The following post is from Katie of Kitchen Stewardship:
Wine stains on the counter. Crayon on the wall. The hated baked-on brown guck making an ever-lasting ring or a 10-minute cleaning job on your slow cooker.
If these are messes that send you running for the Comet, the Magic Erasers, and the bleach because it doesn’t feel like natural methods are strong enough, there’s one simple tool you can use to knock all of them off your list without hurting your surfaces or your home’s air quality.
Since I’m sure you already use baking soda in baking, I don’t need to convince you that it’s perfectly safe.
On the other hand, bleach has known ill effects on humans, Comet has been known to scratch surfaces (and has a pungent odor – what’s in it, anyway?), and the Magic Eraser company isn’t very forthcoming on all the magic parts of their products. Years ago there were stories, some true, some false, about children being harmed by the magic eraser.
For me the bottom line is that I don’t need to buy a bunch of different products, but just one very inexpensive one: baking soda. I’m in!
The primary way I use baking soda is scrubbing stains off my kitchen counter. I’ve seen it work when a frantic friend got a wine stain on her fancy granite counter top, on coffee stains on white, and just about anything else you can imagine.
It’s particularly effective at cleaning white tile grout, especially if you use an old toothbrush to scrub and a bit of 50/50 hydrogen peroxide and water to whiten.
To scrub: You can make a paste with baking soda and just a little bit of water, but I find it even easier to just sprinkle dry baking soda on the stain and use a damp cloth to wipe/scrub it off.
Sometimes it takes some elbow grease, but that’s cheaper than a gym membership for your muscle development anyway! 😉
Shiny Sinks, Ring Around the Tub
Our sinks get a film of serious grime from children spitting clay-based toothpaste and not always rinsing perfectly, and no way does a cloth alone do the trick. A little baking soda paste, though, especially with a microfiber cloth (but not necessary), and the sink is shiny and smooth again – same with the “ring around the bathtub” that you can literally feel when you’ve fallen out of a regular cleaning routine.
I have baking soda under every sink in our house for this reason.
Pro tip: Use a repurposed Parmesan cheese container to hold the baking soda. Easy to shake, and plastic in case there’s moisture where you store it.
For stainless steel sinks, a scrub with baking soda followed by a quick steel wool swipe makes an incredible difference. Here’s the impact of baking soda alone:
Dreaded Baked on Food (especially slow cookers)
That dark brown baked-on food stain on glass baking dishes and especially slow cookers just makes my heart drop. You know dishes will take far, far longer than you want them to when you see the dreaded result of home-cooking. Burnt food in the bottom of a pot is just as bad.
You can use baking soda in two ways to speed up your dish duty:
1. Add baking soda to the soaking water when you fill the dish or slow cooker insert to the top and allow the grime to soak off. The baking soda loosens everything more effectively than water, making it just that much easier to clean off.
2. Use a paste to scrub the last film of brown. My slow cooker especially gets a stain around the top ring of the food, and you can’t use a harsh steel wool pad there like you can with a stainless steel pot. A bit of straight baking soda (not diluted) and a wet rag makes amazing progress.
Crayon Where It Doesn’t Belong
When the kids draw on the tables, walls, or chairs, it’s tempting to explode like a baking soda and vinegar volcano. Instead, just hand the kids a wet rag, sprinkle some baking soda on the table, and tell them to exercise their scrubbing muscles.
Crayon that didn’t come off with just a wet cloth disappeared in seconds with baking soda (and I have tested it on lightly colored wood chairs, too, much to my kids’ shock when I colored on the chair on purpose):
Always spot test your own paint first, but baking soda also does well when your kids play “Harold and the Purple Crayon” and draw on the walls.
Secondhand Kids’ Gear
I used to get a sinkful of bleach water ready to wash up kids’ toys when I bought them secondhand, but now my classic sprinkle of baking soda, a wet cloth and an old toothbrush, and some 50/50 hydrogen peroxide water are all I need to do a very respectable job on even the grimiest plastic surfaces – whether I bought them secondhand or just pulled them out of the basement from the last Kimball kid.
The Messy Stovetop
Soak your stove grates in baking soda water and use the classic paste or dry baking soda with wet cloth to turn your stovetop from embarrassing back to company-ready. More on cleaning your oven naturally when things don’t go as planned in there.
Urine in the Wrong Place
If you have kids, someone’s going to pee on your carpet and/or wet the bed with their favorite un-washable stuffed animal in the wrong place someday; Murphy’s Law of Children guarantees it.
For carpet issues, use water first to soak up the stain a few times with an absorbent towel. Then sprinkle a little baking soda on the carpet, wait 15 minutes (or if it was wet, until completely dry), and then vacuum it all up. (For bigger jobs, try one of these homemade natural carpet cleaner solutions.)
For stuffed animals that aren’t smelling very fresh, put the plush friend in a bag with baking soda and shake it up – wait at least an hour (or a day or two or three; you’re a busy mom!) and you should be all set. If the buddy just has a little hit on an arm or leg, put straight baking soda on and let it sit for a while.
No Draino for Clogged Drains
I don’t really have to look up the ingredients in conventional drain clog products to know that I want to avoid them – the multitudinous warnings on the bottles are enough for me.
I just unclogged our worst drain, the bathroom sink, which doubles as a laundry room and also a receptacle for things-kids-pour-down-drains-that-they-probably-shouldn’t. It gets hopelessly clogged, draining at a snail’s pace, at least a couple times a year.
I use a toothbrush to pull out as much gunk as I can (not a job for the faint of heart), including far too much of what is probably my own long hair, even though I don’t think I wash it down the sink.
I dump in some baking soda, make sure the drain stopper is lined up for quick closure, pour in a generous glug of white vinegar and stop it up as quickly as I can. When it’s working, you can actually hear the bubbling and glugging of the baking-soda-vinegar reaction deep in the pipes below the sink. Definitely call your kids to watch!
Sometimes it takes 2-3 repeats to get the drain completely clear, and having a few cups of boiling water ready to chase the gunk out after the bubbling has stopped is a good idea, but not always necessary. The whole process typically takes only 5-10 minutes, maximum. Plus, it makes me feel very accomplished for the day!
Beyond the House Cleaning
I also use baking soda in my homemade electrolyte replacing sports drink, homemade deodorant (and here’s Mandi’s recipe here at Life Your Way), to draw the sting out of bee stings (a thick paste will do it), and it’s key in the “no shampoo” method of washing hair.
This would be why you can buy baking soda in 5-pound bags, even though no one can bake that much before it expires. (By the way, all these magical cleaning tips work with expired baking soda, so make sure you always use the oldest in your house for cleaning and the freshest for the best rise in your baking!)
P.S. Check out this free printable with 60 uses for baking soda!
What’s your favorite use for baking soda?
|Katie Kimball has been “green” since 5th grade when she read 50 Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth. She remains slightly disappointed that she didn’t actually save the whole thing back then, but now that she has 3 kiddos counting on her, she keeps plugging away hopefully. Katie blogs at Kitchen Stewardship about real food and natural living and is the author of Healthy Snacks to Go and other eBooks, available for Kindle.|