38 extraordinary uses for bicarbonate of soda

38 extraordinary uses for bicarbonate of soda
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There are so many weird and wonderful uses for baking soda - or bicarbonate of soda as the English call it - from cleaning your bathroom to getting rid of weeds in your garden. We've got a whopping great list to inspire you, as well as investigating exactly what is baking soda, and how is it different to bicarbonate of soda or baking powder?

What are the best uses for bicarbonate of soda?

  • Use baking soda to clean your kitchen
  • Stop smelly trainers with bicarb
  • Soothe a sore throat naturally with baking soda
  • Use bicarb to kill weeds in your garden
  • Make natural beauty treatments with baking soda
  • Bicarb can help keep your carpets clean
  • Defrost your driveway in seconds with bicarb
  • Use baking soda to cure heartburn
  • Find relief from insect bites with bicarbonate of soda
  • Get your white laundry even whiter using baking soda
  • Make a natural mouthwash with bicarb
  • Stop dandruff with baking soda

Find out how to do all this and more below!

What's the difference between baking soda, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder?

Baking soda and bicarbonate of soda are the same thing, just with different names. Baking soda tends to be the American name, while in the UK and in Australia we tend to call it bicarbonate of soda. Meanwhile baking powder, although also used to make cakes rise, is used slightly differently.

What is bicarbonate of soda?

Aka baking soda, is a leavening agent used in baking and needs to be mixed with liquid and an acidic ingredient (eg honey, chocolate, lemon, buttermilk) to react and make cakes rise. 

What is baking powder?

Baking powder is also a leavening agent but comes pre-mixed with the acidic ingredient (often cream of tartar) so all you need to add is a liquid to make your cake rise. It has quite a neutral taste.

Make your own baking powder

Make your own baking powder by mixing one part bicarbonate of soda or baking soda with two parts cream of tartar. 

Uses for bicarbonate of soda or baking soda

Whatever you want to call it, try these easy cleaning tips and put baking soda to work in every room of your house!

1. Clean dirty fruit and veg with baking soda

Put some bicarb on a damp sponge, scrub your produce and rinse.

2. Give hairbrushes a clean with bicarb

Soak hairbrushes and combs in a mixture of 1 teaspoon of bicarb and a small amount of warm water. Rinse and dry.

3. Use baking soda to scrub your BBQ grill

Keep your bbq grill clean all summer long by putting some baking soda on a damp brush, scrubbing the grate, then rinsing.

4. Clean rugs and carpets with baking soda

Freshen up rugs by sprinkling bicarbonate of soda on carpet, wait at least 15 minutes (preferably overnight), then hoover.

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5. Get whiter, brighter clothes with baking soda

Add 1 small cup of bicarbonate of soda to a load of laundry (along with your regular liquid detergent) to get clothes cleaner and brighter.

6. Remove stubborn food stains from pans

Remove baked-on residue by shaking a generous amount of baking soda on pots and pans. Then add hot water and dish detergent, let sit for 15 minutes and wash as usual.

7. Give floors a shine with bicarb

To brighten a dull floor finish, dissolve 100g bicarb in a bucket of warm water. Mop and rinse for a shiny floor.

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8. Make a natural homemade bathroom cleaner

Make your own bathroom scrub by mixing 50g bicarbonate of soda with 1 tablespoon liquid detergent. Add vinegar to give it a thick, creamy texture.

9. Clean appliances with bicarbonate of soda

Clean the dishwasher and coffeemaker by running an empty cycle with baking soda.

10. Make a DIY spa treatment at home

Add 100g bicarbonate soda to your bath for an at-home spa treatment.

11. Polish tarnished silver with baking soda

To shine tarnished silver, combine three parts bicarb with one part water. Rub onto silver with a clean cloth or sponge. Rinse thoroughly and dry.

12. Keep litter tray smells at bay with bicarb

Sprinkle bicarbonate of soda in the cat box, then add litter on top to keep smells to a minimum.

13. Exfoliate your skin with baking soda

Exfoliate your skin with a paste of 3 parts baking soda to one part water. Apply gently with your fingertips in a circular motion, then rinse.

