By Diane Small
Forget about cakes and cookies–baking soda is one of the most useful items you could (and should!) have in your kitchen, and for more reasons than just using it for baking.
Not only does it completely balance your body’s pH levels when you add a pinch of it to warmed lemon water in the morning, it can be put to myriad household and beauty uses, like brightening your teeth or making cleaning solutions that remove stains, grime and more.
Dirt cheap and used by smart women for centuries, one quick scan through this article and we guarantee you’ll be making Baking Soda a staple in your household.
1. Clean Hair Brushes
Hair brushes attract dirt like sponges. Every time you brush your hair – dandruff, oil and all that nasty stuff sticks to it. If you don’t wash it regularly all that nasty stuff gets back to your hair every time you use it, so experts will recommend washing the hair brush once a week but if you don’t have the time, try to do it at least once a month. Just soak yours in a teaspoon of shampoo mixed with a teaspoon of baking soda and around a cup of water.
2. Whiten Teeth
Given that more people are learning how poisonous fluoride is, baking soda increasingly common as the main ingredient in toothpaste, and no wonder: not only does it clean your teeth, it removes stains from tooth enamel too! Just make a paste of baking soda on your toothbrush with some water and brush gently for a few minutes—this can be very abrasive, so don’t scrub!
3. Clean Oral Appliances
Oral appliances like mouthpieces, toothbrushes, and retainers need to be cleaned in order to remove smells and food particles that get trapped. The last thing you want is to clean these with chemical cleaners–they go in your mouth! Just pop 2 teaspoons of baking soda into a cup of water and soak your oral appliances in it overnight.
4. Wash Pesticides Off Produce
Organic produce is hard to come by and expensive, but you can remove dirt, contaminants and pesticides from conventional produce with baking soda. Using a mixture of water, baking soda and vinegar gets fresh produce cleaner than water alone can. For leafy greens you can soak them into this mixture and for smooth skinned veggies like apples, pour the mixture into a spray bottle and spray it 7-8 times, leave it for a minute, then rinse and eat.
5. Wash off Baked on Food
One of the toughest items to clean in the kitchen is burned on residue. Save some elbow grease by using vinegar, baking soda, water and a scouring pad. First, fill up the pan or pot with water and add a cup of white vinegar. Boil, then add 2 T of baking soda. Let it sit for 5-10 mins, then empty it and scrub the pot. Still got baked on food? Apply a paste made with equal parts baking soda and water and apply it where needed, then scrub. That should do it!
6. Restore Silver
Tarnished silver jewellery or cutlery can be restored with a mixture of 2c hot water, 2 T baking soda and a pinch of salt. Take the silver items, dip them in the water mixture then wrap them in aluminium foil. This is electrochemistry at work! Note that this will only work for elemental silver, not stainless steel or chrome.
7. Unclog Kitchen Drains
Don’t use poisonous chemicals to unclog drains if you can avoid it–those poisons eventually end up back in your drinking water! Use baking soda instead. First, use a plunger/sewer snake to break the clog. Once it’s been loosened, try a combination of white vinegar, baking soda and boiling water. Pour the boiling water down the drain then follow it up with half a cup of baking soda then let it sit for a few minutes. Follow it up with a mixture of one cup vinegar and one cup boiling water. Let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes then finish up with another pot of boiling water.
8. Clean Smelly Sponges
Ew! Don’t you hate it when your kitchen sponges get all gross? If you want these things to last a little longer and smell a bit sweeter, try soaking it in 4 tablespoons of baking soda + a quart of water. Don’t forget to rinse it well afterwards
9. Clean Microwaves
Just cooked fish soup or curry in the microwave? Get rid of the smell fast! Add two tablespoons of baking soda in a microwave safe bowl then add a cup of water. Put the bowl inside the microwave oven for about 2 to 3 minutes (don’t cover it). The steam from the water/baking soda mixture will both deodorize and loosen up caked on stains inside the microwave.
10. Remove Kitchen Grease Stains
Cooking fried food will leave a lot of grease residue on the oven, countertop and even the kitchen fan extractor. Wiping them off with water and a damp cloth won’t cut it, so try sprinkling some baking soda on a damp sponge then wiping down any greasy surface, follow it up with a wipe from a clean damp cloth.
11. Clean Dishwasher Parts
Dishwashers tend to get plugged and smelly so they need some TLC around once a month. Use baking soda paste and warm soapy water to clean the filter and its parts. You can also put some baking soda in the soap drawer and run it through a hot washing cycle.
12. Get Whiter Clothes
Bleach kills all living things–so it’s not a great thing to put in the laundry as it can not only corrode your clothes, but it poisons our water table! To get whites whiter, add some baking soda to our laundry detergent. This will also bring out the colours in your coloured clothing.
13. Remove General Odours
“Air fresheners” are just a chemical cocktail that masks odour but can lead to health issues like asthma and hormone disruption. Add a few drops of your favourite essential oils to a small bowl of baking soda and leave the bowl in corners of the room that needs freshening. This will suck up the stink of cigarettes, sweat, cooking and more. You can also add a small opened box of baking soda in the fridge to remove smells there too.
