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BAKING soda and white vinegar

I went out flatting at age 18 and started buying my own groceries. I was 42 by the time I finally realised that I could have used baking soda for almost all my home cleaning and personal grooming needs. That was 24 years of spending literally thousands of dollars on toothpaste, shampoo, soap and plastic bottles containing various cleaning products for bathroom, kitchen, windows, floors, tiles – you name it, I probably bought the cleaning product for it. If only I had known I could take care of those needs with 25kg of bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) at $1 a kilo and some white vinegar at $1 a litre, while keeping my cash in my own pocket.

Advertising has had a huge influence on my buying decisions. TV commercials encourage you to purchase everyday things to fix problems around the home, such as keeping the place looking and smelling clean; or to solve personal hygiene issues such as body odour, bad breath, and unattractive hair. The advertisers say they have the perfect solution for all of our problems, and they go to huge expense to deliver their message to us. Like lemmings we flock to the supermarket and buy, buy, buy all the products that we have been promised will make our lives easier.

Many of the solutions are packaged in attractively coloured plastic bottles and sold under a brand name. They are formulated with pleasing fragrances that allure the shopper and woo the olfactory senses to encourage them to buy again. We use these in our homes and on our bodies and we spend thousands of dollars in our efforts to make ourselves and our homes look and smell nice. We are being led by the nose to buy chemical cocktails that we know little about. But the good news is we don’t have to buy these expensive products.

I’m kicking myself that it took so long for me to discover the joys of baking soda and white vinegar. Actually, I am annoyed that I fell for all the marketing and branding hype and gave all my money away for all that time. The only saving grace is that I can carry on for the rest of my life keeping my hard-earned money in my own pocket instead of giving it away to the faceless manufacturers who have been ripping me off for years. And I can try to teach my kids the error of my ways so they don’t fall into the brands and marketing trap.

Homemade cleaning products are not sexy. To be honest, I’m bored stiff with tips and hints and intense, hairy-armpitted women telling me to add a drop of eucalyptus oil to my laundry and some teatree oil to my all-purpose cleaner. I’m busy. Housework is annoying enough without adding to the workload by having to make a whole lot of stuff yourself. I want to get on with life . . .

But it doesn’t have to be like that. When I first started taking an interest in keeping my grocery spend down to $100 a week, there was obviously noroom in the budget for overpriced and overrated branded cleaning products. If we ran out of toothpaste, shampoo and laundry powder in the same week, then there was around $25 less we had to spend on food – and let’s face it, when you are only living on $100 – or even $75 –a week, you want to get as much food in as possible.

Wise people suggested to me that baking soda was a cheaper solution to most home cleaning problems. Most people know you can clean some surfaces with baking soda, and some people know it gets rid of many odours – but baking soda has so many more uses than that. Here’s a list of some products we do not buy anymore because we use baking soda instead. A 25kg bag lasts us for over a year, and when you see all the jobs it does, you will realise what extraordinarily good value for money baking soda is.






facial cleanser


bathroom cleaner

kitchen cleaner

silver cleaner

kitty litter

fabric softener



stain remover

foot powder

carpet cleaner

toilet cleaner . . .


There is no need to learn fancy recipes or add drops of essential oils or fragrances – just sprinkle on the baking soda straight from the packet and get the job done. What could be simpler? Get a copy of Vicki Lansky’s book Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun & Frugal Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought of and keep it handy to refer to. And check out the simple recipes at the end of this book.


Tit Bit

Get your hands on Vicki Lansky’s books: Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun & Frugal Uses you’ve probably never thought of, and Vinegar: Over 400 Various, Versatile & Very Good Uses you’ve probably never thought of – both available from pigtitsandparsleysauce.co.nz.

For some reason, people try to make things more complicated than necessary. I say, keep it simple. There is no point in throwing a whole lot of money at a simple home cleaning problem. Try to solve the problem with a simple, cheap solution using baking soda or a similar ingredient. If it does not work, you have lost nothing. If it does work – and invariably it will – you have saved a packet.

Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    January 8, 2019


    176 pages

    RRP $25.00

    Online retailers

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.co.nz

  • EBook


    January 8, 2019

    Penguin eBooks

    176 pages

    Online retailers

    • Amazon Kindle NZ
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    • Google Play EBook NZ
    • Kobo Ebook
    • Booktopia NZ

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