Friday, December 14, 2007

Saving More Money: 25 Cheap Tricks with 1 Ordinary Product

We all now know about the magic of that neglected superstar of cleaning, white vinegar. But what we may not know is that there is another economical, versatile product lurking in almost every home, something that’s cheap to buy, easy to use, is totally non-toxic, and has a variety of practical uses. What are we talking about? Sodium bicarbonate or ordinary baking soda!

Baking soda has a multitude of uses in cleaning and deodorizing. It is a very mild abrasive, which makes it useful for cleaning items that you don’t want to scratch, like the interior of your refrigerator, and its ability to absorb odours is legendary. Here are just 25 of the many things you can do, cheaply and easily, with plain old baking soda:

Stinky stuff:

1 Deodorize and clean cutting boards: baking soda is safe to ingest (indeed…we use it in cooking!), so it is safe to use on food preparation surfaces. If your cutting board is retaining odours despite a good wash with soap and water, sprinkle baking soda on a clean damp sponge, scrub the cutting board, and rinse clean. (To ensure the sponge is clean and germ-free, microwave it for one minute before using it.)

2. Garbage disposal odours: Pour about one third of a cup baking soda into the disposal followed by one or two squirts of dish washing liquid. Turn on the disposal for 15-30 seconds (with cold water running). If the odour persists, repeat the procedure, this time adding half a lemon (peel and all) and run the disposal for 60 seconds.

3. Refrigerator odours: Simply tear the top off a box of baking soda and place it near the back of the fridge. Replace monthly. (Don’t discard the used baking soda, though…you can re-use it for cleaning!) Once a month, clean the fridge with a baking soda solution (see below).

4. Freezer odours: sprinkle baking soda on paper plates, one for each shelf or basket. Leave the baking soda in the freezer for 24 hours, then remove and discard.

5. Vegetable crisper/meat keeper: If your refrigerator drawers have an aromatic life of their own, try sprinkling a thin layer of baking soda on the bottom of each drawer. Cover the baking powder with a piece of paper towelling to prevent baking soda from transferring to the food. In crispers, this can help keep vegetables from wilting. Replace monthly.

6. Lunch bag: has your zippered lunch bag developed a kind of funky odour that washing can’t seem to remove? Wash the bag, dry with a towel, then sprinkle ¼ cup of baking soda inside. Now zip it shut and shake thoroughly. Allow to sit overnight, then unzip and wipe clean inside. Smell will be gone!

7. Plastic ware, including baby bottles: if you have ever had milk or formula sour in a baby’s bottle, you know how difficult it can be to get the smell out! Soak the offending item in a baking soda solution overnight, then wash and rinse clean. No more sour milk smell!

8. Diaper pail: you’ve done the ecologically friendly thing and gone with cloth diapers…now avoid harsh chemicals and deodorize your diaper pail with baking soda. Sprinkle a little in the bottom of your clean, empty diaper pail and sprinkle a bit on each diaper as you add it to the pail. Not only will the odour be controlled, the baking soda will help clean and deodorize the diapers during laundering, leaving them sparkling clean!

9. Cat litter box: just as baking soda does is great job neutralizing diaper odours, it can help with your cat’s litter box as well. When preparing a fresh litter box for your cat, sprinkle a layer of baking soda in the bottom of the box before adding the litter. It will help absorb odours and, as kitty scratches in the box, it will be mixed with and spread throughout the litter.

10. Stinky shoes? Smelly feet? Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of baking soda in each shoe. Tap the shoes together to distribute the soda throughout the shoes. Allow to stand overnight, then dump the soda out and discard. Be sure to tap the shoes firmly to dislodge any clingy bits. Done regularly, your shoes will cease to retain odours and the residual baking soda inside the shoes will help deodorize your feet as well.

11. Mops: has your spaghetti mop taken on a sour smell? Rather than discard it and spend money on a new one, try this first: make a solution of 1 cup baking soda, ½ cup salt, one quart warm water. Soak the mop head in this solution for half a day, then rinse in clear water and wring dry. To prevent the mop from souring in the future, rinse thoroughly then allow to fully dry before storing.

12. Vacuum cleaner pumping out funky air? Add ½ to 1 cup of baking soda to your vacuum cleaner’s bag or dirt cup before using.

