STAINS

REPORTER: HELEN WELLINGS.

Shannon Lush is the "Queen of Clean". A fine arts restorer, who's been scribbling down messy ideas since she was a kid, Shannon Lush can tell us how to clean EVERYTHING.

"I get stains out that are 50 years, 80 yrs, 100 yrs old," says Shannon. From the front of the house to the back, she advocates using virtually chemical-free old-fashioned home remedies that save you heaps of money.

The nation's aversion to dirt and how to get rid of it has made Shannon Lush's $20 book, "Spotless", a huge surprise hit. Amazingly, it's been a top seller for 2 months.

Mum of three little girls, Belinda Vincent, is just one of around a hundred thousand Australians who've snapped up Shannon's secret remedies. "The book gave me solutions to day to day problems that I had with the children, for example I had ice-cream, chocolate ice-cream down t-shirts, paint - they always have paint," declares Belinda.

"It means that I can stick to just 4 or 5 products and ditch a lot of the commercial products that I used to be using. I know that they will work, I don't need to panic. Children's paint - it's supposed to come out in water, but it doesn't once it's being there for a while. I had no idea how to get the stains out before. The book just gave me ideas on that and I don't have to use those strong cleaners."

Here's a tip Belinda's learnt for kid's wall art -- crayons on all sorts of door and wall surfaces. "It's simple -- just dry cleaning fluid on a cotton wool ball. Wipe it over, soft brush and dry cloth and the mark's gone."

Shannon says, "We're trying to turn around from being a throw away society to a keep it society."

So what are the most common stains? "Red wine and pet mishaps," advises Shannon. Coffee and cordial are very common disasters too. So, Shannon's cheap remedies?

* RED WINE:

"Most people think you put soda water on it. No you mustn't."

This dense chamois-like sponge called "Slurpex", which has been on the market for decades, is Shannon's little helper for all sorts of disasters. "Mop it up first with paper towel or a Slurpex and get most of the moisture out as fast as you can."

It's most important to act quickly, because if that moisture drops into the back of the carpet, the tannin is released from the jute or hemp backing and it stains the carpet. "After you've removed most of the moisture cover it with Bicarbonate of soda. Then once the colour is changed, you leave it to dry and you vacuum it off. If there's any remaining stain on it at all, you just use a cloth that's being damped in white vinegar and sponge it and it's gone."

You may have to repeat this process.

* STOVES, OVENS, SAUCEPANS, CUPBOARDS.

Simple bicarbonate of soda and vinegar clean all sorts of things.

Shannon demonstrates, "You use it for all your kitchen cupboards, the stove cleaning, and the saucepans. It will clean a stove down faster than any stove cleaner. You don't use caustic stove cleaners anymore - they don't work as fast or as easily as this does."

* LIPSTICK and GLASS:

Another old-fashioned and cheap cleaning whiz -- methylated spirits, from windows to lipstick.

"Now you've broken down the waxes and colours in the lipstick, all you've got to do is put it in the washing machine and it washes straight out."

* TEXTA:

Indelible texta on clothes - dry cleaning fluid works like magic.

"All you're doing is wiping it and then you leave it for 10 minutes and rinse it through with water. Then wipe it again leave it for ten minutes, rinse it through with water again."

* SOAP and DETERGENT SCUM:

"The best way to remove soap scum is with a pair of damp panty hose -- old ones will do -- you just damp them and wipe it."

* HOT AND COLD DRINK STAINS:

"Plain old glycerin's really good for removing things like oxide stains .. that means tea, coffee, orange juice, fruit juices, anything that creates an oxide stain."

* TOYS:

Now Belinda uses tea-tree oil a lot in the home.

"When toys get grubby just couple of drops of tea tree oil in water and you just wipe it over -- dry it off. It's safe then, when the baby puts those toys in her mouth."

* DIRTY COLLARS, CORDIALS.

For soaking away stains and dirt, Belinda finds Shannon's Napisan remedies a saviour. Just soak clothes for a few hours in dissolved Napisan, and they disappear.

"Spotless", by Shannon Lush and Jennifer Fleming

published by ABC Books for the Australian Broadcasting Commission 2005

$19.95