Cleaning with Baking Soda

By contributing writer Angie

Baking soda isn’t just for baking cookies and making science fair volcano experiments, even though both of those can be pretty fun. Cleaning with baking soda can be an inexpensive, safe, and green cleaning alternative, just like its science fair volcano friend, vinegar.

So, why not go get a big box of baking soda and try out some of these cleaning methods that you might not have tried before?

Cleaning with Baking Soda | The Happy Housewife

10 Ways to Start Cleaning with Baking Soda

1. Remove trash can odors. To help neutralize trash can smells, you can sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of your trash can. If you have particularly bad trash can odors, you can even follow up that method by sprinkling some more baking soda inside the trash bag.

2. Kitchen drain cleaner. If you have a garbage disposal, then you might have had the experience of a stinky kitchen sink. To combat this smell, as well as do some cleaning, add a half cup of baking soda to your drain while running very hot water.

3. Clean tiled floors. By adding a half cup of baking soda to a bucket of warm water, you can clean your tiled floors. For particularly tough spots, you can make a paste for spot cleaning.

4. Use as a surface cleaner. Counter tops can be cleaned by sprinkling baking soda on the surface and then wiping it down with warm water.

5. Deodorize carpets. To give your carpet an extra cleaning the next time you vacuum, just sprinkle baking soda in carpeted areas and let it sit for 10 – 15 minutes. Once the time has passed, vacuum the carpet as you usually would.

6. Spot cleaning spills on carpets. You should first clean up as much of the spill as possible and dry the area. Then, you can spread the area with baking soda to help get rid of odors that might occur, especially if the spill was able to soak far into the carpet. After you’ve allowed the baking soda to sit for 10 – 15 minutes, vacuum that area of the carpet.

7. Get rid of refrigerator and freezer odors. This is, of course, a classic use for baking soda. In fact, they even sell boxes that are specially made to allow maximum air flow through the box in order to help them be more effective. Just remember to change the refrigerator and freezer baking soda boxes periodically. While there isn’t any harm in forgetting and leaving them there, they will become less effective.

8. Cleaning food stuck on pots and pans. If you have food stuck on pots and pans that just won’t budge, you can sprinkle on a decent amount of baking soda and then add hot water to the pan. Allow it to sit for several hours before trying to work on the stuck-on food again. It still may take some work to remove it, but the baking soda should help.

9. Boost your laundry’s cleaning power. By adding a half to a full cup of baking soda to your laundry, you can help brighten and clean your clothes.

10. Clean up grease spills. Baking soda can be poured on grease spills and then scrubbed to clean the greasy area.

Do you use baking soda as a cleaning agent in your home? If so, what is your favorite use?

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photo by Joel Kramer

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Prepare Your Vegetable Garden for Spring

By contributing writer Angie

The season for vegetable gardening is coming to an end in many parts of the country. After a long spring and summer of working on the garden, it can be tempting to just let the cold weather take over and pretend like you don’t remember that you still have a garden.

This is the perfect time, however, to prepare your vegetable garden for next year.

Prepare Your Vegetable Garden for Spring | The Happy Housewife

7 Ways to Prepare Your Vegetable Garden for Spring

Pull Out Dead and Dying Plants

After you’ve gathered the last of what you can from your vegetable garden, especially if you have an impending frost and no covers, it’s the perfect time to remove the last of any dead, dying, or diseased plants from your garden. If you have a compost pile or bin, it is best to not put any of your plants that have become diseased into it.

Plant a Cover Crop

There are a variety of crops that are suitable for planting in your garden after you’ve pulled out your vegetable plants. One example, which is a hearty choice for cold weather, is winter wheat.

Cover crops can help add nutrients back into the soil, especially if you are growing many of the same types of vegetables in your garden each year. A cover crop can also help fight back weeds and minimize soil erosion. Once your growing season comes around again in the spring, just plow under the winter cover crop.

Take Advantage of Falling Leaves

There is no reason to bag up your fallen leaves this year. Rake them up into a large pile, and use a mulching mower several times to mulch them into the perfect cover and compost for your garden. Even if you don’t have a vegetable garden, you can put these mulched leaves around other plants in your yard for a little extra winter warmth.

Plant Hearty Winter Plants

If you live in a climate where winter is still a viable growing season, your preparations in the fall are even more important. Get your winter crops ready by getting them planted. If your winter weather is mild, it may still be a good idea to have row covers ready, just in case.

Bring the Garden Inside

While you can’t bring your whole vegetable garden inside, it can brighten up the cold winter days to have a kitchen garden box full of fresh herbs. Find a nice sunny spot, and enjoy your grocery store savings over the course of the winter as you use the fresh herbs readily growing in your kitchen.

Look for End of Season Deals

As stores make room for fall and winter holiday merchandise, they put outdoor and garden supplies on clearance. This can be a great time to save money while picking up something that you’ve had your eye on all summer.

Add Nutrients Back into the Soil

Have your garden soil tested to see if it is lacking some important nutrients. While you still may need to add more of the lacking nutrients in the spring, adding them now will help get your soil a little closer to ready for spring planting.

Do you garden? What are you doing in your garden at this time of year?

photo by Southern Foodways Alliance

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Six Ways to Use Newspaper

Six Ways to Repurpose Old Newspapers

by contributing writer Angie

If you regularly receive newspapers, you know how they can pile up after they’ve been read.  Hopefully you’re making sure to recycle these newspapers.  However, recycling isn’t your only option for old newspapers.  Here are six ways to use newspaper around your home.


