that I ever thought I'd post here would be household cleaning advice. But this really works, and it's so much environmentally friendlier than standard detergents. This works well (no, I'm serious, it does) to clean countertops, stainless steel sinks, bathtubs, laminate tables, etc. I wouldn't use it on wood, because of the abrasive nature of baking soda.
It says on the baking soda box that it can be used for cleaning, but I never quite figured out how until now. Here's some very specific instructions—I'm still refining the process, but this is working pretty well.
Pour a large box of baking soda into a watertight plastic container, and include a small spoon in there, too. It's much easier to sprinkle the baking soda that way than from the box. Fill an empty spray bottle (I got mine at Target) with cheap vinegar (4 parts) bottled lemon juice (1 part), and a tablespoon or two of orange oil or peppermint oil (for scent).
Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda (less than you might think) on the surface to prepare it. Spray a small section with the vinegar solution (watch the fizzing from the chemical reaction—and if someone knows the exact chemistry of that reaction, please post it in the comments; I'm very curious and I don't remember enough basic Chem to get that right), and scrub with a sponge. Rinse the sponge (you can scrub the sink while you're at it) and repeat the spray and scrub. The hardest part is getting rid of the residue of baking soda when you're done. Remember that the vinegar works better than water to get rid of it, so I've taking to spraying some on a paper towel right at the end of the process to clean it up. Of course, if there is a small residue left over, it's just baking soda...no big deal.
Just be sure to keep water out of your baking soda container so it doesn't clump.
We've been trying to keep our household greener, and this is a very easy way. Cheaper than most cleaners, too!
Okay, there. I've done it. I've given cleaning advice. I am now officially, thoroughly domesticated.
UPDATE: First of all, thanks to the commenter for explaining the chemical reaction. Second, ummmm, don't use this on a stove. If you get all the residual baking soda off, it's probably okay, but I thought I had, and then when I used the stove, the stuff I missed turned all yellow and crusty. So, good for counters, bad for stoves.