27 August 2012

Two clever tricks with baking soda

Today, I stained our kitchen benchtop for you. I want to show you just what baking soda can do! I wrote on it with permanent marker, and gave it a blob of oily Indian curry paste (thank you Madam Patak) for 10 minutes or so. If you have a formica benchtop and like curry, I'm sure you know about those turmeric-y stains.


I like to use the permanent marker on the benchtop when the children have friends around. Their eyes get REALLY big! What a naughty mama I must be, they think! Then I show them my magic. I tell them they must always remember that if you can't get a stain out, try rubbing it with baking soda. Tell your Mum and Dad, I say. I like to spread the Good Word on these things, and take the traditional approach of getting'em while they're young and impressionable.

Firstly I try to rub it off with a bit of eco-ish commercial spray and wipe. It doesn't help much.

It's hard to see the yellow curry stain. It's still there, though.
Here's what I do next: go to the pantry and haul out the baking soda. Sprinkle a bit on the stain and rub it quite hard with a wrung-out cloth. Remember the value of elbow grease and think what strong, toned arms those Amish women must have. But seriously, you don't have to rub overly hard.

Half of it's gone. Note the dampish lump of baking soda to the top right of the photo. That's the consistency you're after.
The baking soda needs to be damp, so it's a bit lumpy rather than a powder. The dampness of your wrung-out cloth is about right for this. If the baking soda gets too wet it just dissolves and doesn't work.

All gone.
Once it's gone, rinse out the cloth with water and wipe well again. Any residue will be a bit gritty, but harmless and easy to wipe off.

If the stain's stubborn, tip a little bit of plain white vinegar on the baking soda and rub like mad while it fizzes.

Now, secondly: TEETH. Jack tends to get stained teeth, a fact the dental nurse always comments on. He's never had a cavity but he's had several tooth polishes to remove the stains. Last time we saw her I asked if it would be all right for me to try polishing them with baking soda. She looked skeptical but said it couldn't hurt.

It works! Careful brushing has kept the stains away for a few months but, as always, they had started to return. I dipped a damp cotton cloth  in baking soda and rubbed hard on his teeth. All gone. It doesn't taste very nice though. Fortunately he's a fairly acquiescent child compared with the other one.

I'm not sure about adult teeth stains. I have only a few and they are very hard to see and access (tucked in between my molars near the back of my mouth). Today I tried the baking soda rub but I wasn't really sure if it worked or not. So I gave my front teeth a polish. Wow! Even tonight I keep rubbing my tongue over my teeth because they feel like I had my annual scale and polish at the dentist!

If you give it a try, let me know how you get on.

Note: I don't recommend using baking soda on oiled or lacquered wood. Perhaps not on any timber, actually. It works too well and seems to take some of the colour away.

Also, when I used my toothbrush dipped in baking soda, it seemed to fray and age by a month within half a minute. Just a cloth for me in future.

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