying, “frustration at the behaviour of the major retailers has again angered many growers”.</p> <p>Of course, supermarkets use several pricing strategies to win customer support – such as locking in prices for a certain period of time, everyday low prices on key products, specials, price-matching and discounts.</p> <p>Supermarkets spend millions of dollars on these price-related advertisements, but perhaps they would get more community support by simply disclosing cost breakdowns on their websites and in-store to show their commitment to transparent and fair pricing.</p> <h2>Transparent and fair pricing</h2> <p>Research shows price transparency helps businesses build trust with their <a href="https://fastercapital.com/content/The-Importance-of-Price-Transparency-in-Pricing-Psychology.html">customers</a>.</p> <p>Many major retailers already have this information for internal decision-making, so could display this online and in stores.</p> <p>Yes, prices change constantly due to factors outside their control – such as fuel prices, shipping problems or even supply chain issues linked to global conflict. But being more open with customers about these issues could help repair relationships and their public image.</p> <p>Perhaps there may even be a role for government, which could collaborate with supermarkets and retailers to develop policies for transparent and fair pricing.</p> <p>Everyday Australians deserve to be treated fairly and given the information they need about how major supermarkets price their products, so they can make informed decisions at the checkout.<!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/219316/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/sanjoy-paul-1141384"><em>Sanjoy Paul</em></a><em>, Associate Professor, UTS Business School, <a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/university-of-technology-sydney-936">University of Technology Sydney</a></em></p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/amid-allegations-of-price-gouging-its-time-for-big-supermarkets-to-come-clean-on-how-they-price-their-products-219316">original article</a>.</em></p>

Money & Banking

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Aussie actresses clean up at the Golden Globes

<p>Awards season has officially kicked off in Hollywood, with A-listers flocking to the Los Angeles Beverly Hilton Hotel on Monday for the 81st annual Golden Globes. </p> <p>With the very best of the best in the entertainment industry nominated for the best film and television moments of 2023, some of our own Aussie talent walked away with some of the biggest awards of the night. </p> <p>Aussie actress Elizabeth Debicki emerged as an early winner for the TV categories, taking home the award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Princess Diana in <em>The Crown</em>. </p> <p>She beat out the likes of Meryl Streep (for her role in <em>Only Murders in the Building</em>) and Hannah Waddingham (for her role in <em>Ted Lasso</em>) for the award, as she has long been praised by royal fans for her touching portrayal of the late Princess of Wales' last years. </p> <p>Also coming out on top in another television category was Aussie actress Sarah Snook, who was the recipient of one of the biggest honours of the night, Best Actress in a drama, for her incredible performance in the final season of <em>Succession</em>.</p> <p>Meanwhile for outstanding achievements in film, Margot Robbie and the whole <em>Barbie</em> team took home the inaugural Cinematic and Box Office Achievement award, following the global hype of Barbie mania back in July. </p> <p>Margot was also nominated for Best Actress in a musical or comedy for <em>Barbie</em>, but was ultimately pipped by Emma Stone for her incredible performance in <em>Poor Things</em>.</p> <p>Elsewhere in the awards, <em>Oppenheimer</em> came out on top with Cillian Murphy taking home the award for Best Actor for portraying scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer in the three-hour long epic, with the film also being crowned Best Picture and Christopher Nolan taking home the Best Director award. </p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images </em></p>

TV

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Harry Connick Jnr finally comes clean on feud with Kyle

<p>Kyle Sandilands and Harry Connick Jr. have hashed out their rumoured ongoing feud, calling a truce live on air. </p> <p>The radio shock jock welcomed the singer on <em>The Kyle and Jackie O Show</em> on Wednesday morning to discuss his upcoming Australian tour, when Sandilands brought up their long-running beef. </p> <p>“You know what I admire about Harry, and I’ve watched Harry too,” he told co-host Jackie O when Connick Jr. was on the line.</p> <p>“When you think some doesn't like you, you watch them, you, over-analyse them and you start getting in your head, ‘I wonder why he doesn’t like me?’”</p> <p>Kyle then discussed some lessons he had learned from Harry during their time on Australian Idol together, “What I do know about Harry, and he told the Idol contestants this last year, is read the room. You’ve got to perform to whoever is there, whether it’s an auditorium or it’s to three people on a TV show.”</p> <p>Rather than welcoming the compliment, Connick Jr. thought Sandilands was being sarcastic and "tricky" by stirring the pot. </p> <p>“I see how tricky you are, slipping in there that I don’t like you,” the star said on air. “I don’t know where you got that from. I do like you very much and I really enjoyed our time together. So I see you trying to flip that in there, but you’re not gonna get that past me, pal.”</p> <p>Henderson said Sandilands may have been “paranoid”, while he agreed he “misread” the situation.</p> <p>“So this whole time, I should’ve maybe asked,” he told Connick Jr, who replied: “I love my wife and kids, and I’ve been very lucky in may career. Life is too short for any kind of … I just love life. So when you say I don’t like you, I’m not sure where that comes from, but for the record, I do like you very much and so everything is cool from my end.”</p> <p>While he accepted the explanation, Sandilands also remained slightly sceptical because Connick Jr “is a very good actor” after all, he said.</p> <p>“But Kyle the thing about actors is we don’t lie – we tell the truth,” replied Connick Jr.</p> <p>“You gotta tell the truth in the scene because, if you’re lying, you’re not being true to your character.”</p> <p>Sandilands then urged listeners to forget “everything I’ve ever said about Harry”.</p> <p><em>Image credits: KIIS FM / Getty Images</em></p>

TV

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9 tricky ways to clean your house while you sleep

<p><strong>1. Soak a showerhead</strong></p> <p>Mineral deposits can clog a showerhead and affect its pressure over time. To clean, fill a plastic bag with vinegar. Place the bag around the showerhead, submerging it in the liquid.</p> <p>Secure the bag to the neck of the showerhead with a twist tie and leave overnight. The vinegar will break down the buildup by morning.</p> <p><strong>2. Remove stains on pots and pans </strong></p> <p>If a batch of cookies left your baking sheet gunky, let a dryer sheet clean it overnight. Place the sheet on the pan and fill with warm water.</p> <p>Cleaning agents in the dryer sheet will help loosen stuck-on grime and stains. In the morning, easily wipe off with a sponge.</p> <p><strong>3. Polish stove grates </strong></p> <p>Cleaning greasy, food-splattered stove burners can be a tiresome chore. Before you go to bed, seal each burner in a large plastic bag with ¼ cup of ammonia.</p> <p>The overnight soak will make it easy to wipe off the surface with a sponge the following day.</p> <p><strong>4. Banish rust on tools </strong></p> <p>If your rusty tools have seen better days, fill a tray with Coca-Cola. Submerge the tools, allow to soak overnight, and scrub clean with a stiff brush in the morning.</p> <p>The soda’s phosphoric acid will help loosen the gunk.</p> <p><strong>5. Eliminate wet messes </strong></p> <p>If your sofa or carpet became the victim of an icky, wet mess (say, vomit or urine), mix a paste of baking soda and water to soak it up.</p> <p>Use a spoon to spread the paste over the soiled area. Allow to dry overnight, then vacuum in the morning.</p> <p><strong>6. Descale a kettle </strong></p> <p>Limescale can build up from calcium carbonate deposits in water, leading to an off-white, chalky deposit in your kettle.</p> <p>To clean, cut a lemon into large slices, place in the kettle, and add water. Bring to a boil, then take the kettle off the heat and leave overnight.</p> <p>The lemon’s citric acid will loosen the limescale. Toss the fruit and water mixture in the morning and rinse before using your newly cleaned kettle.</p> <p><strong>7. Clean bath toys</strong></p> <p>To make grubby rubber duckies, boats, and other bath toys new again, mix one gallon warm water with ¾ cup vinegar. Soak the toys overnight. Rinse thoroughly and allow to air dry.</p> <p><strong>8. Make diamonds sparkle</strong> </p> <p>Quickly polish a diamond ring by filling a bottle cap with Windex. Soak the ring overnight and dry with a soft cloth in the morning to remove grime and add shine.</p> <p><strong>9. Remove red wine stains</strong></p> <p>If red wine marked up your favorite garment, sprinkle the stain with salt and cover with club soda. The salt absorbs the stain while the club soda’s carbonation and sodium helps lift it. Leave overnight before laundering.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/diy-tips/9-ways-clean-house-your-sleep" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Home & Garden

