There are many non-poisonous products that can be used for basic household cleaning. Next to vinegar, the most useful of these is baking soda.
Like vinegar, baking soda has three major things going for it as a cleanser:
- It's non-toxic. Sure, eaten in large amounts it might make you feel unpleasant, but it's not poisonous.
- It's multi-purpose. The suggestions in this article are only a few of the many ways that baking soda can be used as a household cleanser.
- Best of all, it's CHEAP! The cost of baking soda (especially when purchased in several pound large boxes) is far less than that of any other, specialized cleaning agent.
Baking soda (or bicarbonate of soda, as it is also known) is a naturally occurring material, present in most organic life forms. It can be "made" from sodium carbonate, or soda ash. The soda ash is dissolved in a carbon dioxide rich solution, and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) precipitates out.
As its name suggests, baking soda can be used for cooking. It can also be used medicinally and, as we will discuss in this article, for cleaning.
In the kitchen
The kitchen is the most likely place to find baking soda. Don't stop with using it for baking, though!
1. A box or small bowl of baking soda in the refrigerator, freezer, or any cupboard will keep away unpleasant odors.
2. Similarly, baking soda will keep away garbage odors; sprinkle the bottom of the pail, and then sprinkle again after you put a new bag in.
3. Grease fires can be put out by sprinkling them with baking soda.
4. To clean surfaces, sprinkle baking soda on a damp cloth. Wipe, then rinse with clean water.
5. To remove stale smells from food containers, rinse out with hot water and baking soda. If the smell persists, let the container soak overnight in the baking soda and water mixture.
6. To clean silver, use a paste of 3 parts baking soda to one part water. Rub the paste onto each item, then rinse with warm water and dry with a soft cloth.
7. To remove scuff marks or grease spills from the floor, sprinkle with baking soda and then wipe with a warm, damp cloth. This is even safe for no-wax floors!
8. For burnt-on food in the bottom of pots, sprinkle with baking soda, then add hot water. Let soak overnight; the dried on food will come loose much more easily.
In the Bathroom
9.To remove stubborn stains from most surfaces, use a baking soda paste (3 parts baking soda, one part water). Apply, let stand, then scrub or wipe clean.
10. Hairbrushes and combs can be cleaned in a baking soda solution.
11. To avoid clogged drains, pour 1/4 cup baking soda down weekly. Rinse through with hot water.
All Around the House
12. To remove scents from a carpet, sprinkle with baking soda. Let stand for at least fifteen minutes, then vacuum. Repeat as needed.
13. If there is a smoker in the house, put baking soda in the bottom of each ashtray to keep away some of the stale smoke smell.
14. Baking soda in the litterbox will help prevent odors.
15. To quickly clean pets and remove "wet dog" odor, sprinkle with baking soda and brush out their fur.
16. To help remove spills, blot as much as possible. Then clean as you normally would. When finished, sprinkle with baking soda. Vacuum. This will decrease the chance that some of the spilled item will remain in the carpet and cause unpleasant odors later.
17. Children's toys can be cleaned using 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 quart warm water. Submerge in this mixture (or wipe with a cloth dampened in it), then rinse with clear water.
In the Laundry
18. Replace half of each measure of laundry detergent with baking soda to keep clothing fresh.
19. To remove grease stains, either add baking soda to the wash load or pretreat the stains with a baking soda paste.
20. Pretreat diapers in their pail with baking soda. This will keep odors from becoming overpowering between washings.
21. Baking soda increases the effectiveness of chlorine bleach. Add 1 / 2 cup to your laundry, along with the usual amount of bleach.
22. If you keep a laundry hamper, add some baking soda every day to keep the hamper from smelling between emptyings.
Outside the House (Yard and Garage)
23. Baking soda can be used to help clean up grease spills.
24. To remove burnt food from the grill, sprinkle with baking soda, then soak. After several hours, the charred pieces will come loose easily.
25. Lawn furniture can be easily cleaned with a rinse of 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 quart warm water.
26. The children's pool can be cleaned and have mildew removed by washing with baking soda in warm water.
27. Before packing away your camping gear after a trip, sprinkle with baking soda.
If you really get into using baking soda for cleaning, consider buying it in bulk; see if you can join a co-op or if your local natural foods or bulk store can order it for you. After all, it doesn't spoil, and the uses for baking soda are nearly endless!
By the Way: Here are some links you might want to check out:
Noël-Marie Taylor is a freelance writer located in Columbia, Maryland. Her work has appeared in many magazines, including PC Magazine and The Mother Is Me. A stay-at-home mom to two children, she is also the designer of several cross-stitch kits for children.