You’ll find it in small boxes in the supermarket aisle next to flour, sugar, and cake mixes. It comes in 10-lb. bags at Costco, shelved next to the pancake and waffle mix. It’s a key ingredient in light, fluffy biscuits. But baking soda is not just for baking.
What is baking soda, anyway?
Sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda or bicarbonate of soda is a chemical compound with the formula NaHCO3. It is a salt composed of a sodium cation and a bicarbonate anion. This simple chemical compound is found in nature, harvested, and ground to a fine powder for household use.
What does baking soda do?
Baking soda is an alkaline compound that, when combined with acid produces harmless, albeit useful, carbon dioxide gas. When used to bake biscuits or cake, the small bubbles of carbon dioxide gas become trapped in batter, causing it to inflate, or rise.
Baking soda is well known for its ability to absorb odors. This is the reason many people place a box of baking soda in refrigerators, freezers, and other enclosed spaces to absorb random odors.
Baking soda is also an ideal cleaner because of its granular texture, which helps with scrubbing. Its alkaline pH can dissolve some deposits and build-up.
Other Uses for Baking Soda
1. Natural deodorant
If you get an allergic reaction to commercial deodorants or prefer to stay away from aluminum and parabens found in many antiperspirants, you might want to consider making it yourself.
Mix about 1/4 tspn baking soda with a very small amount of lukewarm water in a bowl until it forms a thick paste. Gently apply the paste to your underarms using your fingertips. Allow the paste is completely dry before getting dressed.
You will need:
Place all ingredients in a spray bottle. Shake well to mix. Apply lightly as you would any commercial spray deodorant.
Witch hazel and aloe vera gel are found at grocery stores, health food stores, also online.
2. Poison ivy, insect bites
Got camping on your mind? Then you need to know about this super effective, cheap, and easy way to deal with the true bane of every camper’s existence—insect bites and poison ivy!
Baking soda can these issues while out in nature. Mix up a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to the site of the bite or irritation and watch as the pain slowly dissipates until it finally disappears completely.
Baking soda is effective at relieving itching and irritation on your skin because it neutralizes toxins that may be sitting on the surface.
3. Heartburn, indigestion
Most antacids available over the counter contain one type or another of bicarbonate. Baking soda, sodium bicarbonate, is effective because it neutralizes the stomach acid instantly on contact, to relieve ulcer pain, indigestion, heartburn, and myriad issues that can be the result of an overly abundant amount of acid in your gut.
Typically, the recommended dosage when using baking soda to treat gastrointestinal issues is 1/2 tspn baking soda that has been dissolved in a 1/4 cup of water.
4. Foot soak, exfoliator
A foot bath or soak is definitely one of the most relaxing experiences out there. If you want to make it even more awesome, add baking soda to your routine. Fill your basin or foot spa with warm water as you normally do, but this time add three tablespoons of baking soda.
A paste made of 1 part baking soda to 3 parts water makes for a very effective foot exfoliator.
5. Freshen carpet
Sprinkle baking soda on your carpets to absorb and eliminate odors. Allow to sit for 15 minutes or so, then vacuum well, as you normally do.
6. Clean up painted surfaces
You can use baking soda to erase marks on baseboards, windowsills, door jams, and any other painted surface that has gotten marked up, scuffed or even crayon-ed! Just sprinkle a bit of baking soda onto a damp sponge and rubbing lightly until the stain is gone. Wipe the area clean with a clean, dry cloth, like microfiber.
7. Freshen up smelly shoes
Use baking soda to absorb and eliminate odor from stinky shoes. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda into the shoes, making sure it is distributed well. In the morning, shake it out well into a trash can. Hint: Use the crevice tool on your vacuum cleaner to make sure every bit of baking soda gets removed.
8. Head off garbage can odors
You can prevent odors from building up in your kitchen garbage and bathroom trash cans with the help of baking soda. Just sprinkle a small amount right into the container over the trash or garbage from time to time. You can also sprinkle a handful directly into the bottom of the can before lining it with a new bag.
9. Grout cleaner
Mix up a small about of baking soda and fresh hydrogen peroxide to make a paste about the consistency of pancake batter. Working in small areas, apply to dirty grout, scrub well with a stiff brush, rinse and prepare to be surprised.
10. Gentle exfoliant
A quick and easy way to remove dead skin cells is with a paste of 3 parts baking soda to one part water. With your fingers, apply the paste to your face, hands, etc. Using a circular motion, rub it well to exfoliate the skin. Rinse well and enjoy softened skin!
11. Take care of smelly, slow running drain
Pour baking soda directly into that smelly drain—or a drain you’d just as soon not become smelly. Following with an equal amount of plain white vinegar and get ready for the show! It’s going to bubble up and fizz away. Allow to sit for a few hours or so. Follow with a quart or two of boiling water. Your drain will be fresh and clean and as a bonus, you’ve cleared any potential clogs from stuff that has a way of building in household drains.
12. Prone to UTI
If you’re prone to urinary tract infection (UTI), remember this the next time you suspect you have a problem coming on: Mix 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda into a cup of water and drink it. This will help to slightly raise the pH of your urine, making it less acidic and irritating.
13. Manicure prep
Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water. Use as you would hand lotion on your hands, massaging it into your hands, nails, and cuticles to smooth and exfoliate prior to your home manicure. Rinse well and dry your hands before proceeding.
