“Whatever you think you can do or believe you can do, begin it.  Action has magic grace and power in it.”  Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832, German playwright poet, novelist and dramatist.

I have just discovered (or maybe rediscovered) an all-purpose wonder that has been lurking in my cupboard for a while.

Recently, a friend asked me to pick up 20 kgs of bicarbonate of soda (aka baking soda) for her.  When asked what she was baking I was told it was for clearing the moss and algae off the driveway.  So I thought well I would give it a go.


Brushed on - now what?

Apparently all one does is brush it on the surface and then when it rains it does its magic.  Well it is supposed to rain tomorrow so I shall see if it works.

When I met my friend for lunch on Wednesday she reported that her driveway is now clear of moss and algae.

We then started to talk about all the other uses for this long forgotten miracle in the kitchen.  Did you know:

  • Cleaning Sinks Either place bicarbonate of soda directly onto a damp cloth or make up a paste of soda with a little water. Wipe around the sink & rinse well.
  • Blocked Drains Pour about 16 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda down the sink and then pour in about 120ml of white distilled vinegar. Put the plug in for a couple of minutes as the 2 chemicals will fizz. Rinse through with boiling water.
  • Oven Cleaner Dampen the floor of the oven, sprinkle with bicarbonate of soda and dampen again. Leave the mixture overnight and then remove with a cloth. Rinse with hot water.
  • Fabric Conditioner To make your own fabric conditioner, mix equal quantities of water, bicarbonate of soda and vinegar in a storage bottle, take care as the vinegar & soda will fizz up. Add ¼ cup of conditioner to your wash.
  • Deodorizing  Drains  To freshen drains & help prevent blockages, pour a cup of bicarbonate of soda down the drain and then wash down with some boiling water.
  • Pet Odors To help freshen carpets, sprinkle bicarbonate of soda on the carpet, leave for 10 minutes and then vacuum up.

And the list goes on.  I particularly liked the idea of a paste of bicarb to remove tea and coffee stains from cups.  As I drink both black tea and black coffee, my mugs regularly stain.  Until now I have used bleach to clean the stains away.  From now on I shall use my trusty new friend.


And I found out, again from the same friend, that it is good to brush bicarbonate of soda into a dog’s coat.  This apparently, removes all dead dander and makes the coat shine.  I haven’t managed to try this out yet.  Lotte has retired to bed after her walk and shows no interest in having her coat covered in white powder.

Having discovered this hidden wonder I then got out my very old and battered copy of Mrs Beeton’s Cookery Book.  This one was published in 1894 – wow 117 years ago!

Mrs Beeton's cookery book

1984 Edition - Cost One shilling

This little gem opens with:

“It is not given to us all to become famous, but in this busy world there are few who, metaphorically speaking ‘need waste their sweetness on the desert air’ or in less poetical language, lead a useless life.  Specially does this apply to women, whom though perhaps less gifted with brain power than the sterner sex, have yet a greater versatility of talent, and who, if they seek it, can always find a vocation.”

What do you have to say about that?

Then onto another gem.  “A Good Housekeeping Cookery Compendium”.  This was published in 1957 and I remember purchasing this copy when somebody came around the office selling the book.  Mine looks as if it has had a hard life but I think that’s because when I was first married I didn’t know how to cook anything much more than an egg.

This little darling tells me:

“The money spent on food is the most important part of the household expenditure, and you will want to get the best possible value for your money.”  So what has changed in 54 years?  It goes on “It is obviously wise to deal with reliable tradespeople, so compare both quality and prices….bearing in mind that it is false economy to buy inferior goods to save a few pence.”

Then I picked up the book and it opened on page 393 – and the recipe was for stuffed mushrooms.  Well according to Shirley Conran author of Superwoman (among others) ‘Life’s too short to stuff mushrooms”  And if you are not old enough to know Shirley Conran she showed women of my generation that they didn’t have to be drudges (Dirt? Sweep it under the rug. Ironing? Hire someone to do it). Her book sales made her a millionaire. She survived a ‘humiliating’ marriage to design tycoon Sir Terence Conran  . And although Shirley Conran is, well, a bit dotty, she is still a force to be reckoned with.

