In the washing machine
- Replace laundry powder as well as softener with bicarb. Half a cup to a cup is sufficient for a normal load. Bicarb cleans, deodorises and softens fabric without damaging fibres. Your washing will be soft and cared for with a naturally clean fresh smell.
- Add a quarter to half a cup of salt to the wash to help brighten and whiten clothes.
- To further brighten clothes add half a cup of vinegar (vinegar also functions as a natural fabric softener) or a quarter cup of lemon juice (great on whites) to the pre-wash and/or the rinse cycle.
- To whiten more thoroughly, use one cup of 3% (10 volume) hydrogen peroxide in a bucket of water for a load of whites. Peroxide does take longer to work than bleach, so allow the laundry to soak in the peroxide solution for at least half an hour (even better, overnight) before washing as normal.
- You can also use the peroxide solution on colour-fast fabrics to remove marks and greyness. Soak as above before washing.
- Vinegar removes detergent residue from clothes, and also from clogged pipes. It can be used to clear smells and clogged detergent from your washing machine or dishwasher. Run a cycle with vinegar in the detergent tray and the rinse cycle will flush away the residues.
- For optional added fragrance as well as to help repel bugs, fleas and mites, add a few drops of tea tree and / or lavender oil, or another essential oil of your choice, to the bicarb and salt in the dispensing tray. (We normally add two drops of each.)
- Another optional addition is to soak a few lemon or other citrus peels in the vinegar you will be using for your washing. The more peels and the longer you let them infuse, the more effective and fragrant your citrus vinegar will be.
- You could also mix up a tub of bicarb and salt with essential oils added if you wish, and have it ready to use. For a litre tub of bicarb and salt you’ll need to add about 20 drops of essential oil. This will be enough for 5 or 6 washloads.
In brief: 1/2 cup bicarb + 1/4 to 1/2 cup salt in detergent tray. 1/2 cup vinegar in pre-wash and/or rinse tray.
- To soak nappies, add a quarter cup of bicarb to five litres of water.
- Alternatively (or as well), add a quarter cup of vinegar to the water.
- There are several ways to treat stains. The two simplest to try are to rub the stain with vinegar or lemon juice either neat or mixed with warm water 1:1. Rub and allow to sit for half an hour or more before washing.
- Hydrogen peroxide (3%, or 10 volume), being gentler than bleach, can also be used as a stain remover even on coloured fabrics. It is especially effective at removing blood stains and is also good for grass stains – pour or spray directly onto the stain and allow it to sit for a minute or two, then rub and wash (with cold water). Repeat if necessary.
- Salt is useful to loosen egg and oil as well as red wine spills. Cover the spill with salt and allow it to sit before rubbing and then washing. (Salt also removes lipstick stains.)
In the sink
- Use a 50/50 mixture of bicarb and fine salt to wash dishes.
- Sprinkle about a tablespoon into the water, more for a bigger or grimier wash.
- Add a tablespoon or two of vinegar or lemon juice to the water to help cut grease and get rid of any streaky residue. No need to rinse.
- Soak a few lemon or other citrus peels in the vinegar you use for your dishes. This adds a lovely fresh smell and increases the cleaning power of the vinegar.
- A dash of 3% (10 volume) hydrogen peroxide helps disinfect and get things shiny.
- Your wash water will not foam at all, in fact it will just look like plain water. But it will wash your dishes beautifully, leave no toxic residue, and be kind to your skin. Bicarb combines with fats to produce a form of soap that rinses easily without foaming.
- For extra greasy things like roasting tins, sprinkle liberally with salt and bicarb and set aside while you wash the rest. These will loosen and absorb grease and grime which can then be wiped away easily. Salt used in this way protects cast iron surfaces and helps develop a patina that easily sloughs off dirt.
- To lift burnt-on food from pots or pans, fill with an inch of water and add four tablespoons of salt and bicarb. Let this soak (20 minutes should do, but you can leave it overnight if necessary), then loosen by bringing the water to the boil.
- Salt and bicarb are both excellent at removing burned residues and tea and coffee stains from glass and ceramic. Rub with a cloth and rinse.
- To disinfect a wooden chopping board or wooden utensils, first wash and rinse. Then pour or spray on a little neat vinegar, or 3% (10 volume) hydrogen peroxide, or rub with a cut lemon, or with bicarb, or with salt. Any of these will freshen and kill salmonella and other bacteria.
In brief: 1-2 Tbs salt & bicarb (50/50) + 1-2 Tbs vinegar
- Pour equal parts of lemon juice and vinegar into the soap compartment of your dishwasher
- Or, use vinegar infused with some lemon or citrus peels (Simply soak a few citrus peels in vinegar for a few days before using the vinegar. You can even put a piece of citrus peel in the dishwasher when you run it to add a fresh smell and sparkle.)
- Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of bicarb over the top tray. Wash dishes as usual.
- You can add a dash of 3% (10 volume) hydrogen peroxide to make your glasses sparkle (not essential).
- The vinegar also helps keep pipes clear and odour free.
- You will need to remember to keep your salt compartment topped up. Modern dishwasher powders tend to be all-in-one so you might not have needed to before. Dishwasher, rock, sea or common salts are fine, but do not use table or any iodised salt.
In brief: 50/50 lemon juice & vinegar in soap tray. 2 tsp bicarb sprinkled over dishes
- Pour half a cup of bicarb and half a cup of salt down the drain. Follow with a kettle of hot water.
- Or, pour half a cup of bicarb down the drain, followed by half a cup of vinegar. (It will foam up.) After fifteen minutes wash clear with hot water.
- Do NOT use vinegar after trying a commercial drain cleaner – the reaction can cause dangerous fumes.
- Pour a salt and hot water solution, or vinegar, down drains once a week to keep drains clear and clean.
- To clean your oven, sprinkle a thick layer of bicarb over the bottom of the oven and moisten.
- Spray any other marks with a bicarb and water solution.
- Warm the oven (to about 50°C), then turn off and leave the bicarb to act for several hours.
- You may need to moisten it again (a spray bottle works best.)
- Then wipe away the bicarb and dirt with a damp cloth.
- Soak fruits or veggies in a basin of water with a tablespoon of bicarb (baking soda) for five minutes, then add a tablespoon of vinegar to the water to rinse them.
- Spray fruit or vegetables with vinegar and then with 3% (10 volume) hydrogen peroxide, or vice versa (keep these in separate spray bottles, peroxide in a dark or opaque bottle away from sunlight). Then rinse or wipe clean.
- Or, soak in a basin of cold water with a tablespoon each of salt and lemon juice for five minutes, then rinse.
- Any of these will get rid of pesticide residues and waxy coatings, as well as salmonella and bacteria. They will also freshen up tired veggies.
- For all-purpose cleaners, glass cleaner and floors, see general cleaning.
- Check out the rest of household cleaning for other jobs round the home you can easily and cheaply get done without exposing yourself, others or the environment to harmful chemicals.
- Pamper your body too.