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17 September 2014
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Image: Betty the housekeeper

Trade secrets

Betty Anderson is certainly no stranger to the world of cleaning, having worked for nearly 40 years at Glamis Castle in Scotland. Read on to discover a selection of Betty's favourite trade secrets.

Betty's extensive experience has given her a wealth of knowledge of the world of cleaning and stain removal. She recommends first and foremost having a good rummage in your kitchen cupboard, where you're sure to find an array of cleaning materials masquerading as food products.

Stubborn stains

Betty never lets stubborn stains get the better of her, but instead of shop-bought products, her arsenal is made up of a number of common kitchen staples.

Sliced lemons

Lemon juice is a domestic life-saver in the never-ending fight for cleanliness, and it's been popular as a stain remover for centuries. Try using lemon juice to remove rust and stains from plastic, either neat or diluted, and give curry stains on carpet the heave-ho with diluted lemon juice. For common carpet spillages such as beer, Betty recommends simply dabbing the stain with soda water.

Water marks on wooden surfaces, can be removed by rubbing half a brazil nut onto the offending area, first ensuring the surface is completely dry. Alternatively, try applying mayonnaise on a soft cloth or toothpaste on a damp cloth to the water mark.

And if your family are leaving grubby fingerprints on your walls, take heed of Betty's mother's tried and tested tip to banish the blemishes - simply rub the mark with slightly moist, stale white bread.

Shine on

Achieving that all-important shine isn't all about elbow grease; choose the right cleaning product and you'll glide effortlessly through your chores.

Next time you're having a headache over the less-than-sparkly chrome taps in your bathroom or kitchen, Betty advises rubbing them with flour. Rinse the flour off and buff them with a soft cloth. To ensure your stainless steel sink doesn't appear dull in comparison, rub the surface gently with baking powder or buff with a scrunched-up ball of newspaper.

Image: Brazil nuts

Another truly indispensable item in Betty's cleaning closet is white vinegar. Use it to wash glass and windows for a smear-free finish. For the final buff use scrunched-up balls of newspaper to add an extra glossy sheen to the glass.

Betty recommends a solution of water and vinegar to spruce up wooden furniture. Wash the furniture with the solution, leave overnight to dry, apply quality furniture polish and buff the surfaces.

Lingering limescale

Betty calls on her firm favourite, white vinegar, for use on those tough, hard-to-shift stains; its disinfectant properties make it an amazing all-round cleaner. Blitz bath stains with a 1:5 solution of white vinegar and water. Unclog showerheads by first dismantling them and then soaking them for 20 minutes in vinegar.

Remove hard water marks by pouring a can of fizzy cola down the toilet bowl; leave it for an hour, then flush. And finally, after all that hard cleaning, it's time for a glass of white wine - but not for you, for your glass shower doors, to rid them of stains and limescale.

Betty's most challenging task during her years working at Glamis, was the initial cleaning out of the castle's 16th century kitchen. At one time it had been a painter's workshop and was far from suitable for its new role as a venue for hosting drinks. The epic task took two days, and Betty and her colleagues were forced to wear masks due to the monumental amounts of dust created when they had to brush the walls. So when you're feeling daunted by the domestic chores in your home, spare a thought for the mammoth task faced by the Glamis Castle cleaners.

For more eco-friendly cleaning tips take a tour of the virtual house.

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