Unexpected Uses For Baking Soda

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is a common ingredient in cooking and baking, and also a highly effective cleaning agent — one that’s 100% natural.

It has a high pH, which makes it an alkaline product, and therefore great at neutralizing the acidity of many horrible odors. In other words, no more nasty smells! Baking soda also has pretty amazing brightening properties, and its gritty texture is perfect for removing stubborn dirt and stains. But did you know there’s even more that your baking soda can do?

If you’ve never used baking soda for anything other than cooking, prepare to be blown away by these tried-and-tested baking soda hacks.

Deep-clean Your Washing Machine

To give your washing machine a deep clean, Brian Bell, a plumber from Roto-Rooter San Antonio, recommends baking soda. If you have a front loader, set it to the longest cycle and hottest water temperature. Pour three cups of white vinegar directly into the drum, then pour one cup of baking soda into the detergent well to ensure the well, internal hoses and other areas are flushed as the mixture is added during the cycle. Wipe the rubber gasket dry once the cycle has completed, leaving the door open so the entire machine can air out.

If you have a top loader, pour five cups of white vinegar directly into the drum, then two cups of baking soda into the water. With gloves on, dip a sponge or other cleaning tool into the water mixture and scrub the detergent well. Close the top and let the cycle run fully. When it’s complete, wipe the drum clean and leave the door open to air out.

Treat Mosquito Bites

Avid hiker and backpacker Brian Connelly, who is the founder of My Open Country, has a tried-and-tested hack for mosquito bites.

“I’ve hiked through 27 states and four different continents, and I try very hard to protect myself from mosquito bites, but the little rascals pop up precisely where we don’t want them regardless – in our tent, car, sleeping bag, hair, etc,” he says. So he uses a paste of baking soda and water to make bites heal quicker. “It works and is an essential item in my backpack.”

Eliminate Trash Can Odors

Trash cans are often a source of unpleasant odors. Diana Rodriguez-Zaba, president of Chicago cleaning company Service Master by Zaba, recommends getting rid of the stink by placing a box of baking soda at the bottom. “If there’s no space, sprinkle some directly inside the trash bag,” she says.

Treat Acid Reflux

If you don’t have an over-the-counter antacid like Alka-Seltzer on hand to get rid of acid reflux, baking soda might be the next best thing. As Healthline explains, the pancreas naturally produces sodium bicarbonate – the active ingredient in baking soda – to protect the intestines. Baking soda acts fast to neutralize stomach acid and ease those nasty acid reflux symptoms. For adults and teenagers, the recommended dose of sodium bicarbonate powder is half a teaspoon, dissolved in 4 ounces of water, and you can repeat the dose after two hours. It’s important to make sure the baking soda is totally dissolved in the water, and it’s best to sip the mixture slowly. Don’t exceed the recommended dose, and avoid this remedy if you have hypertension.

Freshen Up Smelly Rugs

It’s important to vacuum your rugs regularly to get rid of dirt and debris. An extra step to freshen them up involves baking soda. Rodriguez-Zaba’s tip is simple: sprinkle a small amount of baking soda on the rug, work it in with your fingers, let it sit for half an hour, then vacuum with an upholstery attachment.

Avoid Nasty Gym Bag Smells

Fitness consultant John Fawkes, editor of wellness resource The Unwinder, knows how bad gym bags can smell due to bacteria from workout clothes and shoes.

“Simply add a spoonful or two of baking soda to an old tea bag,” he says. “Then toss the sachet right into the bag. It’ll easily last for one to two months before needing replacement.”

Clean Your Microwave

Shanon Serpette, the chief editor at Mom Loves Best, points out that microwaves get surprisingly gross without a good cleaning.

“To clean mine, I put a bowl of water in the microwave with a tablespoon of baking soda in it,” she says. “I run the microwave for three minutes, then wipe the inside of it with a cloth. The steam loosens the dried-on food, and the baking soda makes it smell better!”

