Black tea to clean your bathroom mirror? yes indeed. Lemon juice for grubby chrome? yes for sure!
Lots of us are becoming wary of household cleaning products because of the potentially harmful chemicals they may contain, and because we want to limit pollutants flooding down our drains.
If that's you, you'll love this infographic showing how you can having a sparkling bathroom using ingredients from the kitchen. Take a look:
Home assistance provider HomeServe has been looking at home technology and how it's developed from the 1960s - and how it could be impacting our lives in the coming decades. Food mixers, hand held phones, and microwaves have all lasted, but products that didn't include a device that was supposed to sound like a cat and so frighten off rodents- and dare we say the teasmade isn't a staple in that many bedrooms these days.
See the hits and the misses in this fun infographic:
And HomeServe did a survey of 2000 UK adults to get their views on future technological wizardry:
63 per cent of those questioned think smart thermostats will soon be the norm in our homes (if you haven't already got one..)
32 per cent of people think robotic cleaners sound useful and believe they'll take over from us when it comes to cleaning the house at the weekend.
And 41 per cent of those questioned say the boiler is the most important device in the home, compared to 35 per cent who prioritised the television over the boiler... maybe they're the hardy types who like cold showers and wearing their coat indoors in winter..
John Lewis and its sales are a bellweather for the British economy, and what we buy from the department store shows where the Brits are at when it comes to homes and interiors.
So its 2016 trend report has some interesting findings - particularly that hummingbirds, flamingos and pineapples have caught our fancy in the year of Brexit....
This doesn't relate to things eco, but we were amused by it in the Deco office and have wildly differing views on a few of the faux pas..
Anyway, a flooring company has done a survey of 1009 British adults to find out what they consider the most annoying things house guests do.
Top of the list is using a mobile phone at the dinner table (we're all agreed on that) and apparently 77 per cent of those questioned don't like it when guests ask for the wifi password. Well, it does suggest the guest is anticipating being bored and needing to access YouTube Fifa videos...
Third on the list of top irritants is people wearing shoes indoors..and this is where I profoundly disagree. Indeed when I go to someone's house, particularly in the evening and it's not raining and my shoes aren't covered in mud, and I'm asked to take off my shoes, I feel like turning round and heading for home again. I don't want to have to spend the evening in my socks, I find it disempowering to be shoeless in a social gathering and I think it's rude to ask people to take off their shoes at the door.
I mean, let's imagine a posh party and a woman arrives at her hosts' door wearing beautiful high heels which complement her dress and generally make her look terrific, not to mention taller. To expect her to remove her lovely shoes and ruin the look of her outfit for the non existent possibility of damaging the hosts' carpets is unreasonable. Sure if shoes are filthy, take 'em off. But if you're so precious about your carpets, really, don't ask anyone to come round to your house.
I'm always amused when a paint or a colour forecasting company (yes, they do exist..) does a drumroll and declares this or that colour to be the COLOUR OF THE YEAR.
Ah right, so it's the colour of the year. Gosh, I must repaint my house, yes, I'll get onto it straight away. I mean, I certainly do not want to be the only person in the street whose walls are not in the Colour of the Year.
Mmm, but it would be a help if it could be the Colour of Every Other Year, because I've only just finished painting our flat in last year's (ie this year, 2016's) colour of the year, which was Cherished Gold for Dulux. (And they even had a Face of the colour of the year, which was athlete Katarina Johnson-Thompson, I suppose for her bronzed complexion). And the year before I had to paint the flat in Dulux's Copper Blush..so you can see my arms are starting to ache.
In case you are a dedicated follower of fashion and don't see a load of old marketing tosh staring you in the face, this week Dulux announced that its Colour of the Year (for 2017 that is) is...wait for it...a hue called Denim Drift (I wonder how many celebs are keen to be the Face of Denim Blue?). Denim..blue, ok get that, and drift..maybe the grey of driftwood. Because Denim Drift is a bluey-grey colour. It looks nice, so if you like blue and blue goes with your things and your walls needs re-decorating, then perhaps its Colour of the Year status will make you want it.
I suppose it's hard for paint companies to get us excited about paint because every possible colour under the sun is already available - have you ever seen a Dulux professional painter's paint fan? I mean it weighs a tonne! So giving us a Colour of the Year could be one way to jolt us indolent consumers with dirty/faded/flaking walls into action.
Except it doesn't. No one repaints in a colour because it's the colour of the year. I will never want gold walls, or copper walls. And blue walls? Nah, I'll stick with the nice pinky grey I mixed up by combining a pink and a grey paint together in a bucket with half a pot of white emulsion. It's my colour of last year, this year and next year and quite probably the year after that. That said should we ever change the colour of our sofa or carpet, then we might have to re-think the colour scheme.
But the bottom line is if blue or green or pink or yellow doesn't go with your stuff, or you just don't like it - I will never ever like mustard or purple - then no matter its Colour of the Year status, it's not going to work.
Ikea's brought out its third annual Life at Home report, which the company says focuses on ..you've guessed it.. those elusive little somethings that make a house a home. A bit corny, non?
One thing that struck me immediately..and it's a surprising oversight from a company that does have very strong eco credentials I think... is that the report (read it here) DOES NOT have a section on what we're all doing to be more eco friendly at home...you know, like composting our veg peelings and food waste; turning down the thermostat by a degree and limiting our hot showers to four minutes.
