Archive for the ‘baking soda’ Tag

So What Exactly Is Toilet Bowl Cleaner Supposed to DO?   Leave a comment

It’s not a rhetorical question, but something that I really want to figure out. Why? So that I can replace store-bought cleaner with something homemade and get the same results. My success at homemade cleaners over the last 15 years has been entirely hit-or-miss. Well, the only real success has been glass cleaner, actually.

As a kid I would have answered that the job of the toilet bowl cleaner is disinfection, duh. But that seems silly now. Why would I want to disinfect the toilet bowl? No one drinks or even touches the water, and I’m not about to advocate scrubbing the bowl after every use.  If/when Conan were to/does reach into the toilet water he’d get a good washing after regardless of whether it was dirty or freshly cleaned. So, disinfection isn’t the answer.

How about gunk removal? But isn’t that the job of the scrub brush? As an experiment, for a few weeks I’ve tried using nothing but the scrub brush. One thing that I’ve learned is that there is a reason toilet bowl cleaners are so heavily scented. (I HATE scented cleaners and soaps.) It’s not that there’s an offensive smell, it’s really just kind of watery smelling, but in our perfumed world I can see others disliking it. But the other thing is that the brush alone just doesn’t cut it. The brush does a fine job of gunk removal, but apparently toilet bowl cleaner does actually do something.

So now I’m on to film removal on the theory that toilet bowl cleaner is really just fancy scented-up soap. I think I’ll try a few different things for a while and see what I like. This week I started with a sprinkling of washing soda. I’ll try that for a bit, then maybe I’ll try baking soda, vinegar, or a simple squirt of plan liquid soap. So far, based on one trial, washing soda seems better than nothing, which lends credence to the idea that toilet bowl cleaner really doesn’t have to be some magical brew of ingredients concocted for an impossible task.

I have looked around the internet a bit at alternative cleaners. Can’t say I’m impressed. Partly because I’m an engineer so I want to know how/why they work. That’s why I washed dishes with nothing but baking soda before I washed my hair with baking soda. I needed to actually see that baking soda cuts grease. But also the most popular alternative seems to be baking soda and vinegar and then let it sit. Um, explain to me how a little fizz around the water line will do anything to help clean the rest of the bowl. Individually these are great cleaning agents, but together won’t the chemical reaction eliminate the individual cleaning powers? It also seems that there lots of people who are obsessed with needing to disinfect the toilet bowl, but as previously discussed, that seems silly to me.

My follow-up question in case it turns out that commercial toilet bowl cleaner can actually be replaced with a single simple household ingredient (ok, two for those who need to add a drop or two of essential oils for scenting purposes): If you can clean your toilet bowl just as well with a scrub brush and a squirt of the hand soap on the sink next to the toilet, then how did we let marketing people convince us that a cocktail of fancy-named compounds is necessary?

Posted April 12, 2015 by mayakey in cleaning, frugal living, home, unshopping

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Singing Some of the Praises of Baking Soda   Leave a comment

Last weekend was the start of spring cleaning, starting in the kitchen, and my super weapon was baking soda! I found a couple more uses to add to my list. Here it is so far:

