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How To Clean Like A Pro

  1. Now that we're nearly half way through February (what!?) none of us have any excuse for putting off the all-important spring clean for any longer.

    Cleaning (Mould Removal)

    While we all know that a good hearty squirt of bleach will do wonders for your toilet bowl and drains, it can also be used to rid your home from the bane of all our lives – MOULD.
    If mould and mildew between your tiles is ruining what would (obviously) be a perfect bathroom, why not try mixing equal parts of bleach and water together in an empty spray bottle, and targeting the affected areas. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes before scrubbing it with a good stiff cleaning brush and rising thoroughly. You can even try this out if you just want your grout to look a little bit whiter too!
    Try it yourself!
    You'll need:
    Bleach and brushes (don't forget your rubber gloves!)

    Shower Curtains
    Picture the scene. You've just found the perfect shower curtain to match your meticulously decorated bathroom. A few months of happiness pass, as you and your shower curtain live in blissful harmony with one another - that is until the day it happens. The day the mould appears. Surely you'll have to throw your precious shower curtain away now, but where will you get another as beautiful as this? Well worry not as we are here to save the day! We suggest pre-washing your shower curtain in warm water with a few of your bath towels, and popping in some laundry liquid and a tiny bit of bleach. You can then run it through the washing machine on its lowest temperature for a maximum of 10 minutes, before immediately hanging it out to dry –voila!
    Try it yourself!
    You'll need:
    Bleach and Laundry Liquid

    Window Cleaning
    When it comes to spring cleaning we're all guilty of forgetting about our windows. Be honest, when was the last time the words "I need to clean the windows" genuinely came out of your mouth? Even when we do muster up the willpower to do it, we very rarely do it properly because that'll take ages, right? Well think again, 'cause with our help, you'll not only realise that it's pretty easy to do, it's actually weirdly satisfying too! Start by using a brush to sweep around the corners of the window, that way you'll get rid of any excess dust that'll get in your way later. You can then use some warm water and a bit of window spray to wipe down the glass. Just make sure you don't use too much spray as you'll end up with streaky windows! Once you've finished get rid of any excess water with a clean squeegee, but make sure you keep wiping it with a cloth to stop any dirt transfer. Then use a clean microfiber cloth to ensure the window is totally dry.
    Finally, use a wad of crumpled up newspaper to buff the window and achieve a professionally cleaned look that'll be the envy of your street!
    Try it yourself!
    You'll need:
    dustpan and brush, window cleaner, a window cleaning set and a microfiber cloth

    While it's one of the easiest chores to do, mopping is also the most boring by far. But if you do it right, it means you won't have to do it quite as much – meaning you'll have way more time to do absolutely anything else!
    Start off by hoovering or sweeping your floor to stop any dirt transferring later. You can then fill up a mop bucket with boiling water, and squeeze in a bit of all-purpose cleaner. Once you've done this you can then quickly and easily wipe your floor, but be sure to keep ringing out your mop as you go!
    Try it yourself!
    You'll need:
    A Mop, a mop bucket, a broom (or hoover), and some all-purpose cleaning fluid

  2. Guide to Nail Care

  3. Your hands are usually one of the first places to show signs of ageing, so it's important to take good care of them – which includes looking after your nails, too. From everything you need to know about regularly using hand cream and cuticle oils to giving yourself an at-home manicure and useful tips for applying nail polish, we're making sure your hands stay looking youthful and get the care they deserve…
    Common nail problems and how to solve them

    The key to a good manicure is a healthy nail, so here are a few common problems that you may be suffering from and how to fix them…
    Nail ridges:
    The most common cause of nail ridges is ageing, but they can also be caused by an injury – trapping them in a door, for instance. Help restore healthy nails with a specialist treatment containing a nutrient-rich formula designed to smooth and plump out the nail, giving a perfectly even finish. Use the treatment on its own, or before your usual base coat whenever you paint your nails.
    Weak nails:
    If your nails break easily, you need a strengthening treatment. Look for a specialist product that's loaded with calcium and keratin – two ingredients that work to support and strengthen weak nails, as well as helping to defend against any damage. Use this type of product instead of your usual base coat, or wear it alone.
    Nails that won't grow:
    If your nails never grow past a certain length before splitting or breaking, try a strengthening formula that promotes fast growth. It'll be a formula enriched with nutrients, multivitamins and collagen to help them grow longer, stronger and healthier. Use under your usual base coat or wear it alone.
    How to look after your cuticles

    It's easy to forget cuticles need a bit of TLC, too. Dehydrated cuticles can make otherwise healthy nails look dull and lacklustre, so invest in a cuticle oil, in a bottle or a pen, that you can use on the go, and apply at least twice a day. Cuticle oil works by forming a protective barrier that locks in moisture, as well as helping to soothe chapped skin and preventing nails from becoming brittle.
    Every time you paint your nails, take the time to push your cuticles back, too – this will keep them looking neat and can make your nails look longer.
    To push them back, apply nail oil or specialist cuticle cream to the area and leave it for 5-10 minutes, to help soften them. Using a cuticle stick, gently push the cuticles back to the base of the nail, then use a cuticle nipper or gentle nail scissors to get rid of any excess.
    The best way to file your nails

