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20 clever uses for ammonia you’ll wish you knew sooner

Reader’s Digest Asia logo Reader’s Digest Asia 18/3/2019 Reader’s Digest editors

Powerful cleaning product

Powerful cleaning product © Getty Images Powerful cleaning product

Ammonia often plays second fiddle to bleach, but it’s one of the most powerful cleaning products in your arsenal. Here are 20 smart ways to use ammonia all around the house.

Use ammonia to clean your electric oven

a close up of a machine: Use ammonia to clean your electric oven © Getty Images Use ammonia to clean your electric oven

Here’s a practically effortless way to clean an electric oven: First, turn the oven on, let it warm to 65°C and then turn it off. Place a small oven-safe bowl containing ½-cup ammonia on the top shelf and a large pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf. Close the oven door, and let it sit overnight. The next morning, remove the dish and pan, and let the oven air out a while. Then, wipe it clean using the ammonia and a few drops of dishwashing liquid diluted in a quart of warm water. Even old baked-on grease should wipe right off!

WARNING: Do not use this cleaning method with a gas oven unless the pilot lights are out and the main gas lines are shut off.

Always take caution using ammonia! Never mix ammonia with bleach or any product containing chlorine. The combination produces toxic fumes that can be deadly. Work in a well-ventilated space and avoid inhaling the vapours. Wear rubber gloves and avoid getting ammonia on your skin or in your eyes. Always store ammonia out of the reach of children.

Use ammonia to remove soap and grease scum

a white sink sitting under a mirror next to a window: Use ammonia to remove soap and grease scum © Getty Images Use ammonia to remove soap and grease scum

To get rid of those unsightly soap and grease scum build-ups in your porcelain enamel bath and sink, scrub them with a solution of one tablespoon ammonia in 3.7 litres hot water. Rinse thoroughly when done. Find out more about the best ways to clean the most popular room in the house.

Use ammonia to clean bathroom tiles

a glass shower door: Use ammonia to clean bathroom tiles © Getty Images Use ammonia to clean bathroom tiles

Make bathroom tiles sparkle again – and kill mildew while you’re at it – by sponging tiled floors, splashbacks and shower enclosures with ¼-cup ammonia in 3.7 litres water.

Use ammonia to repel moths

a broken tree: Use ammonia to repel moths © Getty Images Use ammonia to repel moths

Pesky kitchen moths seem to come out of nowhere! Send them back to wherever they came from by washing your cupboards, drawers, and pantry shelves, with ½-cup ammonia diluted in 1 litre of water. Leave drawers and cabinet doors open to thoroughly air-dry. Head here for the best kitchen and dining room cleaning hacks.

Use ammonia to make crystal sparkle

a row of wine glasses sitting on a table: Use ammonia to make crystal sparkle © Getty Images Use ammonia to make crystal sparkle

Has the sparkle gone out of your good crystal? Bring back its lost lustre by mixing several drops of ammonia in 2 cups of water and applying with a soft cloth or brush. Rinse it off with clean water, then dry with a soft, dry cloth.

Use ammonia to clean oven racks

Use ammonia to clean oven racks © Getty Images Use ammonia to clean oven racks

Get the cooked-on grime off your oven racks by laying them out on an old towel in a large washtub. You can also use your bathtub, though you might need to clean it afterward. Fill the tub with warm water and add ½-cup ammonia. Let the racks soak for at least 15 minutes, then remove, rinse off, and wipe clean. Check out the ultimate 10 step whole-house cleaning plan here.

Use ammonia to eliminate paint odours

Use ammonia to eliminate paint odours © Getty Images Use ammonia to eliminate paint odours

Your freshly painted home interior sure looks great, but that paint smell is driving you up the wall! There’s no need to prolong your suffering, though. Absorb the odour by placing small dishes of ammonia in each room that’s been painted. If the smell persists after several days, replenish the dishes. Vinegar or onion slices will also work. Head here for more on how to banish bad smells from your home.

Use ammonia to clean fireplace doors

a fire place sitting in a living room with a fireplace: Use ammonia to clean fireplace doors © Getty Images Use ammonia to clean fireplace doors

Think you’ll need a blowtorch to remove that blackened-on soot from your glass fireplace doors? Before you get out the goggles, try mixing 1 tablespoon ammonia, 2 tablespoons vinegar, and 1 litre of warm water in a spray bottle. Spray on some of the solution; let it sit for several seconds, then wipe off with an absorbent cloth. Repeat if necessary – it’s worth the extra effort. FInd out 16 clever house cleaning hacks the professionals use.

Use ammonia to clean gold and silver jewellery

Use ammonia to clean gold and silver jewellery © Getty Images Use ammonia to clean gold and silver jewellery

Brighten up your gold and silver trinkets by soaking them for 10 minutes in a solution of ½-cup clear ammonia mixed in 1 cup warm water. Gently wipe clean with a soft cloth and let dry. Note: Do not do this with jewellery containing pearls, because it could dull or damage their delicate surface.

Use ammonia to remove tarnish from brass or silver

a close up of a music instrument: Use ammonia to remove tarnish from brass or silver © Getty Images Use ammonia to remove tarnish from brass or silver

How can you put that sunny shine back in your varnished silver or lacquered brass? Gently scrub it with a soft brush dipped in a bit of ammonia. Wipe off any remaining liquid with a soft cloth – or preferably chamois.

