If you do a lot of housework, you will get housemaid’s knee.
This is false, at least mostly. Housemaid’s knee is caused by a cut or abrasion on the knee becoming infected after repeated pressure or knocking, leading to the knee swelling up and growing hot. This can happen if you spend a lot of time on your knees without protection, but scrubbing floors on your hands and knees is not the only way of getting housemaid’s knee – this writer knew a keen cricketer who got housemaid’s knee after an innings of intensive fielding, followed by shoving the aggrieved knee into hot sweaty pads for a long innings of batting. If you do spend a lot of time on your knees scrubbing floors, get one of those foam pads sold in garden shops to protect your knees, or even fold up an old towel.
Washing soda and baking soda are equivalent
False. This is like saying that carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide are the same. While both baking soda and washing soda are used widely for natural domestic cleaning products and break down grease, they are not the same. Washing soda is poisonous, while baking soda is edible. Washing soda works well added to cleaning products containing soap, while baking soda is often used on its own as a scouring paste for cleaning bathrooms and the insides of fridges and ovens. Baking soda also absorbs smells better than washing soda does.
Sponges and cleaning rags are breeding grounds for bacteria
True. They are ideal breeding grounds for bacteria, as they contain food and moisture, and usually sit around at room temperature, giving the bacteria the other things they need to breed (time and the right temperature). However, don’t shun the humble sponge or dishcloth for your house cleaning jobs. Just toss them into the laundry when you’ve finished using them – a daily change is the bare minimum. If you really want to be sure that you sterilise a sponge thoroughly, pour boiling water over it.
You can clean nearly everything with vinegar
Mostly true. However, never use vinegar on anything made of marble, sandstone, bone or pearl. Vinegar, being acid, will attack these carbonated alkaline substances and break them down. But vinegar can be used for a host of other cleaning jobs, including killing mould, cleaning glass, cleaning leather (when mixed with linseed oil) and as a general disinfectant.
Everything that has “Dry Clean Only” on the label should be dry cleaned.
False. Some garments with this label can be washed at home using ordinary soap and water. This is especially true for items made from silk, wool and leather. These are natural fibres that were worn, used and cleaned for centuries before dry cleaning was even thought of. Wash them by hand and be gentle – just use the same sort of soap you use for your hands, warm water and don’t scrub them vigorously.
Ammonia is one of the really bad chemicals used for cleaning.
False. While ammonia does give off horrible fumes that give you bad headaches and can damage your skin, it is not as bad for the environment as other commercial cleaning products, as it breaks down very readily when it gets into the environment. So it’s not as bad as, say, chlorine, which not only gives off the fumes and attacks skin but also takes an age to break down if it reacts with certain things in the sewage (it does, however, get broken down by UV light). If you have to use ammonia, make sure you wear rubber gloves and use it in a ventilated area. And never mix an ammonia-based product with a chlorine-based one unless you want to kill yourself horribly. Better still, use a natural alternative for your household cleaning tasks.
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