  • Baking soda is a good mild abrasive, although it does require thorough rinsing afterwards. Salt also works as an abrasive, but in my experience it is much easier to accidentally scratch something with salt than baking soda. I wiped down just about everything from countertops to fridge shelves to the blender base and kettle with baking soda. It left the fridge shelves free of those annoying rings that some jars leave behind but that soap and water can’t remove, and gave me a shiny non-spattered blender base and kettle.
  • Baking soda is a miracle worker when it comes to removing baked/cooked-on grease and food residue. To some degree this is due to the abrasive action, but I also think that there must be some chemical reaction in play. If you sprinkle the pot or pan with baking soda and then swipe it around with a sponge some stuff will come off immediately, but then if you leave it on for a minute more will come off easily without the need for hard scrubbing. Use hot water with the baking soda and it’ll work even better.
  • Not only does baking soda remove baked on grease, but char as well. Accidentally burn something in your favorite pot? Cover the char with damp baking soda and let it sit overnight; you’ll be able to wipe off most of the char with one swipe. If you’ve got a thick layer of char it might take a couple applications. Iodine works for this as well, but don’t ask me why.
  • Speaking of char, there’s one chore that I’ve always heard horror stories about but not had a problem with myself: oven cleaning. On a very dirty oven: step 1-sprinkle liberally with baking soda and dampen, step 2-come back in a little while and wipe up, step 3-there is no step three. On a relatively clean oven: step 1-sprinkle a little bit of baking soda and wipe up with a damp sponge/rag, step 2-oh wait there’s no step two. It took me about 5 minutes to clean the walls, base, rack, door and window of the oven this year. No elbow grease, no fumes, no pain.
  • Somehow baking soda cuts grease. I discovered this when I went shampoo-free using the baking soda/apple cider vinegar strategy. I was skeptical about using baking soda as the grease cutting step so I cleaned an oily skillet with no soap, just baking soda. Again, I have no idea why it works, I just know that in my experience it does. And since I’ve been using a baking soda solution to clean my hair for about two years now, I can absolutely say that it does work on hair (with the caveat that if you are used to super dry straw hair it will feel oily).
  • I have no idea how this works, but baking soda bleaches coffee/tea cups. I have a mug that has many many years of tea stains on the inside. All it took was a swipe with a baking soda covered sponge and they were completely gone.
  • Everyone knows that baking soda is a deodorizer, but I’ve also found it to work as deodorant. That story is part of a year-long deodorant search saga that I’ll write up soon, but I can say that baking soda outlasted the State Fair…and stripped a layer of skin off. So while it works, don’t take this as a recommendation.
  • Baking soda has long been used as/in toothpaste. In is better than as. I think there’s a reason toothpaste was developed and we’re not still using tooth powder.

I’m sure I’m missing a few uses. Isn’t there something laundry-related?

Posted April 20, 2012 by mayakey in cleaning, personal care

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Simplifying My Travel Packing List   Leave a comment

When I was a kid and we packed for trips I was a “what if” person. I packed ALL KINDS of contingency items, extra items, and superfluous items. Of course I didn’t necessarily see them that way at the time. I wanted to put my best foot forward around strangers or infrequently seen family/friends, but was too insecure to really know what it was. I remember a family reunion where my dad yelled at me for packing hair spray. At the time I just kind of rolled my eyes because I was well aware that hair spray was not close to being the most excessive thing that I had packed, I mean at least that was something I used at the time!

Fast forward to today. When I travel I’m probably flying rather than road-tripping, and therefore having to deal with luggage and liquid restrictions. I don’t yet have children. I’m secure in who I am and much prefer to just travel as “me” and not some put-together facade. Oh, and one minor change is that with my desire to live more simply I just have less stuff to pack. All this results in a leaner packing list, and a slightly easier travel experience both in the sense of lugging the luggage and finding things inside it. This does result in the debate about luggage: when everything fits into a carryon-sized suitcase is it a better travel experience to check it and then have to wait for baggage claim or carry it on and have to carry it down the aisle of the plane and lift it into the overhead compartment. I haven’t decided yet, although usually default to just carrying it on the plane.

The best way to simplify what personal care products are needed when traveling is to simplify personal care routines. At home I use a cream cleanser at night for my face, and just cold water in the morning; but when traveling for 3 days there’s no reason not to just use water and a washcloth and not have to find a way to transport the cleanser. This is a two-birds-one-stone situation as well since it means there’s no need to pack a moisturizer for my face either. For my hair I do have a pomade that I got when I cut off my long hair but since I’ve used it less than a handful of times in the month and a half since getting the haircut it was no problem leaving it at home. So hair care required nothing more than a comb. (Note that I don’t wash my hair every day, so just rinsing my head in the shower was fine for a 3 day trip.) Deodorant was a bit more tricky since I’m in the middle of almost a year of experimenting with alternatives (which eventually I’ll write about), but putting a small scoop of coconut oil in a little jar worked for me, and also provided me with a backup moisturizer if needed.

