In the Kitchen
Clean your produce
You can't be too careful when it comes to food handling and preparation. Wash fruits and vegetables in a pot of cold water with 2-3 table-spoons baking soda; the baking soda will remove some of the impurities tap water leaves behind. Or put a small amount of baking soda on a wet sponge or vegetable brush and scrub your produce. Give everything a thorough rinsing before serving.
Got a tough cut of meat on your hands? Soften it up by giving it a rubdown in baking soda. Let it sit (in the refrigerator, of course) for three to five hours, then rinse it off well before cooking.
Soak out fish smells
Get rid of that fishy smell from your store-bought flounder filets and fish steaks by soaking the raw fish for about an hour (inside your refrigerator) in 1 quart (1 liter) water with 2 tablespoons baking soda. Rinse the fish well and pat dry before cooking.
Reduce acids in recipes
If you or someone in your family is sensitive to the high-acid content of tomato-based sauces or coffee, you can lower the overall acidity by sprinkling in a pinch of baking soda while cooking (or, in the case of coffee, before brewing). A bit of baking soda can also counteract the taste of vinegar if you happen to pour in a bit too much. Be careful not to overdo it with the soda, though -- if you add too much, the vinegar-baking soda combination will start foaming.
Bake better beans
Do you love baked beans but not their aftereffects? Adding a pinch of baking soda to baked beans as they're cooking will significantly reduce their gas-producing properties.
Fluff up your omelets
Want to know the secret to making fluffier omelets? For every three eggs used, add 1/2 teaspoon baking soda. Shhhh! Don't let it get around.
Use as yeast substitute
Need a stand-in for yeast when making dough? If you have some powdered vitamin C (or citric acid) and baking soda on hand, you can use a mixture of the two instead. Just mix in equal parts to equal the quantity of yeast required. What's more, the dough you add it to won't have to rise before baking.
Rid hands of food odors
Chopping garlic or cleaning a fish can leave their "essence" on your fingers long after the chore is done. Get those nasty food smells off your hands by simply wetting them and vigorously rubbing with about 2 teaspoons baking soda instead of soap. The smell should wash off with the soda.
Clean baby bottles and accessories
Here's some great advice for new parents: Keep all your baby bottles, nipples, caps, and brushes "baby fresh" by soaking them overnight in a container filled with hot water and half a box of baking soda. Be sure to give everything a good rinsing afterward, and to dry thoroughly before using. Baby bottles can also be boiled in a full pot of water and 3 tablespoons baking soda for three minutes.
Clean a cutting board
Keep your wooden or plastic cutting board clean by occasionally scrubbing it with a paste made from 1 tablespoon each baking soda, salt, and water. Rinse thoroughly with hot water.
Clear a clogged drain
Most kitchen drains can be unclogged by pouring in 1 cup baking soda followed by 1 cup hot vinegar (simply heat it up in the microwave for 1 minute). Give it several minutes to work, then add 1 quart (1 liter) boiling water. Repeat if necessary. If you know your drain is clogged with grease, use 1/2 cup each of baking soda and salt followed by 1 cup boiling water. Let the mixture work overnight; then rinse with hot tap water in the morning.
Boost potency of dishwashing liquid
Looking for a more powerful dishwashing liquid? Try adding 2 tablespoons baking soda to the usual amount of liquid you use, and watch it cut through grease like a hot knife!
Make your own dishwashing detergent
The dishwasher is fully loaded when you discover that you're out of your usual powdered dishwashing detergent. What do you do? Make your own: Combine 2 tablespoons baking soda with 2 tablespoons borax. You may be so pleased with the results you'll switch for good.
Deodorize your dishwasher
Eliminate odors inside your automatic dishwasher by sprinkling 1/2 cup baking soda on the bottom of the dishwasher between loads. Or pour in half a box of baking soda and run the empty machine through its rinse cycle.
Clean your refrigerator
To get rid of smells and dried-up spills inside your refrigerator, remove the contents, then sprinkle some baking soda on a damp sponge and scrub the sides, shelves, and compartments. Rinse with a clean, wet sponge. Don't forget to place a fresh box of soda inside when you're done.
Clean your microwave
To clean those splatters off the inside of your microwave, put a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda in 1 cup water in a microwave-safe container and cook on High for 2-3 minutes. Remove the container, then wipe down the microwave's moist interior with a damp paper towel.
Remove coffee and tea stains from china
Don't let those annoying coffee and/or tea stains on your good china spoil another special occasion. Remove them by dip-ping a moist cloth in baking soda to form a stiff paste and gently rubbing your cups and saucers. Rinse clean and dry, then set your table with pride.
