Cleaning superpower: baking soda

With Autumn well and truly underway and Christmas just around the corner, some of us will be thinking about a little pre-season cleaning before friends and relatives descend! Harsh cleaning chemicals can often leave strong smells and even make your skin burn from drying it out, not to mention cleaning products can be expensive to buy. But did you know baking soda can help with lots of your cleaning and even more? Here are some ways to use baking soda — and the best part is you can get yourself a small container of baking soda at any grocery store for less than a fiver.

Carlita Avila, a professional home cleaner in Vancouver, swears by baking soda to get rid of any odours. “For a smelly carpet, just sprinkle on a coat of baking soda, let it sit for about 15 minutes, then vacuum it off.” And voila — the smell will be gone! You can do the same method on carpeted car seats to deodorize a smelly car. You can also leave an open container of baking soda in a room that smells, sprinkle it in shoes overnight to help get rid of any odour, and even leave it in your refrigerator to combat food smells.

Avila also advises using baking soda to get rid of stains on the carpet. Simply mix baking soda with vinegar to form a thick paste, and then spread it on the stain, using an old toothbrush to work the paste into the carpet. Allow the paste to dry and then vacuum it off to remove the stain. (If the stain doesn’t come off the first time, just repeat the same process!) You can also clean floors with baking soda — add half a cup of baking soda to a bucket of warm water and scrub away.

You may have not cleaned an oven before, but Avila also recommends using baking soda instead of chemicals that could seep into your food after cleaning. To clean your oven, sprinkle baking soda over the bottom (make sure the oven is completely cool!) and then spray the baking soda with water until the baking soda is just damp.

“The water and the baking soda will work together to break down leftover bits of food baked into your oven,” Avita explains. Continue spraying the baking soda with water every few hours to prevent the soda from drying out. Do this for several hours — consider dedicating all day or a full afternoon and evening to cleaning the oven. Lastly, scrape the baking soda out of the oven and wipe out with a wet cloth. If you’ve got a dirty microwave, dampen a clean sponge with water and sprinkle on baking soda. Simply wipe out your microwave with the sponge. Rinse and repeat if necessary.

You could also use baking soda and vinegar to clean out a clogged toilet or shower drain. Pour a box of baking soda into the toilet, followed by slowly adding up to a gallon of vinegar (the mixture will foam up). Let it sit, then flush the toilet and the clog should clear (unless an object is blocking it). You can follow up by pouring hot water into the toilet and flushing again to ensure nothing is leftover from the baking soda and vinegar mixture.

Baking soda also works outside of cleaning. Brush your teeth with baking soda for a whiter smile! Dip your wet toothbrush into baking soda and brush. Don’t do this very often, but it’s good for a quick fix if you have an event or date and want whiter teeth. Since baking soda is great at fighting odours, you can also use it as a quick mouthwash. Put one teaspoon of baking soda into half a glass of water. Swish around your mouth and spit then rinse with plain water. It won’t give you a minty fresh breath, but you won’t have bad breath.

Baking soda can also work on your skin if you’re looking for more natural ways to exfoliate and clean yourself. To make an exfoliating scrub, mix three parts baking soda to one part water (such as three tablespoons baking soda to one tablespoon water) to make a thick paste. Rub gently on your skin then rinse off. If you want a natural deodorant, simply pat baking soda under your arms to cancel out odours. Baking soda can even help your hair. If you’ve got buildup at your roots from styling products, sprinkle a little baking soda in your hand then add shampoo and wash your hair. This should make your hair completely clean without damaging it.

One last use for baking soda is for while you’re cooking (besides using baking soda in recipes). Keep a container of baking soda near your stove in case of a fire. If a small fire does begin, turn off the stove and cover the fire in baking soda (it could take a whole container) to extinguish the flames.

Remember that baking soda and baking powder are very different, and only baking soda will work with these tips. Save money and keep yourself safe from harsh chemicals by using baking soda!

Featured image by katerha, CC BY 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

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