    Before you file your nails, make sure any polish is removed, your hands are clean and you have the right type of nail file to hand. Emery boards are the best type of file to use. They will have a number on them that indicates what grit it is – the lower the number, the rougher the grit. It's best to use one with a grit of 220-300. Try to avoid metal nail files as they can tear your nails.
    Once you've got your nail file sorted, it's time to decide what shape you want. The most common nail shapes are:
    • Oval:
    This is the option for short nails; your nails will be curved at the top, which creates an oval shape.
    • Square:
    The top of your nail should be slightly curved but the sides flat, and again this is a good option for shorter nails.
    • Squoval:
    This is a good shape for those who have wide nail beds. The shape isn't quite as straight as square nails, but isn't as curved as oval nails.
    • Round:
    This is the most common nail shape. It elongate your hands as the sides of the nail are rounded and they meet at a rounded point, giving the illusion of longer nails and fingers.
    • Stiletto:
    As the name implies, stiletto nails are quite extreme and work best on naturally long nails. Both sides of the nail are straight, and they meet at a point in the middle.
    When you've decided what shape you want, it's time to start filing. Make sure your hands and nails are completely dry as they're more prone to damage when they're wet. Always file from the outside of the nail towards the centre, and only file in one direction otherwise you could end up tearing and break your nails. Try not to apply too much pressure as this may also cause damage.
    Types of nail polish

    Aside from traditional nail polish, there are a few other types available. The most common are:
    Quick-dry nail polish:
    This is formulated in the same way as regular polish but the ratio of ingredients is different, meaning they dry more quickly. Quick-dry nail polish is great for when you're in a rush – the key is to paint it on in a couple of thin layers rather than one thick one.
    Gel nail polish:
    This lasts at least two weeks without chipping and has a high-shine finish. Gel polish is 'cured' by a UV or LED light. Each kit comes with instructions and the products you need to complete your manicure. Make sure you remove your gel manicure properly (see below), and always have a break between gel manicures to let your nails breathe and recover.
    Gel-look nail polish:
    This lasts longer than regular polish but not quite as long as a proper gel manicure. It usually works in two steps: step one will be the colour, and step two will be the topcoat, which 'cures' the colour in daylight, giving it its staying power and shine. Gel-look polishes can be removed with normal nail polish remover.
    How to prep your nails for nail polish

    Once you're happy with your newly filed nails and have chosen your colour, it's time to prep them for nail polish application. Find a flat surface to rest your hands on while you apply the polish, and spread out your fingers, too, to stop any polish transferring from one finger to another.
    Start with a base coat, which is a clear polish that acts as a foundation for nails and often includes additional ingredients to help strengthen and protect nails. Base coats also extend the life of your manicure and help prevent polish from staining your nails.
    Apply the base coat in a thin layer and leave to dry fully dry before you go in with your chosen colour.
    How to apply nail polish

    Keeping your fingers spread out and on a flat surface, start by painting your little finger on either hand and then working your way along. Remove any excess polish from the brush and paint a thin layer in three strokes to cover each nail: one stroke down the middle and then one on either side. Don't worry if you can still see your natural nail underneath – the second coat will cover that.
    Work your way along all your nails, and don't worry if you end up painting your skin or make a mess around your nails – this can be cleaned up later.
    Once you've painted all 10 nails, go back and paint them with a second layer – using the same three strokes – in the same order as for the first coat.
    When your second coat of polish is dry, finish with a top coat. This will add a high shine, prevent the colour from chipping and make sure the nail polish lasts longer. Again, apply the top coat to your nails in the same order as you painted them.
    When the top coat is dry, take a small make-up brush – a small eyeliner or lip brush will work well – dip it in nail polish remover and clean up the edges of each nail.
    Removing nail polish

    Use a cotton-wool pad soaked in nail polish remover to get rid of nail polish. Use a clean cotton wool pad for every nail, and hold it over the nail for a few seconds before you wipe the cotton-wool pad up and down until all the colour is removed.
    Removing gel nail polish

    As mentioned earlier, it's important to make sure you remove gel nail polish properly. Here's how:
    • Gently buff over each nail with a nail file as this will break the gel seal, making it easier to remove.
    • Soak a cotton-wool pad in acetone remover, place over the nail and secure in place with tin foil. Repeat on each finger.
    • Leave your fingers wrapped in foil for about 20 minutes.
    • Remove the foil from one finger at a time, using a cuticle pusher to loosen the polish – it should peel off easily.
    • Once all the polish is off each finger, apply cuticle oil all over the nail to rehydrate.
    Caring for your hands

    Your hands are often subjected to lots of things that will cause them to dry them out. Washing your hands will dry them out, so to help protect them, always use gloves when you're washing up, and apply a hand scrub once or twice a week to exfoliate them and remove any dead skin.
    You should also use moisturising hand cream regularly, keep a travel-sized tube in your handbag for when you're on the go, and apply intensive moisturiser at night. Wearing cotton gloves through the night will prolong the effects of the moisturiser.

  4. Recycling electricals and batteries

  5. Waste is one of the areas we are concerned about.
    Why recycle?

    Unwanted electrical equipment is the fastest growing type of waste.
    Many electrical items can be repaired or recycled, saving natural resources and the environment. If you do not recycle electrical equipment will end up in landfill where hazardous substances will leak out and cause soil and water contamination – harming wildlife and also human health.
  6. Batteries

    Batteries are made from important resources and chemicals, including lead, cadmium, zinc, lithium and mercury. Each battery recycled will be taken apart and many of the materials will be recovered and used to make new batteries or other products. If you put your batteries into a rubbish bin they will be taken to landfill sites and the resources lost and potentially cause pollution as batteries contain hazardous substances such as mercury (Hg), cadmium (Cd) or lead (Pb)
    All batteries labelled with the crossed-out wheeled bin shouldn't be disposed of as normal waste, but instead at a specific battery recycling points – and we are hoping you will help make sure batteries are recycled.
    All types of battery – disposable and rechargeable – can be recycled, including:

    • AAA and AA cells
    • Sizes C and D
    • Button batteries (e.g. watch or hearing aid batteries)
    • Mobile phone batteries
    • Laptop batteries
    • Powertool batteries