Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is widely used in baking.
This is because it has leavening properties, meaning it causes dough to rise by producing carbon dioxide.
Aside from cooking, baking soda has a variety of additional household uses and health benefits.
Here are 23 benefits and uses of baking soda.
1. Treat heartburn
Heartburn is also known as acid reflux. It’s a painful, burning sensation that arises in the upper region of your stomach and can spread up into your throat.
It’s caused by acid refluxing out of the stomach and up your esophagus, the tube that connects your stomach to your mouth.
A few common causes of reflux are overeating, stress, and eating greasy or spicy foods.
Baking soda can help treat heartburn by neutralizing stomach acid. Dissolve a teaspoon of baking soda in a glass of cold water and drink the mixture slowly.
There are downsides to this treatment that you should be aware of:
- There’s some debate as to whether everyone with heartburn symptoms actually has high stomach acid.
- Baking soda is very high in sodium at 629 mg per 1/2 teaspoon.
- Continued use may lead to metabolic alkalosis and heart problems.
Mouthwash is a great addition to a good oral hygiene routine. It reaches corners of your mouth and crevices of your teeth, gums, and tongue, which may be missed during brushing.
Many people use baking soda as a replacement for mouthwash. Some studies have shown it can help freshen your breath and even provide antibacterial and antimicrobial properties.
However, one study found that a baking soda mouthwash did not significantly lower oral bacteria levels, although it did result in an increased salivary pH, which is important for inhibiting bacterial growth.
The recipe for baking soda mouthwash is simple. Add 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda to half a glass of warm water, and then swish as usual.
3. Soothe canker sores
Canker sores are small, painful ulcers that can form inside your mouth. Unlike cold sores, canker sores do not form on the lips and aren’t contagious.
Though more evidence is needed, some research has found that baking soda mouthwash is great for soothing pain caused by canker sores.
You can make baking soda mouthwash using the recipe in the previous chapter. Rinse your mouth with this mixture once a day until the canker sore heals.
4. Whiten your teeth
Baking soda is a popular home remedy for whitening teeth.
Many studies have found that toothpaste containing baking soda is better for whitening teeth and removing plaque than toothpaste without baking soda.
This is likely because baking soda has mild abrasive properties that let it break the bonds of molecules that stain the teeth. It also has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties that can help fight harmful bacteria.
Surprisingly, human sweat is odorless.
Sweat only gains an odor after it’s broken down by bacteria in your armpits. These bacteria convert your sweat into acidic waste products that give sweat its odor.
Baking soda may eliminate the smell of sweat by making the odors less acidic. Try patting baking soda onto your armpits, and you may notice a difference.
6. Relieve itchy skin and sunburns
A baking soda bath is often recommended to soothe itchy skin. These baths are a commonly used remedy for itching from bug bites and bee stings.
Additionally, baking soda may help soothe itching from sunburns. Some people claim it can be more effective when combined with other ingredients like cornstarch and oatmeal.
To make a baking soda bath, add 1–2 cups of baking soda to a lukewarm bath. Make sure the affected area is soaked thoroughly.
For more specific areas, you can create a paste with baking soda and a bit of water. Apply a thick layer of paste to the affected area.
7. May slow the progression of chronic kidney disease
People with chronic kidney disease (CKD) slowly lose function of their kidneys.
The kidneys are incredibly important because they help remove excess waste and water from the blood. At the same time, they help balance important minerals like potassium, sodium, and calcium (32Trusted Source).
A study including 134 adults with CKD found that those taking sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) supplements were 36% less likely to experience rapid disease progression than people who did not take the supplements (33).
Be sure to talk to your doctor before ingesting baking soda.
8. May improve certain cancer treatments
Cancer is the second leading cause of death worldwide.
It’s often treated with chemotherapy, which works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells. Normally, cancer cells grow and divide at a rapid rate.
Some research shows that baking soda could help chemotherapy medicines work more effectively. Baking soda may make the environment for tumors less acidic, which benefits chemotherapy treatments.
