My Household Cleaning Companion

This is like the all-purpose item that can practically clean everything in a home!  I had trouble looking for baking soda when I first arrived in Japan. I finally found some Arm & Hammer baking soda at shops that sell some items from abroad, like Kaldi Farm. One box usually costs around 500 yen. But last week, I found this huge 12 lb bag of Arm & Hammer at Costco for only 600 yen.

baking sodaI’m sure you couldn’t imagine needing this huge bag….but look at all the practical uses for it!  Here are some of my favorite uses for it…

In the Kitchen:

Clean your produce
Wash fruits and vegetables in a pot of cold water with 2-3 table-spoons baking soda; the baking soda will remove some of the impurities tap water leaves behind. Or put a small amount of baking soda on a wet sponge or vegetable brush and scrub your produce. Give everything a thorough rinsing before serving. 
Tenderize meat

Soften it up by giving it a rubdown in baking soda. Let it sit (in the refrigerator, of course) for three to five hours, then rinse it off well before cooking.
Soak out fish smells
Get rid of that fishy smell from your store-bought flounder filets and fish steaks by soaking the raw fish for about an hour (inside your refrigerator) in 1 quart (1 liter) water with 2 tablespoons baking soda. Rinse the fish well and pat dry before cooking.
Fluff up your omelets

For every three eggs used, add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
Rid hands of food odors
Get food smells off your hands by simply wetting them and vigorously rubbing with about 2 teaspoons baking soda instead of soap. The smell should wash off with the soda.
Clean baby bottles and accessories
Keep all your baby bottles, nipples, caps, and brushes “baby fresh” by soaking them overnight in a container filled with hot water and half a box of baking soda. Be sure to give everything a good rinsing afterward, and to dry thoroughly before using. Baby bottles can also be boiled in a full pot of water and 3 tablespoons baking soda for three minutes.
Clean a cutting board
Keep your wooden or plastic cutting board clean by occasionally scrubbing it with a paste made from 1 tablespoon each baking soda, salt, and water. Rinse thoroughly with hot water.
Clean your refrigerator

To get rid of smells and dried-up spills inside your refrigerator, remove the contents, then sprinkle some baking soda on a damp sponge and scrub the sides, shelves, and compartments. Rinse with a clean, wet sponge. Don’t forget to place a fresh box of soda inside when you’re done.
Clean your microwave
To clean those splatters off the inside of your microwave, put a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda in 1 cup water in a microwave-safe container and cook on High for 2-3 minutes. Remove the container, then wipe down the microwave’s moist interior with a damp paper towel.
Remove coffee and tea stains from china
Remove coffee and tea stains by dip-ping a moist cloth in baking soda to form a stiff paste and gently rubbing your cups and saucers. Rinse clean and dry, then set your table with pride.
Clean a thermos
To remove residue on the inside of a thermos, mix 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 quart (1 liter) water. Fill the thermos with the solution — if necessary, give it a going-over with a bottle brush to loosen things up — and let it soak overnight. Rinse clean before using.
Freshen a sponge or towel
When a kitchen sponge or dish towel gets that distinctly sour smell, soak it overnight in 2 tablespoons baking soda and a couple of drops of antibacterial dish soap dissolved in 1 pint (450 milliliters) warm water. The following morning, squeeze out the remaining solution and rinse with cold water. It should smell as good as new.
Shine up stainless steel and chrome trim
To put the shine back in your stainless steel sink, sprinkle it with baking soda, then give it a rubdown — moving in the direction of the grain — with a moist cloth. To polish dull chrome trim on your appliances, pour a little baking soda onto a damp sponge and rub over the chrome. Let it dry for an hour or so, then wipe down with warm water and dry with a clean cloth.
Clean burned or scorched pots and pans
Boil a few cups of water (enough to get the pan about 1/4 full) and add 5 tablespoons baking soda. Turn off the heat, and let the soda settle in for a few hours or overnight.
Deodorize your garbage pail
Clean kitchen garbage pail with a wet paper towel dipped in baking soda. Rinse it out with a damp sponge, and let it dry before inserting a new bag. You can also ward off stinky surprises by sprinkling a little baking soda into the bottom of your pail before inserting the bag.

Remove crayon marks from walls
Has Junior redecorated your walls or wallpaper with some original artworks in crayon? Don’t lose your cool. Just grab a damp rag, dip it in some baking soda, and lightly scrub the marks. They should come off with a minimal amount of effort.
Polish silver and gold jewelry
To remove built-up tarnish from your silver, make a thick paste with 1/4 cup baking soda and 2 tablespoons water. Apply with a damp sponge and gently rub, rinse, and buff dry. To polish gold jewelry, cover with a light coating of baking soda, pour a bit of vinegar over it, and rinse clean. Note: Do not use this technique with jewelry containing pearls or gem-stones, as it could damage their finish and loosen the glue.

Bathtubs and sinks
Get the gunk off old enameled bathtubs and sinks by applying a paste of 2 parts baking soda and 1 part hydrogen peroxide. Let the paste set for about half an hour. Then give it a good scrubbing and rinse well; the paste will also sweeten your drain as it washes down.
Bathroom odors
Keep your bathroom smelling fresh and clean by placing a decorative dish filled with 1/2 cup baking soda either on top of the toilet tank or on the floor behind the bowl. You can also make your own bathroom deodorizers by setting out dishes containing equal parts baking soda and your favorite scented bath salts. 
Toilet bowl

You don’t need all those chemicals to get your toilet bowl clean. Just pour half a box of baking soda into your toilet tank once a month. Let it stand overnight, then give it a few flushes in the morning. This actually cleans both the tank and the bowl. You can also pour several tablespoons of baking soda directly into your toilet bowl and scrub it on any stains. Wait a few minutes, then flush away the stains.

Laundry
Adding 1/2 cup baking soda to your usual amount of liquid laundry detergent really will give you “whiter whites” and brighter colors. The baking soda also softens the water, so you can actually use less detergent. Adding 1/2 cup baking soda in top-loading machines (1/4 cup for front-loaders) also increases the potency of bleach, so you need only half the usual amount of bleach.

Use as plant food
Give your flowering, alkaline-loving plants, such as clematis, delphiniums, and dianthus, an occasional shower in a mild solution of 1 tablespoon baking soda in 2 quarts (2 liters) water. They’ll show their appreciation with fuller, healthier blooms.
Scour barbecue grills
Keep your barbecue grill in top condition by making a soft paste of 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup water. Apply the paste with a wire brush and let dry for 15 minutes. Then wipe it down with a dry cloth and place the grill over the hot coals for at least 15 minutes to burn off any residue before placing any food on top

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