Long favored for its deodorizing properties, baking soda also takes on tough cleaning jobs. Cleaning professionals share techniques and formulas for putting this simple ingredient to work in your home.
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Baking soda can do so much more than simply help your baked goods rise. When applied to messes around the house, this powdery substance acts as an odor-absorber and a mild abrasive that can quickly loosen stuck-on gunk without damaging the surface. Pair baking soda with other household cleaners, such as dishwashing liquid, and it becomes an even more powerful cleaning agent, allowing you to break through greasy residue, polish metal, unclog drains, and more. Plus, you can find this all-purpose cleaner at any grocery store, and it's often available in large quantities at an affordable price. See how cleaning experts use the powerhouse pantry ingredient around the house with these 14 ways to clean with baking soda.

green spray bottle with baking soda
Credit: Steven McDonald

1. Scrub the shower.

Debra Johnson, a Merry Maids home cleaning expert, shares her strategy for using baking soda to keep your shower clean and fresh. On a wet microfiber cloth, sprinkle a small amount of baking soda and a couple of drops of dishwashing liquid. Work the cloth between your hands to create a lather, then use the cloth to scrub shower walls. For shower floors, sprinkle baking soda across the surface, squirt dishwashing liquid over the baking soda in an "S" motion, and scrub the floor with a wet brush. Rinse all shower surfaces with warm water. Wipe down the walls and floor with a dry microfiber cloth. Clean shower curtains with a damp microfiber cloth sprinkled with baking soda; rinse with hot water.

2. Clean bathroom drains with baking soda.

Keep bathroom drains odor-free and flowing with the help of baking soda. Once a week, clean sink, tub, and shower drains with baking soda. Run hot water through the drain before pouring in 1/2 cup of baking soda. Let the baking soda sit for 15 minutes. Rinse with hot water to wash away musty smells and debris.

3. Use baking soda as an all-purpose scrubber. 

Baking soda provides extra scrubbing power that makes sponges more effective without becoming too abrasive. Sprinkle it on a damp sponge equipped with a non-scratch scrubbing surface. Use the sponge to scrub out tubs, sinks, and toilets and remove stubborn residue.

4. Cut through kitchen grease.

"I love baking soda for so many things," says cleaning expert Mary Findley, who shares her favorite method for cleaning scorched stove drip pans. Remove the dirty pans and place them in a sink or small tub. Bring vinegar to a boil in the microwave. Sprinkle baking soda on the pans and add the boiling vinegar. Let the mixture sit for 30 minutes. Wipe with a wet sponge and rinse. Repeat as needed.

5. Mix baking soda with hydrogen peroxide.

Jill Nystul, a cleaning expert and blogger, uses baking soda to create