Do you think much about what goes down your drain? Have you ever wondered where it goes? Have you ever tried to pronounce the ingredients in your shampoo? If you have, you’ve probably gotten a little nervous for anyone who might live downstream. Between the bleach in bathroom cleaning products and the lye in many drain cleaners, household effluent can be a rather noxious thing. But you need these products for a reason, right? That ring in your bathtub isn’t going to scrub itself away!
What if there were a way to address many of your household needs with one product that is safe enough to eat? In fact, you probably eat this product regularly.
What if this product were very affordable and available to regular consumers in bulk quantities? What if it were in your kitchen cabinet right now?
We have two words for you! Baking soda.
- Dish and Pan Scrub—Baking soda, with its fine grain and propensity for clumping, makes for an ideal dish scrub. It’s a very gentle abrasive while still being aggressive enough to take off the really baked on grease. Shake a little onto the surface, add just enough water to make a paste, and rub with your fingers or a sponge.
- Silver Polish—To polish silver jewelry, put a little baking soda in the palm of your hand, add water to make a paste, and rub your silver between your hands. For silver dishes or silverware, rub the paste on with a soft cloth and rinse.
- Face & Body Scrub—The same properties that make baking soda great for cleaning also make it a gentle but effect exfoliant. In the shower or bath, take about a tablespoon of baking soda in your palm and wet to make a paste. Gently rub into your skin—it will sting if you get it in your eyes, but flushing with water will clear that up—and rinse with warm water. This exfoliant is very effective, so start with one treatment a week and increase frequency as needed.
- Toothpaste/Mouthwash—Baking soda will polish away stains on your teeth with regular use. Sprinkle a little on your toothbrush and brush teeth as usual. You can combine baking soda with regular toothpaste if the salty taste is unpleasant, but it is effective enough to use alone, too. For mouthwash, dissolve about a teaspoon of baking soda in an ounce of hot water and gargle as you would with regular mouthwash. This will leave your mouth feeling fresh without making you feel like you’ve been drinking rubbing alcohol.
- Shampoo—Dissolve one part baking soda in three parts water, and pour through wet hair in the shower. Massage into your scalp with your fingers and rinse. Follow this treatment up with an apple cider vinegar rinse for a full, eco-friendly shampoo/conditioner treatment.
- Shower Scum Scrub—Make a thick paste out of baking soda and water and rub it into your tub with a half of a lemon. The chemical reaction between the acidity of the lemon and the alkalinity of the baking soda will bubble up and break down the stains.
- Deodorant—Check out our post about homemade deodorant, using olive oil, baking soda, corn starch, and beeswax.
- Carpet Treatment—Baking soda is a gentle desiccant, meaning it absorbs moisture from the environment, and since carpet tends to behave like the big sponge everyone walks across in your house, baking soda makes an ideal carpet treatment. Sprinkle a fine layer throughout your house, let sit for about fifteen minute, and then vacuum it up to freshen your carpets. Also, if you’re treating your pet for fleas, you must treat your carpets as well. A baking soda treatment will desiccate any tender flea eggs in your carpet, but be sure to do three or four treatment to get all the eggs. Next time you spill something on your carpet, mop up as much as you can with a rag, put down a thick layer of baking soda to absorb the rest, and vacuum it up after about fifteen minutes. Reapply as needed.
- Drain Cleaner—Baking soda works best as a preventative, so if your drain is already clogged, you may need to take it apart and physically clean out the blockage. To save yourself the trouble, though, add a weekly baking soda rinse to your weekly cleaning cycle: pour about half a cup of baking soda into your drain and then pour a cup of vinegar over it. The mix will bubble up in the drain and break down the gunk that collects there. If you really want to be aggressive, bring your vinegar to a boil in the kettle before pouring it down the drain. Watch out for the steam, though—it can be very vinegary.
- Indigestion—Baking soda is a base, making it a quick and easy way to neutralize acid indigestion. Mix a teaspoon of baking soda into an ounce of hot water and drink in one gulp. The chemical reaction between your stomach acid and the baking soda will release gas, so be sure the company present won’t be offended by some healthy belching.
- Fungicide—To treat fungi in the garden like tomato blights and powdery mildew, mix up this baking soda fungicide and apply.
- Laundry—Add a cup of baking soda to your laundry load to boost the cleaning power of your regular detergent.
- Fire Extinguisher—Keep a box of baking soda next to your oven, so the next time dinner catches fire in there—it happens to the best of us—douse the flames with baking soda.
- Uranium Wash—It turns out that uranium oxide sticks quite aggressively to cotton clothing, so much so that regular washing will not remove it. Studies have shown, however, that a baking soda wash will removed uranium dust. Next time you find yourself exposed to uranium, be sure to wash your clothing with baking soda!
Organic Growers School is a non-profit organization providing organic education since 1993. Our mission is to inspire, educate, and support people in our region to farm, garden, and live organically.