Baking soda. What a cleaning mainstay in my home. I believe one reason I always associate it with clean is because it is an odor killer: It leaves everything smelling fresh.
Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate — a mineral known as nahcolite — and commonly found in mineral springs. Ancient Egyptians used it as a form of a soap, most likely because it scrubbed away dirt and removed odors. In modern times baking soda is commonly found in the supermarket in the baking section, as its primarily use in the home is as a leavening agent. But I love it for cleaning, and many old-folk formulas for cleaning employ baking soda.
Baking soda’s attributes for cleaning include:
- It is a nonabrasive material, so it can be used to scrub without scratching.
- It is slightly alkaline (pH about 8.1; 7 is neutral); when wet, it neutralizes acid-based chemicals and odors.
- It adsorbs odors from the air. (Note that “adsorbs” with a “d” instead of “b”is not a typo; adsorbing is pulling chemicals and odors from the air to it.)
- It eats away at and loosens grime.
Here is how these attributes translate into cleaning formulas for the home:
1. Nonabrasive Soft Scrubber
The best of any of my cleaning formulas, I concocted this at the request of the wife of the publisher of my book Clean & Green. It rinses beautifully and doesn’t leave any grit. Use this formula on tubs, shower stalls, sinks, stainless steel appliances and more.
1/2 cup baking soda
Enough liquid soap or green all-purpose or dish detergent to make a frosting-like consistency
(optional: 5 drops antibacterial essential oil such as lavender, tea tree oil, or rosemary)
2. Aklaline Carpet Deodorizer
Sprinkle baking soda liberally over carpet. Leave overnight. Sweep as much of the baking soda as you can into a dustbin to throw away. Vacuum away the residue.
3. Laundry Odor Neutralizer
To eliminate perspiration odors and even chemical smells, add up to a cup of baking soda or laundry soda per load of laundry. Soak for six hours to overnight, agitating the load a few times during soaking. Then wash as usual.
4. Odor Eliminator
Most refrigerators have an opened box of baking soda in the back because of baking soda’s ability to adsorb and neutralize odors. Change the box every few months. In other areas, just sprinkle baking soda on places that need to be deodorized. For non-fabric surfaces, spray until damp and white. Let set for a few hours, whether dry or damp, before cleaning.
5. Oven Cleaner
Sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of a dirty oven. Spray with water until damp. Let set overnight. In the morning, just scoop out the baking soda, taking the grime with it, and rinse thoroughly.