Thursday, April 26, 2012

The One Item that Every Household Should Have

Do you know that there’s one item that can be used for cleaning almost any part of the house, works wonder for dirty laundry, helps remove moisture and odor from enclosed areas, double up as whitening agent for your teeth, relieves nappy rash irritations and do a whole lot more?

Well, I didn’t know either, until I was researching online about how to remove a stain on my hubby’s shirt. Since then (over a year now), I’ve been using it to do various sorts of cleaning around the house.

Have you guessed what it is?

It's the humble baking soda (don't confuse it with baking powder)! Yup, the one you use in your baking.

I use these two brands of baking soda (from NTUC)

I’ve found the baking soda to be such a useful item that I highly recommend that you stock some at home, if you don’t already have it. What's more, it's non-toxic and environmentally friendly.

What I use baking soda for

First, the laundry. By mixing it with the detergent, the clothes turn out cleaner than just using detergent alone (it’s supposed to help remove odor from clothes too but since we don’t have this problem, I can’t really comment on that). In fact, I would reduce the detergent by about a third and replace with baking soda – the less harmful chemicals we use, the better it is for our health and environment, don’t you agree?

I find baking soda especially helpful with items that tend to be on the greasy side, like pillow case and even face towel, which I will soak with baking soda and detergent before washing. The baking soda also makes towels fluffier after wash.

I also use this ‘household wonder’ as an odor remover cum moisture absorbent. I would put baking soda in an open container in the shoe cabinet and it works in removing the smell. You’ll need to stir the powder once in a while. I read from a website that it should be discarded after two months, but I do so every month (I thought that since Singapore is more humid, it should be changed more frequently - after all, the writers of the articles I've researched are written mainly by people living in the US where it's less humid).

I've also recently started using baking soda to wash our fruits and vegetables (instead of those fruits/veggie cleaners) after watching a Chinese infotainment programme. Apparently, it works by neutralising the pesticide (acidic) as baking soda is alkaline.

And oh, I experimented with using baking soda as a shampoo too! I'll probably share more in a future post.

Below are some of the common uses of baking soda. There are lots more of course, so I’ve added some useful links at the end of the post.

General cleaning 
  • Add baking soda on a moist sponge and clean bathroom sink, tub, tiles etc. It works well especially on water stains and doesn’t scratch the surface.
  • Baking soda can be used as an extinguisher to put out fires in clothing, fuel, upholstery and rugs and even stove fires – just throw some on the fire. The carbon dioxide generated by the burning powder will starve the fire of oxygen.
  • Baking soda helps absorb moisture and control humidity. So place some soda in an open container and use in places such as cupboards, cabinets and under sinks. Remember to stir occasionally and replace after one, two months or when you find it no longer effective.

  • Mix soda in water to clean fruits and vegetables. Let them soak a while before rinsing off.
  • Remove odor from your fridge and freezer by putting soda in an open container. Stir from time to time and replace after one, two months or when you find it no longer effective.
  • Add soda to hot water to thoroughly clean baby bottles of any milk residual and smell.
  • Similarly, remove any stale smells from food containers by washing with soda and hot water. If the smell is pretty strong, you can soak the container overnight.
  • Burnt something on your pan? Let the pan soak in soda and water for about 10 minutes. Or you could scrub with baking soda on a moist scouring pad.
  • In case of a badly burnt pan with thick layer of blackened food, make a paste by adding just enough water to the soda (use a thick layer here) and leave overnight and wash the next day.
  • Clear clogged drains by dunking a cup of baking soda down the drain followed by a few jugs of boiling water.

  • Soak and wash diapers with baking soda to remove smell and stains.
  • Stains on clothes? Make a paste with baking soda and water and rub on the area. I’ll let it soak a bit and then give it a scrub before washing. 

Health, Beauty & Hygiene 
  • Remove odor from shoes by sprinkling the insides liberally with soda. Leave overnight and shake out the next day.
  • Add half teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water as a mouthwash helps remove bad breath.
  • Remove build-up from oil and hairstyling products on your combs and brushes in a solution of water and soda.
  • To relieve diaper rash irritations, add two tablespoons of baking soda into baby’s bath water.
  • Baking soda can clean and whiten your teeth. Sprinkle some onto your toothpaste before brushing. You can also use that to brush and clean dentures.

  • Keep a handy container of baking soda in your car. It can be used to put out fire and won’t damage anything.
  • To relief bug bites, make a thick paste with baking soda and water and apply directly on affected area. 

Lastly, you can maximise the usage of the baking soda by re-using it. For example, after you’ve used soda to remove odor from the shoe cabinet, dunk it down the sink and add hot water to prevent drain blockage.

Is there any household products (especially non-toxic, eco-friendly ones)  that you swear by? Please do share so we can be better homemakers!

Useful links - More Uses of Baking Soda

If you're also looking at ways to go green at home, you may like to check out this Green Living workshop. Read the reviews and tips gleaned by fellow mom bloggers:

'Non-toxic homes, healthier families' by June of mamawearpapashirt
'Green Living: How to create a non toxic home' by Delphine of life in the wee hours 
'I am seeing green' by Rawafish of why not

Be inspired!


Related Posts with Thumbnails

  © Mommy CafeDesigned by Patricia Alix-Villa of Fancy Girl Designs 2012

Back to TOP