Household Uses for Baking Soda

A natural cleaning product and more.

| May/June 1984

My dictionary defines baking soda as "a water-soluble powder, NaHCO3" . . . but I call it a miracle worker. Let me take you through a hypothetical day at the Christie household, just to show you the versatile uses for baking soda that are inexpensive and safe. 

In the morning, I get up andinstead of reaching for a tube of synthetically flavored geltake a small box of sodium bicarbonate from the medicine chest, sprinkle some of the powder on my toothbrush, and cleanse my teeth. Baking soda's no more abrasive than toothpaste, so I use it daily.

For breakfast, I offer my family hot-from-the-oven soda biscuits, fare that's far more delicious and much less expensive than canned pop-out biscuits. Afterwards, while washing the dishes, I sponge a little baking soda into the empty coffee cups to remove any stains. And I might put a spoonful of bicarb into our glass percolator, fill the container with boiling water, and let it soak for a few minutes to get rid of stale-tasting residues. When the dishes are done, I sprinkle a little soda on the countertops and in the sink, scrubbing lightly with a sponge and then rinsing. Surfaces (even scuff-prone fiberglass tubs) come clean without a scratch.

Now I'm ready to do some housework, so I mix up a batch of natural cleaning product by combining 1/2 cup of household ammonia, 1/2 cup of white vinegar, 1/2 gallon of water, and 1/4 cup of baking soda. A stiff old nailbrush dipped in the solution makes fast work of rubbing out food spots on the dining room carpet . . . and a sponge saturated with the liquid gets fingerprints and smudges off painted walls and woodwork.

While I'm washing down the shower tiles with the solution, I remember this is the day to clean all the drains in the house . . . so I pour 1/2 cup of soda followed by 1/2 cup of vinegar into each one (I sometimes also put a palmful of salt into the kitchen drain, to cut through grease). Half an hour or so later, I flush plain water down the drains, or if a drain is particularly sluggish, I use boiling water. By doing this once a week, I keep our pipes odorless and running free. And if you have a septic tank, flushing a cup of soda down the toilet once a week will help neutralize pH and often encourage the growth of waste-digesting bacteria.

Next, I go downstairs to do laundry. After pre-treating shirt collars and greasy spots with a spritz of my all-purpose soda cleaner (I keep some handy in a spray bottle), I throw in the clothes, add a little less detergent than is recommended on the box, and then make up the difference with some dry baking soda that I store in a jar by the washer. The laundry not only comes out cleaner but also softer.

7/10/2013 12:33:16 AM

From Wikipedia:  "NaHCO3 is mainly prepared by the Solvay process, which is the reaction of sodium chloride, ammonia, and carbon dioxide in water. Calcium carbonate is used as the source of CO2 and the resultant calcium oxide is used to recover the ammonia from the ammonium chloride."

How is that "natural"?

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