20 Ingenious Uses for Baking Soda Around the House
Tired of spending hundreds of dollars on fancy cleaning products? The solution to many household cleaning and freshening problems is probably sitting in your cupboard right now: baking soda.
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, is a versatile and widely used household product. It has gained popularity as a natural and effective alternative to conventional cleaners, since it is nontoxic and safe to use around people and pets. Beyond its well-known roles as a common cleaner and leavening ingredient in baking, baking soda offers a wide range of practical uses in everyday life. From its use in cooking to baking to odor elimination, baking soda is a safe, effective, and eco-friendly option.
1. Make Silver Gleam
For an effective silver polish, make a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water; rub onto silver with a clean cloth, then rinse thoroughly and dry. If silver is extremely tarnished, line your sink with aluminum foil and place the silver inside. Pour in a cup of baking soda, a dash of salt, and enough boiling water to cover. Let rest for a few minutes and rinse with warm water; dry with a soft cloth.
2. Banish Soap Scum
Baking soda can be used as a nontoxic scrub for bathroom tubs, tiles, and sinks, even fiberglass. Simply sprinkle baking soda onto a clean, damp sponge and wipe down surfaces, then rinse with cool water. For heavier bathroom cleaning jobs, make a paste of baking soda, salt, and liquid dish soap. Spread evenly on the surface, then wipe clean and rinse.
3. Freshen Laundry
Add ½ cup of baking soda to your liquid laundry detergent to get clothes fresher, cleaner, and brighter. For smelly athletic wear, use another ½ cup of baking soda in the rinse cycle. To pretreat dirty diapers, dissolve ½ cup of baking soda in two quarts of water and soak overnight.
4. Remove Corrosion on Batteries
Baking soda is an alkaline substance and can therefore be used to neutralize battery acid corrosion on car, mower, and other household batteries. First, disconnect battery terminals before cleaning. Make a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water; apply paste with a damp cloth and wipe clean. Reconnect battery terminals and wipe them with a thin film of petroleum jelly.
5. Clean Floors and Deodorize Carpets
Dissolve 1/2 cup baking soda in a bucket of warm water to make an effective cleanser for no-wax and tile floors. For scuff marks, sprinkle baking soda onto a damp sponge and gently rub until the scuff is gone. To remove odor from carpets and rugs, sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the carpet and let it sit overnight. Vacuum until all baking soda is removed.
Everyone knows that an open box of baking soda can neutralize odors in the fridge. But you can also use baking soda to dispel foul odors in most smelly locations, including garbage cans, garbage disposals, dishwashers, and litter boxes. Simply sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of the container or appliance, let sit for several hours or overnight, then rinse or wipe clean with a damp sponge.
7. Treat Insect Bites and Itchy Skin
Make a paste out of baking soda and water and apply to an insect bite. A baking soda paste will help loosen the stinger from bee stings and can also be used as a salve to treat poison ivy rash. To ease the itching, rub baking soda onto damp skin after a shower.
8. Clean Drains and Septic Systems
Here’s a great use for baking soda that is “worn out” from fridge duty: Pour it down the drain while running warm water from the tap. Pouring about a half cup of baking soda down the drain on a regular basis will neutralize acidity and odors. One cup of baking soda per week will keep septic systems flowing freely by helping to maintain a favorable pH in the septic tank.
9. Make a Volcano
A fun and instructive project for adults and kids alike is a baking soda volcano. Take a tall glass or empty soda bottle and build a large construction paper cone around it, centering the opening of the cone over the opening of the bottle. Place 1 cup of baking soda in the glass (or bottle) along with ¼ cup of dishwashing detergent and a few drops of red food coloring (to resemble lava). Pour 2 cups of vinegar into the bottle, and watch the chemical “eruption.”
10. Extinguish Fires
Baking soda can be a real lifesaver in the kitchen, especially when you use it to smother minor grease and electrical fires. For small cooking fires, turn off the electricity or gas to the stove, stand back, and throw handfuls of baking soda at the base of the flame to put out the fire. You should immediately call the fire department, just to be on the safe side.
11. Scrub Surfaces
If you’ve got tough stains on countertops, sinks, tile, or the stove, baking soda can be an excellent stain-removing solution due to its mild abrasive properties and alkaline nature. Simply sprinkle a small amount onto a damp sponge and gently rub it onto the surface in a circular motion. For more stubborn stains, create a paste by mixing baking soda with water, then apply it to the surface and let it sit for a few minutes before scrubbing.
