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I haven’t mentioned this before, but I have been out of work for a little over a month now due to an injury to my right knee.  This gives me a lot more time on my hands than usual.  Today I got a little too type-A and organized the wash on the line by type and owner.  It wasn’t until I brought them down that I realized what housewench genius this really was!

The extra time it took me to sort through the basket as I hung the clothes was minimal compared to the time I saved folding them all later.  As I took each piece down I folded it and set it in a second basket.  As I went down the line I finished each pile, and when I was done I had neat stacks for each person ready to be put away.  No sorting or refolding of any kind was necessary, and by the time I headed inside I was done with the part of doing laundry I hate the most.  While it probably didn’t take much less time, I got to enjoy the sunshine and break up the monotony by hanging up my second load.

So there you have it..my useful tip of the day.

They seem incredibly simple. Blue plastic balls with little nubs inspire a plethora of opinions. How could they work? How could they not work? Hubby bought me a pair of blue (dryer) balls just before Thanksgiving. While our washing machine harbours no chemicals or unnatural ingredients, we were still using dryer sheets. To try and cut down on cost and waste, and knowing how even the most mild chemicals in dryer sheets make my skin itch, I skeptically agreed to try them. Would they stretch out my knits? Would they get stuck in my towels? I had all sorts of ideas about how this could end in frustration. Since then I have not noticed huge difference in the state of my dried clothes. The only problem I have encountered was static cling, but that was in a tablecloth I was too impatient to hang dry in the laundry room. I take full fault for that one, but it does bring up the fact that if you tend to own clothes susceptible to static cling you may need a Plan B. I am quite pleased overall, and have not yet had to free the balls from anything more confining than a towel or bedspread.

If cleanliness is godliness baking soda is the source of all that is holy, at least in my house.  Everyone has his or her dirty little cleaning secret for baking soda, or at least has heard of a few.  Whether or not you have ever used it in your daily cleaning routine,  baking soda is most likely a key ingredient in a product you buy from the grocery store.  I was turned on to the versatile power of such a simple thing a couple years ago when I tired of the irritation my skin suffered as a result of commercial laundry detergent.  A little research and a wonderful Livejournal community later I was hooked on the white powder…the other white powder. 

With the holidays here in full force, whether you entertain at home or not, you have probably looked around once or twice at the dust and grime glowing in the twinkling lights and vowed to spend a day making your house twinkle.  Let me share some of my many uses for baking soda with you in an attempt to simplify your cleaning process.

Laundry Detergent:  Hubby scoffed when I suggested trading our chemical rich detergent for baking soda mixed with a small bit of Borax, but agreed to a 30-day trial.  In his opinion nothing could clean construction and mechanic filth from his work clothes unless it was harsh and abrasive, preferably high-octane.  Four months later he asked why I had decided not to do the trial.  Obviously Hubby does not sniff his clothes.  Otherwise, he would have known I had switched just after he agreed to the trial.  For more smelly articles, or just for a nice accent, you can add a couple drops of your favourite essential oil to each load.  Just make sure it is an essential oil, not a fragrance oil, and one you have tested on your skin beforehand in case of an allergy.  Lavender is a wonderful antibacterial and, for those with sensitive skin, tea tree oil works great as well.  I use a cup of a 3:1 mixture of baking soda and borax per load, and I have never had to rewash anything.  It even works for items the animals have used. 

Kitchen Cleaning:  Everyone has been told at one point or another to put an open box of it in the fridge to keep it fresh and eliminate odors, but I clean everything from the sink to the hardwood floors with baking soda. For extra shine add apple cider vinegar to your mop water, sprinkle the floor lightly with baking soda, and mop as usual.  Apple cider vinegar is baking soda’s best friend and partner in cleaning crime.  Remember those volcanos we all made in grade school?  They were also tiny eruptions of clean!  Recreate this science project in your garbage disposal to clear away grease and gunk clogs.  This works on bath tub drains, too!

Bathroom Scrub: Baking soda can be used exactly the same way you would use Comet in toilets, tubs, and sinks.  Sprinkle it straight or make a paste and scrub it in with a brush to get in the cracks and crevices.  You can also make your own toothpaste with baking soda, and it can be used as a dry shampoo or deodorant in a bind.  I also make my own bath bombs and salts using baking soda and a few added ingredients. 

These are the main areas of cleaning, but baking soda can be used anywhere from the cat box to the baby changing table.  It works extremely well on anything that may be damp or sticky that may need to be dried up before you can clean it.  You can even sprinkle it on furniture and carpets like a cleaning powder as long as it can be vacuumed.  Coupled with apple cider vinegar and a few essential oils, and occasionally a handful of Borax, you can clean just about anything.  I would not recommend it on anything susceptible to scratching, though.  For glass and easily marked surfaces I would just use the vinegar. 

In the end, baking soda is cheaper and just as affective as commercially sold cleaners.  It has been a gift from the gods as someone who is extremely sensitive to harsh chemicals, and is safer for homes with children and pets.  The only concern?  If you use it all cleaning one thing you have to make or acquire more before you can clean anything else.

Go now.  Be clean!

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