You likely have a box of baking soda tucked away in your kitchen cabinet — mostly for cooking and baking. But this unassuming ingredient can help out in so many different ways, from easing sunburn to clearing a clogged drain. It’s also an inexpensive, all-natural stand-in for your favorite store-bought shampoo, deodorant, zit cream, mouthwash…and more. Is there anything baking soda can’t do?
Baking soda (aka sodium bicarbonate) is a simple compound typically used in baked goods. Cookies, cakes, and breads owe their irresistibly fluffy texture to it.
Baking soda reacts to acidic compounds — such as lemon juice or vinegar — to produce carbon dioxide which in turn helps dough to rise.
But aside from starring in your favorite banana bread recipe, baking soda boasts a ton of other household uses, so strap in and get the most from your amazing household product!
1. Foamy shampoo
When it comes to shampoo, try DIY-ing from time to time — or when you’re in a pinch. Baking soda, when mixed with plenty of water (think 1 tablespoon of baking soda per 1 cup of water), gives store-bought shampoo a run for its money. Don’t be alarmed if you don’t get tons of suds — it’s still working its magic.
2. Dry shampoo
Dry shampoo is basically a godsend, so running out of the stuff can make for the worst kind of morning. Luckily baking soda’s a great alternative — just work it into your roots to help soak up some oil, stat. A word to the wise: Brush thoroughly to avoid the telltale white residue.
3. Simple deodorant
This may be your cue to ditch your deodorant — baking soda can keep your pits so fresh and so clean.
Use a makeup brush to smooth it under your arms, and consider adding a drop or 2 of essential oil to the mix for a pleasantly fragrant formula that you can tailor to your preferences. You can also mix it with coconut oil and shea butter for a deodorant that resembles the kind you usually find in the store.
4. Breakouts fixer
Breakouts got you down? Before you make an emergency run to the drugstore, try baking soda — which is both an antiseptic and anti-inflammatory. Make a paste using 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon water. Dab it onto trouble areas, and in a few days, you should be breakout-free.
5. Skin-soothing bath
Slipping into a warm bath is relaxing enough on its own. Add baking soda to easily rinse away any oil and sweat on your skin. Bonus — it can also help soothe sunburns and itchiness (including bug bites). For a sunburn, add 1-2 cups off baking soda to a lukewarm bath (not hot). Go on, take the time to treat yourself!
6. Clean hairbrushes
Baking soda can leave your hairbrush looking just as good as the day you bought it. Once you remove any strands of hair, make a paste with a cup of water and a teaspoon each of baking soda and shampoo.
Dab the paste onto an unused toothbrush and start scrubbing those bristles to clean and disinfect.
7. Boost gum health
Baking soda can do your mouth a whole lot of good — health experts believe it may help treat gingivitis (gum disease), canker sores, and more. And while it may not necessarily lower bacteria levels in your mouth significantly, one study showed it increased saliva pH levels, which discourages bacterial growth. Here are a few things to try:
- For healthy gums, whip baking soda and hydrogen peroxide into a paste and work into your gum area. Leave it on for a couple of minutes, then rinse it off.
- Make a mouthwash to freshen breath and minimize bacteria. Stir 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda into 4 ounces of warm water, then swish in your mouth for 10 seconds or so.
8. Protect and whiten teeth
Baking soda is a well-known option for whitening teeth naturally, and can also protect your teeth by neutralizing the acid in your mouth after vomiting (good to know if you’re experiencing morning sickness or a stomach bug). Dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda into a cup of water and rinse your mouth out before you brush your pearly whites.
9. Soothe razor burn
Say sayonara to rashes after using a razor. To soothe irritation, add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to 1 cup of water, apply to the affected area, then let it dry before washing it off.
10. Relieve heartburn
There’s no need to buy Tums or Alka-Seltzer when you have a box of baking soda at home. The next time you feel the first signs of heartburn, mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda into a glass of cold water and drink it slowly. This should reduce acid buildup and soothe your stomach. Note: If you’re limiting your sodium intake for health reasons, be aware that baking soda is very high in sodium (630 mg per 1/2 teaspoon).
11. Boost workouts
Athletes commonly use baking soda as a supplement, since some studies have shown sodium bicarbonate can extend peak performance, especially during high intensity or HIIT training.
During high-energy workouts, your muscles produce lactic acid (when you “feel the burn” that’s what it is). Lactic acid also lowers the pH inside cells, which can cause muscles to tire. Due to its high pH, baking soda may help delay fatigue when taken 1-2 hours before activity. How much should you take, you ask? One study recommends 135 mg of baking soda per pound of body weight.
