Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The AC is Sucking our Money

It's hot in here. To be precise, it's 85 degrees in my living room, and that's the coolest room in the house. In less polite terms, this would be referred to as "hotter than Satan's butt crack".

Did I mention that the humidity is through the roof? I can tell because I have an afro. I shouldn't complain, as the high water content in the air is probably the only thing keeping me from bursting into flame.

This sucks. I would put on the central AC, but it is broken AGAIN. The repair guy is coming, but not until Friday afternoon (when it's supposed to be only 67 degrees here).

Thank the Good Lord for my ceiling fans. We have one in each of the three bedrooms, and one here in the combined living room and kitchen (this is the one that will be switched out for the stronger one bought this weekend.

I'm going to use this opportunity to remind myself how much money I am saving when I don't use the air conditioner.

I've been distracting myself with research. Poking about in our records I see that the four ceiling fans we have use very little energy. The two bigger ones use only 82 Watts per hour (W/h), while the two smaller ones use 63 W/h. In contrast, the central air uses about 3500 W/h.

Did you know that fans only cool people and not rooms? It's true! I found it all over the inter webs! This means that I can shut off any fan in a room that's empty.

Here's some math about how much I'm spending to cool myself right now with the living room fan:

82 W/h = 0.082 kW/h
$0.06712/kWh x 0.082 kW/h = $0.0055/h

See that? That's a little over a half penny per hour.

If we ran all four ceiling fans at once (which would only happen if the four of us were in four different rooms) the math would look like this:

290 W/h = 0.290 kW/h
$0.06712/kWh x 0.290 kW/h = $0.0194648

Let's round up and call this 2 cents per hour.

Now let's look at how much it costs to run the AC:

3500 W/h = 3.5 kW/h
$0.06712/kWh x 3.5 kW/h = $0.23492

So, around this down to 23 cents per hour.

Hey, look! It's a ten-fold difference!
Let's look at the math for a whole day:

Four fans:

$0.019/h x 24 h = $0.456

That's less than 50 cents.


$0.23492/h x 24 h = $5.63808

Yeah. Over five and a half bucks. For one day. Hm.

This fiver looks different now, huh?

Now let's pretend that you did this for a month worth of days over the summer.

Four fans:
$0.456 x 31 = $14.136

Around 15 bucks.

$5.62808 x 31 = $174.47

OOOOhhh! So THAT'S why our energy bill explodes every summer! I get it now.

Does this mean that I won't be using my AC any more?

No. Not in the least. What it does mean is that I am only going to use it as a last resort. For example, when the temperature in the living room just climbed to 86 degrees. Oh, Lord.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Asking Can Save You Money

Remember yesterday when I saved us $113?
If you didn't see that one, here's the recap: Hubby and I wanted to change out our kitchen light. He wanted it done by an electrician (who quoted us $113 for the job). I convinced him that we could do it ourselves. We installed the new light, it looks lovely, and our house is still intact.

I suggested that we use some of our savings to buy a matching ceiling fan for the living room (our kitchen and living room are essentially one big room). Here's what we currently have:

The picture is a little blurry because I was too lazy to get up and turn the fan off for the photo. You get the idea, though. It's nice, but it's not very powerful at all, and it really doesn't go with the kitchen light we just put in.

Here's what the new kitchen light looks like from where I'm sitting right now. Can you tell how proud I am? Can you?

So, off we went to Lowes yesterday. I like Lowes. I can get a decent price there, and unlike Home Depot, they don't ignore me just because I have boobs.

In the lighting department, Hubby and I asked after a few different fans that we liked. Our favorite was a Hunter Regalia 60" fan in brushed nickel. Not only was it a nice fan, but the tag said it was on sale for only $79.98 (Down from $160).

Hey! Guess what! It was out of stock!

We asked about a few other acceptable options, and hey! Guess what! They were out of stock, too!

Our gruff salesman offered to call the other area Lowes and ask them to hold one of the Regalia for us. Here's the problem: at the other store it would cost us $127.20 (the sale price at the other store). Why the nearly 50-buck difference? I asked that. What I got was a slightly vague answer about inventory amounts.

I personally felt that if the tag was still hanging there, they should have found us one for $79.98. Gruff salesman disagreed. Gruffly.

