Baking Soda Uses for Non-toxic Cleaning

four ways to break up with chemical cleaners
Baking soda to clean: Bowl of baking soda, yellow rubber gloves, sponge, scrub brush, vinegar in a large glass bottle
© Shutterstock / JPC-PROD

Baking's not just for muffins anymore! If you're concerned about the chemicals in your cleaners, consider the many baking soda uses you can apply to get your home sparkly clean without nasty ingredients. Baking soda is a non-toxic powerhouse ingredient in many DIY recipes for around your home. It’s an all-natural deodorizer, a mild disinfectant, and an abrasive, making it a great alternative to harsh chemicals. And since it’s also used in baking, chances are you have some in your kitchen right now!

4 ways to use baking soda

Here are four baking soda uses for non-toxic cleaning in place of commercial products throughout your home. These recipes will reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals, reduce packaging waste, and save you money. Give these a try — you might be pleasantly surprised at how well they work!

Unclog drains

Like the popular kids’ science experiment for creating a volcano, baking soda and vinegar make this activity almost fun. Pour ½ to 1 cup of baking soda down a clogged drain. Follow with 1 cup white vinegar and quickly cover the drain and overflow. Keep covered for about 30 seconds to let the reaction finish. Flush with freshly boiled water to clear the clog and you're done! You can also do this as a regular preventative measure to avoid clogs in the first place.

Baking soda to clean oven

One of most toxic among conventional cleaners, oven cleaners typically contain allergens, irritants, potential carcinogens, and hormone disruptors. The self-cleaning function isn’t a great option either, since the lining of ovens contains the same chemical as in Teflon, a known carcinogen that off-gasses at high heat. Instead, create a paste with baking soda and water, and apply to the bottom of your oven. For really stubborn messes, let sit overnight, then wipe away with a cloth (you may need to put some elbow grease into it!).

Carpet deodorizer

Remove odours from carpets by sprinkling baking soda over the surface and letting it sit for 15–20 minutes, or longer (the longer you wait, the better it will work) and clean up with a vacuum. Since baking soda is non-toxic, you don’t have to worry about removing all traces before your kids start playing.

All-purpose scrub

This is one of my favourite homemade cleaner recipes, very easy to make, and much more cost-effective than commercial green cleaners. Plus, baking soda won’t pollute the water like conventional cleaner ingredients. Combine 1 ⅔ cups of baking soda with ½ cup liquid castile soap and ½ cup water. Stir until it has a paste-like consistency and pour into a squirt bottle (like a dish soap bottle). Shake before each use. This recipe works wonders on bathtub grime and stainless steel sinks.

Once you start using baking soda for more than just the occasional batch of pancakes, look for it in your local bulk food section to further reduce packaging waste. Store it in a cool, dry place in an air tight container to prevent it from clumping. You can also add a silica gel packet to help draw moisture out of the baking soda and prevent hardening (start saving those little packets that come in some packaging like that of new shoes). If you’re a baking soda fan already, the internet is full of ways to use it around the home, and remember that you don’t have to eradicate every microbe in your home with the deadliest disinfectant you can find. Give it a try — you probably won’t go back to toxic chemicals.

*Originally published on April 12, 2016