Posted by: Avivah | December 11, 2009

Uses for baking soda

>>On another subject, I am anxiously awaiting your post on baking soda. All of a sudden I seem to be using it in so many things.<<

>>I am always looking for ways to be more frugal and I noticed u sed don’t use coupons. I was wondering, what brand do u or did u use for diapers, laundry detergent, and I get the impression ur more “green” in terms of healthy choices. Do u use bleach or chemicle cleaners or is ther another alternative for killing bacteria or viruses in the house?<<

Since both of these requests came in within a day of each other, it looks like it’s time for me to share about the magic of baking soda!

In answer to the second question, no, I don’t use chemical cleaners, but I do periodically use bleach for whitening whites – very periodically.  Baking soda is an incredibly effective, inexpensive, and versatile replacement for many household cleaners.  It can replace some of the things you’d buy as health and beauty aids.  It seems that there are endless uses for it, but I’ll share some of what we’ve found most helpful.

I’ll start with my favorite uses that I start my day with.

  • Toothpaste – I don’t like fluoride based toothpastes (due to toxicity), and though I could have gotten plenty of name brand toothpastes free during my stint couponing, I wasn’t interested even at that price.  I keep a small container of baking soda on my bathroom counter, and after moistening my toothbrush, dip it in so there is just a tiny bit on the toothbrush.  You need only a very small amount; using a lot would be counterproductive since it would be overly abrasive.  You can also mix up your own toothpaste by using a mix of 70% coconut oil to 30% baking soda.
  • Deoderant – this is something I really love, since anti-perspirant was something I continued to buy for years, despite concerns it was inherently problematic (it’s not a good thing to block the pores that release the toxins from your body).  There are various recipes I intended to try out, but started with plain baking soda and after a year ago of using this in all seasons and situations, can say with confidence that it’s very effective – no odor at all.  I take a generous pinch and rub in on clean skin.
  • Some inevitably falls into the bathroom sink, but since I wipe it down every morning as part of my routine, it doesn’t matter to me.  In fact, baking soda is useful as a dry cleanser for sinks, tubs, and toilets.  Sprinkle a little on and rub.
  • I tried baking soda as a shampoo replacement and didn’t care for it, but I didn’t give it a fair try.  You really need to be willing to do it for several weeks, to give your hair a chance to adjust and reset its oil levels.  That’s the biggest challenge, the adjustment period.  Dd15 used it for months and it was great, but when she went to camp the water was different and her hair felt stiff, so she switched back to regular shampoo.  To do this, you mix some baking soda and water, massage it into your hair, and rinse.  Your hair will feel very squeaky clean.  Then you do a rinse with diluted apple cider vinegar to restore shine.  I kept a spray bottle in the shower with the vinegar rinse.  I’ve read that once your hair resets itself, you’ll need to wash your hair much less frequently.  You don’t have to use straight baking soda to benefit from its cleaning ability, though- you can also add a teaspoon of baking soda when you shampoo your hair to remove dinginess and residual soap build up.
  • Facial scrub – mix 1 part baking soda with 2 parts ground oatmeal, and add water to make a paste.  Gently rub on your face, leave on for a few minutes and rinse with cool water.  (I haven’t done this but it sounds good.)
  • Laundry – can be used as a booster to regular loads by adding 1/2 c. baking soda to each load.  When I wash cloth diapers (don’t use them in the winter), I use straight baking soda to wash them since my homemade laundry detergent isn’t good for diapers.
  • Vegetable wash – you can add 1/4 c. of baking soda to a sink of warm water to wash fruits and vegetables; this removes dirt and insecticides.  Rinse with clean water.
  • Appliance cleanser- For ovens, make a paste of baking soda and water and spread inside.  Let it sit for a few hours, then scrub off.  To wipe down appliances, sprinkle some on a damp sponge.  When I’m cleaning the stove top, I often sprinkle baking soda on it, then pour some white vinegar on top, and wipe it down.  The vinegar and baking soda interact chemically to make a powerful cleanser.
  • Clean crayon marks on wall – make a baking soda paste with water, and using a damp rag or an old toothbrush, lightly scrub wall.
  • Clean silver with a paste of baking soda and lemon juice.
  • Relieves indigestion and heartburn – mix a teaspoon of baking soda into a cup of water, and drink quickly.
  • Poison ivy/itchiness – relieves itchiness; add 1/2 c. baking soda to a tub of warm water and soak.
  • Bee stings, insect bites, sunburn – make poultice of baking soda and water
  • Mouthwash – mix 1/2 t. baking soda with 1/2 c. of water and swish around your mouth.  This gets your mouth clean and fresh and apparently is good to relieve canker sores (we’ve never had canker sores so I can’t say from personal experience).
  • Fridge freshener – this is classic – everyone probably already has a small box of baking soda in the door of their fridge to absorb odors.
  • Car freshener – I can’t stand the smell of commerical car fresheners.  Fill a little dish with baking soda and put it in the console where cup holders are.  A couple of days ago I noticed the van was smelling musty from all the dampness tracked in by wet boots, and I plan to do this in the coming week.
  • Ant repellent – mix equal parts salt with baking soda and sprinkle where ants enter.
  • Play clay- for a fun play dough for kids, mix 1 1/4 c. water with 2 c. baking soda and 1 c. cornstarch.  Knead until smooth, store is closed plastic bag or container.
  • Remove burnt on food – soak the pan with hot water and baking soda.
  • Clean clogged drains- we stopped using it for this since I’ve gotten conflicting information on it.  You pour in a 1/2 c. of baking soda, followed by a cup of vinegar.  Let bubble a few minutes, and then run hot water down for a couple of minutes to flush it all through.  I’ve heard that when not sufficiently flushed out, it can solidify in the drain.  Since this is a popular suggestion, I didn’t want to ignore it here.
  • Clean stained countertops – make a paste and scrub.