Note: I imagine that this guy is probably pretty nice when not being hounded for something he doesn't have on a super busy holiday weekend. I don't hold this incident against him.

Today we bit the bullet and went to get the Regalia at the other store. On a whim, I asked again about the drastic price difference.

This turned out to be a great idea.

Awesome Lowes employees to the rescue! We had, not one, but THREE guys in Lowes vests helping us. The first was from another department. He not only helped us find TWO knowledgeable people from the lighting department, but he stayed until everything was resolved. The other two guys hopped on the computer and telephone to find the website price, and the price hanging in the other store. In the end these wonderful people walked my family and I up front to make sure we got the $79.98 price.

I love these people.

I love our new fan.

I'm also gonna love installing it ourselves. I can't wait to tell Hubby.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Let There Be Lighting Fixture

Our old kitchen table was small and sat in the middle of the kitchen. Now that I got us the bigger kitchen table, it sits over to the side along the window. The problem is that we are left with a hanging light fixture in the middle of the room that doesn't look like it belongs there.

(I am so sorry. The pic I took of the hanging lamp managed to get deleted. You're not missing much).

Husband has a superstition-like fear of working with anything electrical, so he asked an electrician to come and give an estimate on switching out the light fixture (among several other things). The electrician patiently explained that it is a simple job that he could quickly take care of, but that his company would charge us $113. Or I could do it myself.

Note, this is just the installation. I bought the light already at Lowes for $60.

Guess which one I chose. Just guess.

So I studied up. I read the instructions, watched YouTube videos, consulted knowledgeable friends, etc. It should be an easy matter of black wires to black, white to white, and ground to green.

This morning a friend watched our cubs for us, we turned off the power to the kitchen and got started. After I took down the old light I realized that the wires I had were not quite as described (I had white and red instead of the white and black I was told to expect). A quick call to my step-dad reassured me that all was okay. (By the way, my step-dad, Jeff, is awesome. In every way.)

The new light is in, the house isn't on fire, and neither husband nor I received any sort of electricity-related injuries.

Isn't it pretty? Here's another, even prettier shot of the light hovering warmly over my husband and youngest son.

My husband has declared that the hassle of working with me for the better part of an hour that it took me to figure out how to hang the darn thing is in no way worth the $113 we saved.

I think that the money we saved can be used to buy a matching ceiling fan for the living room.

No way am I paying for installation on that one, either.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Saving the Vacuum

Back in my Bride Days, I was thrilled and a little lost when it came to registering for gifts. Hubby and I had been living together for two years, so we had accumulated some of the things we would need for survival in the domestic wild. (Curiously enough, we only had one pot. I think that's because neither of us could really cook.)

I knew one thing I wanted for a certainty - a vacuum. We lived in a little, one-bedroom, Bronx apartment, with hardwood floors and a consistent layer of dust that perpetually settled over everything. I was tired of sweeping.

As a bridal shower present, my hubby's mom got me a Bissel Lift-Off. It's red. I love red. Even my sofa is red.

Vacuums are supposed to last 8-10 years. Everyone I have spoken to about this has wound up replacing theirs after around five years. Mine is seven years old, and has taken Very. Hard. Use. The poor thing has had to be fixed a couple of times.

The cheap part comes in here.
1) Fixing it is cheaper than replacing it.
2) Fixing it myself is cheaper than having someone else fix it.

Through the power of YouTube, I was able to replace a broken belt.
Through the power of an online forum on small appliance repair, I was able to find and tighten a loose wire.
Through the power of my father-in-law and his neighbor, a broken switch was replaced.

Total investment: about 5 bucks.

I'm also saving on filters by cleaning them out myself.

And the EXACT SAME FILTER after a wash in the tub and some time drying in the sun:

Investment: $0

Oh, and with the removal of a few screws, I can keep the brush clean, too.

And after:

The BEST part (other than saving a couple hundred bucks on a new vacuum) was this guy helping me. He even brought his own plastic screwdriver. The DIY force is strong with this one.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Take What You Pay For

My toddler and I went out to brunch with a friend this morning to celebrate finding daycare for next year. I ordered an egg white omelet, loaded with spinach and broccoli. She ordered a burger and fries.

At the end of the meal, I noticed something. I had two slices of dry, whole wheat toast left on my plate. She had two thick slices of tomato and a chunk of lettuce on hers. Instead of turning these into trash, I asked for a to-go box.

