Solutions & Substitutions by Reena: Wonders of Washing Soda


By Reena Nerbas

Potato Chips

Dear Reena,

I was given several boxes of potato chips from my ex-husband. Other than stuffing my face with them or giving them to friends. What can I use them for and do they ever expire? Do they last longer if you freeze them? Why are potato chip bags only three quarter full (if that)? Sincerely, Ellen

Dear Ellen,

Store chips in a cool, dry place; they do have an expiration date which is printed on each bag. Stores are not allowed to shelve chips after the expiration date. Consumed slightly after this date, they are normally safe however, after a while they will taste stale. If you open a bag and smell a rancid odor, the oil in the chips has gone bad. The chips will then smell and taste (in my opinion) like feet. Unopened potato chips can be stored in the freezer for up to one year. Thaw in the fridge.

Because potato chips are fragile, other than eating them, there isn’t much use for them. They work well for breading meats such as; pork, chicken and salmon. Or sprinkle crushed potato chips over a casserole to give it a crunchy texture.

Potato chips are not individually counted; they are weighed using a computerized system before bagging. The reason why bags are only partially full is because a certain amount of air must be in each package to prevent breakage during shipping.

Extra Tip: If you ever have the desire to make your own homemade chips. Use Idaho Russet potatoes and either peanut or canola oil. The easiest way to slice potatoes evenly is either with: A meat slicer, food processor, cheese grater or a vegetable peeler.

Washing Soda

Hi Reena,

I bought and used washing soda recently because of its mention in your column. I used it to whiten my white cotton t-shirts and shirts, and found it amazing! I love having crisp white cotton t-shirts in both my summer and winter wardrobes, but so often they take on a grey tinge and become yellowish under the arms. I have tried everything; soaking in detergent, washing with a bit of bleach, hanging to dry in direct sunshine, etc. nothing was a real solution, and I often discarded perfectly good clothing because it looked so dingy.

Washing soda is remarkably cheap, too! I soaked my whites in a solution overnight, washed them on a “whites” cycle with a small amount of bleach, and then hung them up to dry, to my delight, they actually sparkled.  Now I soak many things my white cotton pillowcases, my cream tablecloth (with various stains attached), my light colored tea towels, etc. At present, I just soak items in a solution of washing soda (as directed on the top of the box), lightly wring them out and wash them in my HE washing machine. The box recommends adding washing soda to the wash too, but I haven’t done this because there are no HE washing machine instructions/amounts given. Can I add washing soda to my HE washer without problems? How much should I use? I’d love to do this to boost the overall cleaning of my laundry. Keep up the excellent work, glad there is a website to look at, too. Regards, Marilyn
Dear Marilyn,

I too have been impressed with washing soda over the years and I normally add about one quarter cup to my front loading washing machine loads. I have not had any problems with my machine, because the washing soda actually cleans clothes and the washing machine hoses at the same time. Washing soda is sometimes hard to find, and in those cases either borax or baking soda make adequate substitutes. If I have a very bad stain, I normally make a paste of washing soda and water and apply it to the stain. Wait 15 minutes and wash as normal. Repeat if necessary.

Homemade Shower Spray

Dear Reena,

My husband uses Tilex shower spray (the spray and walk away kind) by the gallon in his bathroom shower. There was a homemade spray recipe we had cut out of the newspaper and promptly lost and can’t find again. Can you help? Thanks, Edna

Dear Edna,

In a spray bottle combine: One half cup liquid laundry detergent, half cup vinegar and 3 cups of water. No need to rinse or dry.

Fabulous Tips of the Week:

Whenever I feel a cold coming on, I eat two cloves of garlic and my cold immediately goes away. Submitted by: Anonymous

When my kids were young and had itchy, scratchy sore throats I gave them a marshmallow to chew on. It coated their throat and helped the pain. Of course I would not give marshmallows to kids under four years old, because of choking hazards. Submitted by: Clare

Note: Every user assumes all risks of injury or damage resulting from the implementation of any suggestions in this column. Test all products on an inconspicuous area first.

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