Give Your Dog A (Dry) Bath

If your dogs finds bath time stressful, The Spruce has a great tip for keeping him clean and smelling fresh in between unavoidable wet washes. All you need is baking soda – a cup for a large dog; half a cup for a smaller one. Sprinkle it onto your dog’s coat, avoiding the face but including the base of the ears. Then rub it in with your hands, working down through the fur to the skin. After leaving it for a few minutes, give the coat a thorough brush.

Get Rid Of Container Stains

Another baking soda hack Serpette swears by removes spaghetti stains from plastic containers.

“I hate using stained containers after I’ve finished with my spaghetti leftovers,” she says. “To get rid of them, I fill the container with hot water and add three tablespoons of baking soda. After it soaks for an hour, it looks a lot better.”

Exfoliate Your Skin

Baking soda is a vital ingredient in an all-natural dry skin cleanser recipe by board-certified dermatologist Dr. Ava Shamban. First of all, use a blender to mix one cup of grapes (with seeds), one teaspoon of honey and one teaspoon of olive oil. When the grapes are well mashed, add half a teaspoon of baking soda and five tablespoons of milk. Blend slowly to mix well, then refrigerate in a sealed jar until cold. “It’s a fantastic mild exfoliating cleanser for dry skin,” Shamban says.

Clean Your Dishwasher

Whirlpool kitchen expert Katie Sadler loves using baking soda to clean her dishwasher. First of all clear the filter at the bottom of the appliance of any foot bits and debris. Then pour two cups of white vinegar into a glass measuring cup or other dishwasher-safe container and place it upright in the bottom rack. Sadler recommends distilled white vinegar, as it doesn’t have a coloring agent that could stain surfaces.

“Run a normal cycle with the heat dry option turned off, and don’t use detergent,” she says. “After the cycle is complete, sprinkle one cup of baking soda in the bottom of the machine and run a hot water cycle. That’s all it takes for a clean, fresh-smelling dishwasher!”

Age Wood

Carpenter and tool expert Trond Nyland, the founder of Cordless Drill Guide, recommends using baking soda to age wood to achieve a homey, vintage look.

“You can buy and use wood finishing color agents, but chemical stains are just as effective, and this process lasts an incredibly long time without fading,” he says. The recipe is simple: one cup of warm water and one tablespoon of baking soda.

“The strength of this chemical stain changes depending on the wood, with mahogany reacting the best,” he says. When your mixture is ready, cover the wood with thick coats of the paste using a regular paintbrush, then leave it in the sun to dry for several hours.

Polish Your Silverware

Baking soda can remove stains from silverware, with a little help from aluminum foil. In a plastic or glass container, place the foil with the shiny side up. Place the stained silver items into the container, and pour enough hot water in to cover them. Then, add two heaped tablespoons of baking soda to the water until it starts to bubble. Leave the items for soak for about 30 minutes before removing them from the water and rinsing well to remove all traces of baking soda.

Remove Pet Stains

Pet fosterer and founder of My Pet Child John Cho tries to use natural cleaning methods when possible to avoid exposing his pets to toxins. “I use baking soda and vinegar to remove pet stains from my carpets,” he says. “Simply blot any excess moisture with a paper towel; then sprinkle generously with baking soda. Next, spritz with plain white vinegar to foam up the baking soda. This lifts stains and odors from the rug really well, and buys time between professional carpet cleanings.”

Clean Stained Coffee Carafes

Barista, self-proclaimed coffee addict and founder of Coffee Semantics Jamie Hickey uses baking soda to clean stained coffee machine carafes.

“We measure one cup of warm water and then add a quarter cup of baking soda,” Hickey says. “Swirl the mixture around inside the carafe until the baking soda dissolved fully and let it sit for two hours.”

Revive Your Mattress

It’s important to clean your mattress regularly to avoid dust mites and a buildup of dead skin cells. To remove stains, Leanne Stapf, chief operating officer of The Cleaning Authority, recommends spraying your mattress with vinegar, then sprinkling baking soda over the top.

