When I need to clean my home, my first reaction is not to reach for the store bought cleaner if I can make one at home that does the same job less expensively and probably without the hit to our health. Baking soda is my go-to cleaner for just about everything. Put together with the powerhouse that is vinegar (you can check all the ways I use it at home here), and you rarely need much more!
Why Store Baking Soda
Part of my preparedness strategy is to make sure I have what I need, in case there is a chance that I can’t get out to buy it. I prefer to focus on my basics that can do multiple things, rather than many things that only can accomplish one task. So I keep a few large bags of baking soda handy in my stockpile at all times. Not only is it good for baking and cooking, but so much more can be done with it around the house!
Some of these tips are general everyday tips. But if you think through a localized disaster scenario, baking soda can be one of those things that really saves the day! Can’t take a bath? Refresh with some baking soda. Burn a pot trying to cook over your grill or backyard fire pit? Use some baking soda to get rid of it. Need relief from heat or diaper rash because you don’t have air conditioning anymore, but don’t have a baby, thus don’t have some cream? Use a baking soda paste!
A stockpile is not synonymous with a hoarder. You can choose to stockpile for a month, for three months, for six months, for a year or longer. Determine what is the range you need to be sure you have covered, and make or buy the items you want to make sure you have in stock.
Cleaning Tip – whenever you use baking soda to clean, make sure to go over it once or twice to remove the residue.
Use Baking Soda for Cleaning
DIY Magic Eraser
Dip a damp sponge into baking soda – use to get off crayon marks, scuff marks and other marks on your walls and floors.
A little sprinkle of baking soda and a wet cloth can help scrub the gunk of most surfaces. Mixing it with a little essential oil in a shaker bottle (I love using old parmesan cheese canisters – you know the name brand one that everyone has? Sprinkle about 10 drops of essential oil into the canister full of baking soda and shake it a few times during the day to mix). If you have a particularly tough stain, try spritzing some vinegar on top and allowing to sit on the stain for a bit.
Keep an open box or container full of baking soda to help absorb ‘fridge smell’
Soak bottle/jar in a stock pot of water with 1/4 cup baking soda at medium heat for about 15 min.
Clean your appliances
• In the washing machine, throw in a small box of baking soda and run on your hottest/longest cycle. You can do a second load with vinegar. (I do this during my quarterly cleaning routine)
• In the dishwasher – sprinkle a box of baking soda in the bottom of your dishwasher and then 3 cups of vinegar in a bowl on the top rack. Run with the hottest cycle. (I do this monthly because our dishwasher is older and needs lots of help!)
Put a layer of newspaper at the bottom of your trash can and sprinkle baking soda on top. Not only does the newspaper absorb any moisture that might leak (thus saving you some clean up time), the baking soda helps deodorize the smells coming from the leaks and generally helps it smell better.
Don’t use the expensive, stinky carpet powders! Just use straight baking soda – sprinkle along your carpet, let rest for 15-20 min., and vacuum as normal. I personally don’t recommend using essential oils to scent the baking soda because oils can build up in your carpet causing it to attract more stains, but I know some recommend a few drops per cup for a nicer smell.
Use in the same way you do the carpet. Do this monthly.
Clean and Deodorize Freezer/Fridge
If you’ve had a major power outage and ended up with a fridge/freezer full of spoiled foods, remove the foods immediately, wipe out all liquids and allow to dry. Then go in to clean the fridge and freezer with a strong paste of baking soda and vinegar. Make sure to get crevices, the gaskets, drainage holes/tubes, etc. If mold is persistent, treat with mild bleach solution, allow to dry, then clean again.
Reader Jann suggests: Alternatively, if you really need a good heavy cleaner if it is bad, use a couple of tablespoons of baking soda to a gallon of water and allow to dissolve, then add 1/4 cup bleach. Use that to spray onto the effected areas of mold/mildew/stain to clean. This will work on plastic coolers, too.
A natural way to bring a fresh scent into your living space is to have a small container of baking soda with 10 drops of your favorite essential oil (I love using lemon). I find using a small canning jar with a cardboard insert (with holes) and a ring can work well, or just use an inexpensive glass salt shaker if you don’t want to leave an open bowl around.
Clean & Deodorize drains
If you’ve noticed an infestation of little flying creatures in your kitchen, and you might check to see if your drains are clean. This also helps with cleaning out a drain pipe that is running slow. Pour a cup of baking soda into your drain, follow it with a cup of vinegar and let the stuff work! I usually then use a toothbrush to clean the inside of the sink drain to remove any buildup that may be there in the threads or on the strainer.