Use ammonia to restore white shoes

a drawing of a person: Use ammonia to restore white shoes © Getty Images Use ammonia to restore white shoes

Brighten up your dingy white shoes or tennis sneakers by rubbing them with a cloth dipped in half-strength ammonia – that is, a solution made of half ammonia and half water.

Use ammonia to remove stains from clothing

a man sitting at a table with a plate of food: Use ammonia to remove stains from clothing © Getty Images Use ammonia to remove stains from clothing

Ammonia is great for cleaning clothes. Here are some ways you can use it to remove a variety of stains. Be sure to dilute ammonia with at least 50 per cent water before applying it to silk, wool, or spandex.

Rub out perspiration, blood, and urine stains on clothing by dabbing the area with a half-strength solution of ammonia and water before laundering.

Remove most non-oily stains by making a mixture of equal parts ammonia, water, and dishwashing liquid. Put it in an empty spray bottle, shake well, and apply directly to the stain. Let it set for two or three minutes, and then rinse out.

To erase pencil marks from clothing, use a few drops of undiluted ammonia and then rinse. If that doesn’t work, put a little laundry detergent on the stain and rinse again.

You can even remove washed-in paint stains from clothes by saturating them several times with a half-ammonia, half-turpentine solution and then tossing them into the wash.

Use ammonia to clean carpets and upholstery

a close up of a yellow wall: Use ammonia to clean carpets and upholstery © Getty Images Use ammonia to clean carpets and upholstery

Lift out stains from carpeting and upholstery by sponging them with 1 cup clear ammonia in 2 litres warm water. Let dry thoroughly, and repeat if needed. Find out 14 cleaning hacks every cat or dog owner should know.

Use ammonia to brighten up windows

a person sitting in front of a window: Use ammonia to brighten up windows © Getty Images Use ammonia to brighten up windows

Dirty, grimy windows can make any house look dingy. But it’s easy to wipe away the dirt, fingerprints, soot and dust covering your windows. Just wipe them down with a soft cloth dampened with a solution of 1 cup clear ammonia in 3 cups water. Your windows will not only be crystal-clear, but streak-free to boot.

Use ammonia to strip wax from resilient flooring

Use ammonia to strip wax from resilient flooring © Getty Images Use ammonia to strip wax from resilient flooring

Wax build-up on resilient flooring causes it to yellow in time. Remove old wax layers and freshen up your floor by washing it with a mixture of 1 cup ammonia in 2 litres water. Let the solution sit for three to five minutes, then scrub with a nylon or plastic scouring pad to remove the old wax. Wipe away leftover residue with a clean cloth or sponge, then give the floor a thorough rinsing.

Use ammonia as plant food

a close up of a flower: Use ammonia as plant food © Getty Images Use ammonia as plant food

Give the alkaline-loving flowering plants and vegetables in your garden – such as clematis, lilac, hydrangea, and cucumbers – an occasional special treat with a shower of ¼-cup ammonia diluted in 3.7 litres water. They’ll especially appreciate the boost in nitrogen. Head here to find other surprising fertilisers for your garden.

Use ammonia to stop mosquito bites from itching

a close up of an animal: Use ammonia to stop mosquito bites from itching © Getty Images Use ammonia to stop mosquito bites from itching

If you forget to put on your insect repellent and mosquitoes make a meal of you, stop the itching instantly by applying a drop or two of ammonia directly to the bites. Don’t use ammonia on a bite you’ve already scratched open, though: the itch will be replaced by a nasty sting. Want to prevent those bites in the first place?

Use ammonia to keep animals out of your bin

a close up of a cat: Use ammonia to keep stray animals out of your trash © Getty Images Use ammonia to keep stray animals out of your trash

Few things can be quite as startling as an animal leaping out of your garbage bin just as you’re about to make your weekly rubbish deposit. Keep away strays by spraying the outside and lids of your garbage bins with half-strength ammonia or by spraying the bags inside.

Use ammonia to remove stains from concrete

a dirt road: Use ammonia to remove stains from concrete © Getty Images Use ammonia to remove stains from concrete

Tired of those annoying discolourations on your concrete work? To get rid of them, scrub with 1 cup ammonia diluted in 3.7 litres water. Hose it down well when you’re done.

Use ammonia to fight mildew

a close up of a window: Use ammonia to clean fireplace doors © Getty Images Use ammonia to clean fireplace doors

Ammonia and bleach are equally effective weapons in the battle against mould and mildew. However, each has its own distinct applications and under no conditions should the two ever be combined. Reach for the ammonia for the following chores, but be sure you use it in a well-ventilated area, and don’t forget to wear rubber gloves:

Clean the mildew off unfinished wooden patio furniture and picnic tables with a mixture of 1 cup ammonia, ½-cup vinegar, ¼-cup baking soda, and 3.7 litres water. Rinse off thoroughly and use an old terrycloth towel to absorb excess moisture.

To remove mildew from painted outdoor surfaces, use the same combination of ingredients.

To remove mildew from wicker furniture, wash it down with a solution of 2 tablespoons ammonia in 3.7 litres water. Use an old toothbrush to get into that hard-to-reach twists and turns. Rinse well and let air-dry.

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Source: RD Canada

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