According to Heather McGregor - aka Mrs Moneypenny of Channel 4's Superscrimpers - families can save hundreds of pounds a year by using bicarbonate of soda instead of expensive cleaning products.
A paste of the low-cost baking additive can clean everything from ovens to jewellery, she says: "It solves every problem in town."
The reason bicarbonate of soda is such an effective cleaning agent is that it's mildly alkaline and causes dirt and grease to dissolve easily in water. When it's used dry, it's a mild abrasive that can lift dirt without scratching. Sprinkled on a carpet, it will absorb dirt and smells and can easily be vacuumed up.
To clean a blocked sink, Mrs Moneypenny recommends mixing bicarb with vinegar - an acid, which triggers a chemical reaction. While it might not perform quite as well as corrosive chemicals, it's better for the environment - and the dramatic frothing will entertain your children.
But there are plenty more uses for humble bicarb, some of which may surprise you. We look at how that tub lurking at the back of your cupboard could do a lot more than you might think.
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Over the last few years, toothpastes containing bicarb have hit the market - but often at prices that will make you clench your teeth. But briushing once a week with the powder straight from the tub will have the same effect.
Just mix four tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda with two of citric acid and a tablespoon of almond oil, along with food colouring and scented essential oils. Add a few drops of witch hazel, pack into a mould, and leave in an airing cupboard overnight.
Relief for burns and bug bites
Mixing bicarbonate of soda with a little cold water makes a soothing paste that can help stop a burn from blistering. It works to stop insect bites and sunburn too.
You can spread bicarbonate of soda on your carpets to eliminate smells; but it works on you too. Rubbing it on your hands after chopping garlic will get rid of the smell, and gargling with a solution will freshen breath.
Because it's alkaline, bicarbonate of soda can be used to neutralise corrosion on the engines of cars, lawnmowers and the like. Mix three parts of bicarb with one of water, and - carefully - use a cloth to wip away the marks. A bit of petroleum jelly over the terminals will stop them corroding in future.
Do you have any more uses for bicarbonate of soda? Share your tips in the comments below.
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