13 baking soda uses to clean almost everything

measuring bowl of baking soda
CC BY 3.0 Margaret Badore

We also know baking soda is in many of our favorite recipes. It’s also coming back in style for many more uses around the house, as more people look for non-toxic and biodegradable cleaning solutions. Baking soda is a key ingredient in many DIY beauty and cleaning products, thanks to its gentle abrasiveness, smell fighting properties and ability to absorb oils.

What could be safer than a cleaning potion that’s also edible? Below, you’ll find a round-up of ways to use baking soda to clean everything from a clogged drain to a greasy head of hair.

1. Unclog drains

Drano is really toxic stuff, and you don’t have to take our word for it—just read the warning labels on the back of the bottle. The next time you have a clogged drain, use this TreeHugger tip and pour a cup of baking soda, followed by a cup of white vinegar down your drain. Then plug the drain with the stopper or a rag and let it work for at least 15 minutes. If the issue isn’t fixed, you can always rinse and repeat with no fear of harsh chemicals backing up in your sink or tub.

2. Clean pots without scrubbing

I learned this tip for tackling daunting pots from Martha Stewart. Fill your pot with a few inches of water and add two tablespoons of baking soda. Let it simmer for 15 minutes, and then scrape whatever crusty stuff is left off with a wooden spoon.

At our sister site MNN, Robin Shreeves tested out a baking soda and hydrogen peroxide paste that promised to make her heavily stained pots look like new. However, she was pretty disappointed.

3. Kill bad smells

Many bad or musty smells are the result of slightly acidic molecules, which is why baking soda’s pH-balancing properties help clear up odors. Keeping an open container of baking soda in your fridge, cabinets or closet will reduce bad smells. It’s good to replace the soda about once every six months.

4. Freshen your mattress

You can put baking soda’s smell-fighting properties to work on your bed. Just sprinkle the powder on your mattress and make the bed. When you change the sheets next, vacuum it up. Find more tips to clean your mattress without chemicals here.

5. Carpets

If your carpet is just a little musty, you can sprinkle baking soda and then vacuum it up (similar to the mattress trick). However, you can also scrub out carpet stains using baking soda and water. After the power dries, you can still just vacuum it up.

6. Clean the oven and the fridge

Your grandmother probably cleaned her oven this way, and it’s time this non-toxic method made a comeback. Mix up a paste of water and baking soda and spread it over the interior of the fridge or oven. Let it sit overnight or for about 12 hours. Then using a spatula, gently scrape off all the dried paste and wipe any remaining residue with a rag.

7. Counters, tiles and linoleum floors

A similar water and baking soda paste also makes a great scrub for all kinds of surfaces around the house. Use it to clean tiles, marble, counter tops and linoleum floors without harsh chemicals.

8. Grout

Use an old toothbrush and baking soda to get residue and grime off of grout. Get more green tips on cleaning grout at Mother Nature Network.

9. Toilets

Just sprinkle, scrub and flush. Baking soda’s abrasive qualities are great for cleaning porcelain.

10. Whiten your linens

I learned about this trick from Katherine Martinko, who suggests mixing equal parts of baking soda and lemon juice to make your white towels, sheets and clothing whiter. This mixture works as a mild bleaching agent.

11. Deodorant

We all know baking soda is great for cookies, but it’s used in a lot of DIY beauty and personal-care recipes. Here’s a homemade deodorant that really works.

12. Get the onion smell off your hands

I’m not saying this is better than hand soap, but it works just as well. After you’re done chopping, rub a sprinkle of baking soda and a few drops of water into a paste in your hands. Rinse it off after a bit of scrubbing.

13. Wash your hair

Going totally no-poo isn’t for everyone, but baking soda is one way to de-grease without worrying about chemicals. Mix a ratio of 1 tablespoon of baking soda per cup of water in a bottle and shake it up. Pour it on your hair and massage it around for about a minute before rinsing. You'll get a squeaking clean feeling! Some people like to follow this with a rinse of apple cider vinegar.

Tags: Cleaning