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Outrage after renters confronted with cleaning “scoring system”

<p dir="ltr">An Australian real estate agent has come under fire for their “demoralising” scoring system for tenants during routine inspections. </p> <p dir="ltr">One fired up renter said they were shocked to receive a scorecard from the agent after they complied with an inspection, and shared their feedback on Reddit. </p> <p dir="ltr">The scorecard rated the tenant’s efforts cleaning the property in 17 different rooms and areas, marking them on cleanliness, and if the areas were damaged or required maintenance. </p> <p dir="ltr">The renter was then also given an overall rating out of five stars, based on the upkeep of their rental home. </p> <p dir="ltr">The Reddit user showed that they received just three and half stars, despite being marked down in only one area due to a light globe not working.</p> <p dir="ltr">In their post, the tenant said they had made every effort to clean the home, adding that the rating was “demoralising”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I’ve been renting a long time, and my deep cleaning routine is based around inspections,” they explained.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I go all out - every room in my little 3x2 villa is given a spring clean, every surface is washed including walls, doors, lights, windows, carpets etc.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“Had my latest inspection a few weeks ago and just received the report. Despite the agent commenting once again that she never sees houses as clean as mine, and taking 112 (!) photos of every single thing that shows how great the condition of the house is - having one light globe not working is so terrible that I’m scored three and a half out of five.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The renter went on to say that they had only recently discovered that the broken light globe was the real estate’s responsibility to replace, and does not warrant such a severe marking down in their “score”.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The globe in question is a downlight fitting. We have so many downlights that I don’t even use this particular one,” they continued.</p> <p dir="ltr">“I can’t replace the globe itself, I need to get into the roof to replace the whole unit. Thanks to people here I’ve learned this isn’t even my responsibility to fix!”</p> <p dir="ltr">The renter’s post sparked a huge outrage online, with many up in arms over the current state of the rental market and unrealistic expectations of estate agents. </p> <p dir="ltr">One person said, “I fully believe that the average renter keeps a home to a higher standard than an owner, and it seems deliberately demoralising that someone could be marked down for having a light out.”</p> <p dir="ltr">Another added, “This is ridiculously petty, and more importantly, totally irrelevant to the purpose of a periodic inspection. Which is to identify whether any maintenance is needed.”</p> <p dir="ltr">A third person took their anger out on the entire system, summing it up by writing, “I sort of wonder what little lightbulb clicks in your mind and you wake up one day and ask yourself, ‘How can I be a massive c*** who offers no value to society? I know! I will get into real estate.’”</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: Getty Images / Reddit</em></p>

Real Estate

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What do the different colours of mould mean in my house?

