Nany Birtwhistle sat on a log holding a chicken, smiling at the camera Credit: Richard Saker / Guardian / eyevine

Nancy’s green cleans – household tips to save money and the planet

From Bake Off champion to sustainability guru, Nancy Birtwhistle now enthrals fans with her green tips – here she shares some of her favourites.

More than 12 million people watched Nancy Birtwhistle win The Great British Bake Off at the age of 60, but now her focus has shifted to inspiring others with her resourceful and environmentally conscious household hacks.

The grandmother has almost half a million followers on Instagram who turn to her for her advice on natural cleaning products and thrifty tips. She says one of her proudest moments was inventing a recipe for Pure Magic, a homemade cleaner.

In 2018, Nancy created it as a natural toilet cleaner, free from harsh chemicals and chlorine. Little did she know, this recipe would unlock a treasure trove of cleaning possibilities! Inspired by its versatility, she started creating more eco-friendly solutions, earning her the title “The Queen of Green” from her loyal followers. Today, she shares some of her cleaning wisdom with us.

Nancy was motivated to try to help protect the planet by her 10 grandchildren, She looked at chemical cleaning products and single-use plastics, and knew she could do better – so she began devising her own household solutions.

There is science behind all her cleaning recipes, and the measurements have to be absolutely precise.

“There’s no point just telling people the key natural cleaning ingredients to have in the house – lemon juice, vinegar, bicarbonate, that sort of thing,” she told Saga Magazine. “You need to understand exactly how to use them and there’s so much misinformation out there,” she explains.

Now Nancy has 587,000 devoted followers on Instagram who follow her innovative ideas and time-saving swaps that re-think everyday house and garden tasks to make as little an impact on the environment as possible.

Her latest book, The Green Budget Guide, is packed with even more inspired advice

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Nancy on why cleaning can be so exciting

Nancy is the “Queen of Green” on social media

Via her social media accounts, Nancy demonstrates how to make furniture polish from sunflower oil and white vinegar, and cream cleaner from vegetable glycerine, bicarbonate of soda and eco washing-up liquid. But she says every recipe has involved a trial and error.

“Perfecting Pure Magic, for example, took much time and effort. ‘It was a real labour of love,” she says.

“Although it looks very simple the absorption rate is really odd with citric acid and my attempts continued to re-crystallise until I hit on the idea of using eco-friendly washing-up liquid as an emulsifier.

“I’ve learned so much over the years. When you are making your own solutions it gets addictive. People tell me it’s made cleaning quite exciting.”

How to get rid of stains the natural way

Nancy’s stain removing guide

Acids – grass, wine, curry, fruit and veg

Add two tablespoons of Pure Magic (see recipe below) to a large bowl of cold water, soak for half an hour then leave the item to drip-dry outside, without rinsing, in full sunshine or bright daylight.

Fats – butter, oil, sun cream, makeup, fake tan

Mix a thin paste made from 2-3 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda and a squirt of eco-friendly washing-up liquid. Wet the stain lightly using water in a spray bottle then massage in the paste, putting plenty on. Pop the item in a plastic bag overnight, then wash the next day in a 20°C long wash.

Sticky – glue, biro, nail polish

Use a cotton pad dipped in surgical spirit to dab at the stain. With lipstick and ink on clothing, put the garment on an old towel, stain down, and dab the wrong side of the fabric. The alcohol quickly evaporates and shouldn’t leave a mark.


Fresh stains are easier to remove than dried-in ones, but either way I find saltwater works the best (50g salt dissolved in 250ml hot water) then used once cold. Use the solution to either soak stained clothing or dab with a cloth to remove from furniture, carpets or mattresses.

The recipe for Nancy’s all purpose cleaner

Nancy Birtwhistle’s Pure Magic recipe

You will need

  • 200g citric acid
  • 150ml just-boiled water
  • 20ml eco-friendly washing-up liquid
  • 10-20 drops tea tree oil


  1. Place the citric acid crystals in a heatproof measuring jug and pour over just-boiled water.
  2. Stir until the liquid is clear and the crystals have dissolved, then add the eco-friendly washing-up liquid and tea tree oil and mix well using a small whisk.
  3. Leave the liquid in the jug to cool completely, uncovered, for a few hours then pour into a 400ml glass bottle with spray attachment and screw top.

Written by Anna Moore