Clean a thermos
To remove residue on the inside of a thermos, mix 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 quart (1 liter) water. Fill the thermos with the solution -- if necessary, give it a going-over with a bottle brush to loosen things up -- and let it soak overnight. Rinse clean before using.
Freshen a sponge or towel
When a kitchen sponge or dish towel gets that distinctly sour smell, soak it overnight in 2 tablespoons baking soda and a couple of drops of antibacterial dish soap dissolved in 1 pint (450 milliliters) warm water. The following morning, squeeze out the remaining solution and rinse with cold water. It should smell as good as new.
Remove stains and scratches on countertops
Is your kitchen countertop covered with stains or small knife cuts? Use a paste of 2 parts baking soda to 1 part water to "rub out" most of them. For stubborn stains, add a drop of chlorine bleach to the paste. Immediately wash the area with hot, soapy water to pre-vent the bleach from causing fading.
Shine up stainless steel and chrome trim
To put the shine back in your stainless steel sink, sprinkle it with baking soda, then give it a rubdown -- moving in the direction of the grain -- with a moist cloth. To polish dull chrome trim on your appliances, pour a little baking soda onto a damp sponge and rub over the chrome. Let it dry for an hour or so, then wipe down with warm water and dry with a clean cloth.
Get rid of grease stains on stovetops
Say good-bye to cooked-on grease stains on your stovetop or backsplash. First wet them with a little water and cover them with a bit of baking soda. Then rub them off with a damp sponge or towel.
Clean an automatic coffeemaker
Properly caring for your automatic coffeemaker means never having to worry about bitter or weak coffee. Every two weeks or so, brew a pot of 1 quart (1 liter) water mixed with 1/4 cup baking soda, followed by a pot of clean water. Also, sweeten your coffeemaker's plastic basket by using an old toothbrush to give it an occasional scrubbing with a paste of 2 tablespoons baking soda and 1 tablespoon water. Rinse thoroughly with cold water when done.
Care for your coffeepots and teapots
Remove mineral deposits in metal coffeepots and teapots by filling them with a solution of 1 cup vinegar and 4 tablespoons baking soda. Bring the mixture to a boil, then let simmer for five minutes. Or try boiling 5 cups water with 2 tablespoons soda and the juice of half a lemon. Rinse with cold water when done. To get off annoying exterior stains, wash your pots with a plastic scouring pad in a solution of 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 quart (1 liter) warm water. Follow up with a cold-water rinse.
Remove stains from nonstick cookware
It may be called nonstick cookware, but a few of those stains seem to be stuck on pretty well. Blast them away by boiling 1 cup water mixed with 2 tablespoons baking soda and 1/2 cup vinegar for 10 minutes. Then wash in hot, soapy water. Rinse well and let dry, then season with a bit of salad oil.
Clean cast-iron cookware
Although it's more prone to stains and rust than the nonstick variety, many folks swear by their iron cookware. You can remove even the toughest burned-on food remnants in your iron pots by boiling 1 quart (1 liter) water with 2 tablespoons baking soda for five minutes. Pour off most of the liquid, then lightly scrub it with a plastic scrub pad. Rinse well, dry, and season with a few drops of peanut oil.
Clean burned or scorched pots and pans
It usually takes heavy-duty scrubbing to get scorched-on food off the bottom of a pot or pan. But you can make life much easier for yourself by simply boiling a few cups of water (enough to get the pan about 1/4 full) and adding 5 tablespoons baking soda. Turn off the heat, and let the soda settle in for a few hours or overnight. When you're ready, that burned-on gunk will practically slip right off.
Deodorize your garbage pail
Does something smell "off" in your kitchen? Most likely, it's emanating from your trash can. But some smells linger even after you dispose of the offending garbage bag. So, be sure to give your kitchen garbage pail an occasional cleaning with a wet paper towel dipped in baking soda (you may want to wear rubber gloves for this). Rinse it out with a damp sponge, and let it dry before inserting a new bag. You can also ward off stinky surprises by sprinkling a little baking soda into the bottom of your pail before inserting the bag.
Remove crayon marks from walls
Has Junior redecorated your walls or wallpaper with some original artworks in crayon? Don't lose your cool. Just grab a damp rag, dip it in some baking soda, and lightly scrub the marks. They should come off with a minimal amount of effort.
Is your wallpaper looking a bit dingy? Brighten it up by wiping it with a rag or sponge moistened in a solution of 2 tablespoons baking soda in 1 quart (1 liter) water. To remove grease stains from wallpaper, make a paste of 1 table-spoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon water. Rub it on the stain, let it set for 5-10 minutes, then rub off with a damp sponge.