<p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-taylor-228803">Michael Taylor</a>, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a></em></p> <p>You may be interested (or possibly horrified) to discover you ingest and inhale thousands of tiny life forms on a daily basis.</p> <p>The air and surfaces around you are home to multitudes of <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/B978012394805200004X">bacteria, fungi, viruses</a>, mites, algae and <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0043135400004206">protozoa</a>. Your skin isn’t much better, with a complex ecosystem of organisms called commensals which aren’t necessarily good or bad, but will shift in their composition depending on <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/nature11053">where you live</a>, <a href="https://www.mdpi.com/2079-9284/6/1/2">the products you use</a> and <a href="https://elifesciences.org/articles/458">the pets you have</a>.</p> <p>Most of these creatures are generally undetectable due to their microscopic size and low concentrations. But when they find a niche they can exploit, you might notice them by their smell, or the appearance of unwanted staining and colour changes. A lot of this fungal growth is what we call mould.</p> <p>We’ve all been disappointed in ourselves at one time or another, lifting a neglected orange out of the fruit bowl to discover the bottom half is covered in a velvety blue-green growth.</p> <p>But what do the myriad colours that appear on our stuff tell us about the world we try not to think about?</p> <h2>Black</h2> <p>Often black staining is quite a disturbing occurrence. The concept of toxic black mould is one many people have become aware of due to <a href="https://theconversation.com/fungi-after-the-floods-how-to-get-rid-of-mould-to-protect-your-health-111341">flood impacts</a>.</p> <p>A quick online search will likely terrify you, but not all black discolouration is due to the same organisms, and almost none of it will outright cause you harm.</p> <p><em>Stachybotrys</em> is the one known as toxic black mould. It often turns up on <a href="https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/pdf/10.1289/ehp.99107s3505">building materials that have been wet for a long time</a>.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533907/original/file-20230626-67275-zxd3ah.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533907/original/file-20230626-67275-zxd3ah.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533907/original/file-20230626-67275-zxd3ah.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=384&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533907/original/file-20230626-67275-zxd3ah.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=384&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533907/original/file-20230626-67275-zxd3ah.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=384&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533907/original/file-20230626-67275-zxd3ah.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=483&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533907/original/file-20230626-67275-zxd3ah.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=483&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533907/original/file-20230626-67275-zxd3ah.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=483&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="A severely mouldy wall covered in grey and black blotches" /></a><figcaption></figcaption>When the grout in your shower turns black though, that’s a different fungus called <em><a href="https://www.ajol.info/index.php/ajb/article/view/130453">Aureobasidium</a></em>. It’s slimy, sticky and somewhere between a filamentous mould, which grows threadlike roots through whatever it’s eating, and a yeast, which prefer a free-floating, single-celled style of life.</figure> <p>Bleaching will often kill <em>Aureobasidium</em>, but the dark pigmentation will likely hang around – harmlessly, but stubbornly.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533894/original/file-20230626-19-68wsem.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533894/original/file-20230626-19-68wsem.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533894/original/file-20230626-19-68wsem.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533894/original/file-20230626-19-68wsem.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533894/original/file-20230626-19-68wsem.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=338&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533894/original/file-20230626-19-68wsem.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=425&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533894/original/file-20230626-19-68wsem.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=425&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533894/original/file-20230626-19-68wsem.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=425&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="A close-up of white grout between grey tiles with black spots on it" /></a></figure> <h2>Blue</h2> <p>That blue orange I mentioned before, you can thank <em>Penicillium</em> for that. The organism that <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0168160512000852">gives us blue cheese</a> and the antibiotic penicillin is also responsible for producing a dense growth of mould that almost looks like smoke when disturbed, spreading millions of spores onto the rest of your fruit bowl.</p> <p><em>Penicillium</em> is a big group with <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0166061620300129">hundreds of species</a>, ranging from recognised pathogens to species yet to be named. However, the ones that turn up in our homes are generally the same “weed” species that simply cause food spoilage or grow in soil.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533895/original/file-20230626-107392-7jinnz.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533895/original/file-20230626-107392-7jinnz.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533895/original/file-20230626-107392-7jinnz.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533895/original/file-20230626-107392-7jinnz.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533895/original/file-20230626-107392-7jinnz.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533895/original/file-20230626-107392-7jinnz.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533895/original/file-20230626-107392-7jinnz.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533895/original/file-20230626-107392-7jinnz.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Close-up of a bright orange with a fuzzy blue mould spot on it" /></a></figure> <h2>Yellow and orange</h2> <p>We often think of fungi as organisms that thrive in the dark, but that’s not always true. In fact, some need exposure to light – and ultraviolet (UV) light in particular – to complete their life cycle.</p> <p>Many plant pathogens use UV light exposure as a trigger to produce their spores, and then protect their DNA by <a href="https://link.springer.com/article/10.1134/S0003683814020094">hiding it behind melanin-containing shells</a>.</p> <p><em>Stemphylium</em> and <em>Epicoccum</em> turn up in our homes from time to time, often hitching a ride on natural fibres such as jute, hemp and hessian. They produce a spectrum of staining that can often turn damp items yellow, brown or orange.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533948/original/file-20230626-15121-eh3869.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533948/original/file-20230626-15121-eh3869.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533948/original/file-20230626-15121-eh3869.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533948/original/file-20230626-15121-eh3869.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533948/original/file-20230626-15121-eh3869.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533948/original/file-20230626-15121-eh3869.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533948/original/file-20230626-15121-eh3869.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533948/original/file-20230626-15121-eh3869.png?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="A piece of wood laminate with yellow patches on it" /></a><figcaption></figcaption></figure> <p>We’re all fairly familiar with the green spots that turn up on mouldy bread, cake and other food items. Often we try to convince ourselves if we just cut off the bad bit, we can still salvage lunch.</p> <p>Sadly that’s not the case, as the roots of the fungi – collectively called mycelium – spread through the food, digesting and collecting sufficient nutrients to pop out a series of tiny fruiting bodies which produce the coloured spores you see.</p> <p>The green tuft is often from a group of fungi called <em>Aspergillus</em>. Under the microscope they look rather like the puffy top of a dandelion gone to seed.</p> <p>Like <em>Penicillium</em>, <em>Aspergillus</em> is another big fungal group with lots of species that turn up virtually in every environment. Some are <a href="https://academic.oup.com/mmy/article/43/Supplement_1/S87/1748298">heat tolerant</a>, some <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21553769.2015.1033653">love acid</a> and some will happily produce spores that <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1749461311000406">stay airborne for days to months at a time</a>.</p> <p>In the green gang is also a fungus called <em>Trichoderma</em>, which is Latin for “hairy skin”. <em>Trichoderma</em> produces masses of forest-green, spherical spores which tend to grow on wet cardboard or dirty carpet.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533897/original/file-20230626-160496-7cuh4q.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533897/original/file-20230626-160496-7cuh4q.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533897/original/file-20230626-160496-7cuh4q.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533897/original/file-20230626-160496-7cuh4q.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533897/original/file-20230626-160496-7cuh4q.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533897/original/file-20230626-160496-7cuh4q.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533897/original/file-20230626-160496-7cuh4q.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533897/original/file-20230626-160496-7cuh4q.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="A pile of green grains on a small round tray" /></a></figure> <h2>Pink, purple and red</h2> <p>There are plenty to speak of in this category. And there is also a common bacterium that makes the list.</p> <p><em>Neurospora</em>, also known as the red bread mould, is one of the most studied fungi in scientific literature. It’s another common, non-hazardous one that has been used as <a href="https://bsapubs.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.3732/ajb.1400377">a model organism</a> to observe fungal genetics, evolution and growth.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533913/original/file-20230626-24-eh3869.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img style="display: block; margin-left: auto; margin-right: auto;" src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533913/original/file-20230626-24-eh3869.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533913/original/file-20230626-24-eh3869.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533913/original/file-20230626-24-eh3869.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533913/original/file-20230626-24-eh3869.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=400&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533913/original/file-20230626-24-eh3869.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533913/original/file-20230626-24-eh3869.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533913/original/file-20230626-24-eh3869.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=503&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="A block of orange mouldy substance sitting on a banana leaf" /></a><figcaption></figcaption><em>Fusarium</em> is less common indoors, being <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0261219416302794">an important crop pathogen</a>, but will sometimes turn spoiled rice purple. It also occasionally turns up on wet cement sheet, causing splotchy violet patches. <em>Fusarium</em> makes large, sticky, moon-shaped spores that have evolved to spread by rain splashes and hang onto plants. However, it is fairly bad at getting airborne and so doesn’t tend to spread very far from where it’s growing.</figure> <p>Finally in this category, that pink scum that turns up around bathroom taps or in the shower? It’s actually a bacterium called <em>Serratia</em>. It will happily chew up the soap scum residue left over in bathrooms, and has been shown to <a href="https://journals.asm.org/doi/full/10.1128/AEM.02632-10">survive in liquid soaps and handwash</a>.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533900/original/file-20230626-98733-ggql6s.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533900/original/file-20230626-98733-ggql6s.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533900/original/file-20230626-98733-ggql6s.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=337&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533900/original/file-20230626-98733-ggql6s.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=337&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533900/original/file-20230626-98733-ggql6s.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=337&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533900/original/file-20230626-98733-ggql6s.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=424&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533900/original/file-20230626-98733-ggql6s.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=424&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533900/original/file-20230626-98733-ggql6s.jpg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=424&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="Close-up of white tile grout covered in a pink translucent film" /></a><figcaption></figcaption></figure> <h2>White</h2> <p>When fungi were first being classified and were eventually given their own phylogenetic kingdom, there were lots of wonderful and not strictly categorical ways we tried to split them up. One of these was hyaline and non-hyaline, essentially referring to transparent and coloured, respectively.</p> <p>One of the interesting non-pigmented moulds you may well catch sight of is a thing called <em>Isaria farinosa</em> (“farinosa” being Latin for “floury”). This fungus is a parasite of some moths and cicadas and is visible as brilliant white, <a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09583150802471812">tree-shaped growths on their unfortunate hosts</a>.</p> <figure class="align-center zoomable"><a href="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533911/original/file-20230626-72187-xubf6k.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=1000&amp;fit=clip"><img src="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533911/original/file-20230626-72187-xubf6k.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;fit=clip" sizes="(min-width: 1466px) 754px, (max-width: 599px) 100vw, (min-width: 600px) 600px, 237px" srcset="https://images.theconversation.com/files/533911/original/file-20230626-72187-xubf6k.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 600w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533911/original/file-20230626-72187-xubf6k.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1200w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533911/original/file-20230626-72187-xubf6k.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=600&amp;h=450&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 1800w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533911/original/file-20230626-72187-xubf6k.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=45&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=1 754w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533911/original/file-20230626-72187-xubf6k.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=30&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=2 1508w, https://images.theconversation.com/files/533911/original/file-20230626-72187-xubf6k.jpeg?ixlib=rb-1.1.0&amp;q=15&amp;auto=format&amp;w=754&amp;h=566&amp;fit=crop&amp;dpr=3 2262w" alt="A dead bug on a green forest floor with white and yellow growths sticking out of it" /></a><figcaption></figcaption></figure> <p>So when you notice the world around you changing colour, you can marvel with your newfound knowledge at the microscopic wonders that live complex lives alongside yours. Then maybe clean it up, and give the fruit bowl a wash. <!-- Below is The Conversation's page counter tag. Please DO NOT REMOVE. --><img style="border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; margin: 0 !important; max-height: 1px !important; max-width: 1px !important; min-height: 1px !important; min-width: 1px !important; opacity: 0 !important; outline: none !important; padding: 0 !important;" src="https://counter.theconversation.com/content/207737/count.gif?distributor=republish-lightbox-basic" alt="The Conversation" width="1" height="1" /><!-- End of code. If you don't see any code above, please get new code from the Advanced tab after you click the republish button. The page counter does not collect any personal data. More info: https://theconversation.com/republishing-guidelines --></p> <p><em>Image credit: Getty / Shutterstock</em></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/profiles/michael-taylor-228803">Michael Taylor</a>, Adjunct academic, <em><a href="https://theconversation.com/institutions/flinders-university-972">Flinders University</a></em></p> <p>This article is republished from <a href="https://theconversation.com">The Conversation</a> under a Creative Commons license. Read the <a href="https://theconversation.com/what-do-the-different-colours-of-mould-mean-in-my-house-207737">original article</a>.</p>

Home & Garden

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The hidden dangers of household products