Ikea says it interviewed people in 12 cities inclduing Stockholm, Shanghai, Mumbai, New York and surely it would have been fascinating to look at ways people in different parts of the world are - or aren't - trying to be less wasteful of energy and whether they care about sustainability when it comes to furniture and belongings. i.e have we moved on from the throw-away mentality?
High five for wi-fi
I'm not sure the report offers anything particularly riveting, let alone surprising. Unless you're surprised by the importance of wi-fi to.... well...pretty much everyone.
So, apparently, one in four of us say good wi-fi is more important in a home than having space for socialising.
One in five of us prefer to keep up with friends by 'visiting' them online rather than actually asking them to come to our homes in the flesh.
And (not quite sure how this works...) 16 per cent of millennials (folks born after 1985) admit 'to eating or drinking together through social media than in person'.
What seems very sad - and it's not something Ikea can do much about, alas - is that too many of us are living in overcrowded accommodation and yearn for privacy at home (anecdotes include how people look forward to their morning/evening stint in the bathroom because it's the one place they can be on their own in a property...).
But this report glosses over this burning issue that affects people in so many towns and cities around the world. And it makes you wonder if global businesses involved in furniture, which needs to have a house/flat to go to, couldn't get involved in the affordable housing debate so we aren't all squashed like sardines in our flats. (For example, Ikea might support Userhuus..a Swiss project that's developed super eco modular housing, and put its clout behind a campaign to free up land... See our blog piece on Userhuus.)
Anyway, I'm digressing.. Ikea is happier to tell us that young people like music (didn't we know that?) and they play stuff they like in their bedrooms so things feel more homely.
Enjoy reading Deco for just £12 a year - that's £1 a month. Not even the price of half a cup coffee at Costa ...
We launched Deco four years ago and we knew at outset that monetising it would be a challenge.
But now we're in 2016 and it's proving nigh on impossible to attract advertising because of the way digital advertising works, because advertisers are put off by the fact that more of us are using ad-blockers online, and because many small companies prefer to put their marketing budgets into PR.
So we have reached the point where we cannot continue to work with no revenue, and we are appealing to the lovely readers of our small niche independent online magazine to support Deco with a subscription of £12 a year - that is just £1 a month.
We don't need a lot of money to run Deco, but we do need to be able to pay journalists to research and write articles, pay IT experts to revamp and maintain the site, pay to produce video content, pay to advertise Deco to wider audiences. Unfortunately no business can live on viewing figures alone.
So when the Tinypass paywall box comes up on screen after you've had your monthly free reads, please, click on and support us with £12 a year if you can. (You can also choose the £1.49 a month or £8 for six months options if that's more do-able for you). And we will put your money to very good use by using it to develop and improve Deco.
Editor, Deco online
We've been putting the Globus bioethanol fire from Imaginfires through its paces over the past few weeks...when it's been pretty chilly of an evening. And my partner, teenage sons and myself have become rather fond of it.
Perhaps the first thing to note is that contrary to expectation, the fire does heat up the sitting room when on 'full blast' so to speak (ie the aperture for flames is opened to its maximum).
You hear that they're these fires are really just for decoration and the heat they emit is pretty feeble, but we've found that if you close the sitting room door and put Globus to work, the room heats up nicely. ...Whether it would make a noticeable difference on a below zero day in the depths of an icy January (we didn't have any such days in January this year...), with no central heating on, I can't comment on; but on a fairly cool evening when the heating's gone off, the Globus does warm things up.
Easy to use
We chose to try a freestanding fire that happens to fit in our fireplace..the Globus is quite heavy but two people can move it around easily, so its portability is a plus. And these fires are super easy to use - you pour the bioethanol into the well (see the close up picture), put a match to it and flames appear..slowly at first but they get more vigorous after a few minutes. And to put the fire 'off', you use the metal tool to pull the metal cover over the well.
Very pretty to look at
We liked the look of the Globus and think it's an attractive piece of metalwork in the fireplace, but when it's dark outside and the fire's on, it looks lovely - if you've not had the delights of a real fire in your home, a bioethanol offers you that comfort - but with no mess, and no smoke.
Being made entirely from steel, the fire will no doubt last for decades, and you only need to wipe it over with a damp cloth to keep clean. And I know that were it ever to go to the Islington recycling centre, it would be destined for the giant skip marked 'metal' and it would be melted down and made into ..well, perhaps a new fire.
First and foremost, it's the cost of the bioethanol fuel that makes these fires a luxury product and which deters you from having the fire on too often. A litre bottle costs £5-£6 and you get 3-4 hours of dancing flames from that. So if you wanted to use the fire every evening during winter, well, you do the maths. So while the fires themselves are affordable - you can buy one for a few hundred pounds - if you're not feeling rich and you're naturally frugal you will be put off lighting it because of the cost of the fuel. In short, what could be a practical product becomes a luxury one because of the cost of running it.
The other thing my elder son and I don't like is the odour from the bioethanol. It does have a slight smell - it reminds me of sweet silage sniffed from a distance. But it's not horrid and my partner and younger son say they don't notice the smell, so I guess it depends on how sensitive your olfactory senses are.
To buy or not to buy?
I would say go for it...these fires offer those of us who live in flats the chance to enjoy real flames. The fires themselves are relatively inexpensive and attractive, and they do look lovely when lit. They're easy to use, they're mess free and the answer to the cost of the fuel is to accept that you don't light them too often.