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Home Cleaning WIth Food - Multipurpose Supplies

If you're on a super tight budget, or if you have food stamps, you can use kitchen supplies to clean up and around your home. Many people do it all the time, and have for generations.

Here are some food products that have alternate, non-food, uses:

Vinegar
Salt
Baking Soda
Cream of Tartar
Ketchup
Tomato Sauce
Black Tea
Coffee Grounds
Meat Tenderizer
Lemons and Lemon Juice
Club Soda

Vinegar - this is the main one, the big kahuna for cleaning products. Entire books exist on ways to use white vinegar. I put some 1:3 with water in a spray bottle for light cleaning jobs (like on counters or floors), and use at full strength for the tougher ones (as for toilet cleaning or tub tiles). I use it in my laundry cleaning arsenal. You can rinse built up shampoo from your hair with it, or put it on foot fungus to adjust the pH. Run a load of vinegar through your dishwasher to clean out deposits, run vinegar through your coffee pot to sweeten the system, and pour it down the sink with baking soda to make chemical scrubbing bubbles for drains. Boil some in a pot to remove heavy, lingering food odors (the vinegar smell itself will dissipate quickly).

There are literally hundreds of uses in the home for white vinegar.

Salt - use as an abrasive for cleaning old coffee out of coffee carafes. If you've ever worked in the food industry, You've probably done this one. Big Kosher salt grains work best, but you can use handful of any salt to scrub glass and absorb stains. Salts are also nice in the tub, to soften water, or to make a gentle body scrub.

Baking Soda - after vinegar, this is the most well-known multi-purpose food and household product. As is, or made into a light paste with a dab of water, you can clean anything that a light scrub would help. A thicker paste polishes up silver. It is an odor absorber for shoes, fridges, closets, garbage pails, sink/tub drains, bathrooms and gym lockers. You can brush your teeth with it. Use it as a dry shampoo for your hair in between washings. Add it to laundry loads for extra cleaning power. It's even a cure for tummy aches (read the container for specifics on that). Note: make sure you get baking SODA, not baking powder. It's not the same thing.

Cream of Tartar - Great for protein-based stain removal, or for cleaning brass, aluminum, copper and stainless steel. Good for rust stains, and bathtub or toilet rings. Like baking soda, cream of tartar has mild powdery abrasive qualities.

Ketchup - Actually, this is a recommended cleaner for copper items. Rub on, let sit, rub off. Messy, but it works like a charm.

Tomato Sauce - I can't vouch for this one, but apparently it will counteract skunk smells. Another messy solution, but it's there if you need it.

Black Tea - if your whites are beyond whitening, "antique" them with a tea stain. Used tea bags can be kept in the fridge, then removed to place over eyelids to take down puffy achy swelling eyelids. It feels nice.

Coffee grounds - also work for antique dying, although it's a lot messier and provides less controlled results. I like to put used coffee grounds in my potted plants, in my garden and in my compost. Many plants enjoy the acidity. This is a free source of light fertilizer, and a good compost amendment.

Meat Tenderizer - helps to stop the pain of bee stings and other insects. Try it on mosquito bites - make a paste and leave it on the bite until it dries up and falls off. Some say such a paste will relieve back pain. Also works as a stain remover for protein-based stains.

Lemon Juice - has mild cleaning abilities and smells really great. Crush up lemons in your garbage disposal, along with a few ice cubes, once a week. Make sure to wash all the lemon slime out of the disposal, or the food particles will smell less than great the following day. Make an air spritzer with a 10:1 mixture of water and lemon juice - nice in kitchens and bathrooms, or around the pet areas of your home. Don't spray anyone in the eyes with it!

Club Soda - is a decent cleanser for removing red wine and other deeply colored stains from your carpet. The key is getting up the dark liquids quickly, not using hot water (which sets the stain), and patting - not rubbing - the liquids up with a clean, white rag. Stand on the rags to get as much of the liquid sopped up as possible. I've found that nothing really gets the red wine out once it sets, but the club soda can at least lighten the stain from carpets.

There are other ways to play with your food: put herbal tea bags, like Chamomile, in your bath water, instead of buying specialized bath teas. Peanut butter is supposed to help remove gum from hair, although it sounds incredibly messy, and I'd rather just carefully cut the gum out. Lots of produce from the kitchen can be made into facial lotions, creams and scrubs. There's a ton of information on the internet for recipes people use.

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You probably already have most of these things in your home pantry. For people on SNAP, EBT or food stamps, you can buy these items as often as you need to, for free, and use them for more than just food.

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