<p>The materials, fabrics and fragrances contained inside our homes are host to thousands of chemicals that may pose a threat to human health.</p> <p>Healthy home expert Nicole Bijlsma says there simply aren’t enough regulations to ensure the products and materials in our homes are safe for consumers.</p> <p>“We have this incredible, unregulated, chemical onslaught in our household products, personal care products, building materials and cleaning products which is why the burden of chemicals is increasing with each generation,” Bijlsma says.</p> <p>“Just because it’s on the supermarket shelf doesn’t mean it’s been tested.”</p> <p>The largely unregulated cleaning product industry is often placed under scrutiny in the fight against chemicals but Bijsma says this issue extends to all areas of the home.</p> <p>“What happens is we wait for the disease to occur in the general population before we look back and realise [the harm]…It’s a stupid system; it doesn’t protect consumers and it certainly does not protect the most vulnerable in our society– our children and the unborn fetus.”</p> <p>Only through thorough research can consumers determine where their products are being sourced, under what conditions they’ve been made and the impact they may have on health. Even then there are gaps.</p> <p>Imported items are not under the same regulations as those made in New Zealand.</p> <p>“A lot of the products, especially furnishings, you can’t load with formaldehyde but if you import them from Asia as most people do, they’re going to be loaded with chemicals…Bijlsma says. </p> <p>Bijlsma advises going back to basics when selecting materials and products, reducing the chemical load, choosing natural fibres and buying home made.</p> <p>“The big problem is most chemicals in building materials and household products have never been tested for their impact on human health,” Bijlsma says.</p> <p>Creating a healthy home is of the utmost importance to homeowner Irena Bukhshtaber, who has recently extended her  home to be 100 per cent sustainable and hypoallergenic.</p> <p>“Because our industry standards are so high, usually it’s a local product too…Watch out for imports, from floorboards to air-conditioning, as there’s no way to guarantee what they say on the label unless the seller can guarantee provenance or knows the company.”</p> <p>Despite the time-consuming research process (three years) of renovating the home to a healthy standard Bukhshtaber says the outcome has been worth the effort.</p> <p>“How difficult is it to live with sick or tired family members? How hard is it to live your values? If the outcome is positive then it’s not difficult, but it is time consuming and does require you to spend time researching, calling and discussing with suppliers.”</p> <p>To keep her costs down when renovating, Bukhshtaber advises determining the elements of a home that matter most to you, whether this be using recycled materials, limited chemicals, high-quality design, ethical manufacturing or buying New Zealand made.</p> <p>“None of these things are mutually exclusive but you do need a hierarchy in mind as no one has unlimited budget,” Bukhshtaber says.</p> <p><em>Written by Amelia Barnes. First appeared on</em> <a href="http://www.domain.com.au/" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><em><strong>Domain.com.au.</strong></em></span></a></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p> <p> </p>

Home Hints & Tips

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How to clean these bathroom items that get overlooked

<p>Cleaning the bathroom will not only make your house feel nicer for but it is important for your hygiene as so many bathroom items are used on a daily basis. Even if your bathtub, shower, tiles and sink is clean, these bathroom items deserve your frequent attention.</p> <p><strong>1. Toothbrush and toothbrush holder</strong></p> <p>For obvious reasons keeping your toothbrush and toothbrush holder clean is vital to your mouth health. To keep your toothbrush clean, make sure you rinse it well after each use to avoid a build-up of toothpaste.  Frequently you should do a deep clean of your toothbrush and this can be done by leaving it in a cup of vinegar for 30 minutes. The vinegar will remove the build of bacteria on your toothbrush. Remember to replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months and then you can use your old one for cleaning. A toothbrush holder can be cleaned thoroughly by putting it in the dishwasher or you can rinse it out in hot water and dish soap to remove the build-up of gunk.</p> <p><strong>2. Loofah</strong></p> <p>Loofahs do a great of cleaning bodies but it is important to remember to clean them as well. Your loofah can be cleaned by submerging in a 50/50 mixture of hot water and vinegar for an hour. Then leave it to dry. This method can also be used on sponges or wash cloths.</p> <p><strong>3. Razors</strong></p> <p>It is important to clean your razor as a wet razor can become rusty and a moist blade can cause ingrown hairs and irritation when shaving. To keep your razor in top condition, put some rubbing alcohol on a cotton pad and swipe across your razor. Dry your razor with a towel once you are done and store your razor in a dry place in your bathroom.</p> <p><strong>4. Toilet brush</strong></p> <p>To give your toilet brush a thorough clean, rest the brush between the toilet bowl and seat after cleaning the toilet. Spray the brush with a disinfectant and then let it sit as it drips for ten minutes or so. Then rinse the brush in very hot water and allow it to drip dry again. The<strong> </strong>brush holder<strong> </strong>should also be cleaned with disinfectant and then leaving it for ten minutes and rinsing with hot water.</p> <p><strong>5. Plunger</strong></p> <p>After each use of the plunger, spray it with a disinfectant and leave for ten minutes and then let it air dry. It is helpful to store your plunger with a plastic bag so that way, after you use it you can put in the bag and then take it somewhere to clean to avoid any dripping. Don’t re-use the plastic bag.</p> <p><em>Image: Getty</em></p>

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19 handy uses for toothpaste that have nothing to do with your teeth

<h2>Remove scuffs from shoes</h2> <p>A little toothpaste does an amazing job of removing scuffs from leather shoes. Just squirt a dab on the scuffed area and rub with a soft cloth. Wipe clean with a damp cloth. The leather will look like new.</p> <h2>Clean your piano keys</h2> <p>Has tickling the ivories left them a bit dingy? Clean them up with toothpaste and a toothbrush, then wipe them down with a damp cloth. Makes sense, since ivory is essentially elephant teeth. However, toothpaste will work just as well on modern pianos that usually have keys covered with plastic rather than real ivory.</p> <h2>Clean your sneakers</h2> <p>Want to clean and whiten the rubber part of your sneakers? Get out the non-gel toothpaste and an old toothbrush. After scrubbing, clean off the toothpaste with a damp cloth.</p> <h2>Clean your clothes iron</h2> <p>The mild abrasive in non-gel toothpaste is just the ticket for scrubbing the gunk off the bottom plate of your clothes iron. Apply the toothpaste to the cool iron, scrub with a rag, then rinse clean.</p> <h2>Polish a diamond ring</h2> <p>Put a little toothpaste on an old toothbrush and use it to make your diamond ring sparkle instead of your teeth. Clean off the residue with a damp cloth.</p> <h2>Deodorise baby bottles</h2> <p>Baby bottles inevitably pick up a sour-milk smell. Toothpaste will remove the odour in a jiffy. Just put some on your bottle brush and scrub away. Be sure to rinse thoroughly.</p> <h2>Prevent fogged goggles</h2> <p>Whether you are doing woodworking or going skiing or scuba diving, nothing is more frustrating (and sometimes dangerous) than fogged goggles. Prevent the problem by coating the goggles with toothpaste and then wiping them off.</p> <h2>Prevent bathroom mirrors from fogging</h2> <p>Ouch! You cut yourself shaving and it’s no wonder – you can’t see your face clearly in that fogged-up bathroom mirror. Next time, coat the mirror with non-gel toothpaste and wipe it off before you get in the shower. When you get out, the mirror won’t be fogged.</p> <h2>Shine bathroom and kitchen chrome</h2> <p>They make commercial cleaners with a very fine abrasive designed to shine up chrome, but if you don’t have any handy, the fine abrasive in non-gel toothpaste works just as well. Just smear on the toothpaste and polish with a soft, dry cloth.</p> <h2>Clean the bathroom sink</h2> <p>Non-gel toothpaste works as well as anything else to clean the bathroom sink. The tube’s sitting right there, so just squirt some in, scrub with a sponge, and rinse it out. Bonus: the toothpaste will kill any odours emanating from the drain trap.</p> <h2>Remove crayon from walls</h2> <p>Did crayon-toting kids get creative on your wall? Roll up your sleeves and grab a tube of non-gel toothpaste and a rag or – better yet – a scrub brush. Squirt the toothpaste on the wall and start scrubbing. The fine abrasive in the toothpaste will rub away the crayon every time. Rinse the wall with water.</p> <h2>Remove ink or lipstick stains from fabric</h2> <p>Oh no, a pen opened up in the pocket of your favourite shirt! This may or may not work, depending on the fabric and the ink, but it is certainly worth a try before consigning the shirt to the scrap bin. Put non-gel toothpaste on the stain and rub the fabric vigorously together. Rinse with water. Did some of the ink come out? Great! Repeat the process a few more times until you get rid of all the ink. The same process works for lipstick</p> <h2>Remove watermarks from furniture</h2> <p>You leave coasters around. But some people just won’t use them. To get rid of those telltale watermark rings left by sweating beverages, gently rub some non-gel toothpaste on the wood with a soft cloth. Then wipe it off with a damp cloth and let it dry before applying furniture polish.</p> <h2>Clear up pimples</h2> <p>Dab a bit of non-gel, non-whitening toothpaste on the offending spot, and it should be dried up by morning. The toothpaste dehydrates the pimple and absorbs the oil. This remedy works best on pimples that have come to a head. Caution: this remedy may be irritating to sensitive skin.</p> <h2>Clean smells from hands</h2> <p>The ingredients in toothpaste that deodorise your mouth will work on your hands as well. If you’ve gotten into something stinky, wash your hands with toothpaste, and they’ll smell great.</p> <h2>Stop bug bites from itching</h2> <p>Put toothpaste on your bug bite to keep it from itching. Dab a dime-sized amount onto your bug bite. This method also helps to cool down burns on your skin.</p> <h2>Remove a stain from the carpet</h2> <p>Rub toothpaste into the stain on the carpet with a toothbrush or sponge. Rinse with water and repeat until the stain comes up.</p> <h2>Clean your foggy headlights</h2> <p>Make the headlights on your car shine like new. Put toothpaste onto a sponge and scrub your headlight in circular motions. Wipe the toothpaste off with a damp cloth.</p> <h2>Remove small scratches from your phone screen</h2> <p>Rub toothpaste on the front or back of your phone (wherever there are scratches). The toothpaste will work to reduce the look of the scratches and make your phone screen look much better.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/diy-tips/19-handy-uses-for-toothpaste-that-have-nothing-to-do-with-your-teeth" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>. </em></p>