Where do I not simplify? Teeth and eyes. I get headaches when I wear my glasses all day when traveling or at work, so I absolutely have to take my contacts, case, and cleaner. And while I’ve tried leaving my tongue scraper at home, even on a two day trip I’m desperately feeling the need for a good tongue scraping, so along it comes in all its awkward dimensioning. For the purposes of avoiding the purchase of a mini-tube of toothpaste to get me past security I did just bring a baggie of baking soda instead, but that’s not really simplifying.

Where did I REALLY not simplify? Clothes? No, wore 1 pair of jeans all weekend and an easy-to-pack outfit to the wedding. Makeup? No, only brought the makeup that I actually wear on a regular basis. It was reading materials. I brought my entire stack of magazines, plus the Tao of Fertility book, plus the Mists of Avalon book, plus my journal, plus my computer. My shoulder and back do not thank me. They say: next time choose between the 2+ inch thick book and the stack of magazines, and make it an unplugged computer-free weekend. All of my time that wasn’t on a plane or waiting to get on a plane was spent hanging out with family anyway.

Anything that I missed having with me? Shoes, actually, but that’s mostly because I don’t have a really good pair of pant boots right now. I only took my pant boots and my calf boots for dressing up, so when my aunt suggested going for a walk one morning my heels and arches complained for about 2.5 miles of the approximately 3 mile walk. I rarely pack my running shoes since they take up so much space, but my current everyday boots are horrible shoes for any significant amount of walking.

Posted April 3, 2012 by mayakey in personal care, simple living, travel

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No Love For Baking Soda As Toothpaste   1 comment

The type of contact cleaner that I use has finally started selling small containers small enough to meet the liquid restrictions for carry-on luggage, so for my trip this last weekend I thought I could actually avoid checking any luggage. Since that 3 oz liquid restriction went into place I’ve had to choose between checking luggage or wearing my glasses for every trip, and for the sake of my own comfort that usually means I check luggage. But it’s such a hassle!

As I was packing my carry-on for this trip, I realized that toothpaste is also part of the liquid restriction, and I didn’t have a small tube of toothpaste. Or rather, I didn’t have an acceptable small tube of toothpaste. I do have the ones the dentist hands out, but I find those disgustingly sweet and not an option. Would I have to check my bag because of one measly tube of toothpaste?! No of course not! There’s another option: baking soda.

Yep, that’s right, in order to carry on my luggage I decided to go retro and try brushing with plain old baking soda for the weekend as an experiment. It’s cheaper and more environmentally friendly than buying a throw away tube, and some people think that it works just as well.

Well, it doesn’t. Quite simply, toothpaste works better than baking soda alone. I’m not even talking about the superficial taste issue (granular salty taste vs. minty freshness), I’m talking about the actual brushing experience and clean-mouth-feeling. It’s harder to brush with baking soda, or at least it’s impossible to get away with taking shortcuts. And while right after brushing my mouth felt just as clean (if a bit salty), within a shorter time period my teeth felt grungy again. Flossing was an absolute must because baking soda does absolutely nothing for the area between teeth, just the flat surfaces and gums.

Not that I was contemplating switching over to baking soda permanently, but would I do this again next time I travel? Yeah, I think so. A baggy of baking soda is a much easier travel companion than a stainless steel tube that gets banged up and wrinkled. So for short trips by myself I could do it again. Of course, avoiding the liquid restrictions by carrying a small plastic baggy of white powder has potential other complications. I guess I need to find a better container, and preferably a non-disposable container.

Posted October 28, 2010 by mayakey in frugal living, personal care, simple living, travel, unshopping

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