Elisa Shackelton: Baking soda to the rescue

A simple box of baking soda in the refrigerator can do wonders at keeping your kitchen free of foul smells.

A partially opened box of baking soda will reduce odors for about three months by absorbing and then neutralizing the odors. After several months of absorbing odors after being open in the refrigerator, instead of just throwing a used box of baking soda in the trash, it can serve one last function by cleaning out odors in your sink drains and pipes, too.

Simply pour the old box of baking soda down your drain while running warm water to help eliminate lingering odors. Baking soda can also be used to clean your refrigerator by wiping surfaces with a mixture of one part baking soda with three parts warm water. Rinse with a wet sponge.

Other good uses for baking soda include:

  • Wash out thermos bottles and coolers with soda and water to get rid of stale smells.
  • For a badly-burned pan with a thick layer of burned-on food, pour a thick layer of soda directly onto the bottom of the pan, then sprinkle on just enough water so as to moisten the soda. Leave the pot overnight, then scrub it clean next day.
  • To remove strong odors from your hands, wet your hands and rub them hard with soda, then rinse.
  • Sprinkle soda in tennis shoes, socks, boots and slippers to eliminate odor.
  • Clean combs and brushes in a soda solution.
  • Soda absorbs kitty litter odors. Cover the bottom of the kitty box with one part soda; then add a layer of three parts kitty litter on top.
  • To make your own baking powder, stir and sift together two parts cream of tartar with 1 part baking soda and one part cornstarch.
  • Be sure to keep an extra box of baking soda by your stove in case of grease or electrical fire. Scatter the powder by the handful to safely put it out.
  • Keep your wooden or plastic cutting board clean by occasionally scrubbing it with a paste made from 1 tablespoon each baking soda, salt, and water. Rinse thoroughly with hot water.
  • The dishwasher is fully loaded when you discover that you're out of your usual powdered dishwashing detergent. What do you do? Make your own: Combine 2 tablespoons baking soda with 2 tablespoons borax. You may be so pleased with the results you'll switch for good.
  • Eliminate odors inside your automatic dishwasher by sprinkling 1/2 cup baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher between loads. Or pour in half a box of baking soda and run the empty machine through its rinse cycle.
  • To clean splatters off the inside of your microwave, put a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda in 1 cup water in a microwave-safe container and cook on High for 2-3 minutes. Remove the container, then wipe down the microwave's moist interior with a damp paper towel.
  • To keep your automatic coffeemaker clean, every two weeks or so, brew a pot of 1 quart (1 liter) water mixed with 1/4 cup baking soda, followed by a pot of clean water. Also, sweeten your coffeemaker's plastic basket by using an old toothbrush to give it an occasional scrubbing with a paste of 2 tablespoons baking soda and 1 tablespoon water. Rinse thoroughly with cold water when done.
  • To freshen up your carpets or rugs, lightly sprinkle them with baking soda, let it settle in for 15 minutes or so, then vacuum up.
  • Put baking soda sachets to work on persistent musty odors in dresser drawers, cabinet hutches, or closets. Just fill the toe of a clean sock or stocking with 3-4 tablespoons soda, put a knot about an inch above the bulge, and either hang it up or place it away in an unobtrusive corner. Use a few sachets in large spaces like closets and attic storage areas. Replace them every other month if needed. This treatment can also be used to rid closets of mothball smells.
  • Remove musty odor from books. If those books you just took out of storage emerge with a musty smell, place each one in a brown paper bag with 2 tablespoons baking soda. No need to shake the bag, just tie it up and let it sit in a dry environment for about one week. When you open the bag, shake any remaining powder off the books, and the smell should be gone.
  • Keep your bathroom smelling fresh and clean by placing a decorative dish filled with 1/2 cup baking soda either on top of the toilet tank or counter. You can also make your own bathroom deodorizers by setting out dishes containing equal parts baking soda and your favorite scented bath salts.

For additional cleaning information, contact the CSU Moffat County Extension Office, 539 Barclay, 824-9180.

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