A paste made of baking soda and liquid soap, that is. It’s a versatile wonder-cleaner worthy of one of those over-blown TV commercials about the many many uses and the amazing value…except that it’s so basic and inexpensive that nobody would buy it as a commercial product. (Oh. Wait. People will pay $1.50 for a pint of tap water in a skidgy plastic bottle. Maybe I should go start a business.)
Baking soda is a pretty good scouring powder on its own, but when mixed with soap it clings to surfaces better and does a really nice job when rubbed with bare hands or feet, cloth, or scrub-brush. Any kind of liquid soap works, but certain kinds are better for certain jobs.
I scrub my face by mixing baking soda with Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap and rubbing it on, making little circles with my fingertips, until my whole face is covered except right around the eyes. Then I leave it on for a few minutes (while doing something else, such as scrubbing the sink with the leftover facial scrub) until it starts to feel unbearably minty, and I rinse it off with hot water. This leaves me feeling very smooth and tingly. (It is not an everyday treatment. Once every week or two is good.)
For the bathtub, I use dish soap with the baking soda, mixed up in an old yogurt bucket. I drop a blob of it on the tub floor and use my bare foot to scrub it around and up the side of the tub, then repeat with additional blobs until the whole tub and both feet are thoroughly scrubbed. It’s two chores in one! Dish soap is better at removing soap scum than a moisturizing soap like Dr. Bronner’s, but it’s still gentle on the skin. I love being able to get the tub really clean with something so harmless!
This same concoction also works well for scrubbing pots and pans. It’s good for hand-washing knitted mittens that a child has made grubby by picking up things from the sidewalk. Made with a soap that’s safe for your mouth (like Dr. Bronner’s), it could be used as toothpaste! Whiten that grout! Exfoliate those elbows! Call this toll-free number right now to–oh, sorry, I mean: Go see if your grocery store sells baking soda in the handy twelve-pound resealable pouch. Did you know it also calms acid stomach?
P.S. Almost two years later, I’m still so enthralled with this wonder-cleaner that I’m submitting it for the “best cleaning tips” edition of Works-for-Me Wednesday! I’ve since learned that baking soda, even without soap, is fabulous at removing tea and coffee stains from cups.
Cleaning is not one of my best skills, but check out the few other tips I do have to offer:
My Household Hints article includes my two favorite ways to use another wonder-cleaner: hydrogen peroxide.
Here’s what I’ve learned about washing dishes.