Letting Nature Work for You — Part I: Baking Soda, Vinegar and Lemon Juice

For centuries nature has taken care of itself. It rains when there is a drought, gets sunny when plants need light to grow, fires burn to prompt new growth in forests. As humans, we too are natural beings; a big old mass of cells, we all fit in nicely with the “needs water/light/food to survive” landscape around us.In the last 100 some odd years, technologies have reached breakneck speed, trying to outdo themselves at every turn, and other than the tech industry I am hard pressed to think of anywhere it has leap-frogged faster than the realm of chemicals.

Convenience and speed are paramount in our world today, some might say the need for these elements is as essential for survival as water/light/food, and the inventors have been hard at work creating new products to assist in making the fast and easy lifestyle work for us.

But what if it isn’t working for us? What if the very things humans invent, create more of a strain on our natural landscape than we had ever imagined they could?

When we start to think that the very chemicals that helped remove that stain from our countertop are washing into the depths of the waterways and harming wildlife or that the list of potential side effects of certain medications are vastly longer than the one symptom it is supposed to aide, I personally feel it is time to take a step back and go back to our roots.

Literally. The roots of our cells and our ‘selves’. Its time to take a look at what nature can do to provide alternatives to their man made counterparts.

With such an overwhelming response of interest in this topic from you lovely EcoEtsy teammates (thank you!!!) I have decided to complete an entire three part series on natural remedies. Categories such as ailments, cleaning and beauty will all be covered.

Turns out not only do we have a very supportive team, we have a super creative, educated and dedicated one as well! Not that I make this statement with surprise, I knew it all along!

I will begin the series with the vast array of uses for three common items found in most homes — baking soda, vinegar and lemon juice. These three items are essential to any ‘natural living’ person’s arsenal and based on the number of hints I received that contained a tip for using one or all of these items, I was all but forced to dedicate an entire post to them!

I would like to point out of course that none of the home remedies listed here have been approved by the FDA. I/We in no way want to attempt to diagnose or cure anyone’s ailments, but rather, share some of the things that have worked for many of us in the past to alleviate ills through natural based resources. None of the information within is meant to take the place of a doctor’s diagnosis and I strongly urge everyone to do their own research and use caution if and when you take part in any of the natural festivities within.

Okay, now that the disclaimer is made clear, lets get on with it shall we?!

Baking Soda, Vinegar and Lemon Juice

These three items are always stocked in my kitchen. Always. The first thing I ever learned about baking soda from the generations before me was that it is super useful in removing odors from the refrigerator. Growing up there was always an open box in a back corner somewhere and the fridge never smelled gross. But this versatile white powder has surely come a long way. What I have discovered however is that these three items can not be broken into separate categories as they tend to work best when used together.

The most common use for all three is cleaning but there are countless uses! Here are a few of the ways our team uses these wondrous ingredients.

Gloria from Lolailo uses baking soda and water as a gentle yet effective scrubbing agent on her glass cooktop. “To remove burned-on stains, the best thing is to put a bit of baking soda with a few drops of water. Leave the resulting slurry to do its magic for a few minutes, and you will be able to remove the stains with no effort.”

 

…………………………………………………………………………………

Mary of Herban Lifestyle is a believer in vinegar instead of chemical based spot removers. “For shiny dishware, I put vinegar in the rinse aid container in my dishwasher.” She also uses it in conjunction with baking soda and boiling water for slow drains. “Pour in some baking soda, followed by vinegar. Let it bubble, then follow with a pot full of boiling water.”

 

…………………………………………………………………………………

Debbie at Moonbeads also uses this concoction for unclogging her drain but cautions: “Don’t use where there will be hair in the drain, though, it won’t work.”

 

 

…………………………………………………………………………………

Yancy at FiveSeed one ups the ante by mixing “peroxide and water for counter cleaners.” According to Wikipedia, hydrogen peroxide has excellent bleaching, disinfectant and antiseptic properties. From personal experience we use it in our household as a mouth rinse and to disinfect small cuts.

 

…………………………………………………………………………………

 Erin from KrugsEco-Logic uses vinegar and baking soda on just about every surface of her home and her windows really shine!  “I just put straight vinegar on my towel and wash the windows like that.”  A couple drops of tea tree oil in her floor cleaner mix provides antiseptic, antibacterial, antifungal and antiviral properties.

