Bicarbonate of soda, bicarb for short, or baking soda to some of you, is well known in the cleaning industry because of its power to neutralise pesky aromas, clean surfaces, and treat stains.
But hang on. Does bicarbonate of soda really get rid of smells, or is this another tale from long ago? I hear you ask.
Yep, bicarb sure does neutralise whiffy aromas, and it’s good at it too!
But how does bicarb remove smells? In short, bicarbonate of soda is an alkaline, whereas most odours you can smell are acid-based.
Bicarb essentially helps to neutralise the acids that are in the poorer smells and ensures that there’s a more balanced pH. In turn, the bad odours ‘go away’.
Keep on reading to discover how bicarbonate of soda can remove aromas from around your home.
If your bin is a little pongy, remove the rubbish sack from it, wash the tub out (warm soapy water will do the trick), then line the bottom with a layer of bicarbonate of soda (it’ll absorb the odours).
When you’re done with the bicarb, pop another bin bag in the bin and start collecting rubbish again, minus the stinking aromas!
In addition, if your bin is extra pungent or is coated in a toughened layer of dirt, you could clean it with a bicarbonate of soda paste.
The paste, if left on the grime for long enough, will break it down and make the muck easier to remove.
Carpets get a little smelly after a while. It’s not surprising, considering they’re hammered by a lot of foot traffic, spillages, and stains on a daily basis. But even with the facts in tow, you can’t stop the assault on your nostrils.
To deodorise a carpet with bicarbonate of soda, clean any obvious mess off the carpet. This can include moving objects off the floor and treating any stains.
Then coat the whole carpet in a layer of bicarb and leave it there overnight. When you wake up the next day, you can hoover the carpet, and the aromas will have disappeared.
Ideally, you need to remove your furniture from the room so you can douse the whole carpet in bicarbonate of soda. (By doing this, you’ll be able to deodorise the entire surface in one go).
Whereas if you work around your furniture, you may miss smelly bits. Consequently, you’ll leave poorer odours on the carpet. (Always ask someone to help you move heavy pieces of furniture).
If you’ve got an odour-filled drain at home, eradicate the scents by popping a few tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda down the drain and following it up with boiling water from the kettle.
For extra stinky drains, you can repeat this process.
Cosy nights spent around a campfire are idyllic. But the dreamy image can be thwarted the next morning when you smell your clothes, and they whiff of lingering smoke.
The stench will remain on your clothes for ages! So there’s only one thing for it: a bicarbonate of soda bath.
Just fill a bucket with warm water and add half a cup of bicarb to it. Then place your smoky item of clothing in the water and continuously stir it around.
The process may take some time, but stick with it until your garment is smoke-free. You can then launder your item as usual.
If you have more than one outfit that needs treating, treat each piece individually so you don’t transfer any dyes from the materials. And always change the water in the bucket before you move on to the next item of clothing.
If someone’s had an accident and the mattress is a little smelly, remove the stench by cleaning the offending mess first. Then sprinkle an even layer of bicarbonate of soda over the mattress.
Allow the bicarb to rest on the mattress overnight, then the following day, hoover the fine powdery mixture and aromas away.
Hoovers dive head-first into the dirt on the floor, so it’s no wonder that their canisters get extra whiffy from time to time.
If this is the situation with your vacuum cleaner, simply empty the canister and clean it out. Then spread a little bicarbonate of soda on the bottom of the canister.
As you hoover, you should notice that the machine doesn’t give out as many displeasing aromas because the bicarb will have neutralised the odours.
Lunchboxes are subjected to some hardcore oils and sauces. Naturally, these recipes leave a smelly residue behind. But before you throw your lunchbox out, clean it with some warm soapy water, then sprinkle a layer of bicarbonate of soda all over its insides.
Leave your lunchbox alone for a whole day, then empty it, and you should notice that the lingering smells will have disappeared too. Of course, you may have to repeat this deodorising process for extra pungent lunchboxes.
If you’re going to be cooking something pungent, but you don’t want the smells to hang around after you’ve eaten your meal, use some bicarb to banish the aromas!
Simply pop some shallow dishes/side plates around your kitchen and put an even layer of bicarbonate of soda in each one.
You don’t need to fill the dish/side plates up all the way, a thin, even layer will do just fine! When the shallow bowls/side plates are distributed around the room, start cooking!
As you cook, the bicarb will absorb the cooking smells, so by the time you’ve finished your meal, your room will be much less aromatic.
Interestingly, it’s better to spread bicarb out in thin, even layers rather than in tiny mounds, so the powder can effectively neutralise the odours for you.
If the bicarbonate of soda is left in little heaps, it doesn’t always work well at deodorising a space.
This technique even works in the fridge!
It’s not uncommon for certain items to be plagued by odours more than others. Gym wear, for example, is usually teaming with sweaty aromas that need to be neutralised.
To deodorise sweaty gear, pop half a cup of bicarb in a bucket of water, pop your garment into the water, and leave it overnight. By morning your item should smell a lot better and can be washed as usual.
If you need a little more kick, you can create a paste from bicarbonate of soda and water, and rub it onto the more smellier regions of your outfits. You can leave the paste on the item for a few minutes, and then you can launder it.
Babies have a tendency of being sick after they’ve been fed milk. This type of reflux isn’t uncommon, but it does have one heck of an odour! Lucky for you, you can get rid of the stink with a little bicarbonate of soda.
Footwear is notoriously smelly! The thought of stinky shoes alone is enough to make some people retch! But the aromatic issue can be rectified with a dash of bicarbonate of soda.
Just sprinkle bicarbonate of soda straight into each shoe (closed shoes, like trainers), give them a shake, and leave them alone for an entire day!
After a day has passed, you can shake and hoover the fine powder out of your shoes, and you’ll notice that the smell will have gone too.
Alternatively, you can create little bicarbonate of soda scent sachets for your shoes. All you need to do is fill a couple of trainer socks up with a few teaspoons of bicarb (add a few drops of essential oil if you like), tie the top, and toss the bicarb-sock-sachets inside your shoes. The sachets can be left inside the shoes until you want to wear them.
If you’ve got whiffy flip-flops, just pop them in a sealable bag filled with bicarbonate of soda.
Then give the bag a good shake so the fine powder covers all the shoes, and leave the bag with the flip flops inside for two days. During this time, the bicarbonate of soda will absorb the smells.
After two days, you can remove the flip-flops from the sealable bag, tap the powder off them and wipe them down with a fresh cloth. When the shoes are free of bicarbonate of soda, you can wear them again.
How Long Does It Take Bicarbonate of Soda to Remove Odours?
It usually takes multiple hours for bicarbonate of soda to break down odours. Sometimes, the fine powder can take up to two days to deodorise an entire area.
Bethan has a passion for exploring, reading, cooking and gardening! When she’s not creating culinary delights for her family, she’s concocting potions to keep her house clean!