14. Keep the loo white and clean

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To clean a toilet add 50g (2oz) bicarbonate of soda to the bowl, swirl, then scrub.

15. Make a homemade hair treatment

Mix a little baking soda into your conditioner and lather on your hair to keep it healthy and resistant to split ends.

16. Kill garden weeds naturally with baking soda

Discourage weeds by sprinkling bicarb into the cracks on your driveway and walkways.

17. Clean your toothbrush with bicarbonate of soda

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Soak toothbrushes in a mixture of 50g (2oz) bicarb and 50ml(1/4 pint) water; let brushes stand overnight for a thorough cleaning.

18. Cure heartburn with bicarb

Make your own an antacid by mixing ½ teaspoon of bicarb with 50 ml (1/4 pint) of water.

19. Soothe insect bites naturally

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For instant relief from bug bites and sunburn mix bicarbonate of soda with a little water and apply it directly to the sore.

20. Clean the microwave with bicarb

Bicarbonate of soda on a clean damp sponge cleans gently inside and outside the microwave and never leaves a harsh chemical smell. Rinse well with water.

21. Make a fluffy omelette with baking soda

Make a fluffier omelette by adding ½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda for every three eggs.

22. Make marvellous mouthwash with baking soda

Gargle with bicarb to freshen your breath and keep your teeth healthy.

23. Get rid of dandruff with bicarb

Lay off the shampoo for a few weeks and massage your wet scalp with a handful of baking soda instead.

24. Ice-proof your driveway with baking soda

Scatter bicarb on icy paths and driveways, it’s not as corrosive as salt.

25. Make a cheap bath soak

Add 50g (2oz) of bicarbonate of soda to your bath to neutralise acids on the skin and help wash away oil and perspiration, it also makes your skin feel very soft.

26. Unblock drains with bicarbonate of soda

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Pour in 100g (4oz) bicarb followed by 100ml (4 fl oz) hot vinegar to quickly unclog the kitchen drain.

27. Stop bins smelling with baking soda

Sprinkle bicarb on the bottom of your bin to keep stinky smells at bay.

28. Whiten your teeth naturally

Mix bicarb, strawberries and lemon juice together for a natural whitening agent. Combine the ingredients and use to brush your teeth.

29. Whiten yellow nails with baking soda

Leaving nail polish on too long can leave nails looking yellow. Get rid of stains by mixing bicarb and a very small amount of peroxide and scrubbing it on your nails.

30. Keep windshields clear with bicarb

Wipe a damp cloth sprinkled with bicarbonate of soda onto your windshield to repel rain.

31. Make a natural face mask

Avoid spot breakouts by making your own facemask. Mix 1 tablespoon of bicarb with 1 tablespoon of water. Splash your face with warm water then apply the mask liberally. Once dry gently wipe of wth a war, wet flannel.

32. Use baking soda to treat chickenpox

Help soothe the itchiness and irritation of chickenpox. Stir 1 half tablespoon of baking soda in a glass of water. Use a soft washcloth to put the solution on the affected parts of the body and allow to dry.

33. Bicarb can help soothe a sore throat

There are lots of natural ways to soothe a sore throat, and gargling with baking soda in water is one of them.

34. Clean Tupperware and other food containers with baking soda

If storing too many packed lunches, pasta sauces or curries has left your plastic food boxes looking discoloured and grimy - once again, it's bicarbonate of soda to the rescue! Sprinkle a clean sponge with baking soda and give them a bit of elbow grease.

35. Clean your kitchen with baking soda

From worktops to the fridge, the sink and even your cooking utensils, you can clean the whole kitchen naturally with a mixture of bicarb and warm water.

36. Clean your sponges for reuse

If your cleaning sponges are a bit sad or smelly, leave them to soak in warm water and bicarb, and give them a good rinse through in the morning.

37. Clean a pet bed with baking soda

If your dog or cat bed is a bit smelly, sprinkle it with bicarb, let it sit for 15 minutes, then vacuum it up.

38. Stop shoes smelling with bicarb

Sprinkle baking soda into stinky trainers - and even your whole gym bag - and leave it. Just tap it out when you next need to use them

  • There's more great advice in every issue of Yours magazine, out every fortnight on a Tuesday.