The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Wednesday 11 September 2019

How to beat rising prices like Nanna did. Cleaning.

I am sorry to have taken so long to get on with this series!  At last we have our third post.
If you missed them you might want to read the introduction which is here How to beat rising prices like Nanna did.   Then the fist subject which was How to beat rising prices in the laundry like Nanna did. 

So today we are going to tackle cleaning.  I first got into natural cleaners when I had reactions to some spray cleaners. They literally took my breath away and for several minutes I was struggling to breathe.  This was the beginning.  Hearing that some homes are so full of pollution and toxic chemicals that they are not a safe haven at all finished me.  I have not bought toxic chemical clearers since.  The exception is oven cleaner where I do the racks outside on the lawn.

Going back to what Nanna did I firstly have to say her home was so clean and her kitchen was wonderful. She cooked a lot.  Yet her sink and surfaces were always beautiful.  Nan liked things hygienically clean.  Dishes were washed by hand in very hot water.  They were rinsed.  All the whites were white and the bathroom was spotless.  She believed in being clean!   She did not need scented candles (which didn't exist yet anyhow!) or deodorising sprays as there were not stinks to cover up.  Rubbish never sat inside.  The house smelled of whatever was cooking and it smelled good! Cleanliness and fresh air smell good.   Trying to cover up bad smells with scents usually creates a unique worse stink of its own! haha!
Bins were washed out and wiped down.  Household scraps went to animals and the garden.
Nan used "dusters"  which were mostly old clothing, linen or towels that had become worn out and then were cut up to clean with.   When cleaning cloths were dirty they were boiled up on the stove.

In recent years I started using my left over crochet cottons to make cleaning cloths and cloths to wash the dishes.  I have a heap and use a fresh one each day.  They are easy to make and fun to do.  (and make good gifts!)

For windows and larger cleaning jobs I usually have a stack of cotton, flannel and old wash cloths on hand.

I like to find old flannelette sheets in the op shop (thrift store) and cut them up.  This gives me great heaps of lovely cleaning cloths.  

Next I make Miracle Cleaner.  This isn't my own recipe, I originally got it from The Cheapskates Club.  It is a great all round cleaner, it kills germs and it smells amazing and your house smells clean!
You can use it in a spray bottle, for washing the floor, cleaning sinks, the toilet... pretty much anything.  If you make a batch it will last a long time as it is a concentrate.  The pink bottles are a batch of Miracle Cleaner.  You can find the recipe in an old cleaning post of mine Clean and Fresh.

I am always saving bottles and anything with a spray pump and things I can fill with my own cleaner. Another simple one is just vinegar or you can add to it by soaking you lemon peels in a jar of vinegar for a couple of weeks.  This makes an effective cleaner also.

Bicarbonate of soda makes a great paste to clean touch spots or sprinkled on the sink and scrubbed off.  It really does a good job.    I add lemon juice to a sprinkle of bi carb on my sink and give it a good scrub then rinse and dry with a cloth.  It is an old sink and comes up so nicely.  Also to fresh and unblock drains just toss in some bicarbonate of soda then a cup of vinegar. It will fizz away and do a great job.

Some of my soft cloths I fold and stack in a big jar.  I add some Miracle Cleaner and water to the jar... just enough to dampen the cloths.  These are my ready to go damp cleaning cloths.  I would use these for dusting sleeves, window sills, skirting boards etc.  I love them! 

Kelsey shared how she makes cleaning cloths in a past Show and Tell.

She gives her friends homemade cleaning kits.  How beautiful everything looks!  As I mentioned in my first post Nanna would be so cool right now with all her sustainable cleaning methods and recycled items.   So all of these things also make great gifts.   Many brands are marketing natural, non toxic products that are safe for us and the environment and they generally are more expensive.  I have seen some in lovely bottles for over $40 each!  Making your own is so so cheap!  The supplies you gather are basic and will last just ages. Probably years.   As with the laundry it sets you up that when you run out you just make some more.  There is no more going to the store, well not for a long time. 

If you consider what can easily be spent on cleaning products and cloths this just can be such a saving.  But to me it is not just that it is a clean house it is cleaning without harming anyone with fumes or chemicals we really would be best to avoid anyhow. 

