Whether it's human urine or rotting milk, Shannon Lush knows how you can use it to clean your house.
Together with Jennifer Fleming, the cleaning guru wrote her first book, Spotless, off the back of her popular ABC radio program in 2005.
Spotless became an instant hit and Spotless 2, Speed Cleaning, How to be Comfy, Save and Kids Can Clean followed with 670,000 copies of the books sold in Australia to date.
She currently hosts Lush House on the LifeStyle Channel.
Lush's latest offering, Spotless, co-written with her brother Trent Hayes, provides advice on daignosing and treating stains.
She talks about her passion for cleaning and examines some lesser known cleaning tips.
Q: Is your house clean?
A: It is not always tidy because I have six jobs, I do a thousand and one things all over the place but I don't mind it getting into a mess because I like being able to clean it up. I quite enjoy cleaning, we do it as a family thing.
Q: Do you hope to pass on some of the tips that you have in your books to men as well?
A: Well 56 per cent of listeners (to my radio shows) are male.
Q: Why do you think that is?
A: Men clean very well and they clean very differently to women. Men tend to clean by line-of-sight where women clean by program.
Q: What exactly do you mean by that?
A: Men clean what they can see and women will clean by program even if it is clean they will clean it because it is in their program. But between the two of them they make the most amazing cleaning teams!
Q: So you and your husband can clean without arguing?
A: We have fun, we have the household olympics and race each other.
Q: When did you realise your cleaning ideas could be a big seller?
A: It wasn't about making money. It's not my proper job - I am a fine arts restorer and an artist and I always will be. It was pretty astonishing though that it kept going, I am dumbfounded, I thought it was only my friends that didn't know this stuff and they were just sort of a bit thick. It wasn't until I got on radio that I realised that nobody does!
Q: Did your parents have a lot to do with teaching you what you know?
A: Yeah it is definitely a family thing. Dad had a background in industrial chemistry as well as engineering and mum comes from a family where all women pass everything down in writing and handy-hints were all collected. I love handy-hints but I have got to know how they work, I don't follow old wives’ tales blindly ever, there has to be a reason.
You know people talk about when you get a sty in your eye rubbing it with a wedding ring? There is the scientific reason for it. Humans have particular bacteria in their eyelashes, if you lose those bacteria in one of the eyelash roots you get a sty. When you rub it with a gold wedding ring you're rubbing the bacteria from one eyelash root to the next.
Q: Have you spent a lot of your time investigating wives’ tales?
A: I do all the time, it's constant, the experimenting never, never stops.
Q: Is there a bit of truth in all of them?
A: Often there is truth but it no longer is true, like newspaper on windows. You can't use newspaper to polish windows anymore. Newspaper use to contain lampblack, lampblack is a coal base that was literally taken from the shades of lamps, and that's a fantastic glass polish. Nowadays ink is made with latex and instead (newspapers) smear.
Q: One of your strange tips is using rotting milk to remove ink stains, what are some of the other unusual products you use?
A: Cleaning oil paintings is one of the weird ones, it's female urine.
Q: Specifically female urine, you can't use male urine?
A: Yes, male urine contains a hormone that leaves a residue. Urine breaks down to form a form of ammonia, the ammonia that you buy in the shops in a bottle is cattle urine. When you send a painting away to be cleaned, if it is an oil painting, it will either be cleaned with spit or urine, all the museums do it that way too.
Q: Is part of the aim of your books to try and help people save money?
A: Definitely. The average household (spends) between $1,800 and $3,600 a year on cleaning products. I use $110.
Q: Would you ever buy a supermarket cleaning product?
A: There are a couple of things that I buy for convenience, but a lot of the commercially available cleaning compounds often have things that you really don't need for what you are doing. There are cleaning products out there that say `one swipe and it's gone. Well yes, but half the surface is at the same time.
Q: Are a lot of your products environmentally friendly?
A: Very. I have a set if criteria that I work to. Number one: it has to work. Number two: it has to have equal or less elbow grease. Number three: it has to be the least damage to the planet that it can be. Number four: (it has to be) as inexpensive as possible.
Stainless by Shannon Lush and Trent Hayes, published by ABC Books, rrp $19.99.
By Chi Tranter, AAP