Here endeth another rambling post.

“My idea of superwoman is someone who scrubs her own floors.”  ~Bette Midler

And just because I like it here is a shot of my favorite red shoes

22 responses to “Rediscovery

  1. ordinarygoodness

    Thanks for the Bicarb of soda tips. I will await your report re moss etc on concrete. I hope it works as I notice our path is turning green in places. Bicarb sounds much friendlier to living things than some of the nasties in other products.

    Loved the cookbook quotes. Sheeesh no wonder women still don’t have pay equity. There is plenty of work to be done to empower women.


  2. Great tips! I should give the drain one a try. TY! 🙂
    I have gifted three Blog Awards to You! Feel free to post them on your blog and share them.
    Have a Happy Summer! 🙂


    • Thanks you for the awards Elizabeth. It’s great to be recognized by your peers.
      By the way it’s winter here in NZ and summer is a long way off. We are coming to the shortest day of the year so it can only get better!


  3. Bicarb apparently cures cancer as well! Miraculous stuff.
    I’ll try the dog thing but my girl looks like a frightened loo-brush right now so I think she might need more than bicarb!
    I love the quotes – ‘women less gifted with brain power” LOL!
    Oh. cornflour kills mildew – there’s my tip for the day.


  4. Excellent insecticide. Roaches eat it, get gas which they cannot pass and explode. Other roaches eat the remains and the same happens. Excellent whitener for teeth as paste and as oxygenater promotes healing of moderately diseased gums.


  5. Your cookbook reminded me of one that belonged to my husband’s grandmother, that is now in my possession. It was published in 1912. Thanks for the reminder, it will make a great blog post. Unfortunately, the first few pages of wisdom are torn, parts missing.


    • I inherited several old books but in the many moves few of them have survived.
      I think Mrs Beeton’s is a classic and one day will get around to having it mended.


  6. I use baking soda to clean the coffee pot. I love finding old books like the one you have. I bet there are many gems in that nifty book.


    • I just keep finding new uses for bicarb. Thanks.
      And the book is a real gem. So many ‘handy hints’ for the ‘lady of the house’. Will have to use some in a future post or posts.


  7. Your little dog is so adorable!
    Good luck with getting rid of your moss and algae and it’s always interesting to hear how many uses can be found for simple household items!
    As for the quote that stated, that women were not as intelligent…I am so glad that that thought process is no longer the norm!


  8. Hurrah! Confirmation at last that I truly am a superwoman…because I scrub my own floors? I guess that’s good, right?


    • During my long life I have met several superwomen. When I first arrived here in NZ I was surprised at all the things women did – clean house, wash, iron, cook, bake, look after children, a few worked full or part time, etc etc. I had a couple of friends who really liked to come to my house on the days that the housekeeper was there, They just liked to hear somebody else doing the chores while we drank coffee.
      So welcome to the ranks of superwomen – I don’t suppose I will ever achieve the honour.


  9. I expect the 1894 cookery book was written by someone (Mrs Beeton herself?) who pronounced house ‘hyce’… 😉

    I use bicarbonate of soda to clean tea cups (or rather, mugs). The best way to do it is to put about half a teaspoon of the powder in a dry cup, wet a finger and just rub the bicarb around the stains. Then rinse and wash as normal. Don’t forget to rinse your finger too!

    I dunno about mixing bicarb and vinegar…. scroll down this page and read what it says about ‘The easy way to inflate a balloon – without blowing’ and why it does it!


    • I have used this method to clear a sluggish drain so it does work. But thanks for the tip on the balloon. I can never inflate them – don’t have enough breath..


  10. Pingback: Lowney’s Cook Book 1912 | A New Day Dawns

  11. I don’t have a Mrs. Beeton’s in my cookbook collection…

    I’ve used the baking soda trick on drains too…didn’t know about the killing moss and algae thing…



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