Monday, May 14, 2012

Back to Basics: Baking Soda

Well, Parker hasn't shown up yet. He apparently is quite comfortable where he is, thank you very much! I was positive he'd have arrived by now.  On the plus side, the weather has been gorgeous all week long, and I'm on maternity leave already, so I got to enjoy it!  

Still, it means I'm sitting around waiting...and waiting...and waiting.   I even had an induction scheduled this morning that got bumped to tomorrow.  Not sure how Parker managed that one, the little stinker!

Unfortunately, it means no cute baby pictures to share.  Instead, you get...baking soda! Woo!

I know it's not nearly as exciting, but at least it's not dead air, right? There are several uses for baking soda and vinegar as cleaners. Baking soda can clean a wedding ring with decent results, if you're too cheap/broke to take it in to get cleaned (that's me!). Vinegar can replace rinse agent in a dishwasher or fabric softener in the laundry.

However, none of these really are fascinating uses or provide good pictures. I'm all about pictures. More fun and visually stimulating (although still not terribly exciting) is using baking soda and vinegar to clean your drains. At our last house, we had nasty, nasty drains. We poured gallons of Drain-O and similar products down them with pretty terrible results. Poor results + expensive products + adding nasty chemicals into the ground = three strikes and you're out in my book!

Luckily, this house has better drains, but they still need cleaning occasionally. After a little research (read: mindlessly dinking around on the internet and stumbling across some interesting uses for baking soda/vinegar and then looking at a couple more sites to verify the information) I discovered that this combo can clean drains. Something about the chemical make-up of the baking soda cutting through grease, etc. I think the vinegar is just for fun foaming action. Maybe the bubbles help knock stuff loose as well, but does it really matter after the science experiment you just completed in your sink or tub?

The process:
Pour some boiling water down the drain. This loosens things up a bit, at least at the surface level.

Dump ½ cup or so of baking soda down the drain. Let it sit there for a few minutes. This step involved more work than I expected, mostly because I couldn't remove the stopper to the drain, which meant that I had to work the baking soda into the drain with my fingers. While obnoxious, it wasn't all that difficult.

Well THAT didn't work the way I expected...
It took a few minutes, but I jammed it all in
Ooh!  Ah!  Bubbles!
Pour 1 cup of hot vinegar down the drain. Watch the fun bubbles. Plug the drain for better agitation/knock-stuff-loose-action. I didn't plug mine because a) I was having fun showing Zoey the reaction with baking soda and vinegar and b) the baking soda was packed into the drain so tightly that it wasn't going to move until the vinegar had its way with the soda anyway.

Pour some more boiling water down the drain to rinse it all clear.

People have different results with this, and there are a plethora of methods people use; there are also a lot of people that argue against it. From what I've read, this works best as a preventative measure; it doesn't really eat away at a clog, although it will help cut away the grease that holds a clog in place so it can move on down the line. To me, as long as the drain works better than it did before, it's a success.

The only drain I had that was at all slow was my bathtub. This is usually the worst drain, given the amount of hair I have and its tendency to shed into the drain. The baking soda treatment seems to have worked to speed it up. And hey, if it didn't, it cost me less than a quarter, rather than $4 for a bottle of drain cleaner. That's a cost I can live with.

Next steps:
After Parker is (finally) here, I'm going to try the unfortunately named “no-poo” method. Luckily, the “poo” in the name stands for shampoo. Why proponents think people will want to try it after giving it that name escapes me. On the other hand, I'm going to give it a shot, so I guess it worked after all. Basically, it calls for using baking soda/water instead of shampoo and replacing conditioner with apple cider vinegar.

The theory is that commercial shampoos over-strip your hair and convince your scalp it needs to produce more oil than necessary, which then requires you to shampoo more frequently with even crazier chemical compounds. I'm all for simplicity (and saving money – baking soda is $0.50/lb in bulk, which is significantly less than the cheapest shampoo), so I have wanted to try this for a while.

The only problem is that it takes a couple of weeks for your head to stop over-producing oil, which means you look pretty greasy while you adjust. That's why Parker's arrival will make such a good time to try it – no-one expects a new mother to look her best. 

And hey - if it works, I may never have to clean the tub drain again, since I'll be sending baking soda and vinegar down it on a regular basis!

Next week will be Parker pictures – there's no WAY he's not going to be here by then.


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  2. Let me know how that no-shit, I mean poo, goes. I'm way interested.

    1. I will - I'm pretty interested to see how it turns out. I hope my head doesn't smell like a salad...

  3. I have a Pretend Friend who had very good results with the no 'poo thing. Another Real Life friend adds lemon at some point and uses raw coconut oil for conditioner instead. I applaude the concept but have mental issues with not using soap on my hair.
    I used a white vinegar water combo to clean all the crap G gets on my micro fiber couches that worked very well but smelled awful. Just for the day though.
    I'm going to try the wedding ring cleaning thing, thanks for the awesome ideas!

    1. Yeah, vinegar is supposed to be really good at cleaning/eliminating odors (once the stuff it cleans stops smelling like pickles, anyway!)

      I'm not sure how I'll react to the baking soda shampoo thing - it's a neat concept, but it seems weird to not use shampoo, especially because I have oily hair and usually wash it every day. I'm half-convinced it will work and half-convinced that I'll spend a few weeks feeling like I'm camping (because even when I bathe while camping, I only ever feel half clean) and then give up. Fingers crossed!