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What is baking soda? 9 genius ways to use it in your home

There are so many ways to use bicarbonate of soda in your home!

baking soda home© Photo: iStock
Chloe Best
Lifestyle Features Editor
Updated: September 1, 2021
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Baking soda or baking powder? It's a question that has baffled many bakers over the years. While both are common cooking ingredients, there are actually a number of other uses for bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) in your home – including whitening your teeth and cleaning your oven! This genius eco-friendly cleaner has a multitude of purposes, with its affordable price point earning its place on every kitchen cupboard. 

What is bicarbonate of soda?

Baking soda is another name for sodium bicarbonate, which may also be known as bicarbonate of soda. This white powder is a mixture of sodium and hydrogen carbonate, and is most commonly used for baking cakes or soda bread.

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Baking soda cooking© Photo: iStock

Baking soda is commonly used for baking cakes or soda bread

Bicarbonate of soda is alkaline, so when it is mixed with acid – such as milk – it creates carbon dioxide, causing the mixture to expand before it's replaced with air. Hence, helping to make your cake rise!

What is the difference between baking soda and baking powder?

While baking soda is another name for sodium bicarbonate, baking powder is actually made up of various ingredients, including sodium bicarbonate and a mix of cream of tartar and a filler like cornflour, which absorbs any moisture.

It is used to make similar foods as sodium bicarbonate, but because baking powder is an acid, you generally only need to add water to it for the same reaction.

1. Helping cakes to rise

Bicarbonate of soda is a leavening agent used in baking to help cakes, muffins and breads rise by producing bubbles of carbon dioxide. It's usually found in recipes that also include an acidic ingredient like vinegar, yoghurt or milk, which helps activate it. Examples may include buttermilk scones and soda bread.

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2. As a natural teeth whitener

You can also use baking soda in numerous genius ways for self-care. You may recognise it in dental hygiene products like Arm & Hammer toothpaste, as it is effective in helping to polish and whiten teeth naturally.

Baking soda toothpaste© Photo: iStock

It can help to polish and whiten teeth naturally

3. As a natural deodoriser

Baking soda is a common ingredient in natural deodorants, due to its ability to absorb strong odours. It's also an antibacterial and pH neutraliser, which works wonders on sweat and bacteria under our armpits. 

4. Soothe skin irritations

Some people swear by using a cup of baking soda in the bath to soothe skin irritations and soften the skin, while making a paste of water and baking soda is said to be an effective salve to help relieve insect bites.

5. Keep bathrooms sparkling clean

It's amazing what baking soda can do around the home! A great, natural alternative to chemical-laden sprays and polishes, this wonder ingredient should definitely be introduced into your cleaning arsenal. Keep tiles and floors sparkling clean by sprinkling some baking soda in a bucket of warm water and using to help mop clean your home. Alternatively, you could sprinkle some baking soda directly onto surfaces like your bathtub and sinks before wiping clean with a damp washcloth.

6. Cut through grease and grime in the kitchen

Baking soda is also effective at cutting through grease and grime, making it ideal to tackle particular dirty dishes or cleaning your oven or microwave. When mixed with vinegar it works as an easy, chemical-free drain cleaner, while a sprinkle of baking soda in your laundry will make clothes cleaner, fresher and softer – an easy way to make your detergent last longer.

Baking soda laundry

Baking soda has many uses, including helping eliminate nasty smells

7. Eliminate smells around the home

Baking soda is also great at clearing up nasty smells around the home. You could place an open box in the back of your fridge to neutralise food odours or sprinkle at the bottom of your bin to help prevent bad, lingering smells. It works equally well on everything from litter trays to carpets; sprinkle on your carpet and leave overnight to freshen up your rooms, then sweep or vacuum up the residue the next morning.

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8. Use baking soda for pest control

Did you know you can use baking soda as pest control too? Mix equal parts of salt and soda, and sprinkle the mixture wherever you see ants coming in to keep them out the house. 

9. Keep flowers fresher for longer

It could even keep your flowers fresher for longer; just add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water in your vase for a natural plant food.

Where can you buy baking soda?

baking soda

Baking Soda, £7.89, Amazon


Most supermarkets such as Tesco, Aldi and Asda stock this wonder ingredient in the baking aisle, with prices starting from less than £1. You'll also find larger tubs of baking soda for cleaning at stores like Amazon and Wilko.

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