 

…………………………………………………………………………………

As a mom, Jen at Winkydinks loves the natural cleaning properties of these three elements. “I love not having to worry about the kids around cleaners at home.”

 

 

…………………………………………………………………………………

I too use these wonder ingredients for a number of household uses and job functions.

As a painter I love to use vinegar when taking down wallpaper backing. Put a few tablespoons in a squeeze bottle with super hot water, spray and let soak and you can easily scrape the glue right off the wall. For extra heavy glue, straight vinegar makes easy work of removing this sticky material. Just be sure to thoroughly wash the walls with water before applying more paper or paint!

Baking soda is the best for polishing silver. Lay a piece of aluminum foil in a sink or glass dish and put the tarnished pieces on top of it. Sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda onto the items and cover with boiling water. A chemical reaction occurs and the tarnish bubbles away. When the tarnish is stubborn I mix a paste from lemon juice and baking soda and use cut up cotton (old T’s, socks, undies and bed sheets are ideal for this application!) to gently buff out the remainder.

How do you use these natural ingredients to better your own life? I’d love to hear even more uses for these marvelous items so be sure to leave your tips and hints in the comments.

Next up in the series: Beauty Secrets of Nature. Look for it in two weeks from today!

Comments

  1. I recently discovered that straight baking soda and a scrub brush works wonders on our stand-up shower floor (it has tiny anti-slip textures that accumulate dirt and grime). You can get a huge bag of it at Costco! Thanks for publishing the tips!

  2. Nice article! Baking soda is a staple in my home too. There are so many great uses for it. Lemon is a fantastic cleaner for both your home and body. A glass of lemon water daily, will help rid your body of toxins. Please check out my blog for some more great tips: http://www.Colleensbrightideas.com/blog/

  3. I too sing the praises of these magic ingredients….recently bought the biggest box of baking soda I could find and a jug of vinegar and decanted them into smaller jars to keep around the house. I love to scrub anything with baking soda and lemon juice…a bit of dish soap adds a little extra grease removal power. My other recent discovery is that a paste of baking soda and lemon juice does an amazing job of polishing silver with no toxic chemicals needed…takes a bit of elbow grease on serious tarnish, but I love the soft patina it brings up. Will definitely try using some of the teatree oil that a few people have mentioned. Great article – thanks so much!

    • Do you also use white vinegar Cindi? That’s wht I’ve found to be most effective and it comes in the most enormous bottle I’ve ever seen at my local big box warehouse club type store. Good tip on decanting all these products, that way separate bottles can be kept in every room of the house!

  4. Lovely post! We sprinkle baking soda in our compost bucket under the sink if it is getting especially stinky. I also use it mixed with a little water as a scouring paste for toilets and cleaning the tub. For a surface cleaner i mix vinegar, water, teatree oil, and lavender oil, smells nice and cleans VERY well. I also scrub our pots with baking soda, they come out of the sink looking very shiney! Lemon juice works wonders on wood cutting boards because it gets out the stains and kills bacteria all in one! Oh, and if your carpet is getting stinky or seems especially gross one day, just sprinkle baking soda on 5 min before vacuuming and let it sit. Then vacuum it all up for new fresh carpets!

    • Baking soda is most certainly one of my new all time favorite household cleaners, these tips are fantastic Emma, thanks! The lemon juice on wood cutting board trick intrigues me, I haven’t used a wood cutting board in a while because I was always nervous about cleaning it, but they are the best for keeping my knives working in top form so now I might just give it another go!

  5. A must read is: Clean House Clean Planet by Karen Logan

  6. Wonderful article! It’s so amazing that such simple household products can work in so many different ways. I use the vinegar/water solution in a spray bottle for cleaning windows and mirrors – about 1/4 cup vinegar to a litre of water. I then add a teaspoon of cornstarch to prevent streaking and I love using essential oils in my home cleaners. My favorites are lavender, rosewood, eucalyptus and sometimes tea tree.

    • Thanks so much Morgen, your cornstarch tip is going right in my aresenal. the oils don’t mess around with the shine at all? I have got to find a local purveyor of oils! Sorry so late in reply, this has been a wild season of work for me!