Realizing I have a couple of eggs in my fridge that need to be boiled today, I'm thinking egg salad sandwiches for lunch tomorrow!

Even if you don't feel like finishing everything on your plate, YOU PAID FOR IT. If you leave it, it's trash. If you take it, it's INGREDIENTS.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Doing Laundry on the Cheap

We do a lot of laundry here. A lot. Somehow the boys go through about 3 dozen outfits a day. Okay, that may be hyperbole, but so is our amount of laundry.

We have an HE front-load washer. HE stands for High Efficiency, meaning that the machine uses less water to do its job. The lower water level means we have to buy specific soap without the extra ingredients that encourage foaming (BTW, foaming isn't necessary for cleaning your clothes). For six years we have been using the All Free-and-Clear HE detergent. Even buying it at Walmart, this stuff gets pricey.

See what I mean? That's the big size, so there's enough detergent in there for 110 loads. At $12 for this bottle, that's about 11 cents per load (assuming that all loads use the minimum amount of soap. Given that my children are in love with mud, this is not likely.)

In my search for a home-made laundry detergent I found a ton of recipes, but all of them were basically the same. I chose to follow the exact steps I found on The Duggar Family's website.

As an aside, I watched their show maybe twice. I know that some folks have plenty of criticisms with their choice of reproductive frequency, but I simply don't care either way. Anyone who can have a bazillion kids and still be debt free can teach me their laundry detergent recipe any day.

Back to Walmart!

For those of you playing along at home, buying one of each of these three items cost me a total of $7.59 (not counting tax). According to the recipe, it makes enough detergent for 640 loads of laundry. This is about 1 cent per load. Yeah. Less than a tenth the cost of the All.

Hm...I wonder how long it takes to make. Let's try it.

First is the lovely task of grating the Fels-Naptha. Out comes my mandolin slicer with the nifty shredding bladey thing. (Technical term.)

To be clear, many of the recipes I looked at mentioned using equipment that you didn't plan on cooking with in the future "just in case". None said it was mandatory, or stated any specific danger. I chose not to. My reasoning is that it is soap - not plutonium. Have you noticed what we use to clean our dishes? Yeah. Soap. If having extra equipment makes you comfortable, go for it. I'm too cheap to.

Once I got started grating the soap, it took maybe five minutes (with frequent breaks for sipping my coffee. I started this project at 8:00 a.m.)

Almost immediately I realize that we have a problem. Fels-Naptha has a STRONG perfume to it. I happen to be allergic to most perfumes (which is why we went for the Free-and-Clear detergent originally). Okay. A little allergy medicine and I'm re-evaluating this. In the end I decided to continue. My logic is that this one bar of soap is ultimately going to be diluted into 10 gallons of laundry detergent, of which I will only be using 1/4 cup for an entire load of clothes. If my shirts and stuff smell strongly of perfume after being washed in this, I will be surprised.

For the record, next time I will be using a bar of unscented castile soap. It will be about $4 a bar instead of the $1 dollar for Fels-Naptha, but I doubt it will break the bank.

After the soap was grated, I had to stop taking pictures. This is because I had a toddler who was convinced that this was really shredded cheddar cheese, and that I had been holding out on him. There was no way for me to stir the pot with the soap, wrestle away an angry kid, AND hold a camera.

The total time commitment was way less than I thought it would be. Start to finish, this project took me a half hour. Grating the soap took five minutes, melting it in the water took 20, and mixing everything together in bucket took five. Not bad.

The five-gallon bucket is resting in the garage, and today I'm finishing up the last of the store-bought soap. By tomorrow I should be able to test this and give you a report.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

No More Cooking Spray

As I started trying to watch my intake of fats and oils, I took to using cooking spray. I now keep running out of cooking spray. When I decided to use my Google-Fu skills to find an alternative, I came across a lot of people making their own cooking spray using water and oil. Most advocated using distilled water. So, I looked up how to distill water. As I was wading through an increasingly complicated process, a friend recommended a Misto Olive Oil Sprayer.

Hey. I like olive oil as much as the next girl. Probably a little bit more.

