It can freshen the fridge, clean the grill and even keep the pool sparkling. Oh, yeah, it's great for baking, too.
Baking soda, which costs about $1 a box, is a low-cost workhorse around the house. The makers of Arm & Hammer baking soda came up with some summertime uses for their famous product:
Improve pool clarity: This is why Arm & Hammer now markets a 13.5-pound waterproof, resealable bag. It can help keep your pool sparkling, raise alkalinity and control pH. For how much to use, check the "Pool Owner's Guide" at www.armandhammer.com/ PDF/APoolOwnersGuide.pdf
Clean patio furniture: Sprinkle baking soda on a damp brush, scrub away residue and rinse clean.
Clean grungy grills: Sprinkle baking soda on a damp brush, scrub and rinse clean. For tough, greasy stains, scrub with a wire brush and baking soda paste (three parts baking soda to one part warm water), then rinse thoroughly with clean water.
Camping necessity: On your next outdoor outing, use baking soda as a dish washer, pot scrubber, hand cleanser, deodorant and toothpaste.
Freshen sports gear: Clean and deodorize smelly sports equipment such as fishing and camping gear with a solution of 4 tablespoons of baking soda in one quart warm water. For non-washable items such as golf and gym bags, sprinkle baking soda inside to eliminate odors.
Remove grime from pool toys: Clean plastic and vinyl pool toys, and remove mildew odors with a solution of 1/4 cup baking soda and one quart of warm water. For tougher stains, sprinkle baking soda on a clean, dampened sponge and scrub. Then, rinse clean.
Detail the car: Safely clean car lights, chrome, windows, tires, vinyl seats and floor mats without scratching. Use a solution of 1/4 cup baking soda mixed with one quart of warm water. Apply with a sponge or soft cloth to remove road grime, tree sap, bugs and tar. Freshen upholstery by sprinkling baking soda directly on fabric seats and carpets. Wait 15 minutes, then vacuum.
For more ideas, click on www.armandhammer.com.
Warm weather brings rapid growth in the vegetable garden. Tomatoes, peppers, squash and melons all love heat. Deep water, then feed with a balanced fertilizer. Bone meal can spur the bloom cycle and help set fruit.
Generally, tomatoes need deep watering about three times a week. Don't let them dry out completely. That can encourage blossom-end rot. If the plants look droopy, give them a drink. But a little afternoon wilt on hot days (particularly in heirloom varieties) is normal.
Watch out for stink bugs on tomatoes and squash. Control these pests by picking them off by hand (wear gloves), then dispose of the bugs.
Thin grapes on the vine for bigger, better clusters later this summer.
Cut back fruit-bearing caneson berries.
Feed camellias, azaleas and other acid-loving plants. Mulch to conserve moisture and reduce heat stress.
Cut back Shasta daisies after flowering to encourage a second bloom in the fall.
Trim spent flowers from rose bushes to keep them blooming through summer. Roses also benefit from deep watering and feeding. A top dressing of aged compost will keep them happy. It feeds as well as mulches, keeping roots moist.
Pinch back mums for bushier plants with many more flowers in September.