12. Freshen a Room
Baking soda can also be used to freshen up a room. Its unique properties help neutralize odors and absorb unwanted smells effectively. Simply place an open container filled with baking soda in the area you wish to freshen, such as a closet, fridge, or bathroom, and the baking soda will gradually eliminate unpleasant odors. The space will smell squeaky clean and refreshed. You can create a DIY air freshener by combining baking soda with a few drops of essential oil and placing it in a small dish, making a natural and chemical-free air freshener.
13. Clean the Swimming Pool
Adding a bit of baking soda to your pool can improve the water clarity, decrease algae buildup, reduce corrosion, stabilize the pH, and more. Start by testing the water’s pH levels and alkalinity. If the pH is too low (roughly 7 or lower) or the alkalinity is not balanced (if it’s under 80 ppm), sprinkle baking soda directly into the pool water while the pump is running. Allow it to circulate for a few hours and then retest the water and adjust the quantities if necessary.
14. Tenderize Meat
Research shows that baking soda can be an effective and natural tenderizer for meat due to its alkaline properties. It can help break down proteins, resulting in a more tender and juicy texture. Simply sprinkle a small amount evenly over the meat and let it sit for about 15 to 30 minutes. Rinse the meat thoroughly to remove any leftover baking soda before cooking. Note: Leaving the baking soda on for too long can lead to an unpleasant taste or texture, so you’ll want to be mindful when sprinkling the meat and timing your tenderizing.
15. Clean Produce
Baking soda is a great natural option for cleaning fruits and vegetables due to its ability to remove dirt and pesticide residues. In fact, a 2017 study showed baking soda to be more effective for removing surface pesticides on apples compared with tap water or Clorox bleach. Simply mix a teaspoon of baking soda with water in a bowl, submerge the produce in the solution, and gently scrub the produce with your hands or a soft brush. Rinse thoroughly with water to remove any remaining baking soda residue.
16. Freshen Teeth and Remove Plaque
If you’ve got stubborn stains on your teeth, baking soda can help! Studies show that brushing or rinsing with the “magic powder” can remove surface stains, brighten teeth, remove plaque, and freshen breath. To use it for oral care, dampen your toothbrush and dip it into a small amount of baking soda. Brush your teeth gently in circular motions for about 2 minutes, focusing on the front and back surfaces. Rinse your mouth and brush thoroughly afterward. Note: Baking soda should be used in moderation to avoid excessive abrasion.
17. Clean Baby Toys
Baking soda can be a natural, nontoxic, fragrance-free, and safe option for cleaning baby toys. Start by mixing baking soda with warm water to form a paste. Then, dip a clean cloth or sponge into the mixture and wipe down the toys gently, paying attention to any dirty or sticky areas. Make sure to let them air dry or wipe them with a dry rag before using them again.
18. Remove Burnt-on Food
Have leftover burnt food on your favorite cookware? Baking soda is highly effective at removing burnt-on food from pots and pans due to its gentle abrasive nature. It works to loosen stubborn food particles and stains without scratching or damaging the cookware’s surface. To use baking soda for cleaning burnt-on food, sprinkle a generous amount onto the affected area, then add warm water to create a paste. Allow it to sit for a few minutes to penetrate the residue, then scrub with a sponge or brush. Rinse thoroughly with water.
RELATED: How to Clean a Burnt Pot
19. Kill Weeds
Baking soda can be effective as a weed killer due to its ability to alter the pH balance of the soil, making it inhospitable for weed growth. You can apply it directly to the weeds. Start by sprinkling a generous amount of baking soda onto the leaves and base of the unwanted plants. It can help to dampen the weeds first by spraying them down lightly with a hose. An important note: Be careful to avoid any grass or other desirable plants nearby, since baking soda can have a dehydrating effect on them as well. Repeat the application as needed until the weeds begin to wither and die.
20. Clean the Coffee Maker
Serve up a fresher cup of joe with this easy method. Simply mix a tablespoon of baking soda with water, fill up the coffee maker’s reservoir, and run a brew cycle. Ta-da! Say goodbye to sluggish performance and hello to a sparkly clean coffee machine.