I’ve rediscovered the joys of ketchup as a cleaner, thanks to a friend who brought me round a lovely selection of cuttings and seedlings last week.
Having used up every single container in her house, she’d resorted standing her seedling pots on an exotic selection of dining platters, including a beautiful oblong brass tray (which is what my cuttings arrived on).
The trouble was that after a few weeks in her garden the tray was seriously tarnished, with a limescale encrusted water mark around the lip. Somehow it seemed unfair to return the tray in that state.
I don’t have a lot of cleaning products in my house but if I do have to tackle a difficult job I usually start by getting out the Astonish and something called Pierre d’Argent. Between them they can tackle most stains and marks on hard surfaces.
They’re both ‘green’ cleaners and can deal with a range of jobs from cleaning the oven and sprucing up PVC patio furniture though to polishing metal surfaces. The problem is both of them require a certain amount of elbow grease. Tackling a sample corner of the brass tray quickly revealed I’d be old before it was shiny.
Then I suddenly remembered the ketchup. It rang a dim and distant bell about a set of copper pans my parents had back in the 1960s, when the height of gourmet chic was something called Steak Diane cooked at the table. Every now and again the pans would get a good going over the with ketchup.
The joy of ketchup as a cleaning agent is it doesn’t require elbow grease. You smear it on and leave it to do the work. It can be used to clean silver, brass and copper. (Apparently it can also be used to clean the chrome on cars!)
It’s important to always test a small hidden area first (I tried a small amount of ketchup on the underneath of the tray before putting a big dollop on the top). Moulding and detailing may need to have the ketchup worked in with a soft sponge.
With all shiny metals polishing requires a degree of care and the softest of clothes and sponges – otherwise you can damage the surface. This damage speeds up the oxidisation process and means the item tarnishes even more quickly.
I went off and planted some of my cuttings and then came back for a look. The ‘ketchuped’ bit of the tray had come up a treat, so I gave the entire thing a good squirt. Ketchup is a cost-effective cleaner as you only need a thin smear and ketchup is cheap to buy. (I’ve only ever tried Heinz, so I can’t vouch for other brands.)
Elsewhere on the Make it and Mend it site… >> Find out how to clean silver jewellery using aluminium foil
Buying green cleaning products
If you want to give eco-friendly cleaning products a go (sadly, ketchup won’t clean everything) a good place to start is the Natural Collection online store. I’ve been using it for years. Their range stretches from toilet rolls through to organic cotton sheets, lamps, dishes and some lovely green beauty products.