Home Hints & Tips

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How to deep clean your kitchen bin

<p>Cleaning the kitchen bin is household chore that can be easily overlooked until a stench begins to creep into your home.</p> <p>To rid your bin of the odour, follow these deep cleaning steps so that you can have a fresh-smelling and clean kitchen bin.</p> <p><strong>1. Put on your rubber gloves</strong></p> <p>Cleaning a bin requires you to handle an object that has been full of food scraps and questionable liquids, it is best to wear some rubber gloves to protect you from the germs.</p> <p><strong>2. Empty the bin</strong></p> <p>Begin by emptying your bin and ensuring that there are no lingering food particles in the bottom. Your main objective is to remove any gunk that can be seen.</p> <p><strong>3. Wash the bin</strong></p> <p>If you have access to an outside area, take your bin outside and hose it down. If you can only clean your bin indoors, then you can do this in the bathtub. Once the bin has been rinsed, pat it down with paper towel.</p> <p><strong>4. Spray with disinfectant</strong></p> <p>Using a disinfectant cleaner of your preference, generously spray down the inside and outside of your bin. Also include the top and bottom of the bin as you spray.</p> <p><strong>5. Scrub the bin</strong></p> <p>Use a toilet brush or other long-handled nylon bristle brush to scrub your bin thoroughly. After you have finished scrubbing all over, let the disinfectant cleaner sit for five minutes.</p> <p><strong>6. Rinse and dry</strong></p> <p>After the five minutes has passed, rinse the can thoroughly. Depending on what you prefer, let the bin dry in the sun or dry it with a towel.</p> <p>Once you have deep cleaned your bin, maintain your hard work by wiping down the inside and outside of the bin with disinfectant spray every time you empty the trash can.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

Home & Garden

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10 tips for cleaning your car’s interior

<h2>Clear rubbish</h2> <p>Before you pull out the vacuum and cleaning supplies, clear out all the obvious rubbish. Check everywhere thoroughly. There will likely be rubbish on the floor, under the seats and in the seat cracks. Toss out any wrappers, bottles, toys and other objects that your vacuum can’t handle.</p> <h2>Tackle floor mats</h2> <p>Pull the floor mats out of the vehicle and shake them out as much as possible. This will make vacuuming easier. Scrub them with soap and hot water or a foaming carpet cleaner and allow them to air dry completely before reinstalling them.</p> <h2>Vacuum, vacuum, vacuum</h2> <p>Vacuum both front and back seats, the floor and, if necessary, the boot. Vacuum every area of the vehicle where you can get the nozzle, including under the pedals and along the side door panels.</p> <h2>Wipe away grime</h2> <p>Now that the car is vacuumed, grab a soft cloth or cleaning wipes to wipe up all that dirt, sticky stuff and dust. You can also spray a small amount of car-specific cleaner over the console, steering wheel and the area between the seats to restore that new-car look.</p> <h2>Clean cup holders</h2> <p>Cup holders can harbour grime – and the residue from sticky spilled drinks. Try using a cotton swab dipped in a little cleaning solution to reach those difficult areas.</p> <h2>Wipe windows</h2> <p>Spray a window cleaner solution on windows and wipe clean with a paper towel or microfibre cloth. You can also mix one cup of water, two tablespoons of vinegar and one cup or rubbing alcohol for an effective homemade window cleaner.</p> <h2>Attack stains</h2> <p>If there are stains on the seats or on the carpet (and we guarantee there will be, especially if you have kids!) try this homemade solution. In a spray bottle mix two cups of water, one cup of vinegar and about a tablespoon of dish soap. Spray on the stains and let it sit for 15 minutes. Then wipe clean with a wet cloth. If the stain persists, try a stain remover. Spot-test in an inconspicuous area to make sure the upholstery fabric is colourfast.</p> <h2>Remove pet hair</h2> <p>If you have a dog, you know the pain of dealing with pet hair in the car. If the vacuum doesn’t remove all the fur, try using a rubber-dipped glove. Simply brush the hair away with your hand, and it sticks to the glove like magic! To protect your car’s interior from any future pet damage, try a waterproof seat protector.</p> <h2>Get into crevices</h2> <p>Grab a paint stirrer or two next time at you’re at the hardware store. Wrap an end with a microfibre cloth and use the stick to get into those hard-to-reach areas between the seats and around the centre console.</p> <h2>Freshen up</h2> <p>Create a homemade car freshener with one cup of baking soda and five drops of your favourite essential oil. Place both the soda and oil in a sealable plastic bag or glass jar for 24 hours. Then shake it up, sprinkle on the car’s floor and let it sit for 20 minutes. When the time has passed, vacuum up the baking soda. The scent will linger, making your car smell fresh and clean!</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/home-tips/10-tips-for-cleaning-your-cars-interior" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>.</em></p>

Home Hints & Tips

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10 items you need to clean every week

