Home and Garden Uses for Ammonia

Clever ways to use ammonia in the kitchen, garden and all around the house.

from Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things

Eliminate paint odors 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 odor 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.

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 quart (1 liter) 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.

Clean gold and silver jewelry Brighten up your gold and silver trinkets by soaking them for 10 minutes in a solution of 1/2 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 jewelry containing pearls, because it could dull or damage their delicate surface.

Remove tarnish from brass or silver How can you put that sunny shine back in your tarnished 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.

Remove grease and soap scum To get rid of those ugly grease and soap-scum buildups in your porcelain enamel sink or tub, scrub it with a solution of 1 tablespoon ammonia in 1 gallon (3.7 liters) hot water. Rinse thoroughly when done.

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.

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 percent 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.

Clean carpets and upholstery Lift out stains from carpeting and upholstery by sponging them with 1 cup clear ammonia in 1/2 gallon (2 liters) warm water. Let dry thoroughly, and repeat if needed.

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.

Strip wax from resilient flooring Wax buildup 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 1/2 gallon (2 liters) 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.

Clean bathroom tiles Make bathroom tiles sparkle again — and kill mildew on them — by sponging them with 1/4 cup ammonia in 1 gallon (3.7 liters) water.