Let us tackle vinegar and baking soda now.
The last two uses in the kitchen
Not too many recipes call for buttermilk anymore but there are still a few out there. And you might not have any buttermilk. We can fix that. Take a cup of regular milk, if that is your teenager actually left a cup of milk, and simply add a tablespoon of white vinegar for your faux buttermilk. White rice/sticky rice… these are not necessarily the same thing. There actually are dishes that involve sticky rice. But if you’re going for the fluffy stuff and you’re having problems with stickiness, toss a teaspoon of white vinegar into that boiling water before you add the rice. Not only will it be less sticky to eat but it will spoon out of the pot much easier. And that wraps up the frugal uses for vinegar. On to baking soda!
Good old Arm and Hammer
Let’s start out like we did with the first vinegar article and take our baking soda out of doors. It’s that most awesome time of year again when the warm weather is within your grasp. You probably used that vinegar to get rid of those weeds and grass between the bricks on your patio. Now sprinkle a bunch of baking soda and sweep it into the cracks between blocks. This will prevent future weeds from taking over. In the garden, generously sprinkle baking soda around the bottom of your tomato plants. Not only will this discourage pests from getting to them before you can, but it will help to sweeten the tomato by removing some of its acidity. You can also shine up the leaves on your plants, be they silk or real, with 1 gallon of cold water mixed with ½ cup of baking soda. Keep it around to shine up your plant leaves whenever necessary. And once those pretty flowers outside grow to the point where you cut them and bring them in to put in your favorite vase, don’t forget to dip them in a mixture of water and baking soda to extend their longevity.
Let’s clean you up
Just a couple of quick tips: 1) Baking soda used when cleaning your teeth, be it with a water pick or brush, leaves your mouth feeling clean and fresh. 2) Soaking your combs and brushes in a sink full of hot water with ½ cup of baking soda will bubble away that dirt.
Basin, tub and tile time
Now that your teeth, comb and hairbrush are clean, let’s get to the rest of the bathroom. How nasty is the grout in your tub? That nasty, huh? Break out the baking soda. Make yourself a little batch of paste with water and baking soda and spread that paste along the nasty grout lines and scrub it in with an old tooth brush. If you’ve got really nasty mold problems you can add a dab of bleach. A mixture of white vinegar and baking soda will remove stains on marble floors, counter tops, etc. If you’ve got one of those old fashioned, porous tubs or sinks; make yourself some paste (again) out of hydrogen peroxide and baking soda. Spread that mixture out and let it sit for a while and then rub it with a sponge, and rinse. A fiberglass tub can be shined to a spotless finish with a mixture of baking soda and vinegar on a saturated cleaning cloth. And the next time you decide to take a bath, you could avoid ring around the tub, and your water will feel softer, by adding 2 tablespoons of baking soda to your bath water. Now if your shower head is not spraying like it used to, you probably have some lime deposits blocking the holes. Get yourself a plastic bag; pour 1 cup of vinegar and ½ cup of baking soda into the plastic bag. Place it over your clogged up shower head and secure it with a rubber band or a twist tie. Let that boil and bubble with less toil and trouble for an hour. Now remove the bag and run that hot shower for a sparkling shower head.
We started in the bathroom, so let’s finish up there before moving on to the rest of the house.
Finishing up the bathroom
Those wonderful fiberglass shower stalls have a drawback. They stain. But you can remove those stains, rust and mildew by sprinkling a little baking soda on your cleaning sponge before wiping down the stall. Rinse it with water and towel dry for a beautiful finish. You can scour that soap scum off of your shower doors a lot easier and with less elbow grease by first spraying them down with clear vinegar. Let that set for just a little while and then lightly scrub those doors with your cleaning sponge and baking soda sprinkled on the sponge; much the same as we did for the fiberglass stall. Rinse and towel dry for, once again, a beautiful finish. By sprinkling half the box of baking soda into your toilet tank once a month and letting that set overnight without flushing (sorry about that, bladder) you can keep it fresh and stain free… the tank… not your bladder. The same can be said for the toilet bowl. Sprinkle a good amount of baking soda in the bowl and scrub with your toilet brush. Let it sit for at least 5 minutes before flushing.
Just where you’d expect to find baking soda
Time for the kitchen! One of the most disgusting places in the kitchen is the garbage can. Throwing a little baking soda at the bottom of your garbage canister before you put that plastic liner in will help eliminate some of the odors. And if you’ve got a little stink under the sink… open a box of baking soda and store it under there with your other supplies. It will help keep it smelling fresh. If your stove top looks like you are cooking without the pots and pans, baking soda can help there too. Baking soda, water and an old tooth brush will work wonders without spending the money on expensive soft scrubs. And if some of the holes in your gas burner seem clogged, keep the baking soda within reach. Take 4 cups of water, half the box of baking soda, and boil the gas burners in a big pot of that mixture. This should unclog the holes in your gas burner. (We do advise that you turn the flame off first.)
What about the refrigerator? Rust and food stains inside your refrigerator can be removed with the baking soda/water paste and an old toothbrush. Don’t tell me; let me guess. You’ve been throwing away your old tooth brushes all this time. And you call yourself a frugal minded individual. Humph! As a matter of fact, that whole baking soda/water/tooth brush (or sponge or cleaning cloth) thing goes a long way no matter what room you’re in. It gets stains out of plastic and other surfaces, dissolves lime and soap scum and general gunky buildup. Now putting baking soda down your sink drain or garbage disposal is a really awesome way to freshen up those drains.
I used to do some apartment maintenance and had the opportunity on more than one occasion to see the inside of many a drainpipe. Trust me when I tell you… you don’t want to know! Throwing some baking soda and vinegar and hot water down there every once in awhile works wonders. Keeps it fresh. In fact, go ahead and let it set in there a while before you flush it through. Let it eat away at all of the grungy goo that coats the insides of those drains, disposals and pipes. Yuck.
Let’s take the water out
Just plain dry baking soda has its uses as well. Everybody has heard by now about keeping an open box of baking soda in your freezer/refrigerator to absorb odors. But did you know that it works in musty closets, paint and varnish smells in the workshop, or pour a box down your toilet once a month to help restore your septic tanks pH? Well, did you know that? Okay then, did you know that you can sprinkle baking soda on your carpet before vacuuming to eliminate odors? And it also helps to eliminate odors in the vacuum cleaner bag. Next time you try this, because I know you will, sprinkle a little cinnamon into the baking soda first. It eliminates the need for scented candles (and you know how expensive those are).
And my ‘absolutely, positively, no doubt about it’ favorite one… so you say you ran out of spackle? But somehow you need to fill all those old nail holes. Mix baking soda with white household glue and fill those holes!