Before anyone asks: yes, my fellow Americans – bicarbonate of soda is the same as baking soda. Now that we’re on the same page – Happy Bicarbonate of Soda Day!
There was a time when I assumed the only thing bicarb was good for was, once mixed in with water, as a hangover remedy. These days I bake more so I realize there’s more to it than that. But I’ve also realized in the past year or so, that its usefulness as a tool in the cleaning arsenal around the house is unrivalled. Well, only rivalled by lemons. Between bicarb and lemons, I hardly need anything else.
I’ve been switching to greener cleaning options these days – for a number of reasons, chief among which is the obsession that cleaning product manufacturers have these days about scenting EVERYTHING. They clearly have a very different understanding of the word “lemony” or the phrase “pine fresh scent” than I do. YUCK!
So, I thought to mark the occasion of Bicarbonate of Soda Day, I thought I’d round up a few of the ways I used bicarb around the house. You may find a useful tip or two – and by all means, share any others you might have.
- Stow a box or small Tupperware (lid off) of bicarb in the fridge and a second on in the freezer to absorb lingering odors. Switch it out for fresh every so often. I tend to do it every 4-6 months. Trust your nose. It won’t let you down.
- Speaking of Tupperware, have you noticed that certain foods stain those handy dandy containers? And sometimes the smell of that delicious curry doesn’t seem to go even after a wash. Just fill the container in question with hot water and bit of bicarb over night. Rinse and your container should be stain and smell free.
- After a major cooking session, I always clean work surfaces (counters and cutting boards) with a sprinkle of bicarb on a damp cloth. Then give the cloth a bit of a rinse, then rinse the cloth with clean water and wipe up. This isn’t a substitute for a regularly scheduled BIG CLEAN but it does keep the big clean more manageable and the need for it less frequent. Also, keeps cooking odors from hanging about.
- How do you feel about trying to clean the oven door window? This task used to fill me with dread. It was hard, frustrating and I never felt I was getting anywhere – even with the HORRIFIC smelling chemicals that I was sure were a terrible idea. No more, thanks to bicarb. I just make up a thick paste of bicarb and water, smear it on the window, let the whole mess sit for a couple of hours – then a bit of lightly rubbing with a dampish cloth and wipe it off.
- Sometimes the stinkiest thing in the kitchen is the sponge. Yes, there will come a point when it has to be tossed. But you can extend their lives a bit with a soak in bicarb and water to deodorize and freshen them.
- It doesn’t happen often but even here, things burn on occasion. But never fear – bicarb is here. Sprinkle with burnt area with baking soda, a squeeze of lemon juice and a bit of hot water. Let soak overnight; it’ll be much easier to scrub off in the morning.
- If you drink as much coffee as we do (I’m not sure how that could be but presumably some of you might), the inside of your coffee cups may well be looking a bit stained and dingy, despite the dishwashers best efforts. Sprinkle in a liberal amount of bicarb, a few drops of lemon and juice and make with about 5-7 minutes of scrubbing with a scourer. The inside will be brighter and you can drink from the cup afresh, without having had to use something really harsh – like bleach. Bleach? On something I am planning on drinking or eating from? No thank you!.
- Carpets and soft furnishing grab on to odors of all kinds and rarely let go without a fight. Short of dragging everything outside to air, your choices are – air fresheners (which in my opinion are often worse than the original smells) or bicarb (which leaves no scent of its own. Sprinkling bicarb across your carpet or rug (no water or anything, just as a dry powder) wait 15-30 minutes (you could leave it longer but in our house the cats tend to get in the way) then hoover it up.
- If your favourite trainers or sneakers are getting a bit whiffy, sprinkle a bit of bicarb in them overnight. Just empty the shoe out again before you wear the shoes again. You’ll love them once more.
- Keep weeds at bay by scattering bicarb into the cracks on your driveway and sidewalks. I also find salt useful for this – and it often comes in bigger, cheaper packages so choose depending on what is available when.
Have you used bicarb for cleaning or non-cooking purposes? Share your best bicarb tips!