Ditch the drudgery – how to tackle the chores you hate 

Whether it’s blitzing bin juice or wrestling with oven grime, experts share their tips on how to deal with those household chores you really, really hate.

Alright, let’s talk dirty… literally! We all have those tasks that make us groan and wish for a magic cleaning fairy. A recent survey by app Taskrabbit confirmed it all – cleaning the oven, scrubbing the toilet, battling bathroom mould, and defrosting the fridge are the undisputed champions of procrastination.

Before you consider self-inflicted eye trauma (we’ve all been there), fear not, we’ve got the expert tips and tricks to blitz through these hated chores in record time.

So, grab your rubber gloves and cleaning spray, because conquering these tasks is about to become a breeze (well, maybe not a breeze, but definitely less painful than eyeball stabbing).

Woman looking miserable while cleaning to illustrate how to do the most hated choresCredit: Shutterstock

1. Dealing with the kitchen bin

Let’s go outside…

Cleaning guru Jane Wilson, armed with years of experience, tackles common chore complaints. High on the list: the dreaded smelly bin. 

“Keeping your bin clean is vital for a great-smelling home,” she emphasises. 

The good news? It’s easy. “It requires no special tools or skills. Bonus: It keeps bugs away from your food, too!”

Jane’s top tip? Grab some rubber gloves, head outside, and let the bin-cleaning magic begin.

“If you can, take your bin outside and use a garden hose to spray it,” she advises. “If you’re in an apartment, consider taking the bin to the shower or bathtub for a rinse!”

Once you’ve given it a good scrub, she has a top tip to ensure it smells fresh long after it’s clean-up.

“Fill the bin with hot water and add a drop of essential oil, such as tea tree, then cover it for five to 10 minutes to eliminate the bad smell,” she says.

“Then rinse the bin and add a few drops of tea tree oil to eliminate any lingering odours. Dry the bin manually with a paper towel or cloth, but if you do have any sun, dry it outside as this helps prevent mould build-up.”

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2. Cleaning the oven

Use what you already have to clean it

If you’ve been entertaining over the festive season, chances are your oven needs a good old deep clean, but as Sarah Dempsey at MyJobQuote.co.uk notes, it can be quite a daunting task to get started with.

Dempsey suggests ditching the chemical-heavy oven cleaners and going for something more sustainable – Bicarbonate of Soda (known as Baking Soda in the US).

“Simply make a paste using baking soda and water and apply this to the dirty parts of your oven,” she says. “Allow this paste to sit for a few minutes. Then, fill a spray bottle with white vinegar and spray over the paste. The solution will start to fizz. Allow it to sit again for several hours to give it enough time to break down the grease and grime.”

Afterwards, just give it a little scrub with a sponge and wipe away the residue with a clean cloth.

Dempsey suggests doing this regularly – say once a month – to ensure it doesn’t get out of hand.

She says: “Baking soda and vinegar can work wonders in breaking down grease and grime, making it much easier for you to wipe everything away. No hefty scrubbing required.”

Have a self-cleaning oven?

Dempsey says while this can save you some elbow grease, always consult the manual before you use the self-cleaning cycle.

She says: “You must make sure that you read the instructions properly before putting on the self-cleaning cycle. If you don’t do it properly, this could damage your oven.”

3. Tackling the toilet

Make this a daily chore

No one enjoys tackling a grimy toilet, but Dempsey’s secret weapon against the porcelain beast is simple: daily maintenance.

“Once a day, give your toilet seat and back a quick wipe with an antibacterial wipe,” she advises.

“Then, give the interior a quick scrub with some toilet cleaner and a scrubbing brush. This will ensure that your toilet always remains sparkling clean and will prevent it from becoming too daunting of a task.”

And if you have some citric acid to hand, why not try this genius cleaning hack to easily clean your loo and descale your kettle!

4. Removing mould

Get the bleach out!

Forget the dreaded mould mountain looming in your bathroom. Just like with the loo, a sprinkle of daily cleaning can banish this monstrous chore before it takes root.