The dishwasher can be beautifully cleaned so easily and it makes so much difference.  I clean the little holes in the arms with a toothpick and then follow Cath's cleaning method.  I noticed that a single use dishwasher cleaner can be five or six dollars.  So there is about $70 a year saved in once simple change.   It is amazing how much better the dishwasher works after a quick clean!  This is Cath's method How to Clean your Dishwasher- The Cheapskates Club. 
My additional habit is whenever I use a lemon I sit the used up halves on the top tray of the dishwasher for the next round.  Lately that has been every day.  It is amazing.  The remaining lemon has had the life sucked out of it when the cycle is done!  But the dishes and dishwasher is so sparkling.  So this gets even more use from your lemon.  Citric acid is another wonderful dish washer cleaner.

If you use essential oils and have a supply there are so many cleaning things to make.  Many of mine are my homemade copies of some of the expensive brands.  I love them.  They also make lovely gifts.  Especially if there is sickness in the house I love to spray the surfaces and things like door knobs, remote controls, computer keyboards and all the things that are constantly touched... I use my Thieves/ Germ Killer/Plague Defence formulas that really kill germs in a non toxic way.  I wrote a post on cleaning with essential oils a little while ago.  You can find that here The Home Pharmacy. 
Cleaning Products.

With essential oils you can make your own version of Glen 20 (overseas think of an aerosol spray disinfectant) very easily as well as diffusing germ killing oils.  If I was not into essential oils this alone would convince me.  Since using these I have been able to free myself from regular terrible sore throats and usually head off any colds and flu.  They are powerful.  I feel good quality essential oils and studying them has helped my health and the families and finally I just do not need commercial germ killing products. 

One of the last things I will mention is boiling water.  Bringing things to the boil or pouring water over something with boiling water will disinfect.  What cannot be exposed to this amount of heat I like to use peroxide.  I am a big fan of a You tube Channel called Prepsteader.  She has a tutorial on the uses of peroxide.  So for instance when toothbrushes need cleaning soak them in peroxide.  (as boiling water might melt them or the bristles)  You can find loads of information on peroxide here The incredible difference an extra atom of oxygen makes.  This is very useful as it also has medical uses. 

I could go on and on but I will turn to over to you all.  How do you save on cleaning products?
By all means use up what you have but really you can save an absolute fortune and have a healthier household by making some simple products for yourself.  I love it.  I enjoy it.   I love to give essential oil and natural products as gifts.  And I love to make up a fresh batch of cleaning cloths and see them all stacked up.  I also do my drying kitchen towels.  When they get too worn out then they become dusters also.

I make these in a super big size.  These were from a waffle weave pure cotton op shop (thrift store) quilt cover.  I paid $4 and got 8 huge kitchen towels.  By comparison the shop bought ones are not much good!  

Can you remember how your Mum or Nan cleaned and managed without fancy sprays and so on?   If you have money saving tips here please do share.  We are all working out ways to stretch our dollars and you might have a tip that really helps someone else. 

I hope your week is going well!  It is a busy week here but I have planted lots of seeds and seedlings for Spring so I am really happy with how I am doing (so far!) xxx


  1. Great topic for this time of year Annabel. Your cloths are gorgeous - who wouldn't want to clean when they something that pretty to use :)

    I find it amazing at how many cleaners there are for different things, yet when you check the ingredients they are all pretty much the same thing! I use minimal ingredients to make our cleaners.

    Like you, my children were reacting to the cleaners I used. I tried Amway and it was great, but so expensive; even if it lasted a long time it was beyond our budget. I started making washing powder because of AJ's eczema, then I found microfibre clothes (Mr Clean from the $2 shop and they are brilliant) and everything changed.

    The most expensive ingredient is the eucalyptus oil. Elbow grease costs nothing, a cake of soap is around 40c and lasts for weeks for cleaning and when it's used with hot water and a scrub bud or brush does a very good job of killing germs.

    1. Dear Cath, I have always believed it costs nothing to have a clean home. Flylady says "soap is soap" from that I learned that if I dont like a shampoo, say, then use it to wash something else. Soap is soap! So all the different purpose cleaners I think is a bit of a scam. I love microfibre also and good old hot or boiling water. So simple. I give the pretty cloths as gifts mainly and use the morning ones myself! haha! With love

  2. Annabel, I am trying to get caught up reading this great series. It's all helpful information and I especially like the part about putting the lemon in the dishwasher. It's such a simple thing it makes me think, 'now why haven't I thought of that!' Thank you for doing this series, I'm loving it!