Clean baby spit-ups
Infants do tend to spit up -- and usually not at opportune moments. Never leave home without a small bottle of baking soda in your diaper bag. If your tyke spits up on his or her (or your) shirt after feeding, simply brush off any solid matter, moisten a washcloth, dip it in a bit of baking soda, and dab the spot. The odor (and the potential stain) will soon be gone.
Deodorize rugs and carpets
How's this for a simple way to freshen up your carpets or rugs? Lightly sprinkle them with baking soda, let it settle in for 15 minutes or so, then vacuum up. Nothing to it!
Remove wine and grease stains from carpet
What's that? Someone just dropped a slab of butter or a glass of cabernet on your beautiful white carpeting! Before you scream, get a paper towel, and blot up as much of the stain as possible. Then sprinkle a liberal amount of baking soda over the spot. Give the soda at least an hour to absorb the stain, then vacuum up the remaining powder. Now ... exhale!
Freshen up musty drawers and closets
Put baking soda sachets to work on persistent musty odors in dresser drawers, cabinet hutches, or closets. Just fill the toe of a clean sock or stocking with 3-4 tablespoons soda, put a knot about an inch above the bulge, and either hang it up or place it away in an unobtrusive corner. Use a few sachets in large spaces like closets and attic storage areas. Replace them every other month if needed. This treatment can also be used to rid closets of mothball smells.
Remove musty odor from books
If those books you just took out of storage emerge with a musty smell, place each one in a brown paper bag with 2 tablespoons baking soda. No need to shake the bag, just tie it up and let it sit in a dry environment for about one week. When you open the bag, shake any remaining powder off the books, and the smell should be gone.
Polish silver and gold jewelry
To remove built-up tarnish from your silver, make a thick paste with 1/4 cup baking soda and 2 tablespoons water. Apply with a damp sponge and gently rub, rinse, and buff dry. To polish gold jewelry, cover with a light coating of baking soda, pour a bit of vinegar over it, and rinse clean. Note: Do not use this technique with jewelry containing pearls or gem-stones, as it could damage their finish and loosen the glue.
Get yellow stains off piano keys
That old upright may still play great, but those yellowed keys definitely hit a sour note. Remove age stains on your ivories by mixing a solution of 1/4 cup baking soda in 1 quart (1 liter) warm water. Apply to each key with a dampened cloth (you can place a thin piece of card-board between the keys to avoid seepage). Wipe again with a cloth dampened with plain water, and then buff dry with a clean cloth. (You can also clean piano keys with lemon juice and salt.)
Remove stains from fireplace bricks
You may need to use a bit of elbow grease, but you can clean the smoke stains off your fireplace bricks by washing them with a solution of 1/2 cup baking soda in 1 quart (1 liter) warm water.
Remove white marks on wood surfaces
Get those white marks -- caused by hot cups or sweating glasses -- off your coffee table or other wooden furniture by making a paste of 1 tablespoon baking soda and 1 teaspoon water. Gently rub the spot in a circular motion until it disappears. Remember not to use too much water.
Remove cigarette odors from furniture
To eliminate that lingering smell of cigarette or cigar smoke on your upholstered furniture, simply lightly sprinkle your chairs or sofas with some baking soda. Let it sit for a few hours, then vacuum it off.
Shine up marble-topped furniture
Revitalize the marble top on your coffee table or counter by washing it with a soft cloth dipped in a solution of 3 tablespoons baking soda and 1 quart (1 liter) warm water. Let it stand for 15 minutes to a half hour, then rinse with plain water and wipe dry.
Clean bathtubs and sinks
Get the gunk off old enameled bathtubs and sinks by applying a paste of 2 parts baking soda and 1 part hydrogen peroxide. Let the paste set for about half an hour. Then give it a good scrubbing and rinse well; the paste will also sweeten your drain as it washes down.
Remove mineral deposits from showerheads
Say so long to hard-water deposits on your showerhead. Cover the head with a thick sandwich-size bag filled with 1/4 cup baking soda and 1 cup vinegar. Loosely fasten the bag -- you need to let some of the gas escape -- with adhesive tape or a large bag tie. Let the solution work its magic for about an hour. Then remove the bag and turn on your shower to wash off any remaining debris. Not only will the deposits disappear, but your showerhead will be back to its old shining self!
Absorb bathroom odors
Keep your bathroom smelling fresh and clean by placing a decorative dish filled with 1/2 cup baking soda either on top of the toilet tank or on the floor behind the bowl. You can also make your own bathroom deodorizers by setting out dishes containing equal parts baking soda and your favorite scented bath salts.
