4 Surprising Uses for Detergent

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When it's time to do a load of laundry, reaching for the laundry detergent is automatic. But that big jug of liquid detergent or powdered detergent doesn't have to stop at making your clothing smell fresh and clean — applications of detergent can be useful in many areas of the home.

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Using laundry detergent to clean more than just laundry can not only minimize the number of cleaning products you have to keep up with, but can also reduce the expense and the need to purchase multiple types of cleaners.

1. All-Purpose Cleaner

You can use either liquid or powder detergent to make your own all-purpose cleaner to spray down countertops and tile, mop the floors, scrub the toilets, clean the bathtub, and more.

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Add 1/4 cup of laundry detergent to 5 gallons of hot water in a bucket and stir to mix. Use a funnel to fill a spray bottle with the solution and shake well. Now you're ready to test out your all-purpose cleaner. For a stronger cleaner with disinfectant action, Taste of Home suggests mixing 1 teaspoon of powdered laundry detergent and 1/3 cup bleach into 1 gallon of water. After cleaning, let the area air-dry.

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2. Carpet Stain Buster

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Carpets get stained; that's an unfortunate reality. Laundry detergent has you covered, though, as it can be used to remove carpet stains.

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Mix some baking soda with powdered detergent (the proportions don't matter much), sprinkle this over the carpet stain, and let it sit for several minutes. Then, vacuum the powders away and the stain should also disappear.

If the stain isn't easy or straightforward to remove, fill a spray bottle with water, add 2 tablespoons of liquid detergent and 2 to 3 tablespoons of borax and spray directly onto the stain. Let it sit for a while and then use a towel or rag to scrub the area and remove the stain. Let the area air-dry.

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3. Oil Spill Remover

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Occasionally a car may leak oil and stain the garage floor or driveway. Reach for the powdered detergent and sprinkle it over the oil spill so it's entirely covered. Lightly add water to form a paste. Let sit for a while so the detergent can absorb the oil and then scrub the paste to remove any remnants of the oil stain and rinse thoroughly.

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4. Kitchen and Bathroom Drain Unclogger

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If a drain is starting to clog and you don't have any drain-clearing products on hand or you prefer to avoid the use of harsher chemicals, reach for the laundry detergent. Pour 1/4 cup of liquid detergent down the drain, let it stand for several minutes, and follow up with a potful of boiling water. This should break up the blockage and flush out the pipes.

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