Cat Box Deodorizer (works for emergency toilets, too!)
In the same way it works in trashcans, sprinkle baking soda into your cat’s litter box to help neutralize urine smells. You need to clean the box often, but the baking soda helps with the ‘cat fun’ that even a relatively clean box can have. In an emergency, you can use it to help deodorize your emergency toilet, as well.
Stored Linens/Winter wear
If you have to store blankets and winter clothing, sprinkle baking soda in your box or amongst your blankets to help absorb odors that can arise during storage. Helps give your clothes/blankets a fresh smell when you remove them. Of course, if you are using moth balls … nothing is gonna help THAT smell!
Make a thick paste of baking soda and water, spread on the surfaces of your oven, and spritz the surface with vinegar. Let this mixture set for an hour or two. Take a damp sponge and clean. If it is a truly dirty oven, you may need a second round. This works on an outdoor grill, too!
Baked on Grime
As with the oven, baking soda can be great at scrubbing the baked on grease on your cookie sheets or on stainless steel/porcelain pots and pans. This should not be used on non-stick pots and pans. There are a few ways to accomplish it:
- Create a thick paste and allow to set on surface, then scrub with warm water vinegar spray
- Sprinkle some baking soda into the pot/pan with at least 3″ of water, set on stove and allow to simmer for 15 min.
Put out a grease fire
This really works best on small fires. You’re better off using a metal lid to contain it inside a pot/skillet or using a fire extinguisher if it is large. But if you have a hot spot…use baking soda to help stop the fire.
I will add a quarter cup of baking soda to laundry that is particularly ‘fragrant’ to help alleviate smell during the wash cycle.
Much like the oven or other appliances, I love spritzing my microwave with vinegar, then sprinkling baking soda in it to let it do the scrubbing for me. Just remember to use a damp cloth to get the residue out after.
Deodorize Pet Beds
Sprinkle baking soda on, allow to sit for an hour, then vacuum.
Use a thin past to clean your stainless steel appliances, then buff off with a clean cloth.
Remove Hairspray Buildup
Form a loose, watery paste and spread on the floor and allow to set. Use a plastic scrubber (NOT METAL) or a mesh cloth to scrub away the build up. You may have better luck with a borax paste if you have years of buildup. But it will work if you do it often. This works on walls and doors as well.
Make Your Own Washing Soda
You may love to do a homemade laundry detergent, but have a heck of a time finding any store that carries washing soda now. And other than ordering from Amazon, what do you do? Make your own. Heating 2-3 cups of baking soda (on a roll pan sheet or baking dish) in a 400F oven for an hour at least (stirring once to mix). When you see a complete change of white fluffy to white flat…you’ve got the conversion. (thanks to reader Mara for reminding me about this!)
Use Baking Soda for Self-Care
Sunburn or Itch Relief
Create a thin paste and apply to the area affected to help with sunburns or itchy patches. Alternatively, put a half cup of baking soda in a warm bath and soak in it for similar results.
If you are experiencing acid reflux (and not a chronic condition), you can mix 1 TB into 8 oz of water, allow to dissolve and drink to help neutralize the acid causing the discomfort.
Remove buildup on scalp 1 TB baking soda to shampoo. Shampoo as normal, but do a good massage. Follow up with a rinse of Apple Cider Vinegar to restore the shine.
Make Your Own Deodorant
You’ll need a few other supplies, but it is great for deodorizing. You can get my full recipe here. I’m not suggesting this because it’s trendy or on everyone else’s list. I suggest it because I actually use it and it works better than any commercial deodorant I’ve used.
Relieve Heat or Diaper Rash
Being in moist, unclean conditions leaves your body at risk for rashes and fungus to grow in places you don’t normally show the public. If you don’t have babies you would normally stock for, you might not even have a diaper rash ointment to use, nor baby powder. Baking soda comes in handy with a paste to bring relief to those rashes. It absorbs moisture, works as a fungicide, and brings relief. As a powder on its own, it can give you relief from sweating and feeling a bit more fresh.
Use a 2:1 ratio of coconut oil to baking soda to use for a skin exfoliator for your hands and feet. Or, put a tablespoon in your body wash during your shower as an all over exfoliant. Be wary here as baking soda can effect the pH of your skin. Be gentle at first and watch for signs of skin irritation.
