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If I can’t find the exact ingredients on the label of a cleaning or deodorizing product, I put the product down immediately. It has to be full transparency or I ain’t buyin’.
And that’s only the first obstacle a product has to clear in order to make its way toward my shopping cart. To actually make it into the cart, the product has to be free from harmful chemicals.
This is especially true for air fresheners and fabric deodorizers, whose scents are meant to permeate a room and to be inhaled. So if the product has any chemicals at all — even if those chemicals are labeled as “safe” — the product stays on the shelf.
Besides, who needs chemicals when natural ingredients do the job better?
Most chemical deodorizers only cover odors temporarily, while baking soda and vinegar get rid of odor-causing bacteria for good. Not only are baking soda and vinegar completely non-toxic and safe to use around children and pets, they also cost a fraction of what you’d pay for the chemical stuff.
Here are a few tips for common deodorizing needs. They’re all so simple, it’s almost silly to list them separately. But here they are.
Deodorize rugs, carpets, upholstery, mattresses and pet beds
Sprinkle baking soda over the surface and let it sit for 15 minutes. Vacuum thoroughly.
Deodorize garbage pails & compost bins
Sprinkle a little baking soda over foods when throwing them away to keep strong odors from accumulating. Periodically wash the bins with white vinegar and sprinkle some baking soda into the bottom of the fresh bin liner.
Eliminate odors from sneakers & gym bags
For a reusable odor eater, fill an old pair of socks with two tablespoons baking soda. Tie the top of each sock into a knot and let them sit inside your sneakers or gym bag overnight. Replace the baking soda monthly.
Freshen musty laundry
Sprinkle 1/2 cup baking soda into the washing machine to neutralize the smell of musty towels and bathing suits that have been sitting in the hamper or that smell like chlorine. When wet laundry has been sitting in the machine too long, rerun the wash with a cup of vinegar or baking soda to refresh them.
Deodorize sink drains and garbage disposals
The baking soda that keeps your fridge fresh needs to be replaced monthly. Instead of throwing away the old box, pour half a cup down the kitchen and bathroom sink drains.
Drizzle just a little bit of warm tap water very lightly over the baking soda to soak. Let it sit for a few minutes and then rinse with warm tap water.
To deodorize a garbage disposal or extra-stinky drain, lightly drizzle 2 cups of white vinegar over the baking soda instead of water.
You can also flush old baking soda down the toilet to help keep the pipes clean.
Sprinkle half a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher and let it sit until a full load is ready for washing. For extra clean dishes, run the dishwasher with the baking soda still sitting on the bottom.
Soak sponges overnight in a quart of warm water plus 4 tablespoons of baking soda. You can also soak them in vinegar to kill bacteria.
Get the garlic or fish stink out of cutting boards
To remove garlic, fish or other strong odors, dampen the cutting board with water. Sprinkle with baking soda and let it sit for 15 minutes before washing.
Deodorize the litter box
Spray the empty litter box with undiluted white vinegar. Let it sit for a few minutes and wipe clean. Add a generous sprinkle of baking soda to fresh litter to help neutralize odors between cleanings.
Good to know
- Vinegar kills the bacteria, while baking soda absorbs and neutralizes it.
- Baking soda and vinegar are safe to use on anything that touches food or drink, such as cutting boards, sponges and baby bottles.
- Be careful deodorizing leather or suede shoes with baking soda too often, as they can dry out with repeated treatments.
- Regularly deodorizing drains with baking soda also helps to maintain a proper pH level in septic tanks.
- While baking soda is highly effective at neutralizing odors, it does not kill germs, mold or mildew. Instead, use vinegar as a safe and effective disinfectant.