Uses For Baking Soda For Cleaning, Stain Removal And More
Baking soda is also known as bicarbonate of soda (sometimes shortened to bicarb), and by its scientific name of sodium bicarbonate, NaHCO3.
It is related, chemically, to washing soda, which is also known as sodium carbonate, but they are not the same thing and cannot be substituted for one another.
The reason that bicarb has so many uses is because of its amazing chemical structure. Its awesome attributes that make it so helpful and versatile around our homes include:
- Mildly alkaline, so it can cut grease and oil
- It can lift dirt by fizzing in vinegar, or effervescing in water
- Its crystal structure makes it a gentle abrasive, when mixed with water to form a paste
- It buffers pH so it is a great deodorizer because it chemically neutralizes odors
I will talk more about each of these cool chemical properties below, as I discuss the uses for baking soda for cleaning, stain removal, laundry, odor removal and more below.
Please also note that although I have a picture of the Arm & Hammer brand above generic bicarb works just as well, because it has the same exact chemical composition.
Baking Soda Cleaning Tips
Baking soda often works more than one way at once to help clean parts of your home. For example, it is often used as a cleaning paste, where it uses both its mild abrasiveness, and also its alkalinity to clean hard surfaces.
You can create a paste of just baking soda and water to do many jobs around your home. To give it some added punch though, try to recipe for an all purpose cleaner paste made with baking soda and dishwashing detergent. It’s like homemade soft scrub.
Other instances where I suggest making baking soda into a paste include:
- Homemade Grout Cleaner
- Remove Crayon Marks From Painted Walls
- Christmasy Scented Counter Scrubber
- Homemade Brass Cleaner (combined with lemon juice)
- How To Descale An Electric Tea Kettle (the paste is used to scrub off the hard water after it has been loosened by vinegar)
- Getting Rid Of Coffee And Tea Stain Rings In Mugs
- Natural Oven Cleaner Recipes
- Cleaning Silver With Baking Soda
- Homemade Upholstery Cleaning Paste
- Cleaning Burned Pots With Baking Soda
Similarly, bicarbonate of soda can be used in a more diluted form, combined with water, to clean many hard surfaces, including metals, in your home. A very simple all purpose cleaner is to combine 4 teaspoons of baking soda in 2 quarts of warm water. Other examples on the site include similar recipes that can be used for homemade chrome cleaner, and homemade stainless steel cleaner.
It also works well to clean a blender, with the addition of a little dishwashing liquid.
You can also use bicarb as an ingredient in some homemade dishwasher detergent recipes.
Additionally, baking soda, when sprinkled on, can be a great way to clean suede.
Finally, baking soda, when combined with vinegar, fizzes a lot as part of the chemical reaction from these two ingredients. This can be used as part of a great homemade drain cleaner.
Uses For Baking Soda For Stain Removal
Baking soda is useful for stain removal for several reasons, including that it can act as a mild abrasive, raise the pH to help remove acidic stains, and finally because it can absorb liquids, including oils and grease when it is sprinkled on.
There are many mentions of using baking soda to remove stains in the A-Z Stain Removal Guide on this site, where I discuss how to remove over 100 types of stains. Here are some examples:
Baking soda helps absorb liquids, which can be especially helpful for items that would smear if they are blotted up, and for surfaces like upholstery and carpet where you can’t throw it in the wash. Here are some examples of these uses for baking soda:
In addition, baking soda’s ability to absorb, and also its alkaline pH, help it to absorb and remove stains caused by oil and grease. Here are some additional examples from the site where I suggest using bicarbonate of soda to remove these stains:
- Cooking Oil Stain Removal
- Butter Stain Removal
- Mayonnaise Stain Removal
- Removing Baby Oil Stains
- Gravy Stain Removal
In addition, bicarb is a great way to get crayon marks out of clothing, by adding it to the wash when you wash the clothing.
Finally, sodium bicarbonate, along with ammonia, can be used to clean perfume stains from clothing.
Baking Soda Uses For Laundry
Another of the uses for baking soda is a “laundry booster.” What this means is when you add 1/2 cup of baking soda to a load of clothing in the washing machine it actually helps the detergent work better, so the clothes get cleaner.
It does this in two interconnected ways, which include softening the water to allow the detergent to work better, and also raising the pH of the water, which aids in removing dirt and soil from clothing.
Removing Odors With Bicarbonate Of Soda
Bad odors always have an acidic or very alkaline pH, while pleasant odors have a more neutral pH.
Baking soda’s ability to act as a buffer makes it ideal for odor removal, because it actually neutralizes the odor by changing its pH to something closer to neutral.
This chemical property works both for the air, on surfaces, and in water. That means that another of the uses for baking soda in your laundry is as an odor remover, along with the other uses listed above.
It works best when the baking soda is allowed to work in a small space, such as in the refrigerator or inside stinky shoes.
Here are some examples from the site where I have discussed baking soda’s odor absorbing and neutralizing properties, and how to use it within your home:
- Homemade Pet Odor Removal Recipes
- Homemade Carpet Deodorizer Recipe
- Using Baking Soda To Clean And Deodorize A Mattress
Sodium Bicarbonate Can Be Used To Put Out Kitchen Grease Fires
Whenever you have a fire in your home you should call the fire department, whether big or small. You should also have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen at all times, which can be used on all classes of fires, including A (wood, paper, cloth), B (grease), and C (electrical).
However, baking soda can be useful if you have a small grease fire on your stove or in the oven. That is because, when heated, it breaks down to produce three substances, water, carbon dioxide and sodium carbonate. All three substances help smother the fire.
Please note that sodium bicarbonate should not be used to try to put out class A fires because it will only scatter the burning material, making the fire spread more.
For more fire safety tips check out Household Management 101’s Fire Safety Week.
Do You Know Of Even More Baking Soda Uses?
- Recipe For Clean: Oven Cleaner (casasugar.com)
- How-To: Keep Your Stovetop Clean (casasugar.com)
- 49 Uses for Baking Soda (thehappyhousewife.com)