What Is Baking Soda Used For?
Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate as it is commonly known as well, is a household baking ingredient. Baking soda is often added to the baking process because it releases carbon dioxide gas, allowing your breads, cakes, muffins, and other pastries to rise to give that fluffy texture and appearance.
Baking Soda vs Baking Powder
Also, be sure not to confuse it with baking powder, which is also used as a leavener in baked goods. Unlike baking soda, baking powder contains more ingredients, including baking soda itself, cornstarch, and cream of tartar.
Baking soda and baking powder cannot be used interchangeably.
While baking soda is more suitable for baking recipes with more acidic ingredients, baking powder is better for recipes with less (or no) acidic ingredients.
Baking Soda is a Good Cleaning Agent
On its own, baking soda is alkaline. Because of that, you can actually use it for general household cleaning.
Associate Professor Roderick Bates, from the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences at Nanyang Technological University, says: “As a weak alkali or base, it can be effective in neutralising acidic things, such as removing certain pesticides and the odour of smelly feet, but a wash with plain water would do just as well in many cases.”
e adds that it is non-toxic and thus safe for most uses. He says baking soda may have some antibacterial properties, but cautions against mystical claims that it can prevent and heal cancer.
Where to Buy Baking Soda in Singapore?
Baking soda is stocked in every supermarket in Singapore for cheap. Some of the most popular brands include Arm & Hammer Pure Baking Soda ($5 for pack of 2), and RedMan’s Sodium Bicarbonate ($9). Do not mistake baking soda for baking powder, such as this popular RedMan Baking Powder ($1.20).
So, what type of cleaning can you use baking soda for? Let’s find out:
Baking Soda Removes Odour
One of the best uses of baking soda is removing odour. While air freshner gels and sprays emit floral or sweet fragrances to mask any bad odours, baking soda functions the other way – it literally absorbs odour, deodorising the space where it’s placed.
How does baking soda absorb odours? That’s because most odours are acidic. When you sprinkle the alkaline baking soda all over the place, e.g. your fridge, shoe cabinet, or car, the acidic odour is then neutralised.
So, how do you use baking soda to remove odour?
If you’re looking to remove odour from confined spaces such as the fridge, oven, cabinet, or car, you can quite simply pour baking soda powder into a bowl, and leave it a corner in the fridge, cabinet, or car. If you’re using this as general daily maintenance, mix baking soda with water, pour it in a spray bottle, and spray it into your cabinet, or around the space.
However, when it comes to removing odour of heavy perspiration from clothes, active wear, sporting equipment, or even towels, the method is slightly different.
You’ll want to mix two tablespoons of baking soda with a little water to make a paste. Rub the paste on the pespiration-heavy spots on garments, for example, the neck or armpit areas. Let the paste sit for about 10 minutes, then throw them into your laundry washing machine and clothes dryer after.
And if the smell is pretty much everywhere on the clothes, dissolve a cup of baking soda in a basin of water, let the clothes soak overnight before you pop them into the wash the next day.
Baking Soda to Remove Shoe Odour
To remove shoe odours, you can either sprinkle baking soda powder directly into the insides of the shoe, and then shake it all around. You’ll need to “pour” and shake all the excess baking soda out before your next wear.
However, if you have dressier and formal leather shoes or ballet flats, get a tea filter bag (from NTUC or Daiso) and pour baking soda in to create little baking soda sachets. When you’re home from work, place these baking soda sachets inside your shoes to absorb shoe odour.
If you’re dealing with a case of smelly feet, you’ll want to mix a tablespoon of baking soda with just a tablespoon of water to create a thick paste. Rub the paste between your toes, and on the soles of your feet where sweat and bacteria accumulate. Wear a pair of socks over, and rinse it after 10 to 15 minutes.
Baking Soda to Remove Food and Drink Stains
In fact, some people take it as far as using baking soda to remove stains from their teeth! Brushing your teeth daily with baking soda paste is safe, and it reportedly helps to remove coffee, tea, and red wine stains.
Some have suggested adding lemon juice to the paste for a “whitening” effect. Do not do this. According to dental surgeon Sufrie Mohamad Ishak from Parkway Dental Practice, lemon juice is very acidic and, over time, brushing teeth with such a mixture will erode the outer layer of the tooth enamel, causing sensitivity.
He also warned against replacing regular toothpaste with baking soda as toothpaste contains fluoride, which is crucial in preventing tooth decay.
Anyway, back to using baking soda to clean clothes, carpets, and mattress stains.
To create a baking soda paste for stain removal, slowly mix warm water to two tablespoons of baking powder until you get a thick paste. Then, spread the paste over the stain, fully covering it. Leave the paste over the stain for an hour before you remove the paste and rinse any excess away with water.
Make sure your coloured clothes are colour-fast before applying the baking soda paste to it, else the colour of your clothes may run.
For white clothes, consider mixing the baking soda powder with white vinegar instead to spot clean stains. After allowing the paste to sit for an hour, throw the entire paste into the laundry. The vinegar and baking soda paste acts as a brightening agent for white laundry.
Baking Soda Removes Toilet Stains
The toilet seat requires weekly cleaning to keep it white and sparkly. If you’re not fond of strong detergents, try using baking soda and white vinegar instead.
To use baking soda to clean your toilet bowl, take half a cup of baking soda, and mix it with white vinegar to create a paste. Then, spread it over the toilet seat and dry surfaces. Leave it to sit for 30 minutes to an hour, before you come in with your toilet brush and scrub it all down.
You can spread any leftover vinegar and baking soda mixture over your basin and sink covers, too. Again, leave it to sit for 30 minutes or an hour before you scrub it down and rinse it off.
Baking Soda Removes Pesticides from Fruits and Vegetables
According to the University of Massachusetts, when you mix baking soda into a tub of water to clean fruits and vegetables, you can remove 96 per cent of common pesticides that’s sitting on their surfaces.
You’ll want to place your fruits and vegetables in a bowl, filled with water. Mix in a spoonful or two of baking soda. Allow to soak for about 30 minutes before you rinse the fruit and vegetables thoroughly and pat dry with a kitchen towel before eating or cooking.
Take note that this method of cleaning is only useful if you intend to eat your fruits and vegetables with the skin on. If you don’t like the skin, and are going to peel the skin away anyway, don’t bother with the hassle. Makes sense, right?
Other Cleaning Uses of Baking Soda
There are aplenty uses of baking soda. Once you get yourself a tub of baking soda, you can start nosediving yourself into the DIY cleaning world of the World Wide Web.
Beyond cleaning stains, removing odours, and removing pesticides, you can do so much more with pesticides in your household:
- Use baking soda to polish silverware and utensils
- Baking soda removes oils from your carpets, clothes, and fabrics (pour the baking soda powder directly)
- Unclog your sinks with white vinegar, baking soda, and water
- Clean your toilet drain pipes with thick vinegar and baking soda paste
- Clean your floor and wall tiles’ grout lines
- Clean grease and stains from your microwave and oven safely
Are you a fan of baking soda and non-toxic DIY cleaning recipes? Let us know!
- Cleaning tips