It’s a staple of any kitchen and the simplest of seasonings, perfect with everything from meats to dressings to chocolate. But did you know that sodium chloride’s coarse texture and water absorption make it perfect for removing stains and scrubbing grime? When combined with vinegar or lemon, salt can be a powerful household cleaner for the kitchen, bathroom, and more. Here are 10 ways you can use salt to clean your home.
Just pour salt on your butcher block countertop, then cut a lemon in half and use the exposed lemon to scrub the countertop. Leave the salt and lemon overnight, then clean in the morning with a cloth and warm water. You can achieve the same results by creating a paste with lemon juice and salt.
Caked-on food in a cast-iron skillet can be challenging to clean, but using a salt scrub will remove crusted-on food without damaging the pan. Start by heating the pan on the stove and spritzing it with vegetable oil. Then pour a liberal amount of salt to cover the pan’s surface, and use a paper towel to scrape the pan clean. For stubborn stains, use a ball of tin foil instead of a paper towel to scrape away any crusted stains. Rinse and dry thoroughly, then spritz with vegetable oil again. Rub the oil in with a paper towel to coat the pan’s surface.
Any natural foods with citric acid work wonders when combined with salt for cleaning, and since citric acid kills bacteria, it’s perfect for ridding your bathroom of mildew and soap scum. Sprinkle your bathtub with kosher salt the same way you would Ajax or Comet, then take a medium-sized grapefruit, cut it in half, and use the exposed side to scrub your tub. Then all that’s left is to rinse.
Salt can also prevent mildew from building up on your plastic shower curtain. Just pour half a cup of salt into a bucket with a gallon of water. Soak the shower curtain in the solution for one hour. Hang the curtain back up and let dry. Repeat this method monthly to keep mildew at bay.
For small clogs due to oil build-up or sludge, a little bit of hot water and salt can unclog your kitchen or bathroom sink. Pour three or more cups of boiling water down the drain, followed by two tablespoons of Epsom salt. After letting it sit for one minute, pour another cup or two of water down the drain. The salt should break up any gunk and clear out the pipes without harmful chemicals.
When it comes to cleaning your kid’s stuff, the lesser the harsh chemicals, the better. Thankfully, the same method for cleaning your own tub with salt and citrus can be applied to your smaller toddler or baby’s tub. You’ll want to pour salt in the tub and cut open a lemon to use as the tub scrubber. The lemon and salt will kill bacteria while scouring the dirt.
If you’re a heavy coffee drinker, you’ve likely noticed dark rings or brown bottoms in your favorite coffee mug. A little salt and water can get those stains right out, though. Just wet the inside of the mug with a splash of water, then pour one tablespoon of salt into the mug, and scrub as usual. Using a lemon slice can help lift the stains as well. Rinse with hot water and repeat if necessary.
Spilled wine doesn’t have to be the end of your favorite tablecloth. Before any stain sets in, pouring salt on the soiled spot can prevent it from staining altogether. As soon as the spill occurs, dab the spot with a paper towel and some soda water. Then sprinkle a liberal amount of salt onto the affected area—a lot of it, so much the entire spot is no longer visible. Dump the excess salt and wash the material as usual. It’ll look as though the accident never happened.
If you’re like me, you love using mason jars for everything, but cleaning those little ones is difficult. Your hands never fit inside the container, and the cleaning wand inevitably misses some parts. Salt can get into those little areas though, cleaning out any leftover particles and disinfecting your jars. Combine hot water, one-fourth a cup of coarse salt, and a splash of white vinegar to the glass. Cover the opening tightly and shake. You’ll see the stains lift right off. Then rinse and let dry. This method is perfect for uniquely shaped vases and bottles.
Salt’s abrasive texture helps clean the toughest of floor grime in a pinch. Take a handful of salt and add it to one and a half liters of hot water. Use this as your main cleaning solution on tile, grout, and other hard surfaces. Do not use this method on marble floors, though, as the salt grains are much too coarse and will damage the marble.