    1. Dear Patsy, Yesterday I opened the dish washer and was hit by the fresh smell of lemon. I had put 8 lemon halves in there as I had used four lemons. The dishes were sparkling and the dishwasher. So the more the merrier! Obviously limes would work equally well.
      Thanks so much Patsy, with love

  3. Hi Annabel! I am loving this series! I too am a lover of the Miracle Spray. I just wanted to add a tip regarding oven cleaning, I believe I first read this idea on Rhonda's (Down to Earth) blog, soak your oven racks in the bath (or large tub) in hot water with an oxygen bleach, I've also used washing soda, and then give them a scrub. I find they come up quite clean. Also, cleaning the inside of the oven with miracle cleaner works well too.
    -Kelly B

    1. Dear Kelly, Thank you! I could use my laundry sink to soak the racks, thank you! I am learning new things to try! Apart from less hazardous the savings are huge! With thanks,

  4. Annabel firstly thank you so much for the time and effort you put into these posts. They are so very informative and cost saving :). I also have reactions to chemical cleaners and often turn blue and stop breathing and end up in hospital, not good !.

    I wanted to say Annabel that you can clean your oven racks without chemicals too. Take out your oven trays and pop them in the bath or laundry tub with the plug in. Add 1/3 rd of a cup of dishwashing liquid and fill tub so it covers trays with hot water and let soak for an hour or two. Go back to them and if there are any little bits on there put some bicarb on a damp sponge and give them a gentle scrub and it will come off easily. Rinse them and put them back in once dried.

    To clean the inside of the oven use neat methylated spirits on a scourer sponge and scrub the inside with it, wipe out and if there is any niggly bits give it another scrub with the neat metylated spirits. I wipe it out with warm water at the end. As methylated spirits is an industrial metal cleaner it brings the oven up sparkling. I use methylated spirits on a scourer to clean the glass too and then wipe clean.

    For cleaning glass I use a half water half methylated spirits mix in a spray bottle and flannelette cleaning cloths.

    For damp dusting and cleaning windows and other things I use old flannelette sheets that I cut into squares. Once I have finished I rinse them out and pop them in with the white clothing wash.

    For cleaning baths and toilets I use a half mix of vinegar and water with a dash of dishwashing liquid. For any stubborn stains in the toilets from our hard town bore water I scrub the toilet out so the water level goes down, sprinkle it with citric acid and spray with the vinegar, water dishwashing liquid mix and let it sit for a half an hour and then scrub it comes up sparkling clean. You can put neat vinegar in your toilet cistern water holding tank and let sit for an hour or so to clean any calcification out of there too. If there are colds and flu in the home I wipe over door knobs with rubbing alcohol and pour neat rubbing alcohol in toilets and wipe over the seats if there is stomach upsets in the home.

    To clean drains I put some bicarb, some vinegar and some dishwashing liquid in there, let it fizz for a while and wash down with boiling water. It clears a lot of rubbish out of the pipes and makes everything smell fresh too.

    To clean benches after packaging meat I wipe over with hot soapy water and pour a little peroxide on a cloth and wipe over and then rinse with clean water on a chux cloth. According to medical/Government sites I read this gets rid of the Q Fever bacteria in meat blood. If someone in your family has Q Fever or flu soak hankies in half a cup of peroxide and enough warm water to cover items for 15 minutes or more and wash as usual.

    To mop tiled and vinyl floors I fill a bucket with 4 litres of warm water to which I add 2T of ammonia and 1T of dishwashing liquid and mop. The ammonia is what they use in restaurants to get grease and residue off floors and the floors come up beautifully clean.

    Deodorising rooms pick a glass jar with a lid and put in a couple of cotton balls to which you can add a few drops of your favourite essential oil. Poke some holes in the lid and leave on a shelf say in your toilet, lounge or bathroom.

    Sewingcreations15 (Lorna).

