The Invaluable, Versatile Baking Soda

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The Invaluable, Versatile Baking Soda


Recently I discovered that baking soda has its own national day. Naturally I wanted to know why. What makes baking soda such awell used product?

I’ve heard it recommended over the years for various things by various people. My Dad even used it for teeth brushing at times.

These days with more people trying to get back to basics, we are seeing increased usage of it again. It’s a very effective cleaner and deodorizer that is safe for use on our skin and for baking.

That’s rather amazing in itself. I had no idea it could be put to work in so many ways.

Have you considered how useful a product it is?

Most of us use it in the refrigerator to reduce odors. Of course we use it often when baking too.  Its uses go far beyond that.

  • Did you know you can use a few tablespoons in a sink of water to clean pesticides from fruit and vegetables?
  • Or that you can sprinkle it on steps to melt ice and give you better traction? Without harm to the surface either.
  • A paste of baking soda and water will remove bugs from your car’s grill. Let set for a little while and wipe clean.
  • Speaking of grills, sprinkle some on the brush you use to clean your BBQ grill to make it easier to clean.
  • It is said to remove cravings for sweets even! Just a teaspoon is a glass of warm water swished around in your mouth will do it. Don’t swallow it. Spit it out.
  • Another of the most popular uses is on clogged drains. First pour baking soda into the drain (a cup), then add an equal amount of vinegar.
  • It’s good in a bath to relieve sunburn, as a paste to relieve itching, and more.
  • A three to one paste of baking soda and water makes a great skin exfoliator.
  • Add a dash to your shampoo when washing your hair to remove product build up.
  • Dip into it with your wet toothbrush to clean and help whiten your teeth.
  • Use it to clean microwaves, coffee makers, even the kitchen counters. Actually use it on the whole kitchen!
  • It will remove soap build up from your shower and tub.
  • You can freshen sheets, towels and laundry by adding baking soda to the rinse cycle.
  • It will deodorize trash cans, microwaves and garbage disposals, not just the refrigerator and freezer.
  • Keep a container of it in the linen closet too to keep them smelling fresh.
  • Pets in the house? Use baking soda in cat litter boxes, on carpet, and on the pet itself to remove odors.
  • Don’t forget pet beds, sofas, any area that might retain odors.  Sprinkle, leave it for 15 minutes or so, then vacuum up.
  • A half cup in the washing machine helps liquid detergents work more effectively.
  • For more whitening power, add 1/4 cup to the bleach you are using for whitening.
  • Actually all your clothes will be brighter if you add a cup to your wash cycle.
  • Add some to your kitchen detergent, especially when you have food baked on.
  • Children’s toys looking grim?  Wipe with baking soda and water, or soak then wash in the mixture.
  • If they happen to color on the wall while you are cleaning their toys, use baking soda and water to remove the crayon.

All from a product that we can use in food. It is most commonly used in baking to expand batter. Nice to know it is something we can use on our bodies even that isn’t damaging. It is sodium though, so if salt intake is an issue for cholesterol or congestive heart failure, you should watch your usage. But if you are using it for teeth cleaning or as a mouthwash, you needn’t swallow it.

While the ancient Egyptians used a form of it for cleaning, the first use in food is said to be in 1843 when chemist, Alfred Bird, created baking soda. His wife was allergic to yeast and eggs, so he was searching for something that would work as a substitute. His handy creation helped keep the military in that day supplied with bread and other batter products.

An interesting background for a product we take for granted. I’ll be experimenting with it, trying a variety of the different uses now that I know of them.

What about you? Do you use baking soda for something not listed here? Share, if so, won’t you?

Most of us tend to buy baking soda in the small containers that fit easily into the refrigerator for freshening.  But when yo start to use it for laundry and cleaning, you may find you go through it much faster.  Did you know it is available in large containers?  This one is 13.5 pounds, with a resealable top.  You can then have small containers for the bath, the fridge, and anywhere else you will use it.






Merry Citarella, often writing as Merrci, writes on a wide range of topics. Recently relocated to the Oregon Coast in the northwest United States, she frequently writes travel features on the beautiful Pacific Northwest. She specializes in health and aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, food, lifestyle, and book reviews. For more information you can see her on The Writers’Door. You can read more articles here or at her websites Alzheimers HQ and Simple Living Ideas

Author: Jackie Jackson

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  1. Merry, I wish I could buy baking soda by the 5-gallon bucket, I use so much of it! Just last week, I dumped a tablespoon of BS in one of my favorite Klean Kanteen to-go mugs, filled it with hot water, and let it sit awhile.

    That mug had developed a stale coffee smell that made it unpleasant to use on hot days, when I fill it with lemon-infused ice water instead of coffee.

    After an hour or two, I remembered to rinse out the mug, and the smell–and bad taste–was gone.

    Of course, I bake with baking soda too. Like Nancy in the comments before me, I grew up on fluffy soda biscuits. Yum.

    Thanks for all the tips.

    • It would be nice! I wonder if food supply houses sell big containers. I love hearing how it took the odor out of the cup. Everyone has a new and terrific use. It’s very interesting to learn so many uses. Thanks for commenting!

  2. You are right Nancy, that is a very important feature! To have something clean–even deep clean–that is safe around little ones and pets is a huge plus to the product. Amazing it got the odor out of your car too! So versatile. It’s wonderful!

  3. Merry, baking soda is a wonderful product and as you described it so well, has so many uses. The thing I like about it is it’s non-toxic. You can clean a counter or any surface with it and not worry about someone getting it on their skin or in their mouths (babies and pets in particular.) And the best biscuits I ever ate came from my Mom, which were made with all-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda. Its power as a deodorizer works better sometimes than the harmful sprays that are on the market. When I turned over a slow cooker full of Italian Beef on the way to a potluck, on the floor of my car, it reeked. We live in a hot dry desert, and that smell got raunchy…quickly. Baking soda to the rescue. I simply poured unadulterated baking soda on the place where it dumped, and not only did it cut the odor, it also made clean up extremely easy a couple days after. It’s an all-around-product for sure, and your article sure does do it justice. Excellent work.

  4. So many uses!! Here is another 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of cold water, stir and drink. this will stop Heartburn. I’ve used it before and it works, but I don’t advise using this method too often.

    • Thank you Sam. I wondered about that. It does remind me of Alka seltzer. It is good to know it’s there as a low cost alternative should one need it!

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