Sodium bicarbonate, bicarb soda, baking soda—whatever you like to call it, this miracle powder can neutralise pH, clean your house and get rid of smells, all for a few dollars a box.
You can usually purchase sodium bicarbonate or baking soda (not to be confused with baking powder) wherever you buy flour, such as grocery stores. Baking soda has a number of household uses, particularly in cleaning.
How does it work? When a substance is too acidic or alkaline, baking soda neutralises pH and discourages the pH balance from changing, a process called buffering. The combined neutralising and buffering effect allows it to clean and deodorise effectively.
Here are six tricks you can perform with baking soda.
You’ve probably already noticed that baking soda works well on grease. This same power makes it a great, safe drain cleaner. Prevent fatty build-ups that risk blocking your drain by following this simple method:
- Pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain then slowly add half a cup of white vinegar
- Wait for 30 minutes then rinse with plenty of boiling water
- Repeat if necessary.
You can also use this method to clear your toilet or help prevent it from blocking up.
Boost your laundry detergent
Is it your turn to wash the footy team’s jerseys? Did you have a particularly animated dinner that ended with half your meal on your clothes? Add 1-2 tablespoons of baking soda to a full load and it will boost the cleaning power of your laundry detergent, whether liquid or powder. Baking soda not only neutralises smells, it helps the water work with the detergent to remove dirt and stains. For particularly tough stains, combine three parts baking soda with one part water to form a paste and apply to stain for a few hours before washing as normal.
Whether it’s a pungent toilet or smelly shoes, an odorous lunchbox or a stale cupboard, you can use baking soda as a deodoriser. For dry areas, sprinkle baking soda over the area you wish to deodorise, then leave overnight. If you can, seal it in to make it more effective (for example, close the lunchbox). Then simply remove the baking soda, which will have absorbed the smell of whatever it was you were trying to deodorise. For really smelly items, such as shoes, you may have to do this regularly or more than once. For wet areas, such as a toilet or bath, dissolve a cup of baking soda to about every 5 litres of water, leave it for an hour and flush or drain.
In addition to removing stains from clothing, baking soda is also good at helping you remove stains from dishes, pots and pans to shower curtains. Use it to boost your dishwashing by adding two tablespoons to your dishwashing powder. For extra tough or extra greasy stains, soak the item in a mix of 1-2 tablespoons baking soda and warm water for at least half an hour before washing. It’s great for cleaning hard-to-shift tea and coffee stains or mildewy shower curtains.
Dry baking soda can also be used as a scrub that won’t scratch surfaces, from the kitchen to the bathroom and laundry. Sprinkle baking soda on a clean damp sponge or cloth and use it on dishes with cooked-on food or sinks, showers and bathtubs.
Cleanse and deodorise your skin
Believe it or not, despite the power of baking soda, it is gentle on your skin. Regular soaps tend to strip your skin of its protective oils, which can be harsh for those with sensitive skin. Make a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water and use this as a gentle scrub to remove ingrained dirt and odour, even onion. Rinse without stripping away your skin’s natural oils. You can also add 1-2 tablespoons to your bath to boost the cleansing process.
Believe it or not, you can actually bake with it as well: it helps flour rise!