Tidy up your toilet bowl
You don't need all those chemicals to get your toilet bowl clean. Just pour half a box of baking soda into your toilet tank once a month. Let it stand overnight, then give it a few flushes in the morning. This actually cleans both the tank and the bowl. You can also pour several tablespoons of baking soda directly into your toilet bowl and scrub it on any stains. Wait a few minutes, then flush away the stains.
Treat minor burns
The next time you grab the wrong end of a frying pan or forget to use a pot holder, quickly pour some baking soda into a container of ice water, soak a cloth or gauze pad in it, and apply it to the burn. Keep applying the solution until the burn no longer feels hot. This treatment will also prevent many burns from blistering.
Cool off sunburn and other skin irritations
For quick relief of sunburn pain, soak gauze pads or large cotton balls in a solution of 4 tablespoons baking soda mixed in 1 cup water and apply it to the affected areas. For a bad sunburn on your legs or torso -- or to relieve the itching of chicken pox -- take a lukewarm bath with a half to a full box of baking soda added to the running water. To ease the sting of razor burns, dab your skin with a cotton ball soaked in a solution of 1 tablespoon baking soda in 1 cup water.
Soothe poison ivy rashes
Did you have an unplanned encounter with poison ivy when gardening or camping recently? To take away the itch, make a thick paste from 3 teaspoons baking soda and 1 teaspoon water and apply it to the affected areas. You can also use baking soda to treat oozing blisters caused by the rash. Mix 2 teaspoons baking soda in 1 quart (1 liter) water and use it to saturate a few sterile gauze pads. Cover the blisters with the wet pads for 10 minutes, four times a day. Note: Do not apply on or near your eyes.
Make a salve for bee stings
Take the pain out of that bee sting -- fast. Make a paste of 1 teaspoon baking soda mixed with several drops of cool water, and let it dry on the afflicted area. Warning: Many people have severe allergic reactions to bee stings. If you have difficulty breathing or notice a dramatic swelling, get medical attention at once. (You can also treat bee stings with meat tenderizer.)
Fight diaper rash
Soothe your baby's painful diaper rash by adding a couple of table-spoons of baking soda to a lukewarm -- not hot -- bath. If the rash persists or worsens after several treatments, however, consult your pediatrician.
Combat cradle cap
Cradle cap is a commonplace, and typically harmless, condition in many infants. An old but often effective way to treat it is to make a paste of about 3 teaspoons baking soda and 1 teaspoon water. Apply it to your baby's scalp about an hour before bedtime and rinse it off the following morning. Do not use with shampoo. You may need to apply it several consecutive nights before the cradle cap recedes. (You can also treat cradle cap with baby oil.)
Control your dandruff
Got a bit of a "flaky" problem? To get dandruff under control, wet your hair and then rub a handful of baking soda vigorously into your scalp. Rinse thoroughly and dry. Do this every time you normally wash your hair, but only use baking soda, no shampoo. Your hair may get dried out at first. But after a few weeks your scalp will start producing natural oils, leaving your hair softer and free of flakes.
Clean combs and brushes
Freshen up your combs and hairbrushes by soaking them in a solution of 3 cups warm water and 2 teaspoons baking soda. Swirl them around in the water to loosen up all the debris caught between the teeth, then let them soak for about half an hour. Rinse well and dry before using.
Use as gargle or mouthwash
Did the main course you ordered include a few too many onions or a bit too much garlic? Try gargling with 1 teaspoon baking soda in a half glass of water. The baking soda will neutralize the odors on contact. When used as a mouthwash, baking soda will also relieve canker-sore pain.
Scrub teeth and clean dentures
If you run out of your regular toothpaste, or if you're looking for an all-natural alternative to commercial toothpaste, just dip your wet toothbrush in some baking soda and brush and rinse as usual. You can also use baking soda to clean retainers, mouthpieces, and dentures. Use a solution of 1 tablespoon baking soda dissolved in 1 cup warm water. Let the object soak for a half hour and rinse well before using.
Clean and sweeten toothbrushes
Keep your family's toothbrushes squeaky clean by immersing them in a solution of 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup water. Let the brushes soak overnight about once every week or two. Be sure to give them a good rinsing before using.
Remove built-up gel, hair spray, or conditioner from hair
When it comes to personal grooming, too much of a good thing can spell bad news for your hair. But a thorough cleansing with baking soda at least once a week will wash all of the gunk out of your hair. Simply add 1 tablespoon soda to your hair while shampooing. In addition to removing all the chemicals you put in your hair, it will wash away water impurities, and may actually lighten your hair.
