Sure, it's an essential for grandma's amazing chocolate chip cookies, but baking soda also has the power to freshen and clean seemingly countless spots in your home. It's a super-effective (but gentle) abrasive and is a great natural deodorizer, so it's helpful in all sorts of cleaning emergencies.
1. Remove stains from plastic food containers
Leftovers have a way of leaving their mark. To freshen your containers, wipe with a clean sponge sprinkled with baking soda. Or erase tough stains by soaking in a solution of four tablespoons of baking soda and a quart of warm water. If that doesn't work, we recommend investing in these containers.
2. Refresh a foul-smelling fridge
Never worry that last night's salmon will leave your fridge smelling, well, fishy for months to come again. Baking soda will absorb strong food odors so they don't linger or change the taste of neighboring foods.
3. Clean store-bought fruits and veggies
Mixed with water, baking soda can remove dirt and that waxy coating that comes on produce from the supermarket.
4. Scrub down kitchen surfaces
Nearly every dirty spot in your kitchen can benefit from a baking soda treatment. Combine it with water to clean countertops, stainless steel sinks, microwaves, range hoods and cooking utensils.
5. Deep-clean extra greasy dishes and pans
Give baked-on food the one-two punch by dialing up your dish soap with a sprinkle of baking soda. "Hot water soak, mildly abrasive baking soda, a scrub sponge and some elbow grease is all you need to dissolve stuck-on grease," says Carolyn Forte, director of the Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute.
6. Revive stale-smelling sponges
Soak these kitchen staples in baking soda and water to freshen them up so you can use them a little longer. But remember, you should still toss your sponges every two to three weeks, depending on use.
7. Deodorize musty upholstery
Banish smells from the soft, cushy places around your house by sprinkling surfaces with baking soda, letting it sit for 15 minutes, then vacuuming it up. "You can also use this method to freshen up your mattress between cleanings," says Forte.
8. De-stink pet beds
The same goes for Spot's favorite place to sleep! Sprinkle, wait 15 minutes and vacuum.
9. Give new life to old toys
Naturally fight the effects of your little one's grubby hands by wiping them with a sponge dipped in a baking soda and water solution.
10. Scrub a crayon-covered wall
And when your kid's artistic efforts end up all over that wall you just repainted, scrub lightly with a damp sponge sprinkled in baking soda.
11. Banish mildew from bathrooms
Scrub your tub, tile, sink and shower curtain with a damp sponge and baking soda. Rinse to reveal gleaming surfaces.
12. Dust stuffed animals
These dust-collectors will be easier to clean if you place them in a large plastic bag with a cup of baking soda. Secure the top, take the bag outside and shake well. The baking soda helps draw out soil and dust. After you remove them from the bag, vacuum everything away.
13. Brighten dingy laundry
Both whites and colors will come out of the washing machine brighter if you add a cup of baking soda to your load. Combined with liquid detergent, it helps balance the pH levels to get clothes cleaner.
14. De-clog a drain
Clear a stubborn drain by pouring a 1/2 cup of baking soda down it, followed by a 1/2 cup of vinegar ($4, amazon.com). Cover with a wet cloth to contain the science fair-like effects (remember DIY volcanoes?). Wait five minutes, then flush with hot water.
15. Refresh smelly sneakers
Freshen up after gym class by sprinkling some baking soda inside your shoes (and your gym bag while you're at it.). Just tap it out before you wear them again.
16. Eliminate garbage can odors
Place some baking soda in the bottom of your can to fight trash stink. Then try these trash upgrades too.
17. Clean up a garage oil spill
Got an offending spot on your concrete? Pour on a little baking soda and scrub with a wet brush to make it disappear.
18. Scrub a messy grill
Combat a summer's worth of cookout grime by sprinkling some baking soda on your grill-cleaning brush before you scrub away.
19. Wipe down dirty patio furniture
Before you pull out your lawn chairs for the season, give them a wipe-down with baking soda and water. And before you put them away at the end of summer, place baking soda underneath the cushions or inside their storage bags to keep them fresh.
20. Fight linen closet smells
Just like in the fridge, an open box of baking soda placed near your sheets and towels can fight musty smells.
21. Buff out white water rings
If someone forgot their coaster and left a water ring on your coffee table, combine one part white non-gel toothpaste ($3, amazon.com) with one part baking soda. Dampen a cloth with water, add the mixture and rub with the grain to buff out the ring. Then take a dry cloth and wipe off. Use another soft cloth for a final shine and finish by polishing as you normally would.
22. Brighten dull jewelry
When your sterling silver stops shining, get rid of tarnish by making a paste (three parts baking soda to one part water). Apply it with a lint-free cloth (not a paper towel, which can scratch) and rinse.