Baking soda is a great all-in-one cleaner for your home — especially for high-traffic, high-grime areas like kitchens and bathrooms. It’s particularly effective when combined with vinegar (an acid) to rid your nooks and crannies of bacteria, mold, and other harmful microorganisms.
- In the kitchen: use baking soda to clean countertops, tile, ovens, microwaves, and grease stains
- In the bathroom: use baking soda to disinfect and whiten tile and grout, toilets, tubs, sinks, and showers
12. All-purpose cleaner
Experts call baking soda an all-purpose cleaner for good reason: It works on just about every surface. Simply mix it with water or combine with liquid soap and essential oils for a cleaning paste that’ll tackle everything from crusty pots to smudge-filled surfaces.
13. Clean your fridge
Don’t forget your fridge during your next cleaning sesh. The USDA recommends wiping down the insides with a mixture of hot water and baking soda to get rid of any pesky germs and odors. Ditto for your microwave.
14. Keep your fridge smelling fresh
Nothing can kill your appetite like a smelly fridge. But all it takes to neutralize the stank is a box of baking soda, which actually gets rid of odor particles. Just open it up and stash it on a shelf — because no one wants to smell the leftovers from Taco Tuesday.
15. Get rid of grease
So, you cooked up a storm, and your kitchen has seen better days. Clean up your counters and stovetop with three things: baking soda, vinegar, and a little elbow grease.
Start by applying white vinegar to the greasy surface. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then scrub it with a damp sponge or cloth that has baking soda sprinkled on it.
16. Wipe walls
Whether you’ve scuffed up your walls or they’ve fallen victim to crayon-carrying tots, rest easy — you don’t need a fresh coat of paint. Just put baking soda on a damp sponge and scrub away.
17. Clear the air
When a room smells more funky than fresh, you know you’ve got a problem. Luckily there’s an easy fix. For anyone who’s sensitive to artificial fragrances or prefers to steer clear of industrial chemicals, baking soda is a great alternative to commercial air fresheners. Here’s the how-to:
- DIY baking soda room freshener: Put 1/3 cup baking soda in a small glass jar. Squeeze 10-12 drops of your favorite essential oil into it and cover with a small piece of paper or thin fabric secured with string or a rubber band. The bad odors should be gone in a few hours.
18. Stop carpet stains
Few things are better than a glass of red wine after a long day, except of course when that vino spills on your carpet. In that case, quickly grab white vinegar and baking soda. Sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda on the area, then spray or drizzle a 1:1 mixture of water and vinegar on top. Let it sit until dry on the surface, up to an hour. Then give it a good scrub with a brush and vacuum any leftovers. The baking soda and vinegar work together to soak up the stain so that spill can stay a secret.
19. Clean produce
When you bring your fruits and veggies home, clean ‘em! Baking soda can remove any harmful pesticides. Add 2 to 3 tablespoons of baking soda to a bowl of cool water, then throw your produce in. See you never, dirt and pesticides.
20. Keep silverware and steel shiny
You don’t want those surfaces to lose their luster. To keep them bright, you’ll need an aluminum pan (or a pan lined with aluminum foil), boiling water, and (you guessed it!) baking soda.
Place the tarnished silver in the pan, then pour in the boiling water and baking soda — use a quarter cup for every 4 cups of boiling water. It’ll start bubbling, and after a few minutes, most silver and steel will look good as new.
21. Care for your clothes
Smelly gym gear? Stained clothes? Knock them both out with a baking soda paste. Use 1 part baking soda, 1 part water, and rub the resulting paste into the smelliest or stained areas. Let it sit for 5 minutes, then wash it off with cold water.
As a general fabric whitener, you can also add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the washer along with your regular dose of laundry detergent.
22. Clear clogged drains
One of the worst things about cleaning the bathroom is dealing with gross drains. Those slimy hairballs? Shudder. Your plan of action? Pour 1 cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by 1 cup of hot vinegar. Finish up by pouring boiling water down the drain. No more showering with ankle-deep puddles at your feet.
23. Extinguish grease fires
Cooking oil gives an irresistible flavor to some of our favorite foods, but when that oil gets too hot, you can have a grease fire on your hands. And that’s one type of fire you can’t douse with water.
Instead, extinguish it with baking soda. Be generous with the amount you throw on — you’ll need a lot to put it out.
24. Freshen up the litter box
Anyone with cats knows that cleaning the litter box is the worst part about having feline friends. But there’s a simple way to eliminate those pesky odors — sprinkle baking soda at the bottom of the litter box. The baking soda soaks up the scents, making your home the cat’s meow.