How to use baking soda for stains – and 17 other ingenious uses around the home
Sodium bicarbonate, commonly known as baking soda or bicarbonate of soda, is a real workhorse.
It’s used as a leavening agent in food like soda bread, but also in products from fire extinguishers to antacids due to its unique chemical compound.
This is also what makes it so effective for cleaning, with an alkaline pH that neutralises smells and a gently abrasive texture for scrubbing.
Boasting mild antibacterial and antifungal properties, baking soda also creates Co2 ‘bubbles’ when mixed with an acid, which only adds to its multitasking powers.
Since many of us are trying to cut back right now – both for financial reasons and to reduce environmental harm – it’s worth trying baking soda as an alternative to commercial cleaners.
Start off by replacing your stain remover with this all-natural all-rounder, then check out the myriad ways you can use bicarb around the home.
Baking soda stain removal
If you’ve spilled red wine on your carpet, missed your mouth during dinner, or got a grass stain on your favourite jeans, bicarbonate of soda can offer a storecupboard solution.
Because of its absorbent nature, it soaks up moisture and odour, while alkalising the acidic ingredients (like coffee, sweat, and condiments) that commonly cause stains.
To start off, create a paste with two parts baking soda to one part water. Four tablespoons of bicarb with 60ml water should be plenty to get going with.
Warm water works best, giving you that frothy reaction that lifts dirt. You’re looking to create a paste, so add more baking soda if it’s too thin.
Whether it’s a carpet or clothes, you then spread the mixture over the stain and leave for up to three hours.
Every fabric is different, so the amount you’ll use and the length of application will differ. Check how it’s getting on every half hour, then once the stain has lifted, thoroughly wipe with a clean damp cloth.
To avoid discolouration or damage, it’s also a good idea to do a patch test in an inconspicuous area first.
17 more uses for baking soda around the home
Now you’ve mastered bicarb stain removal, here are the many other ways you can put it to good use in your cleaning routine.
1. Fridge deodoriser
An open box of baking soda absorbs odours in your fridge without chemicals. Just place it in the back of your fridge and replace at least every three months.
2. Air freshener
If you have lingering smells you want to get rid of, mix a tablespoon of baking soda with a few drops of your favourite essential oil.
Decant into a spray bottle and fill with water to spritz away, or alternatively add your dry mixture to a jar with holes in the lid and place it in a room for lasting freshness.
3. Bin odour neutraliser
Forget buying expensive powders to banish smells in your bin. Sprinkle some bicarb in the bottom of your bin when you change the bag – it’ll absorb the worst of it.
4. Laundry whitener
Half a cup of baking soda added to your machine will help whites and colours wash up brighter than ever before. It helps your laundry detergent work harder and is ideal for getting rid of mildewy smells.
5. Surface cleanser
For greasy marks, soap scum, and all manner of dirty deposits on hard surfaces, all you need to do is dip a damp sponge into bicarbonate of soda and scrub the affected area.
6. Chopping board cleaner
Wooden cutting boards can harbour bacteria, so deodorise yours with a sprinkle of baking soda. Leave it to do its absorbing magic, then rinse and wipe with a damp sponge.
7. Carpet refresher
If your carpets are a bit worse for wear, dust baking soda over (make sure everything’s dry) and vacuum it up after letting sit for 15 minutes. It’ll freshen them up and leave your home smelling cleaner.
8. Silver polish
When sterling silver jewellery starts to look dull, mix up a solution of three parts baking soda to one part water. Use a lint-free cloth (not a paper towel, as this can scratch) to buff away marks, then rinse to reveal that sparkle.
9. Burnt pan restorer
Get rid of burnt-on grime on kitchen utensils (double-check to ensure your pans are suitable for this method) by first removing food residue and soaking them in warmed-up white vinegar.
Next, add a cup of baking soda and watch the bubbles go crazy, before scouring with a non-scratch sponge and rinse.
10. Weed killer
Toss handfuls of baking soda over pesky garden weeds to kill them off without harsh chemicals. You’ll need to coat the whole plant for this to be effective, with about a teaspoon per weed.
11. Shoe deodoriser
Stinky feet? Not anymore. Sprinkle some bicarb into your trainers after wearing, then tip out excess before you put them on next time. It helps your shoes last longer too.
12. Lunch box cleaner
Stains on plastic lunchboxes can be hard to shift, but a baking soda soak can do the trick. Fill your container with warm water and add a few spoonfuls of bicarb, before leaving overnight. A sheet of kitchen roll and a good shake can also help.
13. Smelly pet bed, soft furnishing and mattress reviver
Wherever you want to get rid of nasty smells, try baking soda before going for harsher methods. Sprinkle it over cushions or mattresses, then shake off excess where possible or vacuum it away after 15 minutes.
14. Wall cleaner
If your little ones have gone to town on the wall with crayons, baking soda is here to help. It’s also fantastic on tiles, leaving them gleaming.
Simply dip a damp sponge into the powder, scrub the paste onto affected areas in a circular motion, then rinse.
15. Drain unblocker
Pour three tablespoons of baking soda followed by 100ml white vinegar into your plug hole to dislodge blockages in drains. Cover the sink with a wet cloth while the chemical reaction happens, then flush with hot water after five minutes.
16. Water ring restorer
A mixture of one part non-gel toothpaste to one part baking soda makes light work of water rings on wood furniture. Dip a damp cloth into the mixture and rub with the grain to buff out the ring.
Wipe away with a dry cloth to get rid of residue, then polish your item up as normal. Perhaps ask guests to use coasters next time, though.
17. Oil stain saviour
You can clean stubborn grease from your barbecue grill with just baking soda and a wire brush, or get rid of oil spots on a concrete garage floor or patio. Sprinkle baking soda over the mark, then use a wet brush to finish up.
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