clean taps - use a lemon to clean your taps

Spring cleaning tips – chemical-free, pet-safe and raise cash

Spring is finally upon us, and many of us will be looking to freshen up our homes to bring in the new season. It’s a great time to tackle those annual cleaning jobs: decluttering a particular room or cupboard; getting out all the crockery and cutlery and disinfecting the inside of kitchen cabinets and drawers; or freshening up your sofas, cushions, rugs and carpets.

Natural world

But that doesn’t mean you need to turn to harsh chemicals and expensive cleaning products to get the best results. Modern household cleaning products are often made up of complex chemical combinations, which aren’t great for the environment or those of us wanting a less harsh treatment. Luckily, there are plenty of natural items that can produce similar chemical reactions to get your cleaning jobs done. But at much lower cost and less negative impact on the world around us. 

Lemon, baking soda and vinegar are well-known for their cleaning abilities, but local services marketplace Airtasker has shared five other foods that are less well-known for their use around the home. 


Grapefruit is a versatile fruit that can be used for natural cleaning around the house, especially cleaning your bath.

Andrea says, “All you need to do is cut the grapefruit in half and sprinkle with loads of salt and get scrubbing, this should get rid of any limescale build up and tough stains.”

Black tea

With its natural tannic acid, tea is ideal for cleaning wood, aluminium and musty smells. 

Black tea is a perfect substitute for the harsh chemicals found in many floor cleaners, which can do more damage than good to your hardwood floor.

“Providing its natural ability to protect and shine, it will extend the life of your flooring,” Andrea says.

Tea can also be used to deodorise outdoor furniture. With wooden or wicker furniture, the tea will replace the tannins that are taken out by the harsh sun, bringing their wooden look back to full potential.

“To clean, make a strong pot of tea and pour into a bucket half filled with hot water, dip your broom into the mixture and lightly brush over the furniture. There’s no need to rinse,” advises Andrea. 


Onions are ideal for polishing metal.

“Just use a mixture of chopped up raw onion and equal parts water with a damp cloth and rub on to your taps and other fixtures and rinse off afterwards for sparkling results,” says Andrea Philips from Airtasker’s Lifestyle Editorial Team.

Onions are also great at removing paint odours.

“Simply slice some onions and place in a bowl with some water to absorb the smells. For the best results leave out overnight,” Andrea adds.


Herbs aren’t just great for adding flavour to your cooking or creating beautifully scented essential oils with rosemary, thyme and mint. Lemongrass and peppermint are also great cleaning aids.

“You can mix lemongrass and white vinegar in a spray bottle to create an effective glass cleaner, simply spray on mirrors or glass and wipe clean. You can also leave the lemongrass mixture in the bottom of vases to clean and stubborn build up,” Andrea says.

“Another great herb to use is peppermint as it works well as a natural pest control remedy, using it around the home will ward off any ants and mosquitos.”

mirrored dressing table bedroom - DIY jobs you've been meaning to do around the home - inspiration -


With its grainy texture and ability to withstand high temperatures, salt can be used in a variety of ways.

“Freshen up sponges and cloths after use by soaking in a salt and water solution, this will clean them and get rid of any odours,” Andrea says.

Salt is also good at removing carpet stains. Create a paste using 250g of salt and two tablespoons of vinegar, rub into your carpet, leave to dry and then vacuum. 

Pet-friendly Spring clean

If you’re a pet owner, you need to take extra care to avoid unintentionally causing your animals distress while deep-cleaning your home. 

Minnie B Miller, an aquarist and creator of the Fish in Aquarium website, shares her tips on how you can Spring clean your home without putting your pets at risk. 

Pet-safe products

As we’ve outlined above, many common household products contain chemicals that are harmful to the environment, but also animals. Make sure you choose pet-friendly cleaning products, or use natural ingredients like vinegar, baking soda and lemon juice.

And don’t forgot to store all your cleaning products out of reach of animals so curious pets can’t accidentally ingest these substances (the same goes for kids, too).

natural lemon cleaning product - top 3 natural cleaning products you can make at home - inspiration -

Air quality

Pets can be sensitive to strong odours and airborne pollutants, so ensure you have good ventilation during your Spring clean. Open a window or door to get some airflow.