However, the evidence is limited to preliminary indications from animal and cell studies, so more human-based research is needed.
9. Neutralize fridge odors
Have you ever opened your fridge and come across a surprisingly foul odor?
Chances are that some foods in your fridge have overstayed their welcome and started spoiling. This foul odor may stick around long after emptying the fridge and cleaning it thoroughly.
Fortunately, baking soda can help freshen a smelly fridge by neutralizing bad odors. It interacts with the odor particles to eliminate them, rather than just masking their smell.
Fill a cup with baking soda and place it in the back of your fridge to neutralize bad odors.
10. Air freshener
Not all commercial air fresheners eliminate bad odors. Instead, some simply release fragrance molecules that mask bad smells.
In addition, fewer than 10% of air fresheners tell you what they contain. This can be problematic if you are sensitive to chemicals that may be found in air fresheners.
Baking soda is an excellent and safe alternative to commercial air fresheners. It interacts with odor particles and neutralizes them, rather than masking them.
To create a baking soda air freshener, you will need:
- a small jar
- 1/3 cup baking soda
- 10–15 drops of your favorite essential oils
- a piece of cloth or paper
- string or ribbon
Add the baking soda and essential oils to the jar. Cover it with the cloth or paper, and then secure it in place with the string. When the scent starts to fade, give the jar a shake.
11. May whiten your laundry
Baking soda is an inexpensive way to whiten and clean your laundry.
Baking soda is an alkali — a soluble salt — that can help remove dirt and stains. When dissolved in water, an alkali such as baking soda can interact with acids from stains and help remove them.
Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to your regular amount of laundry detergent. It also helps soften the water, which means you may need less detergent than usual.
12. Kitchen cleaner
The versatility of baking soda makes it a great kitchen cleaner. It can not only remove tough stains but also help eliminate foul odors.
To use baking soda in your kitchen, make a paste by mixing baking soda with a small amount of water. Apply the paste to the desired surface with a sponge or cloth and scrub thoroughly.
Here are a few things found in the kitchen that you can clean with baking soda:
- stained coffee cups
- stained marble
- grease stains
- kitchen tiles
- clogged drains
- tarnished silver
13. Eliminate garbage odor
Garbage bags often have a putrid odor because they contain a variety of decaying waste products. Unfortunately, this odor can spread to your kitchen and other areas of your home.
Luckily, baking soda can help eliminate garbage odors. These odors are often acidic, so baking soda can interact with odor molecules and neutralize them.
In fact, scientists found that spreading baking soda at the bottom of waste bins can help neutralize garbage odor by 70%.
14. Remove stubborn carpet stains
A combination of baking soda and vinegar can remove the most stubborn carpet stains.
When baking soda and vinegar are mixed, they create a compound called carbonic acid, which is a common ingredient in cleaning products. This reaction creates a lot of fizzing, which may help break down tough stains.
Here’s how you can eliminate stubborn carpet stains with just baking soda and vinegar:
- Cover the carpet stain with a thin layer of baking soda.
- Fill an empty spray bottle with a 1-to-1 mixture of vinegar and water and spray it over the stained area.
- Wait up to 1 hour or until the surface dries.
- Scrub the baking soda loose with a brush and vacuum the residue.
- The stain should now be completely removed. If there’s some baking soda residue left on the carpet, wipe it up with a damp towel.
15. Multipurpose bathroom cleaner
Like kitchens, bathrooms can be difficult to clean. They have a variety of surfaces that are frequently used and thus need to be cleaned often.
While a variety of commercial bathroom cleaners are available, many people prefer a more natural and cost-effective cleaning option. Baking soda comes in handy because it whitens and disinfects many bathroom surfaces, though it’s less effective than commercial cleaners.
Here are a few surfaces you can clean with baking soda:
- bathroom tiles
- bathroom sinks
Make a paste using baking soda and a bit of water. Using a sponge or a cloth, rub the mixture thoroughly onto the surface you want to clean.
