7 Smart Ways to Use Baking Soda Around the House

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Woman with baking soda
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Baking soda can be found in almost any home. But some people may not realize that its uses are seemingly never-ending — and some are even remarkable.

Following are ways, besides keeping the fridge smelling sweet, that you can use baking soda at home.

1. Keep bugs at bay

Baking soda
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When I lived in Philadelphia, I greatly reduced the roach population in my apartment by leaving a few dishes of baking soda and sugar here and there; the sugar attracted them, and the bicarbonate of soda killed them.

2. Provide homemade first aid

Bee sting
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A baking soda paste helps soothe the discomfort of bee or wasp stings, says Seattle Children’s Hospital. Leave it on for 20 minutes.

3. Fight the elements

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Baking soda can help you:

  • Fight fire. When I was a little kid, my dad told me to throw baking soda on a fire in a frying pan or on a stovetop. It works!
  • Fight ice. Baking soda on slippery steps or icy walkways gives traction but is kinder to surfaces than commercial de-icer.

4. Clean stuff

Woman washing dishes
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Using baking soda is a great way to clean a lot of stuff around your house:

  • Wash extra-dirty dishes. Sprinkle baking soda on a sponge, or directly onto the dishes, before scrubbing dishes that have stubborn baked-on food. The baking soda acts as a mild abrasive that adds scrubbing power without scratching.
  • Shine stainless steel. Use a damp sponge and soda to clean stainless steel appliances.
  • Soften stickers. A baking soda paste will take care of gummy residue left by adhesive labels or stickers.

5. Tidy up the house

Man cleaning with bleach
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Baking soda can also be used to keep the house looking great:

  • Wash the fridge. Sure, you keep an open box of soda in the fridge. But every so often, wash the inside of the appliance with a baking soda solution.
  • Drain the drain. Pour some baking soda down the sink and chase it with white vinegar. Then, pour very hot water — maybe even a kettle full of boiling water — to finish the job. It’s more eco-friendly than a harsh drain opener but does a good job of keeping the lines running.
  • Defeat soap scum. Baking soda paste is a good cleaner for bathroom tiles.
  • De-grime grout. Scrub tile grout with a baking soda paste. Leave it on for a few minutes, then rinse well.

6. De-stain things

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Baking soda will also take stains out of many things:

  • Revive your Tupperware. Are your plastic dishes stained from storing minestrone or reheating spaghetti at work? Rub off the red with baking soda paste.
  • Scrub stains from a coffee mug. Use a wet cloth on the inside of stained coffee mugs, then dip the cloth into bicarb and scrub off the stains. If that doesn’t work, fill with a baking soda solution and let sit overnight.

7. Un-stink stuff

Stinky shoes
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You can use baking powder to get the stink out of many things. For instance:

  • Rehab a pet bed. Over time, Fluffy’s or Fido’s bed cushion will get a little sniffy. Use soda to absorb smells, then vacuum.
  • Wash your hands. Cleaning fish or chopping onions? Take the smell off your fingers by washing them with baking soda and water.
  • Deodorize the carpet. If the wall-to-wall carpeting smells bad, sprinkle it with baking soda, wait 15 minutes and then vacuum up the powder. The smell will come up with it.
  • Freshen the mattress. Every so often, apply a thin layer of baking soda atop the mattress. In a few hours, vacuum it up.
  • De-funkify the trash can. Put a layer of baking soda in the bottom of the receptacle. Note: This is especially useful for the trash can that you use for dirty disposable diapers.