So, off to the Bed Bath and Beyond. Ten bucks later I don't have to EVER BUY COOKING SPRAY AGAIN. Awesome.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Buy the Big Bottle

I'm not super crazy about bulk shopping. I have see those 'extreme coupon' people on TV who have about 30,000 rolls of paper towels and enough canned goods to feed the neighborhood for six years, and I have to shake my head. Sure. I'd love to be trapped at their house during the Zombie Apocalypse, but living like that? Nuh-uh.

That being said, we do have a membership to BJ's Wholesale Club. While I have no desire for a 20 lb jar of mustard, I have found it helpful to buy some things in bulk - like diapers, peanut butter, jelly, and especially olive oil.

The bottle on the left cost about $7. The bottle on the right cost about $21. We've refilled the bottle on the left from the bottle on the right about 5 times.

I love this. It means that I have good quality olive oil on hand for things like pizza, vapor rub,
and of course, experimental beauty treatments.

The only trick is to fill the bottle VERY SLOWLY. Otherwise, you are likely to have to grab some spray cleaner and a wash cloth to clean your table.

I love links.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Paper Towels Suck

Paper towels suck.

Hear me out. I can prove it to you.
A few months ago, spills and accidents had me going through paper towels at a rate of one roll about every two days. If you figure about $1.50 per roll, this would cost our family around $274 per year. Sounds stupid, right?
This doesn't even include freak events that could burn through several rolls of paper towels at once, such as the following:
- a dishwasher leak
- that time a bottle of soda shattered all over the kitchen
- that time a bottle of apple juice shattered all over the kitchen
- forgetting to empty the dehumidifier until it was WAY too late
- potty training *shudder*

Want to know a great substitute for paper towels?

I kid you not.

I got a pack of cheap wash cloths at Walmart forever ago (a dozen of them for a couple of bucks) to clean the white board and chalk board in my room. On maternity leave, I used them to clean up the kids and little meal-time messes. Now, I always have a wet one draped over the faucet of the sink to grab in the event of an emergency,

My collection has grown past wash cloths and I HAVEN'T HAD TO PURCHASE ANY OF IT.

Isn't my motley assortment pretty?

I have old towels and hand towels of ours, ones donated by family members, those cutesy seasonal dishtowels that people give me for some reason that I just can't fathom, and even old burp cloths from when the boys were babies.
A wet wash cloth and some spray cleaner cleans the table, stove, counters, etc. A dry wash cloth and the same spray cleaner takes care of windows, mirrors, and the TV. Dish towels or hand towels dry the dishes, the table, and the counter, then absorb small spills at meal time. Used bath towels already destined for the laundry are used to mop of the bigger messes, like when the toddler doesn't get that underwear WILL NOT WORK LIKE A DIAPER.
When I'm done, they all get tossed into whatever load(s) I'm washing the next day, because let's just agree that laundry is perpetual. It doesn't even matter if they get wrecked or bleached, so long as they still absorb fluid.

It's brilliant, easy, saves money, saves cart and trunk space on shopping days, and you probably have everything you need already on hand.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Saving the Sofa

My sofa is red microfiber. It's beautiful. It's comfortable. It's unique. It hides a lot of dirt. I mean a LOT. Unfortunately, it just can't hide everything. It's been looking pretty gross lately. There are obvious splashes from poorly closed sippy-cups, smears of chewed cookie, and ...stuff that I probably don't want to identify. Man. Kids are hard on furniture.

I have been contemplating what to do about this for a while. Mine is a "S" type microfiber, which means that you should use a solvent-based cleaner as opposed to water. The only problem is that the bottles of cleaner that I could find in the store are EXPENSIVE (about $7 for a small bottle) and I would obviously need at least 3 to clean my couch.
I had come across this blog post showing that you can clean a microfiber sofa with regular rubbing alcohol. Hm. This looks WAY cheaper! I'll try it!

Here's an embarrassing before picture of part of my couch:

It's a little hard to tell because the red color really does hide a lot, but compare it to this lovely after picture:

You can even compare the part I cleaned in this picture, with the part of the sofa arm that I didn't try yet.
The method was simple. Buy a bottle of rubbing alcohol ($1), put some in a cheap spray bottle ($1), spray on the sofa, and rub. I used a clean sponge that I had, and scrubbed gently at the stains with the rough side. After that I took a dry wash cloth and rubbed the fabric to fluff the fibers again.

