Life Hacks for Your Home: Cleaning with Salt
While it can’t replace quite all of your cleaning supplies, salt can be a tremendous aid in cleaning your home. Salt also has the advantage of typically being available in most homes (even if you run out of other cleaners), and it’s generally very cheap. Note that any table salt will usually do for cleaning, it doesn’t need to be iodized, or fancy sea salt. This article outlines a number of the various ways you can use salt to make cleaning up that much easier. One general word of caution though, water with a high salt content can aggravate open cuts or sores, so be sure to use gloves if you’ll be using salt to help spruce up your home.
Sprucing up white enamel
White enamel fixtures, often including sinks, toilets, and bathtubs can develop a yellowish stain over time as the enamel ages. A paste of salt and turpentine (which you can likely find in the hardware store) will help restore the original sheen. Just apply the paste to the surface, let it sit for 15 minutes, then wipe it away with a damp sponge.
Whether grease or baked-on egg, pans can gather an astounding array of hard-to-clean messes. Salt can be used in several ways to help clean dirty pans. The first is to fill the pan with hot water and a bit of salt before leaving it in the sink to soak – a good method if you’re short on time but long on sink space. The second is to sprinkle the mess with salt, then wipe it away with a damp paper towel, which works better for grease than for other stains. The third is to scrub with a brush or sponge that’s been dipped in salt water.
For copper and brass, make a mixture of equal parts salt, flour, and vinegar. Rub the paste onto a copper or brass surface with a soft cloth, then let sit for about 1 hour. Once the paste is done sitting, wipe it off and buff the metal with a soft, clean cloth. Be sure to use a soft cloth with no abrasives as a coarser material can scratch some metals.
Stained or tarnished copper (including pans) can be cleaned by sprinkling salt over the stain, then buffing it with a cloth that’s been soaked in vinegar. Once it’s clean, rinse it carefully with plain water.
For tarnished silverware, rub the tarnish with salt before washing as normal.
Protect wicker furniture
Prevent the yellowing of white wicker furniture by scrubbing it with a stiff brush that’s been dipped in saltwater. But be careful not to scrub too hard as the white paint can flake off, depending on how the furniture was originally treated. Before starting the whole piece, it’s advisable to test a small patch on the underside of the furniture to be sure it can stand up to this treatment. Once done, let the furniture dry in full sunlight once clean.
If you’ve spilled any liquid on a carpet, you can soak some of the liquid (and the odor!) up by covering it in salt. This will also help keep the stain from spreading. For stains like gravy, follow the rug manufacturer’s instructions once you’ve cleaned up the salt.
For grease stains, use a mixture of 1 parts salt to 4 parts rubbing alcohol and a stiff brush. Scrub hard in the same direction as the carpet nap. Rinse with water once you’ve gotten the grease loose.
For red wine, immediately blot up as much of the moisture as you can. Then, sprinkle the stain with salt, and let it sit for 15 minutes. Once the salt’s soaked up the wine, scrape off the salt and vacuum the carpet. You can then clean the carpet with a mixture that’s 1 parts vinegar to 2 parts water. (If wine’s gotten on clothing or a tablecloth, after removing the salt, let the cloth soak in cold water for 20 minutes before laundering it with a color safe bleach.)
Removing blood stains
For cotton, linen, and other natural fibers that can be washed in high heat (check the clothing label), soak the cloth in cold saltwater for a few hours. Then, wash it in warm, soapy water. Finally, put the cloth in boiling water to kill off any bacteria. Always be careful when handling blood-stained materials, though, as blood can carry very dangerous pathogens.
Clean your coffee pot
For glass pots, add salt and ice cubes, and vigorously shake and swirl the mix around in the pot and then let sit for 15 minutes, before rinsing with cold water. This can help remove coffee stains from the bottom.
For percolators and pots alike, fill it with water with 4 tablespoons of salt, then boil or percolate as normal. This can help remove dried coffee remnants and reduce bitterness.
After washing your sponge, soak it in cold salt water for a short time. Rinse thoroughly and let dry to prolong its useful life.
Salting sidewalks and driveways
Not quite cleaning, but sprinkling rock salt on your sidewalk and driveway after shoveling away snow can encourage the remaining snow to melt faster, reducing ice slicks. Don’t use any de-icing product on concrete that’s less than six months old, and make sure you apply it sparingly, away from any vegetation and from the base of the building. (Many de-icers can damage masonry over time, though plain rock salt isn’t as bad about this as most commercial de-icers).