In 2009 I inherited a battered cardboard box containing the precious, handwritten notebooks from long-time housekeeper Bette Smith. Full of recipes, advice and tips, they contain a wealth of knowledge rarely now passed down through the generations.

I have great pleasure sharing Bette’s vast experience with you here, in easy downloadable pages, so that you can pin them up or file them for easy reference and pass them on if you’d like to.

I hope you enjoy them.

GREAT tips

From the old laundry
It's very easy to put a stained piece of clothing or a tablecloth with a spill on it in the washing machine, add an extra scoop of powder or laundry liquid and hope that a double dose will get it clean, only to be disappointed to see it's still there after the rinse cycle! It's better to spend a bit of time treating a stain before washing as once a stain has been washed and dried it's often permanent. A persistent approach is the best one. Don't give up after the first attempt as little and often can work wonders.

Start with the simplest method first and then move on to other options if need be. If dealt with immediately a rinse in cold water can be enough, but soda water is a great first remedy. Saturate the stain with plenty of soda water and blot. The tiny bubbles lift the stain away from the fabric and blotting with something like kitchen roll will remove it instantly. This is really effective for a red wine spill and avoids wasting the white wine – a remedy people often recommend!

Before tackling any stain it's important to check the care labels in your garments or fabric and treat accordingly. Always tackle the stain from behind where possible. This action will force the stain to the front of the fabric and avoid it penetrating further. The importance of identifying a stain can't be over emphasized. It's easy to assume that soap or detergent and hot water will instantly remove a fresh stain, but if it's the wrong approach for the type of stain you're dealing with, it could make it permanent. The four main types of stain are: Tannin, Grease, Protein and Combination.

Fruit juices • Wine • Tea • Coffee • Colas • Tomato Juice • Beer • Alcohol

Tannin stains respond well to hot water but remember not to use soap of any kind until the stain in completely removed. Run hot water through the stain and if possible pull taut over a bowl with an elastic band and pour the hot water from a height to force it out. Be careful of splashes. If the stain remains use glycerine or white vinegar and work into the fabric. For older stains Mangle & Wringer Natural Bleach is very effective.

Grease stains respond well to hot water and soap. Add soap directly to fabric and agitate in hot water. Once the stain has been removed launder as normal. If a grease stain remains after washing, however, don't iron the fabric until the stain has been completely removed, as the heat will set it.

Milk • Egg • Cream • Yogurt • Mud • Grass • Blood • Urine • Faeces • Vomit

Protein stains respond well to rinsing in cold water and can usually be completely removed if tackled quickly this way – avoid any form of heat initially as hot water will set these stains. Make sure stains have been completely removed before putting in a dryer or ironing. Bicarbonate of Soda works well on protein stains followed by soap. For older stains Mangle & Wringer Natural Bleach is very effective.

Combination stains are a mixture of the above and more complicated to deal with. For combination stains without the tannin element tackle the protein part first. Soak in cool water and apply soap to both sides of the stain. Agitate and soak until stain is removed. Launder in warm water. For combination stains with tannin, tackle first with glycerine or vinegar. Once removed use soap and warm water and launder as normal.
Top ten
A fantastic natural stain remover. It is safe and non-toxic and works on most surfaces to clean and deodorise them. In the laundry it can be added to hand washed items to help break down protein stains. As a stain remover make into a paste with a little water and leave on for 30 – 60 minutes. It is especially effective for mud, grass and perspiration stains.

Great for greasy stains. Sprinkle onto fabric and rub gently. Leave for 30 – 60 minutes and brush off. Launder as normal.

Another great stain remover for tannin stains. Mix glycerine 50:50 with water and work into the back of the stain. Leave for 30 minutes. Launder as normal.

Acts as a mild bleach. Apply directly to the stain and leave to dry. This is particularly effective on white fabrics and if left in the sun works doubly fast. On coloured fabrics a colour test is recommended.

The original enzyme cleaner! It is very effective on juice stains and washable inks.

A natural oil distilled from pine resin. It is a great solvent for oil, tar and paint stains, however it must be used with great care, as it is toxic and flammable.

Perfect for greasy stains and great for collars and cuffs where it can be rubbed on prior to washing in hot water. Never use soap on tannin stains.

Great remedy for coffee, tea, wine and other tannin stains as described above.

Good for removing greasy stains. It should preferably be a colourless, biodegradable, plant based detergent, which is unperfumed. Apply directly and agitate the fabric. Rinse in hot water.

Another mild bleach. Perfect for use on urine stains as a deordoriser, mud and grass. Soak for 1 – 2 hours. On coloured fabric a colour test is recommended.
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