    1. Dear Lorna, Thank you for all your recipes and tips! Thanks especially for the oven cleaning as I did not know metho was suitable and have never tried that. You sound even worse than me with the bad reactions. That is really bad! It makes me start to wonder how much sickness is caused by chemicals in the home? If we have bad reactions how many people (and worse small children) suffer feeling bad yet not known git is the chemicals?
      Thanks also for how you clean up after packaging meat. This is a big one really and needs to be done properly. I am taking notes! With love and thanks,

    2. So many wonderful ideas! Thank you

  5. I try to use as much natural items as possible with cleaning. Vinegar, bicarb soda, citrus, etc.
    My Momma was also a clean fanatic when I was a kid. The house either smelled of fresh laundry (often in the winter - as she hung laundry inside) or baked goods. There was not a dryer in the house until I was almost grown. We never had store bought goodies - always homemade.

    Thank you for these posts, as they take me back to my wonderful memories of home!

    1. Dear Cheryl,
      Your memories are similar to mine. We always had baked goods not junk food. On holidays the baked goods would come with us.
      The scent of sunshine, fresh air, fresh laundry and cooking ... they are all beautiful we do not need chemicals to make the air smell better. Open a window is my solution! Thank you so much! With love

  6. My household cleaner is in a spray bottle: 2 Tablespoons baking soda, dilute about halfway with water. Shake. Then VERY slowly add vinegar until nearly full. I use this for EVERYTHING! in the toilet: 1/4c baking soda and 1 cup vinegar. Let sit 15m and then swish and flush. I knit my dish clothes from 100% cotton yarn. Anything soft and old becomes a dusting cloth.

    I like the idea of your wet cloths. I need to ponder that and the container for those.

    Great post today!

  7. I forgot this: glass and mirror cleaner is a spray bottle with half water, half vinegar.

    1. Dear Elle, Thank you for your recipe! You will find the damp cloths lovely... use soft dusters and a scent you really like. They are very effective and handy! With love

  8. Great tips! Thank you for sharing. I like making my own cleaners too; it is much cheaper and I don't like the toxic ones I used to buy. I am still trying to use things up as I switch over.

    We have strayed so far from our grandmothers, in industry, sustainability, practicality . . . it's crazy to think how much we buy and throw away every day. Grandma knew better! Now we need to re-learn how they did it.

    1. Dear Dianna, Thanks so much! I agree with you. Especially re industry. Nan was always producing something. In the day it was often baking, jam, etc when she was tired she spun wool and knitted... she actually never sat and did nothing. She also didnt throw stuff away. I wish I had her here now to ask more! With love

  9. Thank you, Annabelle! I use natural cleaners due to multiple chemical sensitivities that cause migraines. I'm going to make a batch of your cleaner- it sounds wonderful! I live the idea of the cleaning wipes.❤

    1. Thank you Wendy, I get migraines too. Some chemical smells or perfumes really get to me. Actually perfumes can be dreadful for headaches. Thank you, with love, Annabel.xx

  10. What a great post Annabel, I’m loving this series.

    When you lightly dampen your cloths and put them in a jar for damp dusting, do you put a lid on the jar? How long can you store them like that? Do they go mouldy?

    I have the BEST TIP EVER for stubborn toilet stains (I got it years ago off the UK show How Clean Is Your House)

    First empty the water out of the bottom of the toilet. To do this I get a flexible paper/plastic cup and scoop it out into a bucket as much as I can, then I get an old cloth and soak up the water that cannot be scooped out, that cloth generally gets thrown out afterwards. So you are left with a dry toilet bowl. Then tip 2L of cheap vinegar into the bowl and leave it for 24hrs (obviously you can only do this if you have access to a second toilet in the house) after 24hrs, give it a scrub and a flush and it will remove the most stubborn of stains.

