Inside the Housekeeper’s Cupboard


The Housekeepers Cupboard / Friday, July 26th, 2019

I’ve become the kind of person that whenever a child-free, work-free day presents itself I take to decluttering the house. Forget afternoon naps and lazy hours on the couch reading books – if you have children you will know the pleasure it brings tidying something all by yourself and having it tidy still after 30min, maybe even an entire day if you’re lucky.

Last week I had a glorious Tuesday all to myself and felt heavily torn between cleaning out the cellar entrance or sorting my fabric stash in the attic.
But then I opened the cellar entrance door, paint peels raining on the floor from the crooked shelves, spotted a colourful collection of about 20 bottles bending the top shelf under their weight, and retired quickly to the attic. There is only so much joy to be had even in tidy cupboards.

You see, when we bought our little terraced house, the previous owner set out not just to leave the house but the entire country and in the wake of this epic step left us not just with a new home but half the inventory to dismiss – plus £300 extra for the inconvenience.
For the most part the cash seemed like easy earned money: The sofas and tables from the dining room were sold online, the beautiful bespoke shelf, wardrobe and dresser that were scattered around the house all made their way into various new corners and the rest of the furniture ended up as a glorious bonfire later that year – under the sink, however, we found the aforementioned 20 different coloured bottles. An assortment of cleaning supplies, one for every job imaginable under the household roof and each as lethally chemical as they come.

Throwing them onto landfill in their barely used state seemed like an assault on mother nature but using them one day like a utopian nightmare. I already had, after all, curated a trusty collection of my own, far smaller and a lot less colourful, but so much gentler on our planet.
Eventually I resolved to moving the offenders onto the top shelf of my makeshift cleaner’s cupboard in the cellar entrance. Far, far away from curious little hands, but somewhat close to be available should that ONE day arise eventually.

A door half open revealing a rough shelves with two big glass jars containing washing powder, two glass bottles next to it and a paper bag in the left corner.
A brown spray bottle behind a grey cloth are standing on a bamboo bathroom unit. Blue tiles are covering the background.
A small white box behind a sink, three washing up brushes tugged in, plus a eco friendly washing up liquid bottle and a brown spray bottle. To the left is a small basil plant. To the right is a hand brush and the tap.

Now we’re entering our third year in this little abode and the collection is still untouched. Just looking at the colourful bottles, turning useless by ageing, makes me shudder but I can’t bring myself to use them.
The sheer quantity of bottles stifles me. So much so that I sometimes feel almost in awe with the person I imagine owned this collection. A person that has a different solution for every chore in the house and a quick fix for every problem that occurs.

While I operate under the assumption, the less the better; relying on the same set of multi-use conjunctions like the vinegar-water solution I spray on about everything for a quick (and inexpensive!) disinfectant.
I wouldn’t go as far as spraying it on my spots like Nic Vardalos and Joh Corbett in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but it gets me a long way in keeping this home clean and tidy and for the rest I have another two spray bottles and some pots of grime cutting paste. 

I couldn’t ask for more, really. Particularly, since we got our new oven – which cleans itself! Conveniently burning everything to ashes for me to sweep out afterwards. Well, almost everything – I wouldn’t try the chemical collection in it.


Open door revealing three shelves in a cellar entrance. Paint is peeling nd the plaster is cracked in parts. The top shelf holds two watering cans, white and green, to its left and a clear bottle with unidentifiable liquid. The middle shelf holds a brown paper bag, two glass containers with washing powder and two empty glass bottles. On the bottom shelf are two black wired baskets with soft beige inlays, some spray cans are peeking out as well as an assortment of cloths and towels.

Inside the Cupboard

Most of the products in our cupboard are by Mangle and Wringer. I discovered the Cotswolds based small company years ago in a CountryLiving article and ordered a large trial package. The products where so good that I made it a point to save money towards being able to afford their cleaning products on a regular basis.

I restock the cupboard about twice a year with an all around order of washing powder, natural bleach, soap, surface and glass cleaner and one of their balms (as they generally last a whole year) and supplement the rest with a few home-made conjunctions.

Admittedly our cleaning cupboard doesn’t come cheap but with a bit of forward thinking it doesn’t break the bank either. And while at it fulfils manifold requirements: child friendly aka non-toxic, non harmful for environment, recyclable packaging and effective.

An Inventory

  • For Laundry
    • Washing powder (no smell)
    • Natural bleach
    • Caster soap
  • Cleaning surfaces
    • All purpose spray for stained ones
    • Simple homemade vinegar/water mixture for non stained ones
    • Glass spray for mirrors, windows, picture frames
    • Aforementioned caster soap for wood floor treatment
    • Kitchen and bathroom balm for sinks, toilets, and other ceramic surfaces
  • Other items
    • Vacuum cleaner
    • Dust pan and brush
    • Broom
    • 5 Microfibre cloths for dusting and wiping down furniture (damp or dry)
    • 10 Kitchen dish cloths
    • Bee’s Wax for wood and leather treatment

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