Wipe down the surface 15–20 minutes later with a damp cloth.
16. Clean fruits and veggies
Many people worry about pesticides on foods. Pesticides are used to prevent crops from damage by insects, germs, rodents, and weeds.
Peeling fruit is the best way to remove pesticides. However, it also means you don’t get the important nutrients, such as fiber, vitamins, and minerals, found in the skins of many fruits.
Interestingly, recent research has found that soaking fruits and veggies in a baking soda wash is the most effective way to remove pesticides without peeling them.
One study found that soaking apples in a solution of baking soda and water for 12–15 minutes removed nearly all of the pesticides.
Please note that this method doesn’t remove pesticides that have penetrated the skin of the fruit. More research is needed to see if this works for other types of produce.
17. Polish silverware
Baking soda is a handy alternative to commercial silver polishes.
For this you will need:
- an aluminum baking pan or baking dish lined with aluminum foil
- 1 cup of boiling water
- 1 tablespoon of baking soda
- 1/2 cup of white vinegar
Add the baking soda to the aluminum baking pan and slowly pour in the vinegar. Next, pour in the boiling water and then place the silver in the baking pan.
Almost immediately, the tarnish should begin to disappear, and you can remove most silverware from the pan within thirty seconds. However, heavily tarnished silverware may need to sit in the mixture for up to 1 minute.
In this mixture, silver undergoes a chemical reaction with the aluminum pan and baking soda. It transfers the tarnish from the silverware onto the aluminum pan or may create pale, yellow residue at the bottom of the pan.
18. Save a scorched pot
Many people have inadvertently scorched the bottom of a pot while cooking.
These can be a nightmare to clean, but you can save a scorched pot easily with baking soda and water.
Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the bottom of the pot and add enough water to cover the burnt areas. Bring the mixture to a boil and empty the pan as usual.
If stubborn stains remain, grab a scouring pad, add a small amount of washing liquid, and gently remove the remaining burnt bits.
19. Extinguish oil and grease fires
Interestingly, some fire extinguishers contain baking soda.
These types are known as dry chemical fire extinguishers and used to extinguish oil, grease, and electrical fires. Baking soda reacts with the heat to produce carbon dioxide, which smothers and extinguishes the fire.
As such, baking soda can be used to extinguish small oil and grease fires.
However, don’t expect baking soda to extinguish larger house fires. Larger fires draw in more oxygen and can counter the effects of baking soda.
20. Homemade weed killer
Weeds are pesky plants that can grow in the cracks of your walkways and driveways. They often have deep roots, making them hard to kill without using a chemical weed killer.
Fortunately, you can use baking soda as a cheaper and safer alternative. That’s because baking soda is high in sodium, which creates a harsh environment for weeds.
Sprinkle a few handfuls of baking soda over weeds that are growing in the cracks of your sidewalk, driveways, and other weed-infested areas.
However, avoid using baking soda to kill weeds in your flowerbeds and gardens, as it may kill your other plants as well.
21. Shoe deodorizer
Having stinky shoes is a common problem that can be quite embarrassing.
Fortunately, baking soda is a great remedy for freshening up stinky shoes.
Pour two tablespoons of baking soda into two cheesecloths or thin pieces of fabric. Secure the cloths with a rubber band or string and place one in each shoe.
Remove the baking soda bags when you want to wear your shoes.
The bottom line
Baking soda is a versatile ingredient that has many uses besides cooking.
It shines when it comes to neutralizing odors and cleaning. This household staple can help remove tough stains, eliminate foul odors, and clean difficult areas like the oven, microwave, and tile grout.
In addition, baking soda has a variety of health benefits. For example, it can help treat heartburn, soothe canker sores, and even whiten your teeth.
What’s more, baking soda is inexpensive and widely available. You can grab a container of baking soda from your local grocery store.
The next time you need to remove a tough stain or odor, reach for the baking soda.