More from less

More from less

Minimise your effort, maximise your time. Barbara Good has her priorities straight

Minimise your effort, maximise your time. Barbara Good has her priorities straight

Barbara Good

Good housekeeping

They say a well-dusted house is a sign of a wasted life. I tend to agree, but if you want both a reasonably dusted house and a well-lived life, it helps to get the maximum results from your housekeeping efforts. Here are a few tips.

Maximise your efforts

Don’t just cook one meal when you might cook one-and-a-half. Make more mashed potato than you need and put the remainder in a sealed container in the fridge. You’re already halfway towards a cottage pie, hash browns or fish cakes. Extra rice can be frozen in plastic takeaway containers for a quick weeknight stir-fry.

If you have the oven on to cook a roast or casserole, make the most of the energy and also bake muffins to freeze for lunches. Cut a pumpkin or butternut in half, scoop out the seeds, fill the centres with water and put on a baking dish in the oven. Once cooked, the skins can be easily cut off, and the soft pumpkin frozen to later be used in creamy pumpkin soup or added to lasagne or curry.

Talk and tidy

When it’s your children’s bedtime take a few moments to chat with them about the day while you do a quick tidy of their room. It’s amazing the things your kids will tell you from the comfort of their bed that might otherwise have gotten lost in the day’s activity. And a few minutes spent each day straightening books, clearing the floor of toys (or reminding teenagers about that incredible gadget: the coat hanger) will all contribute to general bedroom order. Encourage tidiness by giving each child a small coloured washing basket for their room for dirty clothes.

Strike while the iron’s hot

Guys, don’t waste time and electricity ironing one business shirt each morning. Set the board up in front of the telly and watch the late night news while ironing a week’s worth.

Don’t be a martyr

Does everyone at your house who can reasonably be expected to wield a toilet brush know how to use it? You can clean the toilet with baking soda and vinegar. Show everyone how to give it a quick clean by sprinkling with the dry powder and spraying with half vinegar and water in a spray bottle. Wipe surfaces with a rag and scrub the bowl with the toilet brush. Rinse the brush by holding it in the flushing toilet, shake off excess water by tapping it on the side of the pan before returning it to its holder. A few drops of lavender oil in the toilet water will remove light staining.

Keep tools handy

Instead of a daunting jumble of cleaning apparatus under the kitchen sink, assemble a small kit of key cleaning tools (spray bottle, soft cloth etc) for each room. Keep them handy in a mesh washing bag, and next time you’re chatting on the phone or have a couple of minutes spare you can give the room a quick refresh.

Reader tips

In the fridge

Use disposable shower caps instead of cling film to cover dishes. They can be washed and reused and last for ages. —Wal and Rusty


Add a squirt of eco-friendly washing liquid when running a bath for lots of bubbles that are kind on the skin and no dreaded bath ring—no matter how dirty the bathwater. —Yolande Jeffares

Slam dunk

Streamline your bench-clearing movements by positioning the recycle bin somewhere within short throwing distance from the kitchen sink. That way you can rinse, flick dry and throw recycling objects all in one movement! —Evelyn Keating

Dust to dust

I put all my vacuum dust straight onto the garden. It makes great compost for worm farms too. —Deb Ferguson


Use washing soda crystals (very cheap, low allergy, eco-friendly and biodegradable) to wash dishes in the dishwasher. I also extend my laundry detergent by adding washing soda crystals to the wash. —Nora Elson-White

Soda power

We chew through so much baking soda I buy the big boxes. It goes in the wash to get rid of stains (a must when washing nappies) and with vinegar to attack the shower, microwave and stove. I wouldn’t feed it to the baby, but if she had chicken pox she’d be in a bath of it! There’s a great website at with hundreds of uses for this environmentally friendly cleaner. —Caitlin Dally

Fragrant cleaning

Mix half-water and half-vinegar in a spray bottle with 1 tsp baking soda and about 20 drops of essential oils (lavender, tea tree, eucalyptus, orange or clove oil) for floors, counter tops and shower. It really cleans, smells lovely and it’s cheap.—Marcia Millar

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