13. Pet beds: Vacuum regularly and sprinkle with baking soda. A sprinkle on Fido, brushed in, won’t go amiss either.

14. Garbage cans, trash bins: by their very nature, these items are prone to collecting odours. After collection, wash out bin with garden hose, turn upside down to drain thoroughly, then sprinkle a layer of baking soda in the bottom. Once a month or so, clean the inside of the bin with a baking soda solution (see below).

Cleaning stuff:

15. Fridge Cleaning: remove everything from the refrigerator, including the shelves, bins, and door shelves. Make a solution of ½ cup baking soda to 1 quart warm water and pour into the bins to soak the bottoms. In a bowl, make a solution of ½ cup baking soda to 1 quart warm water and carry it to the fridge with a fresh sponge (microwave for 1 minute to kill germs if it is not a new sponge). Wipe down the inside of the fridge, with this solution, during with a soft cloth as you go. Wash shelves, door shelves and bins with a warm baking soda solution, rinse, dry with a soft cloth, and return to the fridge. Restock the fridge, discarding items as necessary and wiping jars and bottles with a baking soda solution before returning them to the fridge. Place an open box of baking soda at the back of the fridge to retard odours.

16. Battery posts on your car: if your car is difficult to start and the battery has blue-green corrosion around the posts, a solution of baking soda may remedy the problem for you. Corrosion on battery posts can retard the flow of electricity from the battery to your starter, making your car difficult to start. Clean the posts with a solution of baking soda, but be sure to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands from the corrosion. Rinse with clear water, dry with paper towels (not cloth or reusable wipes).

17. Cleaning garbage bins: Rinse bins with garden hose. Make a solution of 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup salt, and 2 quarts warm water. Pour into bin and wash interior of bin with a mop. Stuff that is stuck to the bin can be scoured with a sponge: sprinkle baking soda onto the sponge and use as an abrasive. Rinse thoroughly with garden hose, turn upside down to drain. When dry, sprinkle a generous layer of baking soda inside to absorb odours.

18. Jewellery: Jewellery can be cleaned with a paste of baking soda and water and an old toothbrush. Even costume jewellery can be cleaned as long as the paste is not left on long enough to soften the glue that holds the “jewels” in place.

19. Cleaning stains from marble: some people don’t realize until it is too late that marble is porous and it stains. It makes beautiful kitchen counter and table tops, but it can be a chore to keep clean. If you find stains and discolorations on your beautiful marble, or if your bisque figurines have been dulled with accumulated grime, try cleaning them with a baking soda solution: 3 tablespoons baking soda dissolved in 1 quart of warm water.

For stubborn stains on marble, make a paste of baking soda, a squeeze of lemon juice, and water. Scrub affected area with a circular motion and rinse with clear water. If the stain persists, make a thick paste of lemon juice, water and baking soda, apply to the stain, cover with plastic and allow to work for 24 hours. Remove the paste (use a wood or plastic spatula if it has dried…never metal) and rinse area with clear water.

20. Oil stains on garage floor? Baking soda will leach oil out of concrete! Sprinkle a thick layer of baking soda over the stain and allow to sit for 24 hours. Sweep up the baking soda and discard. Repeat as necessary.

21. Burnt or scorched food stuck to a pan? Moisten the affected areas and apply baking soda thickly. Allow to stand overnight, then scrub clean.

22. Sludgy drains? Try putting a cup of baking soda down the offending drain followed by a cup of white vinegar. Wait 2 or 3 minutes, then flush with water.

23. Bathtub rings: dry baking soda applied to a damp sponge acts as a mild abrasive that will quickly remove those scummy bathtub rings.

Other uses:
24. Take the discomfort out of bee, wasp, and hornet stings: Make a thick paste of baking soda and water and apply to the sting. Leave on for at least five minutes.

25. Fire safety: Keep a box of baking soda, preferably already opened, anywhere you use open flame or the danger of combustion exists. Ideal places are near the kitchen stove, the fireplace, and the barbeque. A box in the workshop can be a lifesaver if a spark from grinding or sanding goes awry. It’s not a perfect substitute for a fire extinguisher, but certainly better than water, which can spread grease fires and conduct electricity in electrical fires.


Guy McLaren said...

Good Morning My beloved nemesis, It is you is it not? This is a really nice idea. This saving money gig.

Sweet Violet said...

Yes, my darling, 'tis I. Have Mel give you a tip to pass along and include a link and I'll publish it.

Happy Holidays to you and yours!