Baking soda, known as “sodium bicarbonate” to the lab-coated and science-minded, is one of the most versatile products in household history, especially when creating science fair projects. Baking soda has been a profitable commodity for 150 years, and its popularity has done nothing but grow in the past decades. One reason for this is the increased public awareness of the environmental and health impacts of chemical cleaners and deodorizers. Baking soda is environmentally friendly and causes no health problems – indeed, the body actually produces sodium bicarbonate for many vital functions, such as balancing the blood’s pH level and neutralizing stomach acids.
While it was initially used as a leavening agent, baking soda use goes far beyond food. Baking soda crystals are abrasive yet soft and malleable, making them perfect for scouring and scrubbing without scratching. It is also capable of neutralizing acids and bases–a property that imparts sodium bicarbonate with numerous uses from cleaning up stains to relieving acid indigestion to breaking up dirt and grease. Baking soda is also super absorbent, which augments its stain-fighting ability, but more impressively gives baking soda the capacity to absorb nasty odors. Is there any end to the list of baking soda uses? Did I mention you can bake with baking soda?
Baking Soda Freshness Test
Baking soda will stay good for cooking and absorbing odors for about three months after being opened. One way to test baking soda freshness is by adding a few drops of vinegar or lemon juice to a teaspoon of baking soda. If it bubbles or fizzes, you’re still in business. If not, the baking soda can still be used for cleaning.
Baking Powder Baking Soda
Baking soda vs. baking powder…what exactly is the difference? Well, both baking powder and baking soda are leavening agents that react to acids. Both neutralize the acid and release tiny carbon dioxide bubbles that help dough rise; however, today’s baking powders come pre-equipped with acids so the reaction will take place with heat and with moisture, which makes for a finer texture. Baking soda is best used with recipes that call for an acidic ingredient such as honey, chocolate, etc.
Uses for Baking Soda
Most impressive of baking soda’s uses is its ability to absorb bad odors, from the mildly irritating to the shockingly horrific. Open a box of baking soda and simply leave it in a problem area, such as in the refrigerator or behind the toilet. Dump a splash of baking soda in your garbage bags before use to prevent having to toss them prematurely. Combat body odor by applying baking soda to armpits and other potential smelly spots after a shower (yes, it’s safe). Many people also keep their carpets smelling fresh by sprinkling on baking soda and letting it sit a few hours before vacuuming.
Baking soda and vinegar can be used for cleaning many surfaces, including even morbidly filthy stoves. For the stove, make a soft baking soda paste by mixing ½ cup of baking soda with ½ cup of water. Apply the baking soda to the most disturbing spots first and scrub before spreading the paste over the rest of the stove. Next, spray on some white vinegar. This will kill bacteria, and the trouble spots will be undone. Simply wipe up the filthy, fizzy baking soda with your cotton towel and enjoy. You can clean the stove rings by boiling them in a large pot with a cup of baking soda. Note that this method works for the most common stovetops, including unsealed gas stovetops, the unsealed electric stovetops, and sealed glass electric stovetops.
Bathrooms are ripe with baking soda uses. Remove mildew from your shower and bathtub using the Batman-and-Robin combination of baking soda and vinegar. Spray the vinegar on to kill the mold and bacteria; then add baking soda to a damp wet sponge and scrub away. For an older, non-fiberglass tub or sink, use a paste of baking soda and hydrogen peroxide. Keep your throne in regal condition by dumping ½ box of baking soda in the toilet tank before you go to bed; it will be fresh for the morning session.
Baking soda is used to clean stains, and it is vital for cleaning cat urine and cleaning dog urine from carpeting.If you find the stain soon enough, blot it up with a towel, and then soak the stain with a mixture of warm water and white vinegar. Next, liberally sprinkle on the baking soda; it will absorb the urine, but more importantly it will neutralize the acids in the urine that cause odor. The last step is to pour on a mixture of ½ cup of hydrogen peroxide and one teaspoon of dish soap. Let it dry and vacuum.
Cleaning and polishing marble is one of the more posh uses for baking soda. Stained marble can be cleaned using a paste of soda and a chamois. To polish marble, mix 3 tbsp of baking soda with 1 qt. of water. Wipe this mixture over the marble with a soft cloth and let it dry before rinsing. Next, take a damp cloth and dip it in crushed chalk and go over your marble again. Lastly, rinse and dry completely. Marble is the elite of all home surfaces, and baking soda will aid it in finally convincing guests of your superior breeding.
More Baking Soda Uses
There are many uses for baking soda where drains are concerned. Before leaving on a journey, sprinkle some baking soda down the drain to absorb any odors that may arise. You can also make your own baking soda drain cleaner for drains that still have some functionality. Simply pour 1 cup of baking soda down the drain and chase it with 1 cup of water and 1 cup of vinegar. This method will dissolve whatever lurks below.
Many seasoned hunters use baking soda to rid clothing of human and foreign odors. Animals are smart; they know what our intentions are. Fool them again this season by washing your gear with 1–2 cups of baking soda (run washer on empty with baking soda first to eliminate detergent odor). Or skip the washer by sprinkling your clothes with baking soda and storing them in a plastic bag or container.
One of the more exciting uses for this is extinguishing grease fires and electrical fires. Whether you keep an open box of baking soda on hand or you keep it in a pretty container, you’ll be glad you did when something on your stove bursts into flames. Throw handfuls of baking soda onto the base of the fire and you’ll win (challenge small fires only).
Baking Soda Products
For people with health or environmental concerns, baking soda cleaning products are very popular. Truly, baking soda is a natural cleaner: it absorbs odors and liquids, it is abrasive without causing damage, and it neutralizes acids. Today one can find its inclusion in products ranging from toothpaste to cat litter. Note that there are many baking soda recipes for cleaners using products found in the home. For example, you can make an all-purpose cleaner by adding 4 tablespoons of baking soda and water to a quart-sized spray bottle.
Arm and Hammer sells this convenient Baking Soda Shaker for use around the home. It would come in handy when using baking soda on carpeting, when adding baking soda to dishwater (baking soda is great for dishes that have been allowed to fester), or when cleaning. Of course, if you think the container is too loud, you can always purchase a more subdued shaker or sifter to enjoy the same convenience.
Not satisfied with the myriad uses covered in this page?Well, there are hundreds more out there. Baking soda use extends to getting rid of rust, smoke smell, curing itch from bug bites or rash, cleaning a plethora of different surfaces, and the list goes on. There are a few books that chronicle the full spectrum uses, and Vicki Lansky’s Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun and Frugal Uses You’ve Probably Never Thought of has enjoyed popularity for years.