Americans have naturally deodorized their refrigerators for years using ubiquitous boxes of baking soda. Of course, cooks also keep a box in their cupboards for baking purposes. But big fans know there's much more to this 100-percent natural powder. In other words: How do we love baking soda? Let me count the ways.
Before we start examining 55 ways to use baking soda, however, let me fill you in on the three forms in which you can use baking soda.
Now let's get down to it.
1. Cleaning Batteries
Skip the wire brush and use the slightly alkaline paste to neutralize corrosion built up on battery terminals. After reconnecting the clamps to the terminals, wipe them with petroleum jelly to prevent future corrosion.
2. Make Everything Sparkle
Use a damp cloth or sponge sprinkled with dry baking soda to touch up all lights, mirrors, license plates, windshields and wiper blades. Rinse with water and dry with a soft cloth. Baking soda will remove stubborn road dirt, tar and grease without scratching surfaces.
3. Chrome Bumpers and Trim
There's precious little chrome left on today's vehicles, but older cars may appreciate a good buffing to remove salt deposits and grime. For extra tough spots, use baking soda sprinkled on a damp sponge. Rinse with water and buff with a soft cloth.
Wipe vinyl seats with a baking-soda solution, then rinse and polish. For stubborn stains, sprinkle powder from the box on a damp sponge. For fabric upholstery, add powder to stains and spots while still fresh. Brush off once all the moisture has been absorbed.
Passengers take their toll on auto carpeting. Treat fresh stains by rubbing soda into the nap, allow it to dry and brush or vacuum off. The baking soda will also help absorb pet, baby and smoke odors.
6. Floor Mats
Clean car mats with a solution or, for extra tough spots, sprinkle soda on a soft bristled brush, scrub, rinse and dry.
Thankfully, few people actually use their ashtrays for ashes, but for those who do, you can eliminate odors by pouring 1/2 inch of baking soda into the ashtray. Leave for several minutes than rinse and dry.
JUST FOR YOU
Make your skin feel naturally smooth, soft and clean by adding 1/2 cup or more of baking soda to a warm bath. While you soak, use a soda paste to smooth away rough skin on elbows, knees and feet.
9. Foot Soak
Do your feet scream for help from sweaty shoes? Treat them to a soothing soak in a baking-soda solution to eliminate odors, oils and perspiration while softening the skin. While soaking one foot, remove calluses and rough skin by applying soda paste with a soft brush.
After your bath and foot soak, stay fresh by dusting underarms and feet with a little dry baking soda.
Since baking soda is all natural, it doesn't contain fluoride, which some people prefer to avoid. Soda is also less abrasive than toothpaste and makes your teeth feel fresh and squeaky clean.
Eliminate heartburn without expensive remedies. Mix 1/2 teaspoon soda in 4 ounces of water and drink it down. Do not, however, use baking soda for such stomach complaints as nausea, cramps, gas pains and stomach aches.
For fresh, clean breath, dissolve 1 teaspoon baking soda in 4 ounces of water and swish around your mouth. Baking soda actually works to neutralize mouth odors without leaving a "cover up" scent.
14. Skin Problems
Cool the sting of sunburn, windburn, minor burns and prickly heat by soaking in a baking soda bath or applying a cloth saturated with a soda solution.
15. Insect Bites and Poison Ivy
Relieve the itching and pain by applying a paste to the affected area. Dry, rinse and repeat, if needed.
16. Degrease Hair
Frantically late on a bad hair day? Eliminate excessive grease by sprinkling a small amount of baking soda into the roots and massaging it into your scalp. Just towel out the excess and head out for the day.
17. Camp Cookware
Wash with a baking soda solution or shake dry soda on a damp sponge to remove cooked-on foods, grease and coffee oils.
Extinguish a campfire by tossing handfuls of baking soda at the base of the flames to smother them then sprinkle the embers with water.
19. Laundry Bag
Dirty laundry creates a most unattractive odor when stuffed into a backpack. Sprinkle a little dry soda on top of dirty clothes to eliminate any stench.
20. Personal Care
See "Just For You" above for the many personal products you can replace in your backpack with a box of baking soda.
AROUND THE HOUSE
21. Countertops and Chopping Board
Remove stinky odors, like onion and garlic, from wood and other porous surfaces by sprinkling baking soda on a damp sponge, rub in and rinse.
22. Coffee Makers and Tea Pots
Make a better tasting brew by removing built-up coffee oils and tea stains. You can sweeten the pot by washing with a baking-soda solution. To remove stubborn stains, shake soda on a damp sponge and scrub clean. Rinse and dry.
Remove tarnish without harsh chemicals by applying a baking soda paste with a damp sponge or soft cloth. Rub until clean, rinse and buff to a shiny gloss.
24. Plastic Water Bottles
To removing lingering odors in plastic, soak overnight in a baking soda solution, rinse and air dry.
Microwaves tend to build up an odor over time, even if you wipe them down. To deodorize, gently scour with a paste or sprinkle baking soda and leave for several hours. Rinse, dry and cook. For continued odor removal, keep a box in the microwave and remove when cooking.
When a fresh box of baking soda goes into the fridge, dump the old box down your drains to keep them sweet and fresh smelling.
We all know the trick of neutralizing odors in the refrigerator with baking soda, but did you know a box stored in the freezer will keep ice cubes and ice cream tasting fresh longer by absorbing stale odors?