Put baking soda and a few drops of your favorite essential oil (I really love ) in an old sock, tie off the end, and place the sock inside a shoe to store. It helps absorb moisture and smells, adds a fresh scent, and keeps your shoe area smelling nicer. If you have a problem with smells, you can sprinkle baking soda directly into your shoes.
Dusting on a little baking soda to various parts of your body that may develop some ‘funk’ when you get hot and sweaty is a good way to refresh if you can’t clean. Baby powder can be used in the same fashion, but we just choose to stock one product.
There are times when a shower just isn’t an option. You an always refresh the look of your hair by putting in a few teaspoons of baking soda into the palm of your hand, then massaging that into your scalp. It helps absorb the oils that are building up. Then comb out. Remember… start with small amounts until you find what works for you. You can always add more, but you can’t remove the snow on your head if you use too much!
Instead of using those harsh cleaners to scrub your hands after yardwork or work in the garage, make a paste of baking soda and water, and scrub your hands with it. Not only will you be cleaning, you’ll be doing some gentle exfoliating, as well. Be sure to use a moisturizer after to keep your skin softer. I know my cuticles usually take a hit after using the scrub.
While a cornmeal tea soak will probably work better in the long run, using baking soda in the same fashion will help relief tired feet and help prevent toe/foot fungus from growing.
Acid Neutralizer in the body
Not only is taking a little baking soda good for acid reflux/heartburn, it can be a relief for ulcer pain (but please make sure to check with doctor) and UTI’s (again, be sure that you’ve corrected the problem causing the infection in the first place. The baking soda neutralizes your urine making it less painful to pass, but doesn’t solve the underlying problem of infection). It’s also been suggested to be helpful to those with kidney problems to help kidneys manage acids that it can’t do well on it’s own. It has also been suggested to help with lactic acid issues after heavy exercise and with cancer treatment to help lower the pH of the body. Because I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on the web, please talk to your health care provider and do your own research on these claims.
Using Baking Soda Outdoors
A solution of 1 TB of baking soda and 1 TB of horticultural oil or Dawn dish soap to 1 gallon of water can be an effective solution to powdery mildew and other fungal issues with plants. Spray on plants on a cloudy dry day can help as a fungicide. However, sodium can burn leaves, so test out on a small portion of the plant or dilute further. Also, try to avoid getting the solution on the ground around the plants.
Clean Patio Furniture
Much like the indoor scrub, an outdoor scrub made with a cup of baking soda and enough water and vinegar to make a paste will help clean off the grime from a summer’s use of your furniture, or the build up that can happen in storage.
Keep a 1/4 Cup baking soda solution in a spray bottle to help keep down grease fires while you grill. Simply spray the solution at the base of flames to help tamp them down. (Closing the lid is what is needed if a fire begins to get out of control. Remember to turn off your gas if you are using propane).
Treat Bloat in Goats
Prairie Homestead gives a great run down how baking soda can help regulate a goat’s digestive system. (suggestion from reader Dawna)
Refresh car interior
Sprinkle baking soda onto your floor mats and seats
Dry Shampoo for Dogs
Dogs need showers, too, but if you don’t have access to water or time, sprinkle baking soda on dog’s fur (be sure to keep away from face so he doesn’t breathe it in), comb out and you’ve got a dry bath! I’d say try this on your cat, but don’t. Just don’t :)
A very thin paste and a sponge on your windshield (even headlights) will help remove the gunk buildup of bugs and other particles. Make sure to fully dissolve the baking soda before using, and wipe in a circular fashion. Some even suggest 1 part baking soda to 4 parts water for the paint, but be warned that this could still leave small scratches in your clear coat.
How to Store Baking Soda
Baking soda can absorb moisture from the air, so I like to keep it in the zip top bags the larger quantities come in, and transfer to a smaller container for daily use. I also have a storage tote that I store excess cleaning supplies in (Fels Naptha for laundry, borax, baking soda and washing soda (Here’s my recipe for a DIY laundry soap) to keep them protected form elements. It will keep for up to a year on the shelf if not opened. I will also store smaller boxes in zip top bags in the pantry.
To test baking soda’s activeness, pour some into a bowl and add a little vinegar. If it does not bubble, your baking soda is old. You can still use it for many of its scrubbing properties, though!
Share your suggestions!
Those are the many ways I use baking soda in my home, plus a few more I’ll add to my “Give a try” file. How do you use baking soda in your home?