“The bathroom is the mould’s favourite room in the house because of the high humidity and condensation levels,” says Wilson.

“Believe it or not, by doing a bit of daily upkeep, you can avoid the build-up of mould, dirt and unpleasant odours that usually make this job a dreadful task.”

Protect yourself

When cleaning large amounts of mould in your bathroom, remember to protect yourself – wear robust work gloves and face masks and ensure the room is well-ventilated by opening doors and windows.

Wilson suggests creating your own mould magic remover by mixing one part bleach with two parts water and adding to a spray bottle.

“Apply the solution to the affected area and let it sit for 10 minutes,” she advises.

“While the mould should begin to fade, for stubborn areas, use a coarse brush for more significant sections or an old toothbrush for more minor spots to scrub away the mould.”

Make sure you rinse all surfaces thoroughly with water afterwards to remove all traces of bleach.

How to prevent bathroom mould

To stop mould, you need to control the moisture says Wilson.

“Fix any leaks in bathroom faucets and keep drains clear,” she says.

She also advises regularly spraying some white vinegar onto the bathroom ceiling, walls and surfaces and leaving it to air dry.

5. Unblocking drains

Banish blocks before they begin

Unblocktober, a campaign championing healthier sewers and seas, reveals a shocking statistic: 65% of Brits confess to pouring fat and oil down the sink. This not only fuels the notorious ‘fatberg’ crisis but also wreaks havoc on personal drains, causing blockages and foul odours.

“If you don’t deal with them, these issues can escalate into larger problems, causing significant inconvenience and cost,” says Wilson.

“When you suspect a blocked drain, try to clear it yourself as soon as possible.”

Wilson suggests a homemade solution to help keep those drains flowing free:

  1. Pour a pot of boiling water down the sink or toilet.
  2. Follow with a a cup of Bicarbonate of Soda followed by one cup of water/one cup vinegar solution.
  3. Allow it to sit for up to 10 minutes.
  4. Pour boiling water down the skin or toilet again.

How to dispose of cooking oil

To avoid plumbing nightmares, keep the drain monsters at bay by ditching the biggest culprits: wet wipes and sanitary towels. Remember, their rightful place is the bin, not the toilet!

Oil presents a unique challenge. Dumping a liquid feels wrong, right? So, let used cooking oil cool down and then pour it into a container. For vegetable and sunflower oils, if they haven’t met meat or fish, consider a second life in the kitchen. Otherwise, scrape the cooled, solidified oil into the bin, and problem solved.

6. Cleaning the fridge

Get rid of that fridge pong!

A fridge emitting foul odours or overflowing with forgotten produce – anyone with a kitchen knows the horrors. To avoid these olfactory and culinary nightmares, Dempsey recommends a proactive approach: deal with messes and expiring food immediately.

Dempsey says that tackling any issue as and when they happen will help keep the fridge sparkling.

“Clean up any spills immediately to prevent them from drying, setting, or hardening,” she says. “Once stains have hardened, dried, or set, they become much harder to clean, so you can make your life easier by cleaning everything up straight away.”

While this should also sort out whiffy fridges, if you’ve got some a nasty smell thanks to a spill you’ve not seen or some smelly cheese, Dempsey recommends reaching for the bicarb once more.

“To prevent bad odours from building up in your fridge, consider placing a box of bicarb in the back of the fridge,” she advises. “This will help to absorb smells, stopping your fridge from becoming smelly.”

Jayne Cherrington-Cook

Written by Jayne Cherrington-Cook she/her


Jayne is the Senior Editor at Saga Exceptional. She cut her online journalism teeth 24 years ago in an era when a dialling tone and slow page load were standard. During this time, she’s written about a variety of subjects and is just at home road-testing TVs as she is interviewing TV stars. A diverse career has seen Jayne launch websites for popular magazines, collaborate with top brands, write regularly for major publications including Woman&Home, Yahoo! and The Daily Telegraph, create a podcast, and also write a tech column for Women’s Own.

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