28. Kitchen Fires
Keep a box of baking soda handy to douse small grease or electrical fires in the kitchen. This works because heated baking soda releases carbon dioxide, which will smother the flames. Don't try this, however, with deep-fat fryers as grease could splatter and spread flames.
29. Hand Dishwashing
Cut grease by adding 1/2 cup of baking soda to your dishwater, along with a liquid detergent.
30. Automatic Dishwashers
You may know baking soda run through a dishwasher cycle will remove odors, but did you also know using it in the second cycle acts as a cleanser?
31. Pots, Pans, Etc.
Soak pots and pans in a baking soda solution before washing to clean them without scratching. This process also works well on glass, porcelain and enamel. Use dry baking soda to scour away burned or caked foods.
32. Fiberglass Showers and Bathtubs
Fiberglass scratches easily, so use a wet sponge sprinkled with baking soda to scour the delicate interior. Rinse and dry for a shiny surface.
33. Chrome Fixtures
Scrub chrome down with baking soda, rinse and buff for a nice shine without scratching. For textured surfaces, apply a baking soda paste and allow to sit for a few minutes. Sponge clean and wipe dry.
For clean, sweet-smelling clothes, add 1/2 cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle. You can both eliminate sour smells and perspiration odors.
35. Bleach Booster
Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to top loaders and 1/4 cup to front loaders with half the usual amount of liquid bleach. Clothes come out clean with less bleach odor.
36. Litter Boxes
Cover the bottom of your cat's litter box with baking soda before adding litter. When cleaning the box, wash down with a solution to eliminate nasty urine odors.
37. Septic Systems
Keep your septic system working smoothly and avoid clogging, corrosion, odors and back-ups. Just pour 1 cup of baking soda down a toilet every week. The soda creates a favorable pH environment for better sewage digestion of household solid wastes. Remember, however, many household wastes such as plastic are non-biodegradable so the tank should be pumped every three years or so.
38. Bottles and Nipples
Keep bottles, nipples and rims fresh by soaking overnight in a large bowl filled with hot water and 1/2-box baking soda. Or, boil glass bottles for 3 minutes in 3 tablespoons baking soda and hot water.
39. Diaper Pails
Sprinkle a cup of baking soda on the bottom of the diaper pail before adding the plastic liner or sprinkle some in the container you use for dirty disposable diapers.
40. Spit-Up Neutralizer
Keep a small squeeze bottle filled with a solution of half water and half baking soda, then spritz it on baby spit-up stains to neutralize the spot. Make sure you blot dry with a clean cloth.
41. Washing Machine
Remove chemical finishes by washing baby clothes in mild soap and 1/2-cup baking soda.
42. Diaper Rash
Fight the infamous red rash by sprinkling a little baking soda in warm waster for cleaning baby's bottom areas. The baking soda soothes and helps diaper rash heal by neutralizing urine acid. You can also add 1/2 cup of baking soda to baby's bathwater. Use a smaller amount if bathing in a sink or plastic baby tub. Do not, however, sprinkle the powder directly onto baby's nether regions.
43. Lower Fevers
Place a feverish infant in a bath of lukewarm water and baking soda to bring down their temperature.
44. Crayon Stains
While your child may think they've created a work of art, you may not appreciate crayon drawings on walls, high chairs and other surfaces. Sprinkle baking soda on a damp cloth, rub and rinse clean.
Freshen dolls by cleaning them with a paste of baking soda and dishwasher detergent. The combination removes stains (including ink) while eliminating odors. To clean tiny crevices, use an old toothbrush or cotton swab dipped in baking soda.
46. Electric Toys
Brush a paste of baking soda and water on the contact points of old toys or flashlights to clean corrosion and renew connections.
When your child wets the bed, remove bedsheets and sprinkle the mattress with baking soda. Let it soak up the moisture and odor then vacuum when dry. Throw more soda into the laundry with the wet bed clothes to neutralize the urine smell.
48. Paint Brushes
Cleaning oil-based paints from brushes and tools requires paint thinner, but how do you eliminate the thinner? Soak everything in a baking soda and water solution for a new smell and feel.
49. Tape Residue
If you've ever purchased an auto from a car dealer, you know how difficult it can be to remove tape residue left from the price sticker. To avoid scratching the window, rub gently with a soda-sprinkled sponge, rinse and dry.
50. Bug Repellent
Keep silver fish, roaches and carpenter ants from invading by laying down a barrier of baking soda under sinks and along basement windows. What's really cool is that roaches eat the baking soda, dehydrate and go toes up. Best of all, this pesticide is non-toxic to children and pets.
51. Outdoor Plants
Water alkaline-soil-loving plants (geraniums, begonias and hydrangeas) with a weak baking soda solution to magnify blooms.
Here's a great way to use up that dead box of baking soda from your refrigerator. To sweeten tomatoes, lower their acidity and discourage pests, sprinkle soda lightly on the soil around the plant's base.
Eliminate those dirt mounds by sprinkling baking soda when the ant hills are damp and leaving for 1/2 hour. Follow by pouring a small amount of vinegar on the mound so ants will ingest the combo and their body enzymes will send them to ant heaven.
Damp and musty books stink! Deodorize and dry them by sprinkling baking soda every few pages and drying.
55. Model Train Landscapes
Here's a fun one. Sprinkle baking soda on your landscape to simulate snow. Voila! No more train odor. ;-)