14. Clean your jetted tub
Use baking soda to clean and deodorize the jets in a jetted tub. Fill the tub to a few inches above the jets, add two cups of baking soda, then run the jets for about 10 minutes. Drain the grungy water, refill the tub with clean water. Run the jets for another 10 minutes, then drain. Beauty?
15. Sink whitener
I spray hydrogen peroxide into my white enamel sink and then sprinkle on baking soda to cover it, making sure any stains are fully covered. Let sit for a bit and VOILA! Totally white sink! Kit
16. Coffee stains
Baking soda removes coffee and tea stains from my Mr. Coffee and coffee mugs. Dampen the pot or mug, sprinkle in soda, and spread with fingers. Rinse. Peg
17. Pots, pans, baking stone
My husband swears by baking soda to clean our messiest pots and pans. He even uses it on our baking stones. Teri
I use baking soda as toothpaste. I don’t like the mint in most brands so find this works the best as an alternative. Myrna
19. Cat box
I like to use baking soda in my kitty litter box! Yep, I buy a good Arm & Hammer brand of clumping litter, but I still don’t want to have the occasional whiff. So, when scooping the cat waste out every other day I add a 1/2 cup of baking soda. No one can smell that I have a cat. Regina
20. Costume jewelry cleaner
I am NOT recommending this for anything other than costume jewelry (although I do use it on sterling silver). I have zero resources; this is just something I heard YEARS ago and have always done it! Place just a few pieces of jewelry in a very small bowl and sprinkle baking soda over them and then start adding vinegar just a tablespoon or two at a time, so it will fizz and then slow down (I do this several times). It’s fun to do when the grandkids are around! I only let it sit for about five minutes and then wipe dry with a paper towel and then I use the Norwex microfiber cloth. Comes out very shiny and clean! Tracy
21. Stainless steel sink
I use baking soda to clean my stainless steel kitchen sink. It works as well as a brand name cleanser in a can and is probably better for the environment. Doesn’t seem to scratch the metal.
22. Green vegetables stay green
Put a good pinch of baking soda in the cooking water when boiling green beans. The beans stay greener, but the water gets a little brown. Marg’s neighbor
23. Remove sticky glue
Make a paste of baking soda and cooking oil. Spread on sticky glue residue for containers too good to toss. Set for 30 minutes or so, will rub off, ready to wash. Linda
24. Velvet chicken
This is how I “marinate” my boneless skinless chicken breast pieces so they don’t turn dry and hard when stir frying or baking. Just mix chicken pieces with a teaspoon of baking soda and let sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes. It’s called “velveting.” Apparently Chinese food restaurants do this. I tend to overcook chicken “just in case” and this keeps it from drying out. Sue
25. Fresh ‘n clean dishcloths
To clean my dishcloths, I load them into the washing machine, sprinkle baking soda over the cloths, use hot water and soak them 30 minutes to an hour. Rinse and spin, (only because my washer will not immediately wash after the soak cycle), and then wash with regular detergent, again in hot water. My dishcloths no longer have that yucky, musty odor, but smell nice and fresh! I
26. Clean glass bakeware
Baking soda does an excellent job when combined with white vinegar and hot water for cleaning Pyrex bakeware. Sprinkle bake soda in the dish, add the white vinegar fill with hot water and let it soak 3 to 5 minutes. Those burnt on edges will wipe right off! Emily
27. Clean blinds, scuff marks
I use a baking soda paste to clean fingerprints off vertical blinds, the grey marks made by sliding a pan or opening a can on my laminate counter/cupboards (and food stains), and to clean stains out of my cereal bowls or other dishes. Rea
28. Pretzels trick
I was looking up the recipe to make homemade pretzels and the last step before baking is to use a lye solution as a final dip for the dough. Working with lye is difficult so people have suggested baking soda. The problem is baking soda does not give the best result. Solution? If baking soda is baked itself first before making the solution, the result increases the alkalinity of the baking soda and gives a better result for the pretzels. Gina
29. Deep-clean teeth
When we were younger and if we ran out of toothpaste, my mom would put some baking soda in a dish and we would dip our damp toothbrush in and use that. It actually doesn’t taste too bad and our teeth felt so clean and smooth. I still sometimes do that. Betty
30. Nasal rinse
Mix equal parts baking soda and salt, then use 1 teaspoon in 1 cup of warm water in a neti pot to rinse your nose and sinuses. No paying for the little pre-mixed packets! Jennifer
31. Blanco sink
Baking soda clean my new Blanco kitchen sink. Works great! Diane
32. Spaghetti sauce
When I don’t have hours to simmer for sweetness sometimes, I put 1/8 – 1/4 tspn baking soda in a pot of homemade spaghetti sauce (approx 4-5 qt) to cut the acidity. Cristina
33. Hair rid
I use baking soda mixed in with my shampoo to remove build-up from conditioner and other hair products. I keep an old Parmesan cheese container with baking soda in it in the shower (great big shaker holes) and just sprinkle it in my hand with the shampoo about every other week, or as needed. My hair is squeaky clean afterwards! Tammy Jo
34. Coffee trick
Put a bit in your coffee each morning. It takes the acidity away and makes it better on your tummy. Wilma
35. Kill fleas
Baking soda sprinkled on carpet and left for a day or two will kill fleas, It really works. Jessie
36. Soften hands
I really hate the dry cracked feeling of my hands when I have to hand wash dishes, so I add a few teaspoons of baking soda to the dishwater to help keep my hands soft. Penny
Question: There must be hundreds more non-baking uses for baking soda. Did we miss your favorite? Tell us in the comments below!
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