    1. Thank you Cheryl! I have kept my cleaning cloths damp for well over a month and no mould or anything grows they stay fresh. Yes I do have lid on them. I use a screw top jar usually. Once they are all used up I just make another lot. If I get caught on the phone I dust! I have gone through a whole jar of them in one phone call! haha!
      Thank you for the tip on the toilet. There is an old cottage here I want to do up. The toilet will be one of the biggest challenges so I will do this, thank you! With love

  11. I love this series. I am going to try your lemon in the dishwasher tip. We also run lemon peels down the disposer to freshen it and eliminate odors. We are right on the same page with you on cleaning. For nearly 30 years we have used simple cleaning solutions and it has kept us healthy by not being exposed to all those chemicals. We have hard well water so the dishes come out of the dishwasher with a cloudy mineral residue if we only use detergent. We found that adding 1/4 tsp of pure citric acid to each load eliminated the problem and keeps the dishwasher clean at the same time. We add it to the detergent cup along with the detergent. It is really cheap by the 5 pound bag on Amazon when you break it down by the number of uses. We have used Shakley Basic H for decades. We have used from one quart bottle purchased at least 15 years ago for making up spray cleaner, produce wash and wind shield washer fluid for the car. There has been some controversy about them but we have a lot of microfiber cleaning cloths that allow us to just clean with water. We have had most of them for over ten years so we basically clean for free. A small dish of vinegar is actually a good air freshener if there is a terrible odor or my Mom would light an unscented candle to remove cooking odors like fish from the air and it works. Hopewell Oils has information about cleaning with essential oils here- We do use a good bit of hydrogen peroxide for cleaning. We keep it in a spray bottle and spray down the shower walls when they start to look dingy and it is about the only thing that will clean hard well water stains in toilets. We pour it in and let it soak over night or add it before we will be gone overnight. I have a small spray bottle of it in the kitchen to use to clean up behind raw meat on the counter or in the sinks. Hanging fabrics out in the bright sun is another way to disinfect them. Half cup of vinegar in a load of wash in the machine is a good disinfectant, too. We don's use bleach in our home as it has long been an asthma trigger for me. It doesn't bother me much anymore but I know it is just not good to put in the air inside.

    1. Dear Lana, Yesterday when I opened the dish washer in the morning (I run it overnight) I was hit by the lovely fresh smell of lemons and a sparkling dish washer and dishes. I had used extra lemons for eight half lemons had gone through that cycle. Citric acid is wonderful for dishwashers in the same way.
      Thank you for the info on how you use hydrogen peroxide. I will go have a study on the Hopewell site. I like to have something dos study everyday so today I will do this.
      Thanks so much Lana, with love

  12. I loved reading this post Annabel and reading what others are doing. I only have two things to add. Number one is for the bathroom, particularly if you have hard water. Half fill a spray bottle with cheap vinegar. Place in the microwave and heat until the vinegar is hot but not boiling. Fill the rest of the bottle with dishwashing liquid. Spray all bathroom surfaces and all to sit for a couple of minutes. Get whatever you use to clean your surfaces, I use a soft headed house broom, and then give all surfaces a scrub. It brings everything up so clean. For cleaning grout, my nemesis in our old bathroom, I make a paste of bicarb and my laundry liquid. I use and old toothbrush and give all the grout a scrub. It doesn't get all the stains out, but it gets it clean. My exterior windows have water stains from our bore water. I use a large bucket that I squirt dishwashing liquid into and two cups of vinegar. Using my bathroom broom I scrub down the windows and hose off with town water. I don't dry the windows off at all and rarely do I get any streaking. If there is streaking I add more vinegar.
    When we lived on the farm the bore water would stain the toilet terribly. An older lady gave me a wonderful cleaner to get rid of stains in the loo and it also worked on stains in concrete. Pour Coca Cola straight onto the stains and leave to sit. Scrub off. I haven't drunk Coke since being shown this method. If it does that to stains what is it doing to your insides?
    If your house smells get rid of what is causing the smell. Open windows and let the fresh air run through. Nothing beats fresh air.

    1. Dear Jane,
      I won drink coke either! But thank you as this would be a great use for it after having guests etc if there is coke left here. I so agree on fresh air. I cannot fathom living in a house with stale air. Nor how bad it would be to breath and sleep in.
      We have bore water so thank you for that tip. And I love your window method. I do the same using dishwasher rinse aid but vinegar would be cheaper so I will try that.
      Thanks for sharing what you are using. With love,