“You can place a towel over the area and let it sit for a couple of hours,” she adds. “Then take your vacuum and go over the mattress for a final clean.”

Remove Buildup On Brushes And Combs

If you have a buildup on your hair brushes and combs – particularly if you use a lot of hair products, like gel – you can use baking soda to strip off the gunk. Stapf recommends soaking brushes and combs in a cup of warm water and baking soda. Leave them overnight to ensure they’re sparkling clean.

Brighten Up Toilet Bowls

Mark Dawson of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing recommends baking soda to tackle even the dirtiest of toilets. “Mix one cup of baking soda and two cups of vinegar, pour them in the bowl and let the mixture sit for about 30 minutes,” he says. “Then go ahead and scrub as normal.”

Unclog Drains

“My favorite baking soda hack is for clogged drains,” says Linda Rubright of Happy House Feng Shui. Rubright pours one part baking soda, two parts vinegar and a tea kettle of hot water down the drain.

“Wait about 15 minutes, then flush with hot water,” she says. “Repeat until cleared. It can take a few times to work but is environmentally friendly and works well!”

Brighten Your Sink

A dull stainless steel sink can be quickly revived with baking soda, as it brightens while it cleans. Stapf recommends sprinkling a little baking soda onto a soft, damp cloth and buffing out the stainless steel. “Rinse well, so you don’t leave behind any streaks,” she adds. If you have a porcelain or enamel sink, mix three tablespoons of baking soda, one tablespoon of dish soap and a quarter cup of warm water and use that to clean off any marks or stains.

Create Washing Soda

Baking soda can be chemically changed into washing soda — which is used in commercial detergents to soften water and combat stains — with the help of an oven.

“This is a great hack if you can’t find washing soda at the store, or need it immediately and have baking soda in your cupboard,” says Sarah Frey, the co-founder of Untamed Space. “I had some tough stains to remove from a set of bed sheets and despite knowing that washing soda would help, was having a hard time finding it in the timeframe,” Frey says. “I’d heard before that I could simply bake baking soda in the oven to make washing soda, so I turned the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat in the oven helps change the sodium bicarbonate into sodium carbonate; all I had to do was take a cookie sheet and spread the baking soda out to fill the edges of the pan and cook it until the texture changed.”

Refresh Ice Trays

Ice trays get exposed to all sorts of different foods in the freezer, meaning odors can get absorbed into the plastic and the ice cubes and affect their taste. To clean out your tray, Stapf suggests running it under warm water to remove any ice residue, then scribbling the tray with a solution made up of two teaspoons of baking soda and half a cup of warm water. “Use a cloth to get into each section of the tray,” she says. “Finish by rinsing with warm water.”

Ditch Blender Odors

We mix a lot of different ingredients to create smoothies and milkshakes, meaning our blenders can end up smelling not-so-sweet. For a deep clean, Stapf suggests pouring a 50/50 baking soda and warm water solution into the blender and leaving it to soak for 10 minutes. Make sure you rinse well before you use it next.

Deodorize Wooden Cutting Boards

Baking soda is a simple solution for a smelly cutting board. All you need to do is sprinkle a little baking soda over the surface and scrub it in with a damp cloth. Finally, rinse well with fresh water.

Scrub Crayon Marks From Walls

If you’re still at the scribbling-on-the-wall stage of parenting, you’ll appreciate this baking soda trick. To remove crayon marks from walls, sprinkle a damp cloth with baking soda and gently wipe the affected part of the wall. This is one you might rely on again and again if your kids just can’t curb those creative urges.

Clean Up After Sea Swimming

To get a super clean feeling in the bathtub after a dip in the sea, Dr. Ceppie Merry swears by baking soda. “Add one pound of sea salt plus one pound of baking soda to warm water,” she says. “Then luxuriate for 20 minutes – it’s amazing!”