Many common cooking ingredients have uses beyond the kitchen. An excellent example of this is sodium bicarbonate aka baking soda.
From its effectiveness as a mild abrasive to its deodorizing capabilities, the applications of baking soda seem endless.
We scoured the internet and spoke to cleaning expert and author, Becky Rapinchuk aka “Clean Mama,” to put together a list of the many amazing uses for this chemical compound.
“What’s fun about baking soda is that it does so much and is so cheap,” said Rapinchuk. “You can get a huge bag at Costco for a couple bucks.”
Indeed, the power of baking soda is well documented. Read on for 21 amazing uses for it around the house.
Cleaning Your Sink
Baking soda works well as a mild abrasive, so it’s a useful sink cleaner. You can sprinkle baking soda all over your sink and then scrub it with a sponge.
Rapinchuk said she likes to mix the baking soda with 20-30 drops of essential oil for scent and adds dish soap before she scrubs. “It’s a great way to freshen up and give you aromatherapy while you’re doing something that’s not really that fun,” she noted.
Others mix it with lemon juice to form a paste or scrub the baking soda with a cut lemon. Once you’ve scrubbed your sink with baking soda, you can rinse the sink with vinegar and then warm water. Some people recommend baking soda as a way to unclog sink drains as well, but others’ experiments have cast doubt on this approach.
According to a study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, baking soda is an effective solution for removing pesticide residue from fruits and vegetables.
All you have to do is fill your clean sink with water, add four teaspoons of baking soda, soak your produce for about five minutes, rinse it with cold water and pat it dry.
Deodorizing Your Refrigerator
In addition to being a great mild abrasive, baking soda is a very common deodorizer.
“You can put an open box of baking soda in your refrigerator or anywhere that’s a little musty or stinky,” said Rapinchuk. “It will absorb odors.”
Freshening Up Towels
Baking soda’s deodorizing powers can also work well for things that get a little mildew-smelling, like towels.
“If you need to freshen up your towels, you can put half a cup in your washing machine with your normal detergent to get rid of odors,” Rapinchuk noted.
If you have silver jewelry, you can soak it in a mixture of baking soda and hot water in an aluminum-foil-lined bowl. Through the process of ion exchange, the tarnish will transfer from the silver to the water.
After removing the jewelry, wipe away excess tarnish with a soft lint-free cloth. This works for other household items and silverware as well.
For hard stones and metals like diamonds and platinum, you can use a mixture of baking soda, water, salt and dish soap.
Getting Stains Out Of Carpets
“If you have a stain on your carpet, you can sprinkle a little baking soda on top of it, and it may help,” Rapinchuk explained. “You can also pour a little vinegar and sprinkle the baking soda on top. The two will react, and it’s thought to extract the strain. Let it sit and dry, and then vacuum it up.”
Although she’s used this method with great success, Rapinchuk noted that it doesn’t work with everyone’s carpet.
Making Shoes Less Smelly
Rapinchuk said she likes to use baking soda to freshen up smelly shoes. There are different ways to do this.
You can sprinkle baking soda directly into the shoes, let them sit for a day and then shake it out. You can make little baking soda-filled sachets with socks, small pouches or pieces of cloth tied with ribbon or string and put them in your shoes when you aren’t wearing them. With sandals, you can seal them in a bag filled with baking soda.
You can use the latter technique for clothing as well. “If you have clothes that are smelly but you don’t have time to wash them, you can put a little baking soda in a bag and put it in the bag to absorb odors,” Rapinchuk explained.
Treating Your Nails
Combine three parts baking soda and one part water to create a mixture that you can use to scrub your nails to smooth the surface. You can also combine equal parts baking soda and water to create a paste that may exfoliate cuticles and remove nail stains.
Dry Shampooing Your Hair
Many people like to sprinkle a little baking soda to absorb excess oil in their hair or mix it with other ingredients like cornstarch, oatmeal, cinnamon and/or essential oils for a similar effect.
“Some people put it in their hair as a dry shampoo, but not everyone does well with it,” Rapinchuk said. Indeed, the method isn’t effective for everyone, and some have even reported hair damage over time.
Cleaning Your Shower
Rapinchuk likes to use baking soda to clean her shower as well.
“You can mix it with a little lemon juice or vinegar, and it helps get in the crevices of a drain,” she said. “But be careful that it’s not too much. You can also use it for soap scum. Mix up a tablespoon of baking soda with a teaspoon of salt and a little vinegar and make that into a paste to remove soap scum.”
“If you have a sting of some sort, you can make a poultice,” Rapinchuk explained. “Make a paste with baking soda and water and just dab it onto that area and let it dry. Historically speaking, it was used to get a stinger out because it was thought to extract the stinger, but can also help with redness or swelling or itch as well.”
Some people recommend this method for removing splinters as well. People also use baking soda and water mixtures to relieve mild sunburn and other skin irritations, as many swear it eases the pain and discomfort.
Freshening The Air
Baking soda is a popular ingredient in homemade air fresheners.
Rapinchuk advises putting baking soda and lemon essential oil in a small mason jar, replacing the lid with a piece of fabric and using the metal ring to keep it in place.
“You can do that without any scent and place it indiscreetly in a stinky area,” she said.
Cleaning Brushes And Combs
After removing the hair from brushes and combs, you can soak them in a mixture of baking soda, shampoo and water. Rinse with hot water after letting them soak for 30-60 minutes.
Soaking Your Skin
“Baking soda is great in a bath with Epsom salt,” Rapinchuk said.
Indeed, you can add a couple of cups of baking soda to your bath to relieve pain or tension and exfoliate your skin. You can also use this mixture as a foot soak or create an exfoliating scrub to apply to your skin (though not all experts recommend this).
Cleaning Your Oven
Rapinchuk mixes baking soda with soap and water to create a paste for cleaning her oven. She uses this combination for her stove as well.
Others have used a similar baking soda solution to clean microwaves and other kitchen appliances.
Deodorizing The Carpet
If you sprinkle baking soda on your carpet and then let it sit for awhile before vacuuming it up, the substance has a deodorizing effect. You can also do this with other soft surfaces like mattresses or pet beds.
Rapinchuk noted that she uses a sieve to sprinkle the baking soda evenly.
Washing Your Face
Many beauty enthusiasts have experimented with baking soda as a face cleanser and even made face masks with it.
Results have been mixed, so it’s best to test it out on an area of your skin before fully diving in.
You can bring a smelly sponge back to life by soaking it in a solution of baking soda and water. Don’t use this approach for old sponges that need to be disposed of, however. These household items produce a lot of bacteria.
Making A Natural Deodorant
“You can use a makeup brush, dab baking soda in and brush it under to use as a pseudo-deodorant to absorb odor,” Rapinchuk said.
Indeed, many people use baking soda in natural deodorant, but not everyone reacts well to it. It’s often used in the wrong quantities as well.
Creating Washing Soda
“Arm & Hammer has a product called washing soda, which is a laundry booster or cleaning booster of sorts, but you can make it by heating baking soda at 425 degrees for an hour,” Rapinchuk explained.
“It’s a fun hack because you can use washing soda in homemade laundry soap or a soft cleaning paste,” she added.
Scrubbing Your Home
Beyond sinks and showers, baking soda’s mild abrasive capabilities make it a useful all-purpose cleaner.
“My favorite use for baking soda is as my nightly scrub,” said Rapinchuk, noting that she combines two cups with 20-30 drops of essential oil. “I mix it with a table knife, store it in a jar, and use that same mixture to scrub in different areas of my house.”