Use as antiperspirant
Looking for an effective, all-natural deodorant? Try applying a small amount -- about a teaspoon's worth -- of baking soda with a powder puff under each arm. You won't smell like a flower or some exotic spice. But then, you won't smell like anything from the opposite extreme, either.
Relieve itching inside a cast
Wearing a plaster cast on your arm or leg is a misery any time of year, but wearing one in the summertime can be torture. The sweating and itchiness you feel underneath your "shell" can drive you nearly insane. Find temporary relief by using a hair dryer -- on the coolest setting -- to blow a bit of baking soda down the edges of the cast. Note: Have someone help you, to avoid getting the powder in your eyes.
Alleviate athlete's foot
You can deploy wet or dry baking soda to combat a case of athlete's foot. First, try dusting your feet (along with your socks and shoes) with dry baking soda to dry out the infection. If that doesn't work, try making a paste of 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon water and rubbing it between your toes. Let it dry, and wash off after 15 minutes. Dry your feet thoroughly before putting on your shoes.
Soothe tired, stinky feet
When your dogs start barking, treat them to a soothing bath of 4 tablespoons baking soda in 1 quart (1 liter) warm water. Besides relaxing your aching tootsies, the baking soda will remove the sweat and lint that gathers between your toes. Regular footbaths can also be an effective treatment for persistent foot odor.
Deodorize shoes and sneakers
A smelly shoe or sneaker is no match for the power of baking soda. Liberally sprinkle soda in the offending loafer or lace-up and let it sit overnight. Dump out the powder in the morning. (Be careful when using baking soda with leather shoes, however; repeated applications can dry them out.) You can also make your own reusable "odor eaters" by filling the toes of old socks with 2 table-spoons baking soda and tying them up in a knot. Stuff the socks into each shoe at night before retiring. Remove the socks in the morning and breathe easier.
Remove mothball smell from clothes
Rub out perspiration and other stains
Wash mildewed shower curtains
Tighten cane chair seats
Keep weeds out of cement cracks
Looking for a safe way to keep weeds and grasses from growing in the cracks of your paved patios, driveways, and walkways? Sprinkle handfuls of baking soda onto the concrete and simply sweep it into the cracks. The added sodium will make it much less hospitable to dandelions and their friends.
Clean resin lawn furniture
Most commercial cleaners are too abrasive to be used on resin lawn furniture. But you won't have to worry about scratching or dulling the surface if you clean your resin furniture with a wet sponge dipped in baking soda. Wipe using circular motions, then rinse well.
Use as plant food
Give your flowering, alkaline-loving plants, such as clematis, delphiniums, and dianthus, an occasional shower in a mild solution of 1 tablespoon baking soda in 2 quarts (2 liters) water. They'll show their appreciation with fuller, healthier blooms.
Maintain proper pool alkalinity
Add 1 1/2 pounds (680 grams) baking soda for every 10,000 gallons (38,000 liters) of water in your swimming pool to raise the total alkalinity by 10 ppm (parts per million). Most pools require alkalinity in the 80-150 ppm range. Maintaining the proper pool alkalinity level is vital for minimizing changes in pH if acidic or basic pool chemicals or contaminants are introduced to the water.
Scour barbecue grills
Keep your barbecue grill in top condition by making a soft paste of 1/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup water. Apply the paste with a wire brush and let dry for 15 minutes. Then wipe it down with a dry cloth and place the grill over the hot coals for at least 15 minutes to burn off any residue before placing any food on top.
Make deodorizing dog shampoo
The next time Rover rolls around in your compost heap, pull out the baking soda to freshen him up. Just rub a few handfuls of the powder into his coat and give it a thorough brushing. In addition to removing the smell, it will leave his coat shiny and clean.
Wash insides of pets' ears
If your pet is constantly scratching at his ears, it could indicate the presence of an irritation or ear mites. Ease the itch (and wipe out any mites) by using a cotton ball dipped in a solution of 1 teaspoon baking soda in 1 cup warm water to gently wash the inside of his ears.
Keep bugs away from pets' dishes
Placing a border of baking soda around your pet's food bowls will keep away six-legged intruders. And it won't harm your pet if he happens to lap up a little (though most pets aren't likely to savor soda's bitter taste).
Deodorize the litter box
Don't waste money on expensive deodorized cat litter. Just put a thin layer of baking soda under the bargain-brand litter to absorb the odor. Or mix baking soda with the litter as you're changing it.