The Happy Homemaker
The Tips and Advice You Need
Amazing baking Soda

If you watch much late-night television, you’ve probably seen ads hawking some amazing, all-in-one cleanser that vanquishes everything from muddy paw prints to baked-on pasta sauce — but that’s available for a limited time only! The next time you see one of these ads, relax. If you haven’t guessed, we’re talking about baking soda, also called bicarbonate of soda or sodium bicarbonate.

You don’t need to splurge on expensive products or expose yourself to harsh chemicals to get the best in beauty treatments. There’s a multitasking wonder already in your home – baking soda! Women’s Health Beauty Director Molly Nover-Baker has compiled her expert baking soda tips and tricks.

We’ll start, as many people do, with the least pleasant task on the list:

Toilets:
Although some toilets are made with a stain-resistant finish, the bowl is still at risk of staining. The minerals in standing water can discolor the porcelain. Brown- and rust-colored rings can be a particular problem in areas that have mineral-rich water, also known as hard water. If allowed to build, such stains require strongly acidic cleansers to remove. These products can slowly erode the porcelain, not to mention the immediate damage they can do to the skin, eyes, nose and throat.
It’s worthwhile, then, to practice preventive maintenance. First, make “flush” a family rule. Also, make a simple routine part of your weekly cleaning: Sprinkle the toilet with cup of baking soda. Let it…

Bathtubs and Sinks:
That chalky ring around the tub isn’t (necessarily) a sign that the last person who took a bath was particularly dirty. Even in the most hygienic households, soap scum can strike. Soap scum is the residue that results from body oils and the fats in soap reacting with the mineral salts in water. Bathtubs, showers and sinks are prone to soap scum. Again, hard water aggravates the problem.
Wipe down tubs and sinks after using them to prevent soap scum from forming. If soap scum does show up, sponge it off with a paste of baking soda and…

Shower Doors:
Glass shower doors add an elegant touch in a bathroom. But soapy water spots and stray flecks of toothpaste or shaving cream add an unattractive touch to glass doors. Most professionals discourage using common scouring powders to clean shower doors [source: Bath Enclosure Manufacturers Association]. The tiny, gritty granules that scrub off strains can also leave tiny scratches.  Baking soda, in contrast, is a salt that dissolves in water…
Sprinkle a little on a damp sponge and wipe down the glass. Rinse well and dry. For a really sharp finish, use…

Drains and Faucets:
As with toilets, standing water can mar the shine of chrome. The result isn’t a stain, but mineral build up. As water pools around faucets and drains, the minerals settle to the bottom and eventually landscape the sink or tub with a rocky little ridge of calcium carbonate, also known as limescale or simply lime.  Commercial cleansers that are formulated specifically to dissolve lime and other mineral deposits have a drawback, besides toxicity concerns. They can discolor and damage chrome and stainless steel, as well as brass, bronze and nickel finishes. Vinegar, on the other hand…

Drains and Showerheads:

Unlike stains and lime deposits, clogs form hidden from view inside plumbing fixtures. You don’t notice them until your drain isn’t draining and your shower isn’t showering you.  To keep a drain open, pour in…
Mineral deposits are sometimes the cause of sluggish showers. A simple fix: Detach the showerhead and soak for an hour in 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) baking soda mixed with 1 cup (235 milliliters) vinegar. Reattach and run very hot water through the showerhead for several minutes.
If you can’t remove the showerhead, mix the ingredients inside a…

Stone Tile:
Stone tile is popular for bathrooms walls, floors and vanities for its beauty and durability. It stands up to heavy foot traffic and steamy showers. Yet many types of stone are etched or dulled by the acids in commercial cleaners. That includes marble, limestone, porcelain and other unglazed ceramics. Experts recommend pH-neutral cleansers for everyday care and to clean light stains, like mud splatters that don’t penetrate the surface. Stone tile sponges up oily stains like…
Grout:
Grout is often overlooked in the cleaning routine. Yet these cracks between stone tiles deserve at least as much attention. Stained grout can spoil the appearance of an expensive wall or floor treatment. Even worse, dirty grout can breed mold, mildew and bacteria, which can lead to more trouble and expense — and possibly even illness.
Like tile, grout is best cleaned with moderately alkaline cleansers. Make a runny paste with baking soda and…

Vinyl:
Baking soda has as many cleaning uses for vinyl as there are types of vinyl surfaces.  Start with the floor. A sprinkle of baking soda lightly scrubbed with a wet sponge will take many stains off of a vinyl floor. Be careful to avoid soaking the floor, however, and dry it thoroughly afterward. Water can seep into seams and under edges, loosening the glue and curling the corners.
The same process works for vinyl shower curtains, bath mats and appliqués, which are prone to mildew as well as soapy residue. Curtains can additionally be machine-washed with baking soda. Add 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) with the detergent and choose the gentle cycle. (Toss in a few…

The Air:
Baking soda’s well-known ability to absorb odors in the refrigerator works just as well in the bathroom. If the sight of an open box seems unaesthetic, mix the soda into your favorite scented bath salts. Set the mixture in a pretty dish on the back of the toilet tank. Its freshening power should last for about 3 months.  To combat odors that emanate around the sink and drain, add 1/2 cup (120 milliliters) baking soda to the…

Your Body:
We saved baking soda’s most important use for last. Baking soda can be the go-to ingredient in your personal care kit. Used straight, it’s a basic, mildly abrasive, antibacterial dentifrice — a tooth scrubber. Apply a bit to a toothbrush and brush as usual. Follow up with a baking soda and water solution as a rinse and gargle.
Like other salts, baking soda helps to reduce swelling and cleanse the skin by drawing out water and any substances dissolved in it. A few tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in a basin of warm water makes a soothing soak for tired feet. Apply a paste of baking soda and water as a facial exfoliant. And when the bug bites or the bee strings, apply the paste to the affected area. In addition to its drawing power, baking soda’s alkaline quality neutralizes the acids in insect saliva.

Baking soda is not just an amazing cleaning product but is also very helpful and healthy as a beauty product too.  See our list of amazing beauty treatments using baking soda.

natural remedy for sniffles

What can you do with a congested head? Enough with the allergy pills and the nose-blowing! Here’s a natural remedy for instant relief…

To stop sniffling, swallow one teaspoon of honey with freshly ground pepper sprinkled on it (one-eighth teaspoon of pepper should be enough). Or ground red cayenne pepper will work, too (use less than the pepper…it’s strong stuff!). Don’t inhale any of the pepper, or you’ll trade the sniffles for a bunch of sneezes.

Warning: People with diabetes or allergies to honey should not try this remedy.

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