<p>Don’t let these household chores be bumped to the bottom of your to-do list. These are the items that need to be cleaned every seven days.</p> <p><strong>1. Laundry</strong></p> <p>To prevent a huge pile of dirty clothes piling up, it is best to tackle the load weekly.</p> <p><strong>2. Bathroom surfaces</strong></p> <p>Although your counter and mirror may look clean, it is important to clean with a disinfectant wipe once a week to remove bacteria and germs that build up from everyday use.</p> <p><strong>3. Carpets and rugs</strong></p> <p>Carolyn Forte, the director of the Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, said, “If you don't vacuum, heavy dirt gets ground in and light dust sits on top.” It is especially important to vacuum the areas around the front and back doors where dirt is carried in.</p> <p><strong>4. Dusty furniture</strong></p> <p>Not only does dust look bad but it can be bad for your health and your furniture. Carolyn said, “Dust can be abrasive and can put fine scratches in the finish if something rubs against it.” Use a microfibre cloth to clean so you grab particles rather than spread them around.</p> <p><strong>5. Sheets</strong></p> <p>If you have the time to wash them every week, it is important to do so as germs, sweat, and body oils build up quickly.</p> <p><strong>6. Kitchen appliances</strong></p> <p>Clean your kitchen appliances with a disinfectant wipe each week to prevent a build-up of germs. "Kitchen appliances need to be cleaned of fingerprints and food bits,” Carolyn said.</p> <p><strong>7. Bathtub and shower</strong></p> <p>These places collect mildew and scum. It is important to remove this material with a bath scrubber every week.</p> <p><strong>8. Toilet</strong></p> <p>It is important to deep clean your toilet bowl every week. Carolyn recommends pouring a cup of bleach into the bowl and brushing it around the sides and under the rim. "Let it sit for five minutes as you move on to the next task.”</p> <p><strong>9. Kitchen floors</strong></p> <p>Kitchen floors can collect liquids and food crumbs without anyone even noticing. To prevent this, clean your kitchen floors weekly.</p> <p><strong>10. Mirrors</strong></p> <p>Clean mirrors will not only make your home look fresh but it will also make it easier to put makeup on.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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Woman’s “ultimate” cleaning hack for cruise cabins goes viral

<p dir="ltr">An Aussie woman has shared her “ultimate” hack for keeping things clean in your cruise ship cabin, claiming her tips will “change your life”. </p> <p dir="ltr">Cruising fanatic Olivia believes there are few things worse when on a cruise than waiting around for dirty dishes to be collected and replaced. </p> <p dir="ltr">She has found a unique way to get around this problem with her “game-changing” hack, that only requires three items: a cheap sponge, dishwashing liquid and a reusable ziplock bag. </p> <p dir="ltr">In a now-viral clip that has racked up almost one million views, Olivia explained she came across the nifty hack on YouTube and was surprised to discover it actually worked. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Go to your local supermarket and purchase the cheapest sponge you can find or use a sponge you have already got at home,” she began. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Once you’ve done this, grab one to two sponges and cut them into little squares.”</p> <p dir="ltr">“Place them all on a plate, grab dishwashing liquid and make sure you drizzle it over sponge squares (evenly).”</p> <p dir="ltr">She then said to place the sponges outside in the sun to dry. </p> <p dir="ltr">“You want the dishwashing liquid to dry into the sponge,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">Olivia then demonstrated how it works, taking one of the squares and running it under water before using it to wash the dirty dishes. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Instead of having to wait for your mugs, plates, cutlery in your state room or cabin to be replaced every day or cleaned, if you are staying in a cabin with multiple people and they need to use it, you can (now) clean it so easily in no time.”</p> <p dir="ltr">She said the squares can be used multiple times before the dishwashing liquid is completely used up.</p> <p dir="ltr">“It will last for about a two-week cruise; it’s fantastic,” she said.</p> <p dir="ltr">While hundreds of thousands of people have viewed Olivia’s video, many people were torn in the comment section about the unusual tip.</p> <p dir="ltr">Some praised the unique trick, thanking Olivia for sharing the information. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Okay that’s actually really good,” one TikTok user wrote. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Thanks! Doing this with the wine glasses before I use them” said another.</p> <p dir="ltr">However, while many were impressed by the hack, some wondered why she was washing dishes on a holiday. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Great idea but no…,” one TikTok user wrote. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Girl, we’re not going on a cruise to do the dishes … margaritas and mojitos don’t go into cups,” another joked.</p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credits: TikTok</em></p>

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Top tips to keep your home clean when living with pets

<p class="first-para">Even the most doting of pet owners will grimace at the domestic headaches furry friends can cause. Labrador tumbleweeds rolling through the living room, cat scratches on table legs and spilt food on the floor – these are the prices we pay for cohabiting with animals. But for those who want to have a clean home and keep their pets too, there are ways to keep these messes in check.</p> <p><strong>Managing shedding</strong></p> <p>No. 1, brush your pet regularly. This can go a long way to preventing moulting in the home, and has health benefits as well.</p> <p>“Grooming is not just cosmetic, it is an essential part of responsible pet ownership,” says Dr Liz Walker, chief executive officer of RSPCA Victoria. “Regular brushing gets out the knots that would become mats. And some dogs – poodle mixes in particular – don’t shed, so they need regular clipping.”</p> <p>Moreover, tangled hair can hide lumps and skin conditions, so keeping pooches well-groomed helps ensure they’re well.</p> <p>Deb Morrison, founder of national pet sitting and dog walking business PetCloud, says how frequently you should brush depends on your dog’s fur.</p> <p>“Short-haired dogs need a brush once a week,” Morrison says. “However, for dogs that have thicker, curlier or longer coats, like a golden retriever or a German shepherd, it’s important for them to be brushed every two days.”</p> <p>Which brush you use also varies according to fur type. Furminator makes a range of de-shedding tools available at Petbarn for both short and long coats that gently remove loose hair and the undercoat while protecting dogs’ skin.</p> <p>There are versions for cats too, who still need help despite their meticulous grooming habits – particularly medium and long-haired cats, which require daily brushing.</p> <p>Investing in a quality vacuum cleaner – plus a smaller handheld one for hard-to-reach places – will go a long way to keeping floors clean, and an adhesive pet hair roller can be used on upholstery or clothing.</p> <p><strong>Protecting furniture</strong></p> <p>If pets are deliberately wreaking havoc on your furnishings – scratching, chewing, et cetera – Dr Walker says this can be attributed to boredom.</p> <p>“Boredom and excess energy are two common reasons for behaviour problems in pets. This makes sense because they’re meant to lead active lives,” she explains.</p> <p>“Because we all lead busy lives, our pets often end up spending a good portion of their day home alone. If you give your pets tasks to do when they are home alone, they will be less likely to come up with their own ways to occupy the time – like unstuffing your couch.”</p> <p>Leave some chew toys around, including some stuffed with treats, to keep dogs occupied, and make sure they’re getting enough exercise each day. A scratching post will help remove old kitty nails to let new ones grow and is a way for them to mark their territory.</p> <p>When it comes to inadvertent damage, selecting pet-friendlier furniture can help. If pets are allowed on the couch, leather or faux-leather couches are easier to keep fur-free, and providing a blanket for them to lie on will prevent scratches and dirt.</p> <p><strong>Minimising mess</strong></p> <p>Pets that go outside can track dirt into a house, especially after some rough and tumble at the dog park. Morrison suggests keeping a towel handy near the door so muddy paws can be wiped clean before heading back inside.</p> <p>Place an easy-to-clean placemat under food and water bowls for pets that eat indoors to prevent mess on the floor, and if you have hardwood floors, regular manicures to trim nails will put a stop to scratches.</p> <p><strong>Keep your home smelling fresh</strong></p> <p>Aside from feverishly burning incense or lighting scented candles every time guests pop by, how can you exorcise those doggy and kitty odour-demons? For a start, stock up on natural cleaning supplies to scrub and tidy your house thoroughly and frequently.</p> <p>“Use a combination of bicarb soda and white vinegar, and enzyme-based sprays help to neutralise odours and take stains away,” advises Morrison. “This way pets aren’t at risk of absorbing chemicals through their paws.”</p> <p>Opening windows regularly will also help blow unpleasant smells away.</p> <p>When it comes to tackling the source of the smell, it pays to keep pets clean, but don’t wash them too much.</p> <p>“In order to ensure a dog’s coat and skin maintains their natural oils, we recommend only washing them once a month with flea control shampoo and just rinsing off their paws after walks,” explains Morrison. “Washing their bedding once a month will also discourage fleas.”</p> <p><a href="https://www.petbarn.com.au/services/diy-dog-wash" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Pe</a>tbarn DIY dog wash units can help you keep your pet healthy and happy. If you’d prefer to outsource to the experts, Petbarn also has a variety of grooming services on offer, from deluxe baths to coat conditioning treatments and bad breath fixes.</p> <p>Cat owners will need at least one kitty litter tray. These be should be placed somewhere private and out of the way, such as a laundry, but away from the cat’s food and water. Avoid moving them, as this will confuse and stress the cat.</p> <p>Sonia Trichter, president of rehoming centre Friends of the Pound, says cleaning litter trays consistently is crucial.</p> <p>“They should be scooped every time they’re used, and we use a double tray system so we scoop the bottom as well. Then if they’re too used, you empty the whole thing out, clean it, and start with fresh litter.”</p> <p><em>Written by Erin Munro. Republished with permission of <a href="https://www.domain.com.au" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><strong><span style="text-decoration: underline;">Domain.com.au.</span></strong></a></em></p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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How to clean jewellery at home: 14 household items that work miracles

