Baking soda has a well-earned reputation as a kitchen hero. Over the last few months, it has made our pandemic bread-baking efforts a success, and we all know about its deodorizing power in a fridge, trash can, or cabinet. Less talked about, though, is the power that baking soda has as a safe, non-toxic, eco-friendly cleaner and deodorizer for your entire home.
In fact, there is no room in the house that can’t benefit from the wonders of baking soda-based cleaners.
What Is Baking Soda?
Baking soda is also known as sodium bicarbonate or bicarbonate of soda; it is derived from the naturally occurring minerals nahcolite and trona, which are refined into “soda ash.”
Trona is largely sourced from within the state of Wyoming — which boasts more than 127 billion tons of trona (enough to last for the next 2000-plus years). Nahcolite is harvested from evaporated lake basins in North America and Africa.
And while mining — an extractive process — is required to acquire these minerals, baking soda production is relatively lower in impact than other mining processes, and draws from reserves of minerals not likely to be depleted any time soon while eliminating the need to produce harsher, synthetic chemicals. As the wonderful Ask Umbra puts it for Grist:
…Any product will have some kind of production impact. And given that baking soda is a highly effective, nontoxic wonder powder that can replace a laboratory’s worth of questionable-to-outright-hazardous chemicals in our lives, I still give it the Umbra Seal of Approval. Let’s not go wasting the stuff, but nor should we sweat this one too much. Though if you do, I have a great recipe for homemade baking-soda deodorant around here somewhere.
The use of baking soda in personal care products, food, drugs, pesticides, and cleaning products is closely regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). It is non-toxic, safe to use around kids and pets, and often comes in recyclable cardboard boxes, helping minimize waste.
Best of all? You can put this versatile alkaline agent to work in all sorts of DIY ways around your house — scrubbing, whitening, brightening, deodorizing, and more. It is a common component in green cleansers, and is a perfect addition to your homemade cleaning products.
Looking for a little inspiration before you stock up on a fresh box of baking soda? Here’s a room-by-room guide to how you can put this great eco-friendly product to work around your home:
In The Kitchen
Baking soda is a safe, mild abrasive, making it a great way to clean and deodorize your stainless steel sink without leaving scratches and scuff marks. To clean and deodorize, mix baking soda and lemon juice to create a paste, then use a soft, non-abrasive cloth or the soft side of a sponge to scrub the sink using a circular motion. Rinse the sink with white vinegar, followed by warm or hot water for a thorough, residue-free cleaning.
Baking soda and vinegar can also help clean and deodorize drains and garbage disposals. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of baking soda down the drain, followed by a cup or two of vinegar. Allow the mixture to sit and foam for a few minutes, then rinse with warm water. For more details on eco-friendly disposal cleaning, check out our article here!
Baking soda is a great tool to clean and deodorize other kitchen surfaces, as well. Instead of using harsh chemical cleaners in the oven, apply a paste of baking soda and water on the inside of the oven, then spray with white vinegar. Allow the mixture to foam for a few minutes, then wipe off with a sponge or cloth. The same technique can cut through grease and grime on the inside of your microwave or refrigerator or on your stovetop, leaving those surfaces grease-free, clean, and ready for your next culinary adventures.
To clean stubborn stains from stainless steel or enameled cast iron cookware, you can also mix a few tablespoons of baking soda, a small amount of Dawn or other grease-cutting dishwashing liquid, and a dash of white vinegar with hot water, and allow the mix to sit in the pot for an hour, followed by a light scrubbing. This process leaves cookware looking like new — and will leave you feeling good about not having to rinse any chemical solvents down the drain.
On Your Carpets
You can put baking soda’s natural deodorizing properties to work on your carpets and area rugs. While commercial deodorizers can be harsh and trigger allergies, plain baking soda naturally deodorizes without leaving a cloying chemical smell behind. Once a month, sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda over the carpet, give it five to ten minutes to do its magic, and then simply vacuum. For higher-traffic areas or areas frequented by pets, sprinkle a thicker layer, allow the baking soda to sit for an hour, then vacuum as usual.
Most carpet deodorizing powders already harness the awesome cleaning power of baking soda, simply adding scents or fancy labels to justify a higher price. Don’t be fooled! The baking soda is doing all the work, and you don’t need to spring for a fancy product when the ordinary baking soda sitting in your cabinet can do the job just as well.
What’s more, a mixture of baking soda and water will help lift out most stubborn carpet stains. For oil-based stains, add a bit of Dawn dishwashing liquid to the mix, apply to the stain, and allow the combination to do its work. When the area is dry, simply vacuum the dried mixture. The area is cleaned and deodorized, all without the need for damaging or dangerous chemical sprays or cleaners.
In The Bathroom
Because it is one of the most germ and bacteria-laden rooms in the house, many people assume that they must rely on commercial cleaners to really get the bathrooms sparkling clean and disinfected. We don’t often think about the dangers associated with those products, but many common cleaners can be dangerous when used in a closed environment. For example, spray cleaners containing harsh chemical agents can contaminate toothbrushes or makeup products, and can be dangerous if ingested. Focusing on eco-friendly products doesn’t just serve the environment, it can also make your bathroom a safer, cleaner place overall.
A paste of baking soda and water is a simple, easy way to clean and freshen grout. Apply a paste of baking soda and water to tile and grout and scrub with a brush or cloth to remove water stains and soap scum on tiled shower walls or bathroom floors for a fresh appearance. A sprinkling of baking soda in the toilet is a similarly effective mild abrasive that can remove stains and freshen the toilet bowl.
In Your Car
Baking soda’s magic isn’t limited to indoor cleaning. Baking soda can be sprinkled on your car’s mats, carpet, and cloth seats before vacuuming to help clean and deodorize. Or, mix a paste of three parts water, one part baking soda, a few drops of dishwashing liquid, and a dash of white vinegar to create an eco-friendly tire and rim cleaner that will wipe away grime and keep your wheels looking new.
Ready for a Cleaning With a Conscience?
There is nothing like the peace of mind that comes with living in a clean, sanitized, and eco-friendly home, but choosing the right products for the job can be anxiety-inducing! After all, we all want to make sure our homes are both thoroughly cleaned, safe, and sustainable. Here at Sweeping Dimensions, one of our primary goals is to make cleaning less stressful for our clients — and more healthy and sustainable for our environment. That’s why we make a point of always having sustainable and environmentally friendly cleaning solutions on hand and ready to use.
We also believe in passing along our green cleaning knowledge, whenever we can. We love to talk about all things cleaning and organizing, including the strategies that can make taking care of your home a more sustainable practice. The more people we can bring together in our mission for a greener world, the better off all of us will be!
So, if you ever have a question about comparing cleaning products, or making a green switch in your home, don’t hesitate to get in touch – I am always happy to talk shop! At SDCS, we are sincerely passionate about these issues, dedicated to finding real solutions, and always eager to keep the conversation going.
Want to set up a green cleaning for your Chicago home? Don’t hesitate to reach out for your FREE service estimate!
Looking to exchange ideas on your favorite eco-friendly cleansers, or share how you’re going to focus on sustainability this year? We’d love to hear from you! Get in touch via email or on social media to let us know your thoughts.