Clean Green: The Beauty of Baking Soda

Written By John Richards on Monday, August 13, 2012 | 12:19 AM

Maybe you’ve heard it before from a chain-email… or, maybe mom or grandma let you in on the secret of baking soda and how it can help you clean. Heck, I remember years ago reading about it in a “Hints from Heloise” column! Well, it’s good information that is worth repeating, especially when many of us are trying to be kinder to the environment.

What is baking soda?

Sodium Bicarbonate is the official name of the chemical compound known. I won’t bore you with the 11th grade chemistry details, but because it is weakly alkaline, it acts to neutralize acids and break down proteins, making it useful as a tenderizer and a leaven.  And, its ability to neutralize acidic scent molecules makes it a great deodorizer.

In the Kitchen

Need a little help getting that greasy pan clean? Add a couple of tablespoons of baking soda to your soapy water, and clean up is a snap. Caked on food from last night’s dinner? Let your dishes or pans soak in a solution of baking soda and suds first, then use some baking soda on your sponge, and it will act as a mild abrasive to help you scour away the crud!
 To limit the number of toxins in your house, why not let baking soda do the scrubbing inside your oven? Try this homemade paste to do your dirty work: Mix 2 cups baking soda, 1 cup washing soda (found in laundry aisles), 1 teaspoon dish soap, and 1 tablespoon white vinegar. Use water to thin it out, as needed. With gloves on, scrub the oven’s interior using the paste and hot water. If you have caked on spots, apply the remaining paste thickly to all sides of the oven and leave overnight. In the morning, wipe out the residue with a wet cloth until the baking soda paste is gone.

Bathroom Tidy

Here is an idea for a scrub that is good for the tub, toilet or sink.
Take a cup of baking soda, mix in a teaspoon of liquid soap, water and a few drops of an essential oil (these have antibacterial properties: tea tree, cinnamon, nutmeg, eucalyptus, and rosemary) to create a paste.  It will clean your bathroom and leave behind a wonderful, natural scent of your choosing!
One last tip I love: cleaning fruit. I always feel like water doesn’t do the trick—so sprinkle a little baking soda on a clean damp sponge or damp paper towel, and scrub up that apple. Give it a good rinse, and enjoy!
Do you have a favorite household use for baking soda? We’d love to hear how you clean, green!

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