14. Kill Perspiration Stains
One of the hardest to remove stains on fabric is perspiration stains. No amount of scrubbing with conventional detergent will remove these, it seems! A cheap solution for this is scrub a paste made from 4 T of baking soda and water then letting it sit for an hour. After soaking it in the baking soda mixture, let it go through one cleaning cycle in a washing machine et voila!
15. Deodorize Sports Gear
Smelly trainers? Sprinkle a bit of baking soda in the soles of your shoes or other smell sports gear. Let it sit overnight, then shake out.
16. Remove Blood Stains
Again, avoid using bleach whenever you can. A less toxic alternative is rubbing one part baking soda and two parts cold water over any blood stain using a cloth, letting it sit for 30 minutes then removing any residue with a dry clean cloth.
17. Scrub the Bathroom
Bathroom cleaners are some of the most toxic things in any household. Do you really want your kids and pets to be around products that have the symbol for death on the package? Instead, try making your own bathroom scrub. Combining ingredients like vinegar, baking soda, essential oils and water can make a potent all around bathroom cleaner–sprinkling baking soda on the toilet brush can even help clean toilet bowls, and making a paste of vinegar and baking soda and applying to tiles with a damp cloth will leave them shining!
18. Clean Shower Curtains
Shower curtains may be cheap, but don’t be tempted to buy a new one every time yours gets dirty–they are normally made of PVC, a very harmful compound, and buying new ones can give off fumes that damage your health, especially when you breathe them in a steaming shower! Cleaning shower curtains is easier than you think. All you’ll need is a washing machine, laundry detergent, 1 c baking soda, some light coloured towels and 10 drops of tea tree oil to kill mould. Throw the curtain and the towels with the mixture in a 40-60 degree laundry cycle and everything should come out way cleaner.
19. Absorb Oil Spills
Spilled some facial oil on the carpet? Dripped some olive oil on your shirt? Never fear– baking soda is capable of absorbing grease or oil spills on any kind of cloth. Before sprinkling, make sure to scrape off any excess grease. Leave it on for 10 to 15 minutes and allow it to absorb the oil then vacuum off afterwards and put in the laundry, on a cold cycle.
20. Remove Crayon Marks from the Wall
Parents with toddlers can relate to this! Your little one may think she’s Picasso, but crayon scribbles on the wall aren’t usually what parents would call ‘art’. Make a paste of baking soda and water and use a rag to scrub off crayon marks.
21. Keep Furniture Fresh
Over time, cloth furniture absorbs odours, so keep your sofas and chairs fresh by sprinkling baking soda over the upholstery and leave it overnight. Then, use a handheld vacuum or an upright with a handheld attachment to pick up residue.
22. Clean Trash Cans
One of the biggest headaches at least in our homes is smelly trash cans. Keep the bins–both outdoor and indoor–fresh with a paste made from baking soda, water, and your favourite essential oil. Sprinkle the paste at the bottom of the bin. Leave overnight, then use a vacuum to hoover the mixture up. Rinse out, and wipe dry with a damp cloth.
23. Clean Carpets
Aside from being a catch basin for dirt, carpets also absorb oil from our bodies, pet hair, dust, and food droppings. This is bad for any indoor environment, and can cause allergic reactions if not cleaned regularly. To freshen up any carpet, sprinkle liberal amounts of baking soda on top let it sit for a few hours (possibly overnight), then vacuum afterwards. They will smell and look much fresher!
24. Deodorize Vacuum Cleaners
The deodorizing properties of baking soda also work on vacuum cleaners. Use a mixture of baking soda and water to wash different parts of the machine like the canister, hose and filter. Don’t forget to rinse then dry before using.
25. Improve Kitty Litter
Most kitty litter brands have known about the odour neutralising properties of baking soda for decades, so add it to their mix. If your brand still doesn’t, add a heaping cupful to your cat’s box by sprinkling it throughout the litter. This will absorb the smell, and won’t harm your kitty’s health at all.
26. Restore the Bling of Diamond Rings
Acidity from sweat and natural body oils can tarnish diamonds’ shine over time. Rather than buying toxic jewellery cleaners, try soaking your rings, earrings and other gem jewellery in a mixture of hot water and 2 teaspoons of baking soda to restore their original bling!
27. Instant Dry Shampoo
Guess what the main ingredient of most dry shampoos is? Yep, it’s baking soda! In a pinch? Just create your own ‘dry shampoo’ by sprinkling a bit of the soda onto your brush. Brush through your hair, leave for 5 minutes, then shake your fingers over your scalp to remove any residue. Should not only remove hair oils, but add some volume, too!
28. Instant Deodorant
If you’ve run out of deodorant but find your pits aren’t smelling pretty, spray them with a facial toner or wash them with some water and a damp towel. Whilst they’re still damp, use a cotton pad to dap on a bit of baking soda. Add a few drops of essential oil to the baking soda first if you want a ‘scented’ deodorant. This should make you smell sweeter for a few hours at least!