<h2>How to make your jewellery shine</h2> <p>If you want to clean your bling but don’t want to shell out lots of money for a professional, fear not – there are lots of easy methods for how to clean jewellery right at home. You don’t have to save it for your most valuable cocktail rings or necklaces, either. Even the best affordable jewellery needs a cleaning every now and then, especially those delicate earrings that you never take off, even after they turn your skin green.</p> <h2>What is the best home remedy to clean jewellery?</h2> <p>These trusted everyday items are just as good as (if not better than) jewellery cleaner, and you probably already have most of them in the house.</p> <h2>Alka-Seltzer</h2> <p>Drop your dull-looking jewellery in a glass of fizzing Alka-Seltzer for a couple of minutes. It will sparkle and shine when you pull it out.</p> <h2>Aluminium foil</h2> <p>Here’s how to clean jewellery with aluminium foil: simply line a small bowl with it. Fill the bowl with hot water and mix in one tablespoon of bleach-free powdered laundry detergent. Put the jewellery in the solution and let it soak for one minute. Rinse well and air-dry. This procedure makes use of the chemical process known as ion exchange, which can also be used to clean silverware.</p> <h2>Ammonia</h2> <p>Brighten up your gold and silver trinkets by soaking them for ten minutes in a solution of 1/2 cup clear ammonia mixed with 1 cup warm water. Gently wipe clean with a soft cloth and let dry. Note: do not do this with jewellery containing pearls, because it could dull or damage their delicate surface.</p> <h2>Baking soda</h2> <p>To remove built-up tarnish from your silver, make a thick paste with 1/4 cup baking soda and 2 tablespoons water. Apply with a damp sponge and gently rub, rinse, and buff dry. To polish gold jewellery, cover with a light coating of baking soda, pour a bit of vinegar over it, and rinse clean. Note: do not use this technique with jewellery containing pearls or gemstones, as it could damage their finish or loosen any glue.</p> <h2>Light-coloured beer</h2> <p>Get the shine back in your solid gold rings (read: bands without any gemstones) and other jewellery by pouring a bit of light-coloured beer (not dark ale!) onto a soft cloth and rubbing it gently over the piece. Use a clean second cloth or towel to dry.</p> <h2>Soda water</h2> <p>Soak your diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds in club soda to give them a bright sheen. Simply place them in a glass full of soda water and let them soak overnight.</p> <h2>Denture tablets</h2> <p>Has your diamond ring lost its sparkle? Here’s how to clean jewellery using denture tablets: drop the tablet into a glass along with 1 cup water. Follow that with your ring or diamond earrings. Let it sit for a few minutes. Remove your jewellery and rinse to reveal the old sparkle and shine.</p> <h2>Ketchup</h2> <p>Let ketchup do the work of shining tarnished silver. If your ring, bracelet, or earring has a smooth surface, dunk it in a small bowl of ketchup for a few minutes. If it has a tooled or detailed surface, use an old toothbrush to work ketchup into the crevices. To avoid damaging the silver, don’t leave the ketchup on any longer than necessary. Rinse your jewellery clean, dry it, and it’s ready to wear.</p> <h2>Toothpaste</h2> <p>Put a little toothpaste on an old toothbrush and use it to make your diamond ring sparkle instead of your teeth. Clean off the residue with a damp cloth.</p> <h2>Vinegar</h2> <p>Is vinegar good for cleaning jewellery? Yes! Here’s how to clean jewellery with it: soak your pure silver bracelets, rings, and other jewellery in a mixture of 1/2 cup white vinegar and 2 tablespoons baking soda for two to three hours. Rinse them under cold water and dry thoroughly with a soft cloth.</p> <div> </div> <h2>Vodka</h2> <p>In a pinch, a few drops of vodka will clean any kind of glass or jewellery with crystalline gemstones. So although people might give you strange looks, you could dip a napkin into your vodka on the rocks to wipe away the grime on your eyeglasses or dunk your diamond ring for a few minutes to get it sparkling again. But don’t try this with contact lenses! Also, avoid getting alcohol on any gemstone that’s not a crystal. Only diamonds, emeralds and the like will benefit from a vodka bath.</p> <h2>Window cleaner</h2> <p>Use window cleaner to spruce up jewellery that is all metal or has crystalline gemstones such as diamonds or rubies. Spray on the cleaner, then use an old toothbrush for cleaning. But don’t do this if the piece has opaque stones such as opal or turquoise, or organic gems such as coral or pearl. The ammonia and detergents in the cleaner can discolour these porous lovelies.</p> <h2>Dish soap</h2> <p>Dish soap can do a whole lot more than just clean your kitchen! It’s great for regular jewellery cleaning. All you need to do is mix a few drops of dish soap with warm water and let the jewellery soak in the solution for a few minutes. You can use this method for silver jewellery too, but you’re better off using a toothbrush or cloth to wipe down that jewellery rather than fully submerging it. Don’t forget to rinse!</p> <h2>Shampoo</h2> <p>A bit of mild shampoo – think baby shampoo – is a great way to polish your pearls. Stones like turquoise and opals will benefit from this treatment as well. To use this method most effectively, mix a little bit of shampoo with warm water and use a soft, clean brush like a makeup brush to polish each pearl with the mixture. You don’t want to risk damaging pearls by soaking them.</p> <p><em>Image credit: Shutterstock</em></p> <p><em>This article originally appeared on <a href="https://www.readersdigest.com.au/food-home-garden/diy-tips/how-to-clean-jewellery-at-home-14-household-items-that-work-miracles?pages=2" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Reader's Digest</a>.</em></p>

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7 ways to clean your kitchen with simple household items

