How to clean garden umbrellas and shade cloths

Pulling out a shade umbrella or opening up a shade over the garden after a damp winter can leave you feeling rather disappointed as there is a strong possibility that it could be a bit damp and smelly.


  • Vinegar
  • Water

If you can, remove the fabric and soak it overnight in a big bucket with a cup of vinegar, then rinse thoroughly. If you are not able to remove the fabric, you will need to work with a clean cloth and a solution of 80/20 vinegar and water. I recommend distilled white vinegar for this job as it will not leave any unwanted marks. You may also need to use a soft brush (like an old toothbrush) to work into the folds and stitching of the fabric. Once done wash off with the hose and leave open to dry completely. 

How to help with the causes of hay fever

If spring arrives and you start to sneeze and cry with hay fever there are a few things you can do to help with the symptoms. Some of the main culprits that cause hay fever are pollens from grasses, trees and flowering plants. You can't get rid of this completely from the air, but you can help making sure you don't bring them into the home. 


  • Once you wash your sheets, always dry them in the drier. Hanging sheets on the line at this time of year can act as a big pollen net that you end up sleeping on at night. 
  • Wash your hair before bed to help stop it acting as a big pollen sync. 
  • Opening windows in a bedroom is always lovely, however if you can leave the curtains shut while the room airs they will catch some of the pollen coming into your room. And don't forget to vacuum the curtains a little more regularly at this time of year. 
  • Eucalyptus drops are also lovely to use when cleaning at this time of year. They are super fresh and help with blocked stuffy noses. 

If you have any other helpful hints on how to help others with a similar problem get in contact and I will add your suggestions to this list.

Getting rid of snails and slugs

Do you have a little vegetable patch or some lovely plants in the garden that are constantly being eaten by an army of snails or slugs? You could reach for the snail poison or ... you could just use beer!

Snails love beer which is a bit odd, but they will choose beer over plants and that is a win for you and your garden. You end up with less poison in the garden, and the slugs and snails die happy (well, possibly). It also means that a passing bird will be able to eat the snail or slug and not be harmed. 


  • Beer (any kind) 
  • Small tray with about a 1.5 to 2.0 cm rim (aluminium pie trays work well)
  • Snails and slugs 

Place a couple of trays around the area that is most affected by the snails or slugs and fill with beer. If you have a large area you might need quite a few. Allow for one every 50cm or so. Ensure the tray is above the ground, and not submerged below the soil. 

That's it: job done! 

Don't forget to empty out the trays every few days. Assuming the snails and slugs are completely dead, you can just tip the contents of the trays into the garden.

Removing aphids

If you have a rose garden, your best natural friend will be the ladybird however they are not always around and about when you need them. So if they have taken a holiday or just gone to visit a friend in another garden, and you have an invasion of aphids, there is a neat little trick you can implement that does not involve harsh chemicals. 


  • Castile soap
  • Water
  • Spray bottle
  • Cloth

Mix 50:50 water and Castile soap then spray on the affected area of the plant and gently wipe the aphids away from the plant's stem. The soapy water will kill the bugs and removing them will allow the plant to recover. 

Once completed using the spray attachment on your hose rinse the rose clean. You may have to do this a couple of time but you will win the battle in the end.  


Removing sweat and deodorant stains from fabric

Cotton shirts seem to be particularly susceptible to getting a yellow discolouring under the arms. This can be avoided if you make a paste out of bicarb soda and water, spread it over the stain and leave for an hour or two. This should remove the stain, unless it has been there for a long time and ironed into place. Another trick is to spray under the arms of cotton shirts with distilled white vinegar each time the shirt goes in to the wash. 


  • Bicarb soda
  • Distilled white vinegar 
  • Water 



8 handy spring cleaning tips

Spring is officially here and flowers are bursting in the gardens, This is nature letting everyone know that it is time to spring clean, so open your doors and get rid of the winter cobwebs. 

Tip 1
Get ready all the equipment you will need

Tip 2
Set aside a weekend to do a great job and have a BBQ with friends at the end to celebrate the warmer weather.

Tip 3
Make a list of jobs

  • Unclutter - put away, throw away, or sell
  • Clean floors
  • Clean walls
  • Clean soft furnishing, eg lounge chairs and curtains
  • Clean bathrooms
  • Clean kitchens
  • Clean Bedrooms
  • Dust books
  • Refold the linen with fresh scent sheets
  • Clean BBQ
  • Clean light switches
  • Clean fridge
  • Clean kitchen draws
  • Clean out the garage/shed
  • Clean the inside and outside bins

Allocate everyone a job - the more help you have, the faster this will be. If you have young children it can also become a game. Teenagers might require an incentive, but it will be worth it. 

Tip 4
Start from the top down always this will save you time and leave the floors until the very end. 

Tip 5
Most important - put everything away before you start. If you don't your job will take 10 times as long.

Tip 7
Have fun, take tea breaks, listen to music or podcasts. 

Tip 8
Reward everyone at the end. 

pets, household

Keeping your dog's bedding clean

Clean pet beds means less awful smells in your home. And remember, what might be good for your clothes, is not always best for your dog as they have such an acute sense of smell. 


  • Bicarb soda
  • Multi-surface cleaner
  • Fragrance-free washing soap/powder

What you need to do is:

  • Clean the bedding at least once a week
  • Wash in hot water if possible, but follow the fabric instructions
  • Add a fragrance-free washing soap/powder
  • Add a cup of distilled white vinegar, which will work as a natural fabric softener
  • Dry outside or in the drier, but ensure the bedding is absolutely dry before it is put back in place

While the bedding is being washed, wipe down the bed (if plastic) with our multi-surface spray and then leave to dry. For any part of the bedding that is not able to be removed you can add a good sprinkle of bicarb soda, while the dog is outside or away from the bedding area. Leave the bicarb soda in place to absorb the smells for half, and hour and then vacuum up. 


Cleaning timber, metal, and plastic blinds

Plantation shutters and blinds are great for privacy, and also great for letting light into a room. The only problem is they are difficult to clean as they act as a massive dust net. The recipe below is a simple solution that will make cleaning these types of window furnishings a little easier and a whole lot faster. Don't bother with brushes or the vacuum cleaner, all you need is a pair of old socks and some basic Gyre and Gymble products. 


  • Vinegar spray 80:20 mixed with water, or Gyre and Gymble glass cleaner 
  • Hot water
  • Bucket
  • Pair of old socks 
  • Essential oil 

Fill a bucket with water, making it as hot as you are able to put your hands into, and add a few drops of your favourite essential oil. Fill a spray bottle with the vinegar mix or use the Gyre and Gymble ready made glass cleaner, and then spray all over the shutters or blinds. Leave for a few seconds then put a sock onto each hand. Dip both hands in the water (ensuring that it is not too hot) and run them along each surface of the shutters. You can finish with a clean dry pair of socks to rub dry. 

This job really only needs to be done a couple of time a year, but this depends on where you live and if you have any smokers in the home. 


How to use mint

Mint is a fantastic masking agent, so if you want to use vinegar to clean but really don't like the smell, all you need to do is fill your Gyre and Gymble glass spray bottle with distilled white vinegar then add a few tablespoons - or a good slosh - of peppermint, mint, or spearmint water, then give it a shake to mix through.

Now you can head out and clean with the energising aroma of mint. 

You will find peppermint water in most supermarkets in the cake baking section.