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Who knew that a splash of vinaigrette could be as good on your sink, as it is on your salad? It’s true! I’ll explain in a second. If you want to avoid using unpronounceable chemicals in your home, and save a little money; surprisingly, there are a number of food products in your cupboard that can double as cleaning aids in your kitchen and bath.

That vinaigrette is made of vinegar and oil. Each can help clean a sink, just not together. Other household staples like baking soda, salt and fruit can also do wonders on kitchen and bath surfaces. It’s the pH factor that turns a food into a solvent. Vinegar and citrus are slightly acidic. Baking soda is slightly alkaline, or basic. Either pH type has specific cleaning properties.

The acidic vinegar is great for restoring luster to smooth surfaces like glass, and for removing hard water stains on the sink and counter. But wait. Unless you want that “shiny penny” look instead of a rich patina, it’s not a good idea to use it on your copper sink.

On the alkaline front, baking soda is truly a wonder substance. It has not only been used as a baking agent; but as a pesticide, a fire extinguisher, an antacid, and yes, even a cleanser. You know those superficial gray cracks that show up on your porcelain sink. Just rub in a paste of baking soda and water for a few minutes and… gone. That paste can be used safely to scour almost any surface. Need even more abrasiveness? Add some kosher salt to the mix. True grit indeed!

Here’s a trick I love for any sink or counter that is not metal. Cut a lemon, or whatever citrus smell you prefer, in half. Lightly sprinkle the sink with salt. With the fruit as a scrubber and the salt for grit, grease and grime are vanquished and replaced with a fresh scent. How cool is that?

To remove clogs, many tout the magic of pouring baking soda down the drain, followed by a shot of vinegar. Though this is the same magic formula hidden in your kid’s erupting volcano project, aside from the visual fun, the foaming has no real dissolving power. That’s because baking soda is basic and vinegar is acidic -- they simply neutralize each other, albeit dramatically. However, if you do this along with covering the drain opening, the gas pressure created will help to dislodge a clog. Followed by a boiling water rinse, this often works quite well.

I didn’t forget about that oil from our salad dressing. Pour a little on a soft cloth and rub it into those stubborn streaks and stains on your stainless steel appliances. Wipe dry and admire the glow.