Feature

Bicarb soda blitz

G Magazine

Break out the box of bicarb soda and discover its incredible grime-busting properties.

Bicarb on spoon

For heavy duty cleaning, mix 3 parts bicarb with 1 part water to create a paste. Add some elbow grease and you'll have gleaming white grout, a sparkling clean oven and a glistening BBQ.

Credit: iStockphoto

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It’s not just for baking! Bicarb soda is also great for cooking up non-toxic cleaning solutions. Also known as sodium bicarbonate or baking soda, this powder can be used to clean everything from your dirty shoes to your spoons. And it costs just $3.50 for a one kilo box! Here are some of the ways to make bicarb soda’s multi-purpose magic work for you.

Banish smells

Bicarb is a fantastic deodoriser. Rather than simply masking unpleasant scents as many commercial fresheners do (bicarb itself is odourless), it actively neutralises smells.

* Sprinkle a little bicarb in the kitchen bin every now and then to stop things smelling, rather than emptying a half-full bag that’s getting a bit on the nose.
* Keep a small cup or bowl of bicarb tucked away in a corner of the fridge to absorb odours – especially effective if you’ve been storing lots of garlicky leftovers to avoid food waste!
* Once in a while sprinkle some bicarb across carpeted areas before vacuuming. This can reduce the need for more intensive carpet cleaning. You can also sprinkle and vacuum up bicarb on other fabric surfaces such as pet beds or couches to freshen them up.
* Adding a half-to-full cup of bicarb to load will help neutralise smelly sport socks and old wet towels - and as a bonus will also act as a mild fabric softener. If there are some particularly soiled items, like cloth nappies, soak these in a bucket of water with a third-to-half cup of bicarb overnight to better remove stains.
* If your sink is emitting unsavoury wafts or seems a little clogged, bicarb can help! Throw half a cup down the drain followed by some warm tap water for a regular rinse out, or follow the bicarb with a half-cup vinegar chaser and tap water for a bigger job. The acidic vinegar and alkali bicarb will have a fizzy reaction that’s great for lifting grime, and vinegar also works wonders nixing strong smells.

Shine and sparkle

As well as removing smells, bicarb is good for removing stains and general dirt and grime. It can be used on just about any surface, from brass doorknobs to silver cutlery, but it’s not recommended for use on aluminium, due to the reactive nature of the metal and its protective coating. Depending on what you’ve got to clean, bicarb can be used as a powder, a paste or a solution.

To use as a powder, sprinkle bicarb on the surface to be cleaned and rub in with a damp cloth, scourer or brush, then rinse, wipe or vacuum off when dry, depending on the surface. This is a great technique for removing coffee or tea stains from cups, polishing silverware or spot-cleaning the carpet. For a particularly tough stain, some sitting time may be required. For example, if you have pots and pans with stubborn cooked-on grime, leave a mixture of water and bicarb in the cooking vessels overnight. Rinse then sprinkling more bicarb and scour. Add some salt for some extra scrubbing power.

To use bicarb as a paste, mix three parts bicarb with one part water. Apply this to anything and everything that’s in need of a good scrub - the grout in the shower, a dirty oven, that stained chopping board. Don’t be afraid to think outside the home either. A bit of elbow grease and bicarb paste can help lighten or remove oil stains from the driveway to the barbeque.

Bicarb as a solution also has many applications. Throw about four tablespoons into a litre of water to give hard floors a sparkly clean. If you’re hand-washing the dishes (those times when you don’t have enough for a full dishwasher load), you can also add a couple of teaspoons into the wash water to boost the grease-banishing properties of your eco-friendly dishwashing liquid.

Do you have more tips for using bicarb? Let us know at letters@gmagazine.com.au.