You can get a cleaning product specifically designed for any household job nowadays. But if you want to cut down on the number of products you buy, whether for environmental or cost reasons, it can help to find things that have multiple uses.
One such product is bicarbonate of soda, also known as baking soda. It’s often seen as a miracle cleaning product because it can help with so many different things.
Below, we’ll cover seven bicarbonate of soda uses for cleaning.
Most of the suggestions below are for cleaning specific items around the home. However, bicarb is safe to use on most things, so you can use these tips elsewhere.
Just remember it’s quite abrasive, so you should be careful using it around glass, chrome, etc.
So, here are seven bicarbonate of soda uses for cleaning.
Bicarb is great for removing smells because it’s a base, and most odour compounds are acidic.
If you remember your chemistry lessons, alkalines (bases) and acids combine to neutralise one another.
You can use bicarbonate of soda to remove odours from:
- Shoes (sprinkle it in the shoes)
- Carpets (sprinkle it on and vacuum it off)
- Fridges (an open pot on a shelf)
- Drains (pour it down)
It’s a pretty great all-round odour eliminator. The standard process is to sprinkle some bicarb on the smelly item, leave it for a few hours, and then vacuum it off.
You might be left with some white residue on the item, but you can get this off with a damp cloth.
2. Oven Scrub
Bicarb can be used for scrubbing stubborn grease and food marks off ovens, pans, etc.
Be careful using it on non-stick pans or glass cooker tops, though. It’s abrasive so can easily scratch delicate items or remove non-stick coatings.
If you’re confident your oven or hob can take a heavy scrubbing, simply make a paste by mixing 6 tablespoons of bicarb with 4 tablespoons of water.
The paste should be thick, but adjust the water or bicarb if it’s too thick or loose.
Apply the paste with a cloth and scrub the affected area. Remove residue with a clean cloth and then wipe the surface down.
You can use this paste to scrub anything that needs stains removing. It works on toilets, baths, sinks and more.
3. Air Freshener
Bicarb of soda can be used as an air freshener because of its odour-eliminating properties.
Simply fill a jar or pot with bicarb and add a few drops of essential oil.
Hide it somewhere inconspicuous and it’ll help pull smells out of the air.
Bicarbonate of soda works well as a de-greaser because it’s absorbent and its abrasive qualities can help get rid of stubborn grease stains.
For example, you could use it to clean a grill pan, soak up grease from a pot, or clean your washing up bowl.
All you need to do is sprinkle enough bicarb to soak up the grease and collect it with a cloth. Avoid scrubbing too hard if you’re concerned about scratching non-stick surfaces.
5. Clean Your Washing Machine
Using bicarb to clean your washing machine is a far cheaper alternative to dedicated cleaning products.
Simply add 3-4 tablespoons to your detergent drawer and run the washing machine on its hottest, longest cycle.
The bicarb helps to eliminate odours that build up in the machine as well as removing any built-up grease from too much fabric softener.
6. Brightening Whites
You can use bicarbonate of soda as a laundry cleaning booster – both for colours and whites.
Add around 50g to your washing machine to help lift dirt from your clothes and make whites look brighter.
7. Fabric Softener
While we’re on the subject of cleaning clothes, bicarb can also be used as a low-cost fabric softener.
It’s an alkali, so helps regulate the pH of the water. This can also help control the levels of residue left on clothes by excess detergent, as it bonds with the bicarb.
Too much residue left on clothes is part of what makes them feel hard and scratchy.
Add 40g or so to your washing machine’s fabric softener drawer. You could use white vinegar instead, as this is another popular green fabric conditioner. Just don’t use both at the same time because they’ll neutralise each other.
How Do You Unblock a Drain with Bicarbonate of Soda?
Bicarbonate of soda has many cleaning uses around the home, but one thing it won’t really help with is unblocking drains.
A classic cleaning tip is to pour bicarb and vinegar down a clogged drain to help shift grease. But if we run through the process logically, it becomes clear that this isn’t as effective as it seems.
Remember, bicarbonate of soda is an alkali and vinegar is an acid. When they’re combined, they create water, a small amount of salt, and carbon dioxide. None of these ingredients is particularly effective at shifting greasy drain clogs.
Some cleaning guides might argue that the pressure created by the reaction pushes the clog out, but this only happens in a closed system.
Drains aren’t closed systems (they’re open at both ends), meaning the carbon dioxide can escape before the pressure gets high enough.
So, how do you unblock a drain without using harsh cleaning chemicals?
The simple answer is with hot water and washing up liquid. Try the following to unclog your drain:
- Boil the kettle and pour it slowly into the clogged drain. This’ll help melt the grease.
- Pour a generous squirt of washing up liquid down the drain, ideally one with good grease-busting properties.
- Leave it 5-10 minutes and then pour another kettle’s worth of freshly boiled water in.
- If you want to help eliminate odours, you can sprinkle in some bicarb after.
Hot water and washing up liquid are better for unclogging drains because this combination melts the grease, which then gets trapped by the washing up liquid.
As you can see, there are loads of ways to use bicarbonate of soda around the home for cleaning.
It’s a low-cost, eco-friendly solution for everything from laundry and washing up to odour removal and bathroom scrubbing.
You can buy bicarbonate of soda in lots of places, both online and in supermarkets.
With a bit of experimenting, you should find that you can replace a whole range of cleaning products with bicarb, which should help you to save a bit of money in the long run.
Jacob is a freelance writer based in Wales, where he lives with his partner and two dogs. All his work is fuelled by extensive research and buckets of coffee.