GBBO's Nancy Birtwhistle wows with eco-friendly household tips

Cleaning up at the bank! How GBBO winner Nancy Birtwhistle’s eco-friendly house tips – including using ivy for laundry and GRASS for oven racks – have seen her latest book soar onto the bestsellers list

  • Ex Bake Off winner Nancy Birtwhistle has built up cult following with her eco-friendly household tips – and her new book has shot into the bestsellers list
  • Tips include how to clean a polo shirt using shredded old English ivy leaves from the garden – by placing them in a laundry bag on a 40 degree wash   
  • Other hacks in the guide include cleaning dirty oven racks using wet grass and making your own dishwasher tablets using the cook’s special recipe

While former Bake Off winner Nancy Birtwhistle is still very much to be found in the kitchen, turning her attention to eco-friendly cleaning tips – as opposed to the perfect victoria sponge – has proved a canny move. 

Since winning the show when it still aired on BBC One in 2014, the Lincolnshire baker, 66, has garnered a cult following with her planet-friendly hacks – including cleaning clothes with English ivy, using baking soda to replace dishwasher tablets and making oven racks shine by leaving them in damp grass. 

Her new book, Clean and Green, which boasts 101 tips for keeping your home spick and span without resorting to harsh cleaning chemicals, is currently sitting pretty in the Sunday Times Bestsellers list, just two weeks after it was released. 

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Still in the kitchen…but 2014 Bake Off winner Nancy Birtwhistle is enjoying a second round of success thanks to her eco-friendly household tips, which have earned her a cult following on Instagram 

Among the tips shared is how to clean a polo shirt – using foliage from the garden. Birtwhistle showed off the results of her washing tip, transforming an unwashed t-shirt into a pristine garment, simply by adding a bag of ivy leaves to the wash


Nancy is seen picking the leaves – older ones are better – before shredding the ivy with scissors and placing them in a laundry bag. She explained to her followers that the foliage is rich in saponin, a natural detergent

The domestic goddess now has around 138,000 followers on Instagram and while many are there for the dreamy photos of cakes and loaves, the eco-friendly cleaning tips are clearly proving a lucrative side-line.  

Among the tips offered in the book are how to turn clippings taken of English ivy leaves while pruning into a detergent that doesn’t harm the planet – and still promises super-clean whites.  

Last year on social media, Nancy shared a step-by-step video guide on how to transform an unwashed white polo shirt into a pristine garment, using said leaves as an eco-friendly alternative to washing liquids. 

She wrote: ‘Out of detergent? Nip outside and cut 6 grams (1/4 oz) of English ivy leaves.’ 

The book has flown off the shelves so far, with many of Birtwhistle’s fans sharing photos of themselves with it

A career on the rise: The Lincolnshire baker won the 2014 BBC series of Bake Off and hasn’t looked back

Nancy washed the leaves before shredding them to ensure they were super clean

She advised fans to add some fabric detergent to make the items softer, and some washing soda for those living in a hard water area

The 66-year-old advised followers to rinse and cut the leaves into shreds before putting them into a laundry bag and placing them in the drum of a washing machine. 

A dose of fabric softener and some washing soda were also added, the latter not required if you live in a soft water area.  

She shared: ‘[Put] on a 40 degree cycle and Mother Nature has it sorted. Add 2 tbsp washing soda too if you live in a hard water area.’

In before and after photos, a crumpled white polo shirt looks transformed by the clever process, which is also clearly an eco-friendly option because you can compost the leaves after the wash. 

When quizzed by a fan on the science behind the transformation, Nancy said that ivy leaves are rich in saponin, which is ‘a natural detergent contained in the veins of certain leaves and other plants.’ 

Older leaves are more likely to have more saponin in their veins, with conkers and yukka plants also rich in the nutrient.  

The cook, who won the fifth series of the then BBC baking show, regularly wows her followers with tips for household wins, including removing carpet dents from furniture and cleaning a glass screen on a wood-burning stove using just a piece of newspaper.    

Move around: Series five Bake Off winner Nancy Birthwhistle, who offers household tips online, shared the handy hack on how to fluff carpet back up after moving furniture

The carpet dent trick involves easily removing marks left by furniture using just a kitchen teatowel, a hot steam iron and a fork. 

Explaining in a short video, Nancy said that after being driven ‘nuts’ by spending so much time in the house she decided to move the furniture around. 

To combat the marks left by her sofa on her carpet, Nancy turned to a trick that involves using a steam iron, a clean tea towel and a fork. 

She explained to viewers: ‘The iron needs to be on full steam, with a steam boost if you’ve got one of those buttons.’   

The moisture and the heat is enough to take away the impression and then all that’s left to do, Nancy says, is to fluff up the carpet once more. The baker used a wooden fork for the job. 

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