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20 Clever Uses for Ammonia You’ll Wish You Knew Sooner

Ammonia often plays second fiddle to bleach, but it's one of the most powerful cleaning products in your arsenal. Here are 20 smart ways to use ammonia all around the house.

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A less consequential, but still undeniable truth of coronavirus: the world is scrubbing like it’s never scrubbed before. In our rampant scrubbing, you mind has probably wandered into territory you might’ve prior thought trivial—the intricacies of ammonia being one of them. You’re not a crime scene cleaner! Ammonia is a colorless, pungent gas. It is easily soluble in water, however, and the liquid ammonia products sold today contain the gas dissolved in water. While you probably either recently stocked up on ammonia or started cleaning with it more than usual, ammonia is actually one of the oldest cleaning compounds currently in use. It actually dates back to ancient Egypt. In fact, the word ammonia is derived from the Egyptian deity Ammon, whose temple in what is now Libya is credited with producing the earliest form of ammonia, sal ammoniac, by burning camel dung! But makes sure you don’t use it around your dog—it’s one of the cleaning products that can be harmful to them.

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Use ammonia to clean your electric oven

Here’s a practically effortless way to clean an electric oven: First, turn the oven on, let it warm to 150° F (65°C), and then turn it off. Place a small oven-safe bowl containing ½-cup ammonia on the top shelf and a large pan of boiling water on the bottom shelf. Close the oven door, and let it sit overnight. The next morning, remove the dish and pan, and let the oven air out a while. Then, wipe it clean using the ammonia and a few drops of dishwashing liquid diluted in a quart of warm water. Even old baked-on grease should wipe right off!

WARNING: Do not use this cleaning method with a gas oven unless the pilot lights are out and the main gas lines are shut off.

Always take caution using ammonia! Never mix ammonia with bleach or any product containing chlorine. The combination produces toxic fumes that can be deadly. Work in a well-ventilated space and avoid inhaling the vapors. Wear rubber gloves and avoid getting ammonia on your skin or in your eyes. Always store ammonia out of the reach of children. Here are other cleaning products you should never mix.

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Use ammonia to remove soap and grease scum

To get rid of those unsightly soap and grease scum buildups in your porcelain enamel tub and sink, scrub them with a solution of one tablespoon ammonia in one gallon of hot water. Rinse thoroughly when done. Don’t miss these ways you’re cleaning your bathroom wrong

Tiled bathroom wall with towel on one hook and facecloth on another.Rene Jansa/Shutterstock

Use ammonia to clean bathroom tiles

Make bathroom tiles sparkle again—and kill mildew while you’re at it—by sponging tiled floors, backsplashes and shower enclosures with ¼-cup ammonia in 1 gallon (3.7 liters) water. Don’t miss these other homemade cleaning products that really work.

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Use ammonia to repel moths

Pesky kitchen moths seem to come out of nowhere! Send them back to wherever they came from by washing your cupboards, drawers, and pantry shelves, with ½-cup ammonia diluted in 1 quart (1 liter) water. Leave drawers and cabinet doors open to thoroughly air-dry. Check out 10 more disgusting house bugs—and how to get rid of them.

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Use ammonia to make crystal sparkle

Has the sparkle gone out of your good crystal? Bring back its lost luster by mixing several drops of ammonia in 2 cups of water and applying with a soft cloth or brush. Rinse it off with clean water, then dry with a soft, dry cloth. Next, discover 45 brilliant new uses for aluminum foil.

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Use ammonia to clean oven racks

Get the cooked-on grime off your oven racks by laying them out on an old towel in a large washtub. You can also use your bathtub, though you might need to clean it afterward. Fill the tub with warm water and add ½-cup ammonia. Let the racks soak for at least 15 minutes, then remove, rinse off, and wipe clean. Learn how to clean your oven hood too.

Paints with supplies near wall in roomPixel-Shot/Shutterstock

Use ammonia to 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. Don’t miss these other brilliant household uses for vinegar.

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Use ammonia to 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.

Jewelry box with white gold and silver rings. Collection of luxury jewelryIMG Stock Studio/Shutterstock
Use ammonia to clean gold and silver jewelry

Brighten up your gold and silver trinkets by soaking them for 10 minutes in a solution of ½-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. Don’t miss these other tricks for cleaning jewelry at home.

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Use ammonia to remove tarnish from brass or silver

How can you put that sunny shine back in your varnished 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. Once you’ve got these tricks down, try these brilliant new uses for baking soda!

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Use ammonia to 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. Here’s how to clean every type of shoe.

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Use ammonia to 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. You’ll also want to know these other weird things that remove stains from clothing.

  • 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.

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Use ammonia to clean carpets and upholstery

Lift out stains from carpeting and upholstery by sponging them with 1 cup clear ammonia in ½-gallon (2 liters) warm water. Let dry thoroughly, and repeat if needed. Try these other homemade carpet cleaners too.

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Use ammonia to 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. Be wary of these 16 cleaning tricks that don’t actually work.

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Use ammonia to 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 ½-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.

Closeup of blue hydrangea (Hydrangea macrophylla) in a garden.Debu55y/Shutterstock

Use ammonia as plant food

Give the alkaline-loving flowering plants and vegetables in your garden—such as clematis, lilac, hydrangea, and cucumbers—an occasional special treat with a shower of ¼-cup ammonia diluted in 1 gallon (3.7 liters) water. They’ll especially appreciate the boost in nitrogen. Find out more ways to make flowers last longer.

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Use ammonia to stop mosquito bites from itching

If you forget to put on your insect repellent and mosquitoes make a meal of you, stop the itching instantly by applying a drop or two of ammonia directly to the bites. Don’t use ammonia on a bite you’ve already scratched open, though: the itch will be replaced by a nasty sting. Brush up on your mosquito-repelling tricks to avoid this stage all together.

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Use ammonia to keep stray animals out of your trash

Few things can be quite as startling as a raccoon leaping out of your garbage pail just as you’re about to make your weekly trash deposit. Keep away those masked scavengers and other strays by spraying the outside and lids of your garbage bins with half-strength ammonia or by spraying the bags inside. Here are other chemical-free ways to keep pests away.

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Use ammonia to remove stains from concrete

Tired of those annoying discolorations on your concrete work? To get rid of them, scrub with 1 cup ammonia diluted in 1 gallon (3.7 liters) water. Hose it down well when you’re done. For sparkling, sparkling concrete, here’s the full guide to get your concrete shining.

Mold and mildew on siding. Dirty wall of housenatali_ploskaya/Shutterstock

Use ammonia to fight mildew

Ammonia and bleach are equally effective weapons in the battle against mold and mildew. However, each has its own distinct applications, and under no conditions should the two ever be combined. Reach for the ammonia for the following chores, but be sure you use it in a well-ventilated area and don’t forget to wear rubber gloves:

  • Clean the mildew off unfinished wooden patio furniture and picnic tables with a mixture of 1 cup ammonia, ½-cup vinegar, ¼-cup baking soda, and 1 gallon water. Rinse off thoroughly and use an old terrycloth towel to absorb excess moisture.
  • To remove mildew from painted outdoor surfaces, use the same combination of ingredients.
  • To remove mildew from wicker furniture, wash it down with a solution of 2 tablespoons ammonia in 1 gallon water. Use an old toothbrush to get into that hard-to-reach twists and turns. Rinse well and let air-dry.
And ammonia is especially useful for cleaning mildew off indoor furniture too!
Originally Published in Extraordinary Uses for Ordinary Things