  13. Hi Annabel
    Thanks for continuing this great series, I love it! My Nan's house was always spotlessly clean too. Sadly I don't know what she used exactly, but I'm sure it would have been basic and cheap, as she was very frugal with everything out of necessity. I do remember she used a manual carpet sweeper everyday to quickly clean up the kitchen and dining room carpets. I loved to help with that when I visited!
    My favourite homemade cleaners that I have used for years are Miracle Spray, half-half methylated spirits with water in a spray bottle for mirrors and windows, and a cup of vinegar (or bleach) in boiling water for mopping floor tiles. I love that the floors don't get a sticky residue from this and the grout stays lighter coloured. I have also used Rhonda from Down to Earth's method for cleaning the oven naturally and it works great. I need to try out the tips for cleaning my dishwasher soon and make up some of your damp duster cloths. Thanks again, Kelly xo

    1. Dear Kelly, Thank you! Rhonda has so many great tips and recipes.
      I will try the half and half metho and water on the windows. I have a lot of big windows and I love them clean! (never ending)
      Thank you for your kind words on the series... I will keep working on it! With love

  14. I hate artificial scented anything. I love essential oils. I made up my own bathroom freshener for the toilet. I use vinegar & baking soda to clean the bathroom. I have a micro-fiber mop system so I only use hot water and some Thieves or Lemon EO.
    I do use regular dishwashing (hand & machine) soaps and laundry soap but am investigating alternatives. I need a heavy-duty degreasing laundry detergent since Farmer gets very dirty at his factory job and on the farm.
    I use Hydrosols to freshen fabrics like couch cushions and carpets. We also wipe down remotes, door handles, bathroom & kitchen areas when we are sick (not often) with thieves or tea tree oil.
    QUESTION: Does anyone have a way to disinfect a futon mattress? Grandson wet the bed his last night here. I used a heavy towel weighted to draw out most of the moisture. I plan to set it out in the sun this weekend when the chance for rain is gone. Is there something else (peroxide?) that will work? Thanks

    1. Dear Kay,
      You can sprinkle baking soda on a mattress and vacuum it off to freshen it. You can add essential oils to the baking soda for extra cleaning and scent. The soda will also help absorb moisture. Just be prepared for baking soda to be everywhere, as when I did this inside, there was a residue on the surrounding walls and furniture for a good while and involved frequent dusting and vacuuming to get it all up. May be best to do it outside ;)
      Love, Kelsey

    2. Dear Kay, I second what Kelsey I use bi carb soda spread over and let it soak up anything and repeat. Then I agree with sunshine. You did the right thing with pressing the towel into it and absorbing all that you could, good thinking. Thank you for sharing the things you are using. Good luck with the mattress, love

  15. I stopped using cleaners for the most part due to sensitivity to scent. I have soft water here which brings it's own set of problems, meaning that often soaps don't dissolve and we deal with a lot of scum and have to be careful which detergents we buy, as well as shampoos and bath soaps! In the shower, I use either a liquid toilet bowl cleaner which is remarkable at breaking down soap scum or the vinegar and Dawn dish soap (stateside here). I have read and read about cleansers best to use on soap scum in drains and it comes down to plain old baking soda and vinegar followed by boiling water.

    I do find it interesting that a magazine reported about four years ago that the best disinfectants were sunshine and fresh air and highly recommended that the windows and curtains be thrown open to let all that good 'disinfectant' indoors.

  16. Dear Annabel and fellow Bluebirds, thankyou for this post and all the comments, I am learning a lot from everyone. I have a little story to add. I began cleaning for a young couple not far from my home who had just purchased the oldest house in the district. I LOVE the house, I say hello it when I arrive. It is very big, dusty, rambling and has had bits and pieces added on over the years. It has three toilets. Two of which are really old. Well these two toilets hadn't been cleaned regularly for a long time. There was mineral deposits all around bowls. The couple said not to bother cleaning them as they were planning to throw them out and replace them. Ahem. I couldn't help myself. I looked in my trusty "how to clean just about everything book" which said to wet toilet paper or paper towel with vinegar and stick it to sides of toilet and let soak for at least an hour. I did have to do twice on one but Voila! Clean sparkling beautiful white solid vintage toilets that are functional and match the house. The wife described me to her mother in law as a genius. I really liked that and found it amusing. They are no longer replacing them. Clare

  17. Hi Annabel, I would like to make the Miracle cleaner. I saw that you said to add 2 tablespoons of it to warm water for floors, but how about using it for other cleaning, do you just spray it on or dilute it too? Thanks


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