Newest Review: ... live in an old flat, with old plumbing so I like to be pro-active after we suffered some blocked pipes shortly after moving in. I put hal... more
Shiny Happy People
Dri-pak Soda Crystals
Member Name: raehippychick
Dri-pak Soda Crystals
Advantages: Cleans, descales, degreases, seems to be more environmentally friendly than a lot of products
Disadvantages: Harsh on the hands
As a small child I was always impressed when my Gran used to clean her drains. She’d put a pile of soda crystals on the drain grid and then pour a kettle of boiling water over it and I’d watch the big pile of ‘snow’ magically fizz and disappear. And once again Granny could hold her head high in the street knowing she had hygienic clean drains
When I bought my first house I was plagued by a sink that insisted on blocking at least once a week and after trying assorted modern products that promised and failed to deliver a miracle I remembered good old Gran and her drains and bought a pack of soda crystals from the local hardware store. A good old fashioned miracle for a few pennies; with a small heap of sparkly white powder and a swoosh of boiling water I had a shiny, clean fresh smelling sink once again. I only needed to do this once or twice a month and I never had another blocked sink
I hadn’t needed soda crystals for a few years, then recently my washing machine decided to stop draining and I had to call in an engineer. Luckily all it needed was a darned good clean out as it was all clogged up by grease, crud and the hard water in our area. The nice little man advised me to run a hot wash once a month using soda crystals to degrease and descale the innards and keep it all running smoothly
Where I live now there isn’t a hardware store very handy so off I trotted to Tesco and after a long search found good old Dri-Pak crystals for the bargain price of 51 pence for a half kilo bag. This handy little bag of Sodium Carbonate Decahydrate (Na2CO3.10H20) is not easy to find; in one Tesco near me it is kept near the washing powders and in the other nearer the washing up liquid, but always on a lower shelf tucked almost shyly away as if overwhelmed by all the up-to-the-minute whizzy flashy products with their sprays and squirters. But it is worth searching the stuff out as it works better than any other product I’ve tried for so many different cleaning problems!
When I got my bag home I read the packet and discovered that it can be used for delicate washing so I knew I was ok to put clothes in the machine while I ran a hot wash, no, not delicates, I’m not quite that blonde! I filled the dispenser drawer with soda crystals ran a good boil wash of teatowels. The result was wonderful, even with my old bio powders or my new found eco-balls the teatowels hadn’t come up quite as clean before, so I had the double bonus of a gleamingly spotless washing machine and a new lease of life for my grotty old teatowels
Now I was getting interested in this little bag and had a good read of it and then had a quick surf to see what else I could use them for. I found that the main uses for them are to dissolve grease, loosen dirt, soften water and reduce acidity. They’ve been used for 150 years and are an alkaline substance containing no phosphates, enzymes or bleach. Apparently they can even be used in cooking, but I’ve never gone quite that far. What I have used them for so far is….
Brighten your teatowels to a degree that would impress the finickiest 1950’s housewife by using a boil wash and filling the dispenser drawer with crystals. Towels and flannels come up very nicely in this way too
Leave stained clothes soaking in a solution of 1 cup to a pint or stronger for dirtier clothes – remember to test for colour fastness on clothes that are delicate or coloured
Put a small handful of crystals in each wash to help banish limescale – much, much cheaper than Calgon
In the kitchen:
Teacup stains are a thing of the past if you soak a couple of teaspoonfuls in warm water in the cups for a few hours
Clean chopping boards with a strong solution and those carroty and tomato stains will vanish before your eyes. I tend to throw a small handful on to boards and scrub it round with just a dampness of water, this works particularly well on white acrylic boards
Once a week or so I toss a small handful of crystals into my dishwasher to help keep it clean and grease free. I know that the tablets and salt I use should do that but it just seems to run better since I’ve been doing it
As the crystals are virtually odour free, a mild to medium solution is ideal for cleaning fridges and microwaves, it cleans grease and stains away easily and wipes dry to a glossy finish. If my microwave is particularly manky (usually following a night of starving teenagers) I put an old mug filled with half water and half soda crystals and cook it on high for a minute or two and the interior soon effortlessly wipes clean
Not the greatest cook? Left with pans that you’d rather chuck in the bin than clean? A handful or to of soda crystals topped up with warm water and in the pan and by morning the crusty bits will flake away easily. I also use biological washing powder tablets on really nasty pans like those coated with scrambled egg
** Soda crystals should not be used in aluminium pans, it won’t do them any good at all; it seems to make them cloudy looking and they smell funny **
** The solutions can be a little harsh on the hands so it worth digging out the marigolds to keep your mitts Nanette Newman soft **
In the bathroom:
Armed with a bucket of hot water and soda crystal solution any bathroom is soon sanitary and squeaky clean. Mirrors are smear free; sinks and baths shine and glisten especially around the tap and plughole areas that were previously caked with limescale and soapy residues
Throw a handful of neat crystals in the loo just before bedtime and in the morning, scale and grime will have dissolved away, leaving a dazzling sanitary toilet after the first flush
Other assorted uses:
Red wine stains can be dealt with by pouring a pile of crystals on larger mishaps and leaving overnight, for smaller drips and drops use a solution of 1-2 cup of crystals to a pint
Wash tiled or linoleum floors with a strong solution of 2-3 cups per pint of hot water. I recently ditched the dreadful Flotex carpet we inherited from the previous owners to find a lovely, albeit grubby floor of terracotta tiles. After a good scrub with my beloved soda crystal solution I now have a shiny kitchen floor resplendent with a central rug – so much better than mossy green stained Flotex. With slightly shiny tiles a quick buff dry is all that is need; no smears, no smudges, just shiny cleanliness.
** Be careful with some of the contemporary laminate wood and polished soft cushioned floors as the soda crystal solution can strip the top polish off – do a test patch test first to check **
When preparing for decorating a couple of bags are always handy for cleaning down woodwork and walls that have been stripped
Drains and sinks are probably the best known use for soda crystals. Once every couple of months, on a dry day, clear rubbish and tip a whole bag onto each drain and then after a few minutes pour one kettle of boiling water over to kill germs, clean grease and generally freshen the area
A blocked sink is quickly cleared with about half a bag of crystals. Gently pour about half a bag of crystals onto the plughole and work it in with anything handy then pour boiling water over. One or two applications is usually enough to clear the most stubborn blockage
Windscreens and wheels on your car will twinkle like stars and the windows will be smear and grease free, just remember to rinse off well and buff dry to stop streaks on the paintwork and to keep the solution off any aluminium bits you may have
I’m really not sure just how ‘green’ they are, but reading around they sound a whole heap better than a lot of new complicated chemically based cleaners on supermarket shelves – and as I said, a darn sight more effective too – not mention the cheapness! I reckon I get through a bag every 10 days and I as you can see I don’t exactly skimp!
There are other products in the Dri-Pak Soda Crystal range, such as Soda Crystals with orange oil (huh?); liquid Soda Crystals; Aqua Softna for descaling and many others. Personally I’ll be sticking to my good old fashioned plain bags of soda crystals
See? Sometimes Granny really does know best!
Summary: Good old fashioned cleaner - does loads of jobs