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The answer is in your pantry.

Kimberly Holland
October 15, 2018

You’re pressing start on your dishwasher between segments of This Is Us, only to discover you’re entirely out of detergent. Now what? You can hand wash your dishes, but that option gets a big pass from you. (There’s TV to see, after all.) Instead, head to your pantry, and grab your box of baking soda.

This ingredient is vital for getting the fluffiest baked goods, and it pulls double duty as a seriously powerful detergent and DIY cleanser.

Open your dishwasher’s detergent compartment. Squeeze in two to three drops of regular dish soap, the kind you’d use to hand wash your dishes normally. Next, pour in baking soda until the compartment is full. Then run your dishwasher on the normal cycle.

Don’t be tempted to use a compartment full of dish soap. This soap will produce too many suds and could flood your kitchen floor. Baking soda helps keep the suds under control, so the ratio is important.

Watch: 5 Uses for Vinegar in Your Kitchen

Baking soda is a naturally mild and abrasive cleaning agent, so it, combined with the soap, does a wonderful job at removing food particles and germs on your dishes. If you’ve got particularly stuck-on food, you can add a bit of kosher salt for extra scrubbing power.

You don’t want to use baking soda as dish detergent regularly. Baking soda is a bit gritty, so after multiple washes, you could start to scratch decorations off plates or etch glasses. Keep this secret ingredient in your back pocket for those moments you notice you’re out of detergent and definitely can’t make a quick run to the store.

3 Other Ways You Can Use Baking Soda

Rid Drains of Foul Smells: Sprinkle baking soda down your sink drain, and pour in some white vinegar to make the soda sizzle and pop. The fizzy combination can help break up and eat away at lingering food particles that may be producing off putting odors.

DIY a Degreaser: Got stuck on grease you can’t beat? Combine equal parts dish detergent (the kind you use to hand wash dishes) and baking soda. Stir to form a paste. Paint the detergent-soda mixture on the sticky surface, and scrub with a towel moistened with hot water.

Shine Stainless Steel: Sprinkle baking soda onto your sink’s surface. Buff with a soft cloth, then wash with water. Repeat until your stainless steel is looking refreshed.

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