Minnie adds, “This can prevent the build-up of strong scents from cleaning products, making your pets more comfortable. Using air purifiers can also help you maintain a clean, fresh environment.”

Accidents happen

Most pets will have an accident indoors at some point, leaving owners to clear up the mess. Using an enzymatic cleaner on pet urine or faeces breaks down stains and odours more effectively than regular cleaning products. 

“Immediate clean-up reduces the risk of exposure to harmful bacteria or substances, safeguarding the health of your family and animals,” Minnie says.

“Also, your pet could be attracted to the same spot for future accidents, so if you delay, you could find yourself facing more unpleasant clean-ups in the future.”

Russian Blue cat perched beside bouquet of flowers - Credit: Josh Couch

Protect your aquarium

“Any cleaning products used near an aquarium should be non-toxic and fume-free to prevent harmful substances from entering the water,” says Minnie.

“When dusting or moving near the aquarium, do so gently, as this will avoid startling the fish or disturbing the tank’s environment.”

Consider temporarily covering your aquarium while cleaning. This can shield fish from direct exposure to noise, dust and accidental splashes of cleaning products.

Pet products need cleaning too

The regular use of a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter ensures cleanliness and reduces allergens like pet hair and dander. 

“Focus your cleaning efforts on areas where your pet spends the most time, including their bedding. Always clean your pet’s accessories (such as toys and bowls) using pet-safe detergents,” advises Minnie.

“Banish aquarium algae, daily clean bird cages, and create a dog cleaning station. By keeping your pets and home hygienic, you’ll all reap the benefits.”

Make money from your Spring clean

Spring cleaning your home could result in more benefits than a decluttered, hygienic abode. You might just uncover some old, valuable items hidden away throughout the house.

Jason Higgs, Senior Deals Strategist at, highlights some of the best items to look out for to turn your Spring clean into a lucrative payday.

Old coins

Most of us have that spare drawer, the one in a hallway console table, kitchen drawer or bedside cabinet, that’s full of random bits and bobs. One of the most common items tucked away at the back of the drawer are coins collected from your travels over the years – and some of these could be worth a fortune.

“We’ve all heard about the rare coins, but many common coins, such as 1983 American Pennies missing a mint mark, can be worth as much as £5,500 – so check them all,” Jason says.

Early edition books and VHS tapes

As well as giving your bookshelves a good dust during your Spring clean, take a scan through the titles, especially any old editions.

“Valuable books to look out for include a 1937 edition of The Hobbit, currently valued at £8,000, or a first edition of Harry Potter from 1997 – the paperback first edition can be worth up to £24,000, with an original hardcover going for much, much more,” explains Jason.

Old VHS tapes can also fall into the collectables category, and be worth a small fortune to the right buyer.

“Watch out for original Disney films, classic movies such as Top Gun or ET, and even 90s music videos,” Jason says.

“Classic horror movies are particularly sought after, especially pre-1984 UK releases (this was before VHS films were classified). Realistic values for sought-after items could be anything from £40 up to £240-£300.”

an ikea billy bookcase system in a living room in a real home

Retro electronics

If you come across a discarded Nintendo Game Boy, that could fetch anywhere from £40 to a few thousand pounds, depending on its condition; old rotary telephones could earn you £80-plus; while an original Apple iPod can sell for up to £15,000.

Other items worth hunting for include original Tamagotchis and Texas Instruments Speak & Spell toys.

“Old electronics might seem like junk to you, but to someone else, they could be a treasured item,” Jason says.

Beanie Babies

“Some of those lovable, floppy beanie toys we all remember from the 90s are now worth a fortune,” according to Jason.

An “Original 9” beanie, including Squealer the Pig, Flash the Dolphin and Splash the Whale, could net you anything between £400 and £1,500, as could many other first-generation beanies. To raise the top end amount, beanies should be in good condition with tags.

Many other children’s toys from the 80s and 90s are incredibly popular today. So while cleaning out your toybox, keep an eye out for any good-condition board games and classic video games. Also look out for old Subbuteo teams that can sell for around £80, and Scalextric slot cars that can fetch up to £800.

“Anything film or TV-related may be precious,” Jason explains.

“Original Star Wars figures are worth £100s or even £1,000s, but many others are too.”