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March 2012

Mary's Modern Homemaking

Baking Soda: Miracle in a Box
By Mary Frances


It's hard to believe all the many uses of baking soda. From the kitchen to the laundry room, you can't beat it to help keep your house fresh and clean. Besides keeping your porcelain polished, it keeps those pearly whites sparkling as well. But I'll save the uses for personal care for another time. This month I'll show you how to use baking soda around the house.

I require two things from my baking soda: first that it's aluminum free, and second that it can be purchased in bulk. Bob's Red Mill, located near Portland, Oregon, fits all my needs.

Baking soda can help keep your whole house clean.


I keep small canning jars filled with baking soda in my kitchen, laundry room, and bathroom. The bathroom, you say!?!? My favorite way to clean the tub and the surrounding tile is while I am still in it. Make a paste by mixing a small amount of baking soda (about 1/8 to 1/4 of a cup, depending on how big the job is) with your favorite liquid soap. Such soaps as Dr. Bronner's, Murphy Oil Soap, or Amway Dish Drops are good choices. Once the paste is the right consistency (like very thick pancake batter), rub it around the tub and all over the tile, really getting into any grout, spouts, or other tight places. Then just rinse.

No harsh chemicals to irritate your skin, burn your lungs, or cause you harm in any way. For really stubborn stains, sprinkle in a bit of table salt or lemon juice. Now your tub and tiles should be twinkling! Rub down the chrome fixtures, too, and they'll be clean as can be. Polish the porcelain throughout your home without the worry of "scratches" that can be caused by traditional cleansers.

Litter boxes and garbage cans

Garbage cans a bit stinky? Sprinkle a little baking soda in the bottom before replacing the bag. Kitty box odor getting out of hand? Baking soda is a safe way to control odors and not make kitty sick.

Living room

I love to mix some baking soda with bits of dried lavender and sprinkle it all over my carpet; let stand 15 minutes or so, and then vacuum it up. My carpet is now clean and fresh smelling.


Speaking of those stinky odors, what about the fridge that when opened will knock your socks off? This is where my little jelly-size canning jars come in handy. I mix some baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves together, put some in a jar, and cover with netting held in place with a rubber band. Place the jar somewhere that it will be out of the way (I keep mine on the inside door shelf), and soon, no more stink.

Create your own dishwasher detergent by mixing 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 2 tablespoons of borax. (The borax takes the place of soap.) This will also help rid plastic dishes and containers of any oily residue from foods!

Got bugs? From time to time, who doesn't? Laying down a barrier of baking soda under sink pipe openings or along windows will keep ants, silverfish, and cockroaches from invading. They eat the baking soda, become dehydrated, and then they die, thus making this the perfect pesticide because it is nontoxic to humans and their pets.

Your car

Want to wash your car but you're concerned about the environment? Why not make your own car wash solution by combining 1/2 cup liquid detergent and 1/4 cup baking soda to one gallon of water. Then, the next time you wash your car, use one cup of the solution per one pail of water. For the interior, such as vinyl, sprinkle on baking soda and scrub with a clean, damp sponge. Then rinse with another clean, damp sponge. To keep car carpet smelling fresh, use the same method for your inside carpets, as described above.

Find out more

I love baking soda so much I could go on and on, but instead I suggest purchasing a copy of Baking Soda: Over 500 Fabulous, Fun, and Frugal Uses You've Probably Never Thought Of, by Vicki Lansky.

There are at least 500 ways to use baking soda!


Mary Frances lives in Ravensdale, Washington, and loves finding healthy ways to keep her castle clean. She believes that what we clean with can be just as important to our health as what we eat. When she's not cleaning, Mary Frances battles the blackberry vines in her yard. Also enjoy Mary Frances's blog, All American Gal.


Mary's Modern Homemaking copyright 2013.
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