<p>The folks at <a href="http://food52.com/blog/14173-7-kitchen-cleaning-tricks-that-really-work" target="_blank" rel="noopener"><span style="text-decoration: underline;"><strong>Food52</strong></span></a> have exhibited some inspired thinking and shown how we can solve various household problems with simple household items. Some of these are way too clever.</p> <p><strong>1. Get rid of fruit flies in your kitchen</strong></p> <p>Before you flood your kitchen with Mortein, consider this method. Simply halve a lemon, put both sides in your oven and leave the door propped open overnight. In the morning close the door and turn the grill on for a few minutes. Turn it off, let the oven cool, throw away the lemons, clean the bottom of your oven and voila, no more fruit flies! It sounds strange but it really works.</p> <p><strong>2. Remove hard water deposits using just vinegar</strong></p> <p>Forget toxic chemicals, you can brings your dingy sinks back to their glory by simply applying vinegar. It’s not just good for fish and chips – it’s pretty much a ready-made, powerful household cleaner.</p> <p><strong>3. Clean kitchen cabinets with baking soda</strong></p> <p>The perfect cleaner for your gunky kitchen cabinets is actually already sitting in your kitchen! Make a solution that’s one part vegetable oil, two parts baking soda and you can clean those gunky kitchen cabinets in no time at all. All you need is a sponge, toothbrush or even just your fingers.</p> <p><strong>4. Cleaning white sinks with lemons</strong></p> <p>When life gives you lemons, you actually have the perfect tool for cleaning your sink. White sinks can look dodgy with the smallest bits of mess, so combine baking soda with a lemon half to kill germs and bring back shine. Sprinkle the soda in the sink and use your lemon wedge as a scrubber.</p> <p><strong>5. Toothpicks for mixers and machinery</strong></p> <p>Electric mixers and other devices can open up a world of possibilities in the kitchen, but they get dirty fast. A good way to get around this is by using a toothpick to get into any cracks and crevices that may have opened up. Then simply wipe off the residue with a damp cloth.</p> <p><strong>6. Get rid of grout with baking soda and vinegar</strong></p> <p>These two common household items combing to make a gentle solution that's very effective at getting rid of stains. Simple make a paste, apply it to the grout and let it sit for a little while. Before too long spray it with vinegar. It will fizz a little, then scrub with a toothbrush and voila – clean!</p> <p><strong>7. Clean the air in odd smelling kitchens</strong></p> <p>Sometimes no matter how hard we try we just can’t get our kitchens to smell clean. But before you go all gung-ho with the bleach, try this solution. Simmer some vinegar on the stove. This will help you clean the air and restore it to a more neutral smell for cooking and cleaning.</p> <p><em>Images: Getty</em></p>

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10 amazing home cleaning tips everyone should know

<p>Do you ever find that you can’t get certain items in your home quite as shiny-clean as you would like them? Try some of our tips below and then sit back and admire your handiwork.</p> <p>1. Clean your oven racks in the laundry tub or bath. Add a cup of NapiSan while you fill the tub with hot water. Leave the racks to soak for two hours and the grease should wipe off easily.</p> <p>2. Remove sticky labels from jars, windows or mirrors by pouring eucalyptus oil onto a cloth and wiping gently over the area.</p> <p>3. Cleaning your dishwasher is quick and easy. After unloading the dishwasher, place a mug of white vinegar upright in the top rack and another one in the bottom rack. Run on a hot wash. It should then be easy to remove any grease or grime with a clean cloth.</p> <p>4. Instead of having to clean the tops of your cupboards in the kitchen, place some newspaper on the top. Once a month, change the paper and give the top of the cupboards a quick wipe down.</p> <p>5. If you’ve got a big area to vacuum, plug it into an extension lead. It saves time plugging in and re-plugging.</p> <p>6. For a super shiny sink, boil a full kettle and then spray the entire sink with white vinegar in a spray bottle. Sprinkle over some baking soda and leave for ten minutes. Give the sink a good scrub (get an old toothbrush out if you need to get into tricky spots) and then pour over the boiled water. Spray with more vinegar and get any last bits of grime off. Dry off the sink with an old tea towel and then buff the sink with some olive oil on a rag.</p> <p>7. If you break a glass, use Blu Tack to pick up the tiny shards. Simply throw away the Blu Tack when finished.</p> <p>8. After using your blender, rinse it out and pour in a capful of washing up liquid and a cup of warm water. Place the lid back on (very important!) and turn on for around 15 seconds. Rinse well under warm water and the majority of the mess will be gone.</p> <p>9. To clean your microwave, soak a sponge in warm water and place in the microwave for one minute. The steam will make it easy to wipe the inside of the microwave clean.</p> <p>10. If your iron needs a bit of a clean, pop some toothpaste on an old toothbrush and give it a scrub before wiping clean with a damp cloth.</p> <p><em>Image credits: Getty Images</em></p>

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Plant enthusiast’s simple solution to get rid of pests

<p dir="ltr">A plant enthusiast has come up with an easy way of getting rid of gnats and fruit flies around houseplants for good.</p> <p dir="ltr">Graphic designer Brad Canning created his own bug “trap” using three products, dishwashing liquid, apple cider vinegar and honey.</p> <p dir="ltr">The 29-year-old man, who owns more than 60 indoor plants, mixed the three ingredients in a small bowl and placed it near his houseplants. </p> <p dir="ltr">The method works because fungus gnats and fruit flies are attracted to the sweet smell and taste of apple cider vinegar and honey, once they try to drink it, the sticky dish soap would trap them. </p> <p dir="ltr">“How annoying are these tiny little bugs? They’re flying around because you’ve got a couple of houseplants. Lets get rid of them. It’s pretty straight forward,” Brad said in his <a href="https://7news.com.au/lifestyle/%20bradcanning">TikTok video</a>.</p> <p dir="ltr">He made his DIY solution by combining a couple of tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, a dollop of honey and a splash of dishwashing liquid. Braid said white vinegar will work in lieu of apple cider vinegar. </p> <p dir="ltr">“Give it a little bit of mix," he said.</p> <p dir="ltr">“The gnats will be completely attracted to it. They’ll fly in there and will die,” Brad said, adding: “So this will only help to get rid of adult gnats.”</p> <p dir="ltr">The video went viral with many saying they can’t wait to give the method a go at home while those who tried it said it did in fact work. </p> <p dir="ltr">“I did this and it 100 per cent worked for gnats - took a day or two so be patient,” one said. </p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credit: TikTok</em></p>

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3 smart appliances to make your life easier

<p dir="ltr">It’s time to get digital but don’t worry, all you need is a set of batteries and a charging cord.</p> <p dir="ltr">From vacuuming to mowing the lawn, here are some helpful devices that will make your life easier. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>1. <a href="https://www.binglee.com.au/products/irobot-braava-jet-m6-robot-mop-m613200?utm_source=CommissionFactory&amp;utm_medium=referral&amp;cfclick=346864d5d0bf44a58923574774cfdf9e" target="_blank" rel="noopener">Robotic Vacuum</a></strong></p> <p dir="ltr">The concept of a robotic vacuum is not at all new. The Roomba vacuum, arguably the most iconic robot vacuum cleaner out there has been out for over a decade but if you do not own one, do yourself a favour and get one! Or something similar. </p> <p dir="ltr">A robot vacuum will make bending over a thing of the past. They are a self-propelled floor cleaner that uses a rotating brush or brushes to pick up dirt and debris. They work on their own without any human intervention, just press the button and let the little robot clean your home.</p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>2. <a href="https://www.ecovacs.com/au/winbot-window-cleaning-robot/winbot-w1-pro?cfclick=d2d2a30255d642df868b7ab3d6850b67">Robotic Window Cleaner</a></strong></p> <p dir="ltr">Cleaning windows is one of the most tiresome jobs in terms of cleaning, so rest those arms and get yourself a robotic window cleaner.</p> <p dir="ltr">This revolutionary window cleaner suctions itself onto the glass and gives your windows the gleam they deserve. Once again, no human intervention, just press the button and watch in amazement. </p> <p dir="ltr"><strong>3. <a href="https://www.amazon.com.au/WORX-LANDROID-Robotic-POWERSHARE-Battery/dp/B09V2DQGC1/?tag=homestolove-trx0000057-22">Robotic Lawn Mower</a></strong></p> <p dir="ltr">If you have a big lawn, then this is the way to go. Lawn mowers that you can ride are certainly a better option than those you hold, but the robotic lawn mower allows you to cut your grass from the comfort of your living room.  </p> <p dir="ltr">They’re capable of cutting areas of up to 1000sqm. It measures the size of your lawn, the soil composition and can identify different grass species to make sure it’s cut at the right time based on growth rate and seasonality!</p> <p dir="ltr">Work smarter, not harder. </p> <p><span id="docs-internal-guid-90ac8f63-7fff-60bf-1904-739cd411e0a9"></span></p> <p dir="ltr"><em>Image credit: Getty</em></p>

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