Want to see something scary? These two sponges were the SAME COLOR when I started.
It was a little distressing that some of the red color appears to be coming off on the sponge, but I had spot tested on the back of the couch, so I tried not to panic. The results were great. The couch (the part of it that is done) looks lovely and none the worse for the rubbing alcohol.

Less than $2? It's cheaper than the expensive cleaners, way cheaper than a new sofa, and easier than keeping the kids at bay. Great idea!

(EDITED TO ADD: check if your sofa has an S in its cleaning code. Mine is a S, and a friend's is W/S. the S means this will likely work, but be sure to spot test somewhere hidden. I don't think this will work without the S. I like you people and don't want to risk your furniture).

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Saga of the Mower

Husband: "Guess what I am getting you for Mother's Day".
Me: "What?"
Him: "Um...a lawn mower".

This was Husband's way of telling me that our latest lawn mower is now our late lawn mower.

We have a very small lawn. I wouldn't call it grass, per se. More like manicured weeds. It doesn't take much to keep our yard lovely, but it does take a mower of some kind. Any kind, really. So long as it works. Which our most recent acquisition does not.

This brings us to my Mother's Day present. I'm not a candy-and-flowers sort of girl (though I do like those things). I actually get excited about stuff that I can buy at Lowes and work with in my garage (see how happy I got refinishing a table?).

As my present, I asked for a reel mower. Specifically, I asked for the Fiskars 18" Reel Lawn Mower that I had seen at Lowes. I like the idea of a push-reel mower. I like that we don't have to worry if it starts, or if we have gas for it, or if the kids are learning new swear words while listening to Husband try to get it running. You push; it goes. Simple. The only more eco-friendly, cost-effective option would be renting a sheep. (Don't think it didn't cross my mind.)

Off to Lowes to get it! The boys were thrilled, but mainly because they were in a cart that looked like a race car. I was thrilled because at $199, this new mower costs less the gas-powered ones, AND we won't have to buy fuel for it.

So I get home, excitedly crack open the instruction booklet, and start assembling my new toy!...er...mower!
Hey - would it surprise you to know that the handle is only kept on by two cotter pins? Yeah. Hold on to that little factoid. It'll be important later.

After a few minutes, it's fully assembled and ready to tackle our weed patch!...er...lawn! Husband and I took turns. I'll admit that it was a lot of work (especially when I tried to cut the particularly long grass on a particularly short setting), but once I got the hang of it, I had fun! It was good exercise, and was way less noisy and unpleasant than the gas mower. Also, I probably shouldn't have tried it while still battling bronchitis, but what are inhalers for, anyway?

Care to guess what problem we met with? Remember the cotter pins? Yeah, well one of them escaped during Husband's turn, detaching one side of the handle from the mower. Awesome. So we had a brand new, totally useless mower. This morning I returned to the hardware store with my remaining cotter pin, and a very nice Lowes employee helped me find it some friends.

A quick fix later, and the handle is once again firmly attached. (I'm still calling Fiskar's about this tomorrow. At the very least, I feel that they should know. Maybe they'll pack extra cotter pins in the box for an emergency?)

All in all, I am happy, the yard is neatly clipped, and we no longer have to buy gasoline at $4+ a gallon to feed the mower.

We just might have to buy a 68-cent pack of cotter pins every now and again.

I'm an idiot.

So, I was wondering why more and more people are looking at this blog, but no one had commented yet. It turns out that the default setting on here was that only people with a certain ID type could log in to comment. Whoops! This is the problem with being a blogging neophyte. I think I have fixed it.

You can comment now.

You know. If you want to.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Pizza Friday!

