I have a weird clutch of days off this week, so just a day after coming back to Ireland, I get to have a couple of nights at home on the farm. That means a number of wonderful things: mother's home baking; mother's home cooking; a real coal fire; television; and a BATH. The bath is a necessity, not a luxury, because there is no shower at the farm - a combination of low water pressure and low bathroom ceilings meant that it was never possible to install one. So instead, as a teenager, I developed a routine of getting up at 6am and having the first bath of the day, before anyone else wanted one. As it was also essential to wash my rather lank hair every day (and still is), this worked very well.
Although I do have a bath in the flat, I have only used it once so far, as I can't justify the expense. Here, however - and very happily - I have no choice! So what better opportunity to chat about the tough task that is cleaning the bath?
My rule for many years has been to ban harsh chemicals from the house, with the exception of some bleach for the loo. In particular, I hate chemical cleaners for the bath, as my skin always seems to detect a trace, no matter how well I rinse, and itching is the result. I therefore have developed a few safe and frugal cleaning strategies.
Firstly, I like to use a non-stick scouring sponge of the kind you can get in a pack of ten to wash the dishes. (Disclaimer: this works on my bath. If yours is particularly prone to scratches, be careful.) With a bit of elbow grease, this gets the scum off better than anything.
The second, wonderfully frugal tip, is to use up all these cheap bottles of bubble bath that arrive over Christmas. I would never bathe in them - the sensitive skin would protest mightily. But harsh on the skin though they may be, they are a lot less harsh than cleaning chemicals, so that any traces left after rinsing have never been enough to cause irritation. Even if you aren't given any, a 1 litre bottle of Tesco's Basics Bubble Bath costs 40p, and will last for an age.
Lastly, if some extra scouring is needed, good old bicarbonate of soda in combination with the non-stick sponge works wonders. This will also clean stainless steel sinks better than bleach, removing these tea stains around the plug hole and leaving the whole thing sparkling.
Total Daily Expenditure: £20.19 (for petrol) + £8.70 = £28.89