Sunday, February 20, 2011

The Amazing Power of Baking Soda

Baking soda has got to be one of the most amazing substances in the world!  It is so versatile for cleaning and household tasks, but it is so mild we eat the stuff!  How many other cleaning substances can you say that about?  Rhetorical question.  I know there are quite a few, and I use many of them (vinegar and lemon juice come to mind), but you generally won't see these products advertised on television as cleaning products (stupid television commercials!).  Instead, they advertise chemical laden, highly toxic substances that you then have to worry about your kids or pets getting into and, if you are considerate enough, worry about any friends or family coming over that may have asthma that you could potentially kill with the fragrances and fumes they put out.  Or worse yet, have a family member that lives in the home that has breathing difficulties or other health problems from being around them.  Not in my house!

Here is a list of the various uses I've found for baking soda around my house:
  1. Scrubbing crayon off the walls.  With very creative small children in the house, this is big around here.  Simply make a paste of baking soda and water, dab a rag in the paste, apply to crayon marks and scrub away.  I've found this to be easier on wallpapered walls, but it does work on painted walls as well.  Someday soon, when I get the chance, I'll be finding out if it works on textured ceilings as well.  *sigh*  This frequently works for mystery smudges on walls that sometimes appear around kids as well.
  2.  As a substitute for washing soda in my laundry detergent recipeIf you haven't found a source for washing soda yet, but have borax and the Dr. Bronner's soap for making the laundry detergent I posted, and want to get started making your own, or if you run out of washing soda and haven't got around to going to the store for more yet, you can substitute in baking soda.  Just use twice as much baking soda as you would washing soda and be very careful when you pour it into your storage jug because it will foam a lot more.
  3. As an alternative to commercial fabric softeners.  Add about a 1/2 cup in the rinse cycle.
  4. To eliminate clogs from drains.  Jam as much baking soda as you can into a clogged or sluggish drain, add vinegar, and cover the drain until it stops making fizzing noises.  Rinse with warm water afterwords.
  5. Extending dishwasher detergent powder.  For a lot of the same reasons I have to make my own laundry detergent, I'm very limited on what dishwasher detergents I can stand.  I basically have to use ones from brands like Seventh Generation.  I find the prices of that to be (quite a bit) higher than I like, so I make a mixture of 1/3 commercial dishwasher detergent, 1/3 borax, and 1/3 baking soda.  I store some premixed in a small container so I can just pour it in when I do my dishes.  The same blend should work of liquid dishwasher detergent too, but you'd have to add it separately each time.
  6. To clean the oven.  Sprinkle the bottom of the oven with about 2-4 cups baking soda and moisten thoroughly with a spray bottle of water.  Keep it moist by spraying more water every few hours.  Leave overnight and scoop out, along with the grime, in the morning.  Rinse well.
  7. Getting the kids to clean the toilet...or, in a pinch, do it yourself.  The kids love a good harmless chemical reaction, so show them some science and get them to clean the toilet at the same time.  Sprinkle some baking soda into the toilet bowl and let it sit for a half hour or so.  Then, add a squirt of Dr. Bronner's liquid soap and some vinegar.  The kids will have a blast scrubbing with those fun bubbles (at least my kids do, when I let them).
  8. Shower/tub scrub.  Make a paste of baking soda and liquid soap and scrub away.  Rinse with warm water.  If you need a little extra scrubbing bubbles or enjoy a nice lemon scent to your bathroom, add some lemon juice to the mix, but you'll probably want to wear gloves to clean if you're going to do that.  Tough mildew stains may require a thicker paste with more baking soda.
  9. Removing mineral buildup from showerheads.  Mix together 1 part baking soda to 2 parts vinegar in a plastic bag (a grocery bag should work okay for this as long as it doesn't have any holes).  Submerge the showerhead in the bag and secure the bag to the showerhead with a rubber band.  Let it soak for at least an hour then rinse the showerhead by running very hot water through it for a few minutes (don't want any of the vinegar getting in your eyes next shower.  OUCH!).
  10. Deodorizing trash cans and diaper pails.  Sprinkle some baking soda in the trash can or diaper pail for disposable diapers after each time you empty it.  For a cloth diaper pail, you can sprinkle some in the pail itself, but if you use a cloth bag for a liner (and throw the whole thing in the wash with the diapers), you can also sprinkle some in the cloth bag to give the laundry extra oomph as well as deodorizing the diaper pail in between washes.
  11. To make urine smells disappear from the carpet or upholstered furniture.  Whether it be from a kid or a cat, I've had a lot of luck sprinkling some baking soda on tinkled on areas (if it is still wet, dry up as much as you can with a towel first), let it sit for at least fifteen minutes, then vacuum up.  If it is in an out of the way place, like behind a couch, the baking soda can just be left there until your next regularly scheduled vacuuming.
  12. Fill in nail holes in the wall.  A super cheap way to save on your security deposit if you rent is to fill all those nail and tack holes with a paste of baking soda and white glue and let dry.
  13. To remove black scuff marks on shoes.  Make a paste and scrub away.  You can follow up with some polish after you wipe off the paste if you desire.
  14. For underarm deodorant.  Dust a little on the area with a powder puff if you have one (a washcloth can work in a pinch).
  15. In baking.  A lot of recipes call for it, so don't forget to keep some in the kitchen for when you need it!
With all these uses for baking soda and about a billion more I didn't include because I haven't tried them myself, I skip the little boxes.  It is well worth it to spend the two dollars and change to get a 2 lb generic box (or bigger?  Do they make them bigger?) and save yourself even more money!

Here are a couple books with more great ideas for baking soda that I haven't tried yet:


  1. I found out the urine smell trick out of carpeting myself by chance. Decided since I didn't have any of the smelly stuff (and it didn't work after the smell disappeared anyways), I would use baking soda. Let it sit for a while with the door closed (to keep out kids) and window opened (to help air it out a tad), then vacuumed. Have shared that tip with other moms of potty training little ones! Works way better than anything else I've seen/tried!

  2. Neat! I never thought of trying this for crayon. Thanks!