When my husband and I were first married, we always kept Date Friday as something special. After our first son, we instituted Pizza Friday as a family tradition. We ordered in a pizza once a week. When our second son was born, we started making pizza at home from those store-bought crusts. It was nice to still have Pizza Friday as a special family meal, but it was a shame that the pizza sucked. I found a solution that is even better - HOME MADE PIZZA. From HOME MADE DOUGH. Really. The dough recipe is this one, from epicurious.com for basic pizza dough.
Husband likes a thick crust pizza, so I actually up the recipe to three cups of flour and a full cup of water. I have left the amounts of yeast and salt the same and haven't had a problem so far.
I feed my yeast with a little black strap molasses. It makes them happy, it makes me happy, and it looks cool in a measuring cup.
Once the dough combines to this point I can leave my mixer to knead it on low for about 10 minutes, or as long as it takes me to undo whatever damage the kids did to the living room or each other in the last few minutes.
Once it's a nice, springy dough, I can either fridge it over night and make it tomorrow, deep freeze it until the morning of pizza night, or just put it in a bowl to rise 1.5 hours before dinner. (I have been awful about planning ahead, so lately it's been the last option).
A whole pizza takes us three cups of flour, a tsp of salt, a tsp of yeast, a tsp of sugar/molasses, half a jar of sauce, half a packet of cheese, and a little bit of olive oil. In other words, less than five bucks. Compare this to a pizza from the pizzeria that costs about 15 bucks.
In a side note, we recently had pizzeria pizza for the first time in a long time. It totally sucked compared to this. True story.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Homemade Vapor Rub

So I was cruising along with about one blog post per day, mixing my business and planning to make my own laundry soap, when WHAMMO! Sick. It started with my preschooler (because apparently every preschooler comes with a free subscription to the germ of the month club), then spread to the toddler. Only after I had the two of them out to the doc and on antibiotics for respiratory infections did it occur to me that I couldn't breathe. The nice man at urgent care informed me that I have bronchitis. Between hacks, I decided to make a little home made vapor rub. Here's what is going in it.
For the base I am using a basic recipe for homemade vaseline of about 1/2 cup of oil to 1/8 cup (2 Tbsp) of beeswax melted in a pot over low heat on the stove (variants of this are all over the interwebz. I chose at random).
The olive oil is from my pantry and the beeswax is from a local natural foods store and cost me about $4 for a half cup (about $1 for the 1/8 needed for this recipe). To make that awesome vapor-y smell, I used some essential oils from a box of such things I keep in the basement. I was inspired by this recipe at Crunch Betty and REALLY believed that I had all of those oils. Sadly, my peppermint had leaked and was empty. I did find a bottle I had made of a peppermint/lavender blend, and used that instead. The totals came somewhere to 3 tsp of the blend (1.5 tsp mint, 1.5 tsp lavender), 2 tsp eucalyptus, and 1 tsp rosemary.
The whole thing yielded two little jelly jars of vapor rub - one for the family, and one for the neighbors who gave me the jars.I'm not sold on the final fragrance. I think I might have to put the jar in some hot water, melt the contents, then stir in some peppermint when I find it. Either way, it was cheaper and easier than running out to the store with bronchitis and two sick kids.
By the way, with this much beeswax, the mixture is actually solid at room temperature, but melts easily with the heat of your hands. It's less the consistency of vaseline, and more of one of those balms in a tin (like from Burt's Bees). I'm going to have to experiment more before I'm truly happy.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Vinegar and Baking Soda for Cleaning?

I love vinegar and baking soda. I love putting them together and watching them fizz up. I do it at least once a year just for fun, but this could be because I am a science teacher and the combo makes a wonderful illustration for my lesson on acid/base interactions. Recently I was told that I could use the combo to CLEAN MY BATHROOM. Wait, a cheap and effective way to clean my bathroom, AND it's fizzy and fun to watch?! Yes, please!
I bought a 97 cent spray bottle and filled it with white vinegar, then got a box of baking soda and poked some holes in the top. I thought about finding a nifty shaker for it, but apart from being cheap, I am also prone to laziness. I took my two-dollar investment up to the bathroom sink, which at the time looked like this.
It's not a very clear picture, I know. What you should be seeing is white toothpaste and soap residue, and some yellow olive oil from the anti-frizz experiment (see previous post). Using my high-tech sprinkle-box, I shook some baking soda all over the sink, sprayed it down with the vinegar, then excitedly clapped my hands like a little girl while watching it get all fizzy. After a few minutes, I wiped it down, leaving this:
Again, another not-so-great photo, but I can assure you that the sink was much shinier and I could pretend that I had never let it get so dirty in the first place. Yay, plausible deniability! And I didn't have to wrestle the toddler out of the bathroom while I cleaned! At first the baking soda did leave a white residue, but I rinsed more carefully, and it was gone. I also later tried this on the tub (also resin, like the sink) and it cleaned very well. The only drawback was that the chrome looked really spotted after. If anyone has a trick for this, let me know and I'll test it!