Good things come in small packages













Mangle & Wringer’s laundry and cleaning products are based on the handwritten recipes of a woman called Bette Smith.  Bette was born in the 1920’s and went into service from a very early age working in London’s Belgravia.  In true Downton Abbey fashion, she worked her way up from kitchen and laundry maid to lady’s maid.  When she married she moved to Gloucestershire to start a family and set up her own laundry business where she became known locally as Mrs Mangle.  In time, one of her daughters helped her and became known as Little Miss Wringer! On her death, Bette left her treasured, hand-written notebooks to Vanessa Willes

Vanessa was enthralled by the stories told to her by Bette, and was won over by the simplicity of the recipes for cleaning products.  She tried them out herself and was amazed how well each product worked and she decided to launch her own company and Mangle & Wringer was born.  The Mangle & Wringer products are based entirely on these traditional recipes and are safe to use, even on sensitive skin, contain no nasty chemicals, and are not tested on animals.

I’ve tried all the products and they work brilliantly.  The glass cleaner works on glass and mirrors without having to use too much elbow grease.  The pretty tins of bathroom and kitchen cleaner worked most noticeably on a badly marked Belfast sink – the kitchen cleaner just cut straight through the dirt – again without any effort.  The laundry powder is powerful but gentle, without any strong chemical scent.  For white washes that need brightening, just add a little of the natural bleach and you’ll notice a difference when you bring your towels and sheets in from the line.

All the products are beautifully packaged.  You certainly wouldn’t mind if any of them were left out on the work-top.

Janey Lee Grace’s verdict is ‘”Upstairs Downstairs” hits the 21st Century with Mangle & Wringer’s fabulous new cleaning products’.

All the products are available individually from Plain Useful or we are also offering a set containing one of each product in the range at a reduced price – well worth a try.




The Garden that Keeps On Giving …


One of the better gardening jobs at this time of year is dead-heading.  What better than to wander round the garden with a cup of coffee and a pair of scissors or ‘flower snips’?  As soon as you see the colour fading and the petals dropping then snip off the flower head.  Nature’s design is that a plant’s only function is to reproduce.  If you remove the flower before it has time to make seeds, then it will go into reproduction mode and start to make another flower.  If you do this regularly you’ll be rewarded with flowers throughout the summer and into early autumn.  How lovely!


Shiny and New

Shiny and New

Now that the kitchen is nearly finished I’m taking great pleasure finding places for all the utensils, crockery and saucepans.  I was sorting through the cutlery and realised how dull some of it had become and so decided to try … Continue reading

Scrubbing the Floor


“I got the blues thinking of the future, so I left off and made some marmalade. It’s amazing how it cheers one up to shred oranges and scrub the floor.” D H Lawrence

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After a long wet and windy winter, the first signs of Spring are here in the Pennine hills of West Yorkshire.  The birds are singing, the lambs are jumping in the fields and the hares are boxing as the evening light fades.  The bright sunlight pours into the house and it’s time to throw open the windows and let some fresh air in.  It’s a good time to wash all the windows and floors.  Choose a breezy day to wash the floors and then if the window or door is open the floor will be dry in no time.  I use two buckets when cleaning the wooden and stone floors – one for the scrubbing brush and one for the cloth.  If you choose to polish a wooden floor after cleaning it, try wrapping an old towel around the broom head to buff it up afterwards.  The towel will ensure that there’s no excess polish left on the floor to make it a slip hazard and the towel will bring up a wonderful shine.

It’s great to see customers enjoying the new stock that we are now supplying all over the UK and occasionally abroad. It’s lovely to find a group of like-minded people who appreciate good quality and beauty in such everyday objects.

Spring is Sprung

Welcome to Plain Useful’s first blog. is an online shop selling products for the home and garden that are beautiful and useful. Hopefully they will make everyday chores more enjoyable. The products included in the store are largely traditional … Continue reading