Composting is the ultimate recycle around our house.  We love knowing that the things that we’ve put in are going to eventually become rich soil for our garden.  Newspaper is a perfect addition to your composting efforts, or even to layer right into a garden before planting.  Newspaper can be an especially great thing to add to your composting bin if you find yourself adding a lot of vegetable, or “green,” matter.

Gift Wrap

This is a classic use for old newspaper.  Of course, it’s a classic for a reason.  With the price of wrapping paper rising all the time, why not go green and wrap gifts with newspapers that you’ve already read, especially something fun like the comics.  While you probably won’t want to go this route for a wedding gift, it is fun and appropriate for many less formal occasions. See more Frugal Gift Wrap Ideas here!

Glass Cleaner

For years, I used various glass cleaners for the windows and mirrors in my home.  It was only after my Grandmother passed away that I thought nostalgically on her washing all of those things with a vinegar and water mix and old newspaper as a “cloth.”  I thought it seemed like such a crazy thought to try to wash something like mirrors and windows with newspapers.  However, since trying it, my mirrors and windows have never been cleaner.  See 15 Ways to Use Vinegar to Clean your Home here.

Art Projects

Keeping a stack of old newspapers with art supplies for kids is a perfect way to attempt to save surfaces that might otherwise get marked up with paint and markers from your child’s latest art project.  Newspaper mats aren’t just for kids though, as I often lay them out when I am creating a painting as well.  Not only does it keep my work area neat and speed clean up, but I can also doodle or test colors on it.

Packing Material

If you’ve ever packed up your household and moved, you know what a life saver old newspapers can be for packing up delicate items.  While the newsprint means that you might need to wash items after you’ve unpacked them, hopefully you’ll just be pleased that your breakables have made it to their new home in one piece.

Vegetable Crisper Helper

A vegetable crisper drawer in the refrigerator can have the problem of too much moisture.  Adding in some old newspaper can absorb both moisture and some odors.

What are some other ways that you use newspaper?

photo by Erich Ferdinand

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Help Your Kids Clean with Method Cleaners

Scroll to the bottom for a coupon code for Method cleaners

One of the most popular (and controversial) articles on my site is the one I wrote about age appropriate chores for kids. The real life truth around here is that my kids do chores. We live by the – if you make a mess, you clean it up- rule around here and that means everyone helps out when it comes to cleaning.

Let’s face it, between laundry, cooking, homeschool, errands, extra curricular activities, friends, and everything else that happens in our house, I need help with the daily chores. Especially when it is the kids who are creating 90% of the messes around here!

Around the time child #5 arrived I realized that my children were totally capable of doing basic chores around the house. Not only were they capable, they loved helping! It made them feel like “big kids” and they often argued over who got to do certain jobs.

My biggest concern in having my kids help out around the house was that I didn’t want them to use harsh cleaners. I have a few children who would probably squirt themselves in the eye given the opportunity, so I always made sure they didn’t use any chemicals that could harm them while they cleaned.

So, if you want your kids to help you clean around the house here are a few tips.

Remember they are children.

Each child has different personalities and abilities. Only assign chores that they are capable of doing without harming themselves or others.

Work with your children.

The best way to get your kids excited about helping around the house is to work with them. When you work with your children you can teach them how to do the chores properly and eventually you will spend less time re-doing their work.

Make it fun.

Most kids, when they are little, think chores are fun. As long as you make it fun they’ll keep this attitude for a long time. We’ve done everything from racing to see who can finish the fastest to contests to see who can get something the cleanest. My kids are super competitive so contests really motivate them to do a good job. Some kids love stickers or other small rewards. Depending on your child’s personality, there are many fun ways to motivate them.

Keep it safe.

Young children should not have access to harsh cleaners. Even the most responsible eight year-old should not use anything that could harm them or anyone else. I often try to find cleaners that are safe for my children to use (middle school age) so they learn how to clean but don’t risk hurting themselves or others.


If you are looking for an all-purpose cleaner that is non-toxic and not harmful to the skin check out Method cleaners. They have an entire line of cleaners (you’ve probably seen them at Target) from kitchen to bath and they work great. They are available in numerous stores and you can also order them online.

Personally I love the all-purpose cleaner because you can use it all over your house. From kitchen clean-ups to quick bathroom spiffy-ups you only need one cleaner to get the job done. Last month when all seven of my kids got the flu, I was cleaning every surface several times a day and it was nice to know there is an option out there that is killing germs without killing the environment. Oh and they have one with the clementine scent, and you know how much I love my clementines!

For my children I love the all-purpose cleaning and disinfecting wipes. To be clear, I do not clean my children with the wipes. :) But rather I keep a container of wipes under their bathroom sink and every day one child is responsible for wiping down the sinks and cleaning up the entire tube of toothpaste that the toddler as deposited on the sinks and counter.

Teaching your older children how to do a quick clean of the bathroom makes all the difference in the world. Instead of the kids’ bathroom looking like an episode of toiletries gone wild it is actually a place that I don’t mind going in to give a child a bath or help them brush their teeth.

If you aren’t familiar with Method cleaners visit the website to learn more about what’s they’re made of and how they can help you clean like a mother. And now you can save $1 on when you purchase Method’s all-purpose cleaner through Just use the coupon code APCBLOG at the checkout to receive $1.00 off your online order.

Method has sponsored this post but all children and opinions are my own. 

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.