You can forget the steel brushes, rolled up sleeves, dirty clothes, elbow grease and toxic solvents you think you need to clean black mildew off outdoor furniture and old grime off cooking grills. Our great-grandmothers knew the right stuff for this sort of heavy-duty cleaning job, and it is non-toxic, easy and cheap.
The answer is washing soda!
I first learned about the wonders of washing soda when I needed to peel wax off a floor. I’d read that this mineral was the basis of old folk formulas for tough cleaning jobs, so I decided to give it a try. Wow, did it do the job! I used a thick, damp paste, let it set for 3-4 hours, and it peeled the wax right off. I’ve been sold on the product for heavy-duty cleaning jobs ever since.
Washing soda (sodium carbonate) is also known as soda ash, and it can be found in the laundry section at the supermarket. It has many uses besides being a laundry booster, and it also neutralizes and eliminates odors.
Here are some fabulous old-fashioned (and not so old-fashioned) formulas for cleaning outdoor furniture and grills.
Plastic Lawn Furniture Cleaner
1/2 cup washing soda
1 gallon hot water
Dissolve the washing soda in a bucket of hot water. Wearing gloves and using a sponge, slather the water onto the furniture, and let it set for 10 minutes or so before rinsing. For stubborn stains, redo and leave the water on the plastic for an extra 10 minutes before rinsing thoroughly.
Mildew and Mold Cushion Cleaner
Tea tree oil is an essential oil that is a broad spectrum fungicide. It is available in health food stores.
2 teaspoons tea tree oil
2 cups water
Combine the ingredients in a spray bottle. Spot test on cushions to make sure there is no discoloration. Spray on the cushions. Don’t rinse. In a few days, both the strong smell of the tea tree oil and the mold will dissipate.
Assuming you can rinse your cushions, after you have killed the mold and mildew, spot clean cushions using the Plastic Lawn Furniture Cleaner, above. Rinse.
Note: Spot test the washing soda mixture on wood furniture first. It is a powerful cleanser, and you don’t want to peel off any existing wood finish.
1-2 cups washing soda
Enough hot water to cover the grills
In a pan big enough to hold the grill (the kitchen sink might also work), soak the grills overnight in the washing soda and water. In the morning, the grime on the grill will come off easily. Wash with soap and water, and rinse.