These are some uses, but there are lots more.  Since baking soda is great at absorbing odors, it’s good for anything where odors are a concern (eg carpets and pet odors).  Since it’s good at scrubbing, it’s good for that.  When mixed with vinegar, it increases the potential uses!  Baking soda is very inexpensive – I used to buy it in a 12 pound bag at Sam’s, now I buy a 50 lb bag (through my bulk source). (I also buy white vinegar by the gallon and keep it under the bathroom sink, as well as one next to the washing  machine.)  It’s non toxic, which means that you don’t have to worry about your little kids ingesting something poisonous. Because you can use it for so many things, it eliminates a lot of specific cleansers, saving you money, improving your health, and it’s better for the environment to boot!

If you use baking soda in your home, please share your tips with us in the comments section below!

(This post is part of Fight Back Fridays and Frugal Fridays.)




  1. Great tips! We use vinegar as a sole cleaner in our house…so versitile…

    I did try using it as a toothpaste, because I too don’t like flouride, but it really burned my gums. Did you ever experience that? Maybe I used too much?

    • Hi, Jes! I never experienced burning, but I use a really tiny amount. Sometimes I give my toothbrush a quick rinse after dipping the brush lightly into baking soda to be sure I don’t have too much. Maybe if you did something similar it would help? Good luck!

  2. You can experiment with the proportions of baking soda and vinegar to create your own secret rocket fuel mixture.

    • Now that sounds like a fun science experiment for the kids! Thanks for the idea, Harrison.

  3. baking soda and water (we didn’t use any lemon juice) were a great silver cleaner for our Menorah!

  4. I keep some in my freezer and my food never takes on the smell of other things that commonly occurs in freezers/fridges that I encounter.

    I use it all the time to make washing pots a breeze..I make a paste on hard stuck on food, let it sit for an hour, and it usually lets the food come right off.

  5. There are a few of these I didn’t know about, but I will be using from now on!
    I switched to using baking soda and vinegar for my hair over a year ago, and it worked GREAT, but ever since I moved my hair has been very strange, so I think the water in the area makes a big difference in that area; the water here has a lot of lime in it, as well as fluoride, unfortunately, so I do use a regular shampoo every other time now to strip the gunk out. yuck. I also switched to using just baking soda for our diapers, although that was because we ran out of the fancy detergent I was using. I haven’t bothered to buy more though, since the soda alone is working just as well!

  6. great tips. do you also use it to clean your bathrooms,toilets, tubs and showers? we have hard water and i find the residue is much more difficult to clean. i would love to switch to baking soda. what do you recommend?

    • Hi, Esther, welcome! Yes, I use it for everything. The main challenge I have is with the inner bowl of the toilet where the water is, since the baking soda dissolves – I try to do a good swish, then flush, then very quickly clean in the areas that still need it before it refills with water!

  7. i tried the baking soda as laundry detergent but i couldnt figure out if it was cheaper than regular detergent. ive been using so many differant brands and i have yet to find a miracle detergent that gets rid of stains on the kids clothes (baby poop and food). also heres an idea for a post. it may be too personal but i think alot of us would LOVE to see what your typical shopping list looks like and realistically what your favorite stores/ brands are. not just for food but like household stuff clothes thats kinda thing.

    • Hi, Rus! Sorry for the delayed response – I wasn’t ignoring you. For some reason your message was caught by the spam filter and I happened to check it now and see it. Anyway, to know what’s cheaper, don’t try to guess. Figure out the per cup cost and then compare.

      I don’t think I’ve ever shared my shopping list, and I never share where I shop on the blog. But I’ll give a general answer, okay?

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