Baking soda is one of those catch-all substances that can be used for practically anything. From cooking and cleaning to washing clothes and keeping shoes odor-free, baking soda is a staple that should have a home in every cabinet and pantry. Below, we answer what is baking soda, define baking soda vs. baking powder, and share eight unique baking soda uses. Read on!
What Is Baking Soda?
Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda. It has leavening properties, so when it reacts with acid, it produces carbon dioxide--or tons of bubbles. Baking soda is commonly used when making baked goods, as it causes things like muffins, cakes, and cookies rise.
Baking Soda vs. Baking Powder
Baking soda and baking powder are both chemical leaveners. Baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate, whereas baking powder is a combination of sodium bicarbonate, a powdered acid, and corn starch. You can substitute baking powder for baking soda at a three-to-one ratio. Baking powder is ideal for recipes without acidic ingredients.
8 Unique Baking Soda Uses
Believe it or not, baking soda has super-power properties. Here are eight unique baking soda uses:
1. Soothe your skin.
Baking soda has a plethora of uses, not the least of which is serving to improve your health and cleanliness. If you’ve acquired a sunburn, mosquito bites, or have dry, irritated skin, soaking in a bath that contains baking soda can help reduce skin itchiness. Pour 1-2 cups of baking soda into a lukewarm bath and submerge the affected areas for almost instant relief.
2. Clean your stove and other appliances.
Baking soda makes a great cleaning tool. Mix equal parts of baking soda and water in a spray bottle to create a powerful and eco-friendly cleaning solution. This homemade spray is effective for wiping down surfaces, countertops, and even bathroom tiles. The gentle abrasive nature of baking soda combined with its deodorizing properties makes it an ideal ingredient for an all-purpose cleaner, from the toughest stains or caked-on grime on your stove to other appliances like your microwave. You should be able to remove stains and effectively keep your appliances clear of debris. The same mixture can even be used for stains on kitchen floors, coffee mugs and dishware, and marble.
3. Wash your fruit and vegetables.
If you wash off your produce to ensure that you’re not consuming any unsafe pesticides, consider doing so with a bit of baking soda. Baking soda can remove pesticide residue and take the place of any produce wash you might buy. Soak your produce in a solution of water and a few tablespoons of baking soda, and then rinse after a few minutes so they’re ready to eat.
Once you've washed your produce, you'll need to store it correctly. Check out the best ways to store fresh fruits and veggies now.
4. Deodorize (yourself).
Baking soda has excellent deodorizing properties that can keep your clothes (and yourself) free of odor. Rubbing baking soda on your armpits can ward off the smell of your perspiration and is an easy way to keep fresh without relying on chemical deodorants. It should be noted that baking soda can be a bit abrasive when applied directly, so proceed with caution when using it or explore some natural deodorant recipes that incorporate baking soda.
5. Deodorize (your shoes).
When it comes to baking soda’s ability to neutralize scents, the same principles apply to fabric. If you have shoes that retain odor or find that your socks smell in certain shoes, consider baking soda cleaning. Creating sachets (small packets of baking soda wrapped in cheesecloth or thin fabric) and placing them in your shoes can wipe out any lingering odors.
6. Deep clean your clothes.
This is perhaps the most well-known of the alternative uses for baking soda, but it bears repeating. Adding baking soda to your laundry loads can not only brighten your clothing, but also eliminate tough stains or smells—and help you get the most from your laundry detergent and laundry loads.
Using baking soda in your laundry? Make sure you're properly maintaining your washer. Check out 12 DIY washer and dryer maintenance tips.
7. Freshen Up Carpets
Revitalize your carpets and rugs with a sprinkle of baking soda. Simply sprinkle baking soda liberally over your carpets, leave it to sit for at least 15 minutes (or longer for deeper cleaning), and then vacuum it up. Baking soda acts as a natural deodorizer, absorbing and neutralizing odors trapped in your carpets. This quick and easy method will leave your carpets smelling fresh and clean.
8. Bring Back Fresh Book Smells
If you've got a collection of books that have developed a strange smell or lost their fresh scent, baking soda can come to the rescue. Place the affected books in a sealed container or plastic bag along with an open box of baking soda. Let them sit for a few days, and the baking soda will absorb the musty odors, leaving your books smelling much fresher, like you just got them from your favorite bookstore.
Can't Find Your Baking Soda?
Now that you know about some unique baking soda uses, it’s time to put them to the test. Do you have some baking soda but can’t find it? You might want to check out our article, “How to Organize Your Pantry in Five Steps,” for easy tips on optimizing your space.