Most of us work hard to keep our homes clean and hygienic. It can be a worry, especially if you believe the adverts for cleaning products!

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However, before these hi-tech cleaners were invented, people managed to keep their houses clean. In fact, some think that the harsh chemicals used in modern products are partly to blame for the rise in asthma and eczema in recent times. Are we paying through the nose for products we don’t need and may even be doing us harm? If so, what’s the alternative?

Simple and cheap

The great news is there are lots of ways to clean, using items you may already have in your kitchen. One of the best cleaners is white vinegar – it may be labelled ‘distilled vinegar’, ‘spirit vinegar’ or ‘distilled malt vinegar’, but it should be a clear liquid with an acid content of 5-8%. Combine 100ml vinegar with 1.5 litres warm water for a brilliant window cleaner. Use in a spray bottle for easy application and rub to a gleaming shine with a microfibre cloth, or newspaper if you’re really going retro.

Vinegar is one of the ingredients in a good surface cleaner too. Mix 120ml vinegar with 4 tablespoons bicarbonate of soda and 2 litres water. This works brilliantly on tiles, as well as kitchen and bathroom surfaces, but don’t use it on granite or other stone surfaces, as the acid in the vinegar could damage them.

Floors

Wood floors can be cleaned with a mixture of half olive oil and half lemon juice. Use a spray bottle to apply it then rub it in with a soft dry cloth. This is a great polish for wood furniture too.

Vinyl, tiled or laminate flooring (http://www.ukflooringdirect.co.uk/laminate-flooring) is very easy to keep hygienic, which is one of the reasons they are such popular choices. They clean beautifully using white vinegar again. Combine 8 tablespoons of vinegar in 3 litres of hot water and add a few drops of essential oil for a lovely smell – try tea tree oil or lavender.

Toilets

To deodorise your toilet, some bicarbonate of soda in the pan and white vinegar squirted round the inside and a good scrub will leave it smelling fresh. For limescale, pour white vinegar into the bowl and leave it overnight.