Decluttering, one cleaning product at a time.
Have you Marie Kondo’d yet? I haven’t, and I don’t really know what it’s all about, other than hearing people say they might throw out their husband because he no longer sparks joy! But I think the gist of it is decluttering your home and life of things that no longer serve a purpose.
We did a lot of that at the end of last year when we downsized our house, but it’s astounding how quickly ‘stuff’ piles up again!
One area the clutter hasn’t built up again is the utility/laundry room. Our cleaning cupboard used to be chocka with various spray bottles, lotions and potions, that made all the right claims about keeping our counters clean and germ-free, and our bath sparkling fresh. But actually just gave us headaches with their chemical fragrances, and I’m sure weren’t great for our boy’s asthma.
Now we’re down to just a few products. One of them the Queen of multi-purpose cleaning: good old-fashioned baking soda.
Here are some of the ways we use it –
In the kitchen:
- It’s great at removing burnt on food from pans, which happens more than I’d like now it’s porridge season! I sprinkle in the bicarb, add some water then boil it up before scrubbing off the residue.
- Oven cleaning. My most dreaded of chores, especially when I used to use the foul-smelling, super-strength specially-marketed spray oven cleaners. Now all I do is sprinkle the bicarb in the oven, spray it with water until it’s damp, and leave it for a few hours before wiping it clean with a sponge. I’ll admit, it’s one of those chores that I just keep ‘forgetting’ to do, so sometimes I add a boost of vinegar so the bicarb really fizzes and works hard at removing the grime. The best thing about using these natural products is that the oven doesn’t get tainted by that strong chemical smell that makes you wonder what’s going into your food the first time you re-use the oven.
- Microwave cleaner. I don’t know what my husband and kids do to the microwave, I really don’t! So every now and again I add a teaspoon of baking soda to a bowl of hot water and ‘cook’ it for 5 minutes in the microwave. It makes cleaning the walls so much easier.
- Fridge-freshener. We leave a wee open tub of our natural bicarb in the back of the fridge to absorb any odours. It also works a treat in the microwave. One of our boys had a phase of melting butter to make cakes, but he never put the spatter lid on and, eugh the smell of rancid butter remnants just wouldn’t go away. Leaving a bowl of bicarb in there every time the microwave wasn’t in use really did the trick.
- While we’re on the topic of deodorising, here is one of my favourites: dustbin deodoriser. This one has really come into its own over the last few years now that we no longer use plastic bags or bin liners. Once I’ve emptied the kitchen bin and washed it out, I sprinkle some bicarb in the bottom, sometimes with a drop of lemon essential oil, then really hot water and give it a slosh around. Once the bin is dry you can also leave a sprinkle of bicarb in the bottom for added deodorising power. We also do this for our outside council bin. I say ‘we’. It’s me that does it but, as I type, I’ve realised this is now a job that can be added to the boys’ chore list!
- Sink scrub. Not really a scrub, more of a science experiment for the kids! Even though we wipe down the sink after doing the dishes, stubborn brown stains like to remain around the plughole. Pop the plug in, get the kids to sprinkle in some bicarb then add a dash of vinegar. It’s great fizzy fun, and leaves the sink sparkling.
- Floor cleaner. Add ½ cup of baking soda to a bucket of warm water to mop the floor. If you do want to add a fresh fragrance to your room, you can add a drop of your favourite essential oil.
In the bathroom:
- We haven’t used mouthwash for years, just because we don’t like it, but if we do need a freshen-up, we add a teaspoon of bicarb to a glass of water, with the effect of neutralising any odours, rather than disguising them with harsh mintiness.
- We also use it as a cleaning soak for our younger boy’s retainer. It would work for mouthguards and dentures too. Dissolve 2 teaspoons of natural bicarb in a bowl of warm water (not too hot – we don’t want to melt the retainer and have to go to the dentist again!) and soak your appliance to remove any particles and neutralise odours.
- Bathroom cleaner. Sprinkle the baking soda on a clean, damp sponge and you can safely scrub all your bathroom surfaces. Just rinse and wipe dry.
- Toilet cleaner. I’ve never been a fan of those brightly-coloured squishy blobs that are designed to stick inside your toilet. What we do is chuck a cup of bicarb into the bowl, then a cup of vinegar. Once the toilet has had an initial clean of course. Toilet volcano! Once it’s died down, scrub the toilet with your brush and flush.
- A slightly more relaxing one here – Simple bath soak – no need for expensive bath bombs. Add ½ cup of our organic sodium bicarb to your bath to make your skin clean and soft, and ease your muscles. A great antidote to a day of housework!
In the laundry:
- Before we started using our new Blants Laundry Blend*, we would add ¼ cup of baking soda to our wash to help get our clothes fresher and brighter.
- Not really a laundry issue, only from our point of view that this is the only room in the house that our boys’ stinky shoes are allowed! Shoe freshener – sprinkle baking soda into said stinky shoes, leave overnight and tip out in the morning. It’s a great deodoriser, rather than those strong-smelling sprays.
- Carpets. I’ve added this under laundry because that is where we happen to store our vacuum! When I was a child my mum would use a shaker tub from the supermarket that was so highly scented I wouldn’t want to sit in the lounge for days afterwards! All you need to do is leave a good sprinkling of bicarb on your carpet for a few hours, overnight if you can, then vacuum it up. Of course, if you do love a good fragrance, you could make up a jar of baking soda with some essential oil.
There are probably more ways we use baking soda that I just haven’t thought of. As well as decluttering your storage space, an added bonus to using bicarb instead of various chemical cleaners is that you’ll be reducing the amount of environmental pollutants entering our waterways, and you’ll have fewer toxins in your home.
* Laundry blend is our newest cleaning item. It contains our organic sodium bicarb, as well other natural products, with no additives like fillers, flow agents, colorants or fragrances.