We’ve long known that baking soda is a miracle ingredient when it comes to home and beauty DIYs, but we didn’t realize just how versatile it was until The Natural Home: Simple, Pure Cleaning Solutions and Recipes for a Healthy House landed in our office. This comprehensive excerpt tells you exactly what to pair this magical ingredient with and how to use it for maximum safety and efficacy.
A true miracle product, baking soda is inexpensive, versatile; makes your laundry whiter; removes stains; freshens the air, and eliminates unpleasant odors. A deodorizing agent, disinfectant, and stain remover, baking soda can be used instead of most household products around the home.
How should you store baking soda?
One of the main properties of baking powder is its capacity to absorb. Therefore, it's incredibly important to store it in tightly sealed packaging, away from harsh odors. Under the right conditions, it can keep for up to four years. However, don’t be alarmed if a few bubbles form in the packet—the bicarbonate is simply "clumping," or binding together.
If you’ve forgotten all about your baking soda at the back of a damp cupboard and now it's hard, you'll need to throw it away as it will have lost all its properties. Worse still, it will have already absorbed odors and relatively innocuous substances, which could render it harmful. And don’t feel bad about throwing it away, as baking soda is biodegradable and very cheap.
Try this test if you're unsure whether your baking soda is still effective: Pour 1 tablespoon into a glass of water and add a few drops of lemon or white vinegar. Does it froth? If so, it has retained all its properties. If it doesn’t, it’s lost them.
Baking soda's cleaning allies.
Baking soda is mostly used on its own or with water. But you can enhance its strength by combining it with other products like lemon, coarse salt, and, above all, its great accomplice, white vinegar.
Adding white vinegar to baking soda enhances its scouring action. This is a dream duo for unblocking sinks, clogged pipework, or sluggish drainage.
Caution: Mixing white vinegar with baking soda causes a chemical reaction. The mixture becomes frothy and swells because of the carbon dioxide released. It isn’t harmful, but be sure to open your windows to avoid nose and eye irritation.
Lemon blends perfectly with baking soda. Mixing 1 teaspoon of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of lemon juice in a ½ quart of warm water makes for an effective, safe deodorizing agent that can clean hard surfaces and make them smell great.
Sea salt is rich in iodine and has antibacterial properties. It’s a whitening agent that enhances the power of the baking soda, but be careful—table salt is not as gentle as baking soda. Unlike baking soda, it should always be dissolved in water when used as a cleaner.
How to use baking soda on everything.
Do you wash dishes by hand? Sprinkle a little baking soda into the water. You’ll boost the efficiency of the dishwashing soap and you won’t have to scrub as much.
If you have grime stuck to the bottom of the saucepan, pour a mixture made with 2 tablespoons of baking soda and one glass of water into the saucepan, to a depth of ½ inch. After a good hour, all the grease and residue will loosen up.
If your porcelain cups are stained with tea or coffee, fill your cup with water mixed with 1 tablespoon of baking soda and soak. The stains should disappear by themselves. If they’re resistant, sprinkle baking soda over a sponge and rub them. If the stains are still proving hard to remove, bring the mixture to a boil for 5 to 7 minutes, and then leave it to cool. The baking soda will loosen the residue. Finish off with a sponge (the nonabrasive side) or remove the residue with a wooden spoon.
Baking soda can help keep your appliances clean, no matter what they're made of. Just sprinkle baking soda over a damp sponge and rub gently into the interior and exterior surfaces of your dishwater and refrigerator. Leave it to work its magic for a few minutes before wiping clean. I'd recommend a thorough cleaning—seals, nooks, and crannies included—every week or so.
Then, a few times a year, use a stronger treatment for the fridge: Put a small teaspoonful of black soap in a bowl of water mixed with baking soda (50/50). Clean with a sponge, and then rinse with warm water mixed with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar.
Baking soda can’t clean your laundry on its own. However, it makes the washing detergent more effective so that you'll need to use only half as much of it. As a softening and whitening agent, it’s an excellent addition to your laundry, but you should never use it on wool or silk.
For whites, pour 2 to 3 tablespoons of baking soda into the washing detergent compartment or directly into the machine, and then run your usual setting. If your whites have turned really gray, add 10 ounces (300 grams) of baking soda per medium load to the washing detergent compartment on the last rinse. This is a healthy alternative to bleach.
Yep, baking soda can even help your cut flowers last longer! Add a pinch of baking soda to the vase water to prolong the life of your bouquets. Another benefit: The water will stay clean and smell fresh.