The Many Uses Of Baking Soda

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Baking soda is one of the most versatile cleaning agents on earth. It is highly absorbent making it an excellent deodorizer. Best of all, it’s non-toxic. As a matter of fact, if the thought of your next cleaning project gives you indigestion, half a teaspoon of baking soda stirred into a glass of water works as well as some over-the-counter drugs sold strictly for that purpose. Check with your doctor before using this remedy.

With all of the cleaners that are available on the market today it’s hard to tell which one is best for a particular cleaning project. Some general purpose cleaners contain detergents and-or bleach, others use sodium carbonate and bleach, while others have an oxalic acid or phosphoric acid base. The wide range of chemicals used in general purpose cleaners makes reading the label a must, not only to prevent damage to what’s being cleaned, but for safety as well. Some cleaners are poisonous and/or not biodegradable.

We suggest common household food products for cleaning because they are inexpensive, readily available, safe, and work as well or better than many off-the-shelf cleaners. In addition to baking soda, vinegar, salt, food-grade citric acid, juice from a fresh lemon, ice cubes, and mayonnaise are food products that you can use for cleaning.

Vinegar and water is great for cleaning glazed tile and dark tile grout as well. Food-grade citric acid is super for dissolving mineral salt that builds up in water heater tanks. Lemon juice works well in cleaning oil and grease from plastic laminated counters; a 50-50 solution of salt and vinegar makes a terrific copper cleaner; ice cubes are the best first-step in getting wax crayon stains off kids clothing; mayonnaise and a nylon scrubbing pad work wonders on white-rings on wood furniture; and baking soda, which this week’s column concentrates on, should be renamed “baking, deodorizing, fire-extinguishing and washing soda.”

Baking soda will put out a grease fire, clean scorched food from cookware, absorb odors from the refrigerator, clean and deodorize drains, soften and deodorize laundry, and will also remove stains from porcelain, enamelware, glass, plastic, carpets and rugs.

For burned-on food, mix up a paste of baking soda and water. Actually, dry baking soda can be used in lieu of scouring cleanser and best of all, it’s non-abrasive.

Coffee pot stained? Tomato sauce remnants left in a plastic storage container? A paste of baking soda and water will do the trick. Keep a box of baking soda in the refrigerator to reduce odors. Once a week pour a handful down the drain and rinse with hot water. Your drain will stay clean and smell fresh.

Price of fabric softeners got you down? Use half a cup of baking soda in the rinse cycle.

To remove stains from carpets and rugs follow this procedure: While the stain is wet, use baking soda to absorb the excess. Then, cover the stain that’s left with another application of baking soda, let it sit overnight and vacuum it the next day.

Tip

Alka Seltzer: Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz

Got a clogged drain or a toilet that needs cleaning? Do you have pots and pans with burned-on grease? Did a bee just sting you? Grab an Alka-Seltzer; in fact, grab a handful. To clean a toilet, drop in two Alka Seltzer tablets, wait 20 minutes, brush and flush. The citric acid and effervescent action cleans vitreous china sparkling clean. In water it cleans jewelry. It unclogs drains when three tablets in water are followed by some white vinegar. Two tablets will clean gooey flower vases, and a tablet wrapped in a moist cloth will soothe insect bites.

And that’s the On The House tip.

Q&A

Bleach Black Stains off Wood Ceiling

Question: How do I get water stains off our tongue-and-grove wood ceilings after roof leaks?

Jenny

Answer: Well, needless to say, the first step is to repair the roof leak and permit the wood ceiling to completely dry. Then, go to your paint supply company for some wood bleach. This product generally is applied in two parts. The first solution is applied directly to the stained area and left for about five minutes. Then, while the surface is still wet, the second solution is applied. Use a nylon brush or rubber sponge to apply the wood bleach, and separate applicators should be used for each solution. After both solutions have been removed and the area has been permitted to dry, lightly sand to remove any residue that may remain. Most importantly, remember to follow the manufacturer’s specifications and always wear rubber gloves and proper eye protection.

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