Operation Deep Clean is currently underway at my house, which means I’m glamming it up in sweatpants and dumping baking soda on everything. Okay, maybe not dumping, but certainly using it in every room. Expired baking soda – which can cause recipes to fall flat – still works beautifully for cleaning and other applications.
Not only is natural and non-toxic, it’s cheap and it WORKS. Here are my favorite ways to use it around the house:
In The Kitchen
We all know and love the ability of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) to serve as a leavening agent for lemon bread and other yummy goodness, but it also has a less obvious uses in the kitchen.
For example, you can use it to:
- Make chicken wings crispy -When mixed with cornstarch/arrowroot and cream of tartar to make its leavening cousin, baking powder, it becomes the secret to crispy baked chicken wings. (And don’t worry, they don’t taste like baking powder!)
- Wash veggies – According to researchers at the University of Massachusetts, soaking apples in water mixed with baking soda for 12-15 minutes almost completely removed two common pesticides from the surface of the apples. (1) Another study using cucumbers found similar results. (2) Here’s my method for washing veggies with baking soda and other common kitchen ingredients like vinegar.
Cleaning With Baking Soda
As both a cleanser and a deodorizer, baking soda can be used all throughout the house. Here are my top uses by area:
Kitchen & Bathrooms
- Make a soft scrub – This all-purpose non-abrasive soft scrub cleanser makes sinks, tubs and counters shine.
- Use it as scouring powder – Sprinkle it solo a combine it with a few other ingredients to give it more cleaning power. I use the scouring powder recipe pictured above.
- Remove rust from cast iron cookware – Here’s how.
- Soak funky sponges – Fill a mason jar with hot water and stir in 3-4 tablespoons baking soda. Soak for an hour, then rinse.
- Clean your toothbrushes – According to The Children’s Oral Health Institute, you can add 2 teaspoons to 1 cup of water and soak your toothbrushes to clean them effectively.
- Deodorize garbage cans – Sprinkle a little in the bottom of the trash can before placing a fresh bag in to keep odor under control. If a deeper clean is needed, mix one cup of baking soda in one gallon of hot water, then pour it into the bottom of the can and allow it to soak overnight.
- Use as a toilet scrub – Mix 1/2 cup baking soda with 8 drops lemon or tea tree essential oil (if desired) and sprinkle into toilet bowl. Allow the mixture to sit for about 30 minutes, then scrub.
- Deodorize your fridge – Place a box in the fridge to absorb odor.
- Deodorize lunch boxes/bag – Sprinkle lunch box/bag and allow to sit for 30 minutes (or overnight), then rinse.
- Clean a scorched pot/pan – Follow these instructions.
- Remove stains from coffee and tea mugs – Sprinkle a little baking soda inside the cup and scrub with a damp sponge. Voila! Like new again.
- Make your oven look like new – This method requires more elbow grease than store bought brands which use solvent, but you can rest assured that it doesn’t fill your kitchen with noxious fumes.
You’ll need 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup vinegar and water. Mix 1 cup of baking soda with water until you have a spreadable paste. Remove oven racks and place them in the sink to soak in hot water. Using a damp sponge, spread the paste throughout the inside of the oven, avoiding the vents. Turn on the oven to 200° Fahrenheit for 20 minutes, then turn off the oven and leave the door open.
Let the mixture work for about half an hour, then pour the water out of your spray bottle and pour in 1⁄4 – 1/3 cup vinegar. Spray the entire surface with vinegar and allow to bubble up. Dip your sponge in the remaining vinegar and scrub all surfaces. Use fine steel wool on tough spots if needed. Rinse and wring out your sponge when it gets gunky, then dip it back in the vinegar and continue to wipe away grease and grime. Once the oven is clean wipe it down with water and dry with a soft cloth.
Bedrooms & Living Areas
- Freshen and deodorize carpets – Mix one cup baking soda with 18-20 drops essential oil (if desired – I like lavender and frankincense) and sprinkle over your rug. Allow it to sit for at least 20 minutes, then vacuum.
- Keep your clothes hamper smelling fresh – Place baking soda with a few drop of essential oil (if desired) in a sachet and toss in the bottom of the hamper.
Laundry & Miscellaneous
- Make 3-ingredient laundry detergent – Using nothing more than your oven, you can transform baking soda into washing soda, which is one of just a few ingredients you need to make my tried-and-true homemade laundry detergent.
- Make DIY dishwasher detergent – Baking soda that has been transformed into washing soda can also be used to make this 2-3 ingredient dishwasher detergent.
- Deodorize stinky shoes – Mix 1/4 cup baking soda with 2-3 drops essential oil (if desired – I use lavender or tea tree) and sprinkle inside the shoe. Allow to sit overnight, then take them outside and shake them out before wearing.
- Absorb litter box odor – Place baking soda at the bottom of the box to absorb odors.
- Freshen Fido’s bed – Mix 1/2 cup baking soda with 8-10 drops essential oil (if desired – I like lavender and frankincense) and sprinkle over rug. Allow it to sit for at least 20 minutes, then vacuum.
- Remove adhesive – Use it to make homemade goo and gunk remover.
- Deep clean your washing machine – I used to think that washing machines were self-cleaning: Just toss in your dirty clothes, a scoop or two of laundry detergent, and the machine cleans the clothes AND itself, right?
Both top-loaders and front-loaders can develop buildup from soap scum and hard-water deposits, and they’re vulnerable to mold and mildew, too. Here’s how – and how often – to clean your washing machine.
- Make natural deodorant – Here’s my original recipe (pictured above), and here’s my sensitive skin formula.
- Brighten up your smile – I use this toothpaste recipe about once a week to keep stains from building up. (Turmeric powder is also amazing for whitening teeth.)
- Exfoliate – Wet face with warm water, add a teaspoon or two of baking soda to your palm and add water until it forms a thick paste. Gently massage in circles over your face, avoiding the eye area. Rinse and follow with a toner to restore pH balance.
- Soothe a sunburn – As I mention in this article, Seattle Children’s Hospital recommends adding 1/4 cup baking soda to bathwater to ease discomfort. Just add to tepid water and soak for 15-20 minutes, then allow skin to air dry or gently pat it dry. Bathe once or twice per day as needed.
- Relieve itchy bug bites – Make a paste with baking soda and water and dab on insect bites to neutralize the itching.
Also, because I know someone will ask, yes you can add baking soda to a glass of water and drink it to ease heartburn/indigestion symptoms. However I’d personally avoid that approach – here’s why, and this is what I’d do instead.
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Did I miss anything? How do you use baking soda?
1. Yang, Tianxi et. al. (2017) Effectiveness of Commercial and Homemade Washing Agents in Removing Pesticide Residues on and in Apples
2. Liang, Y et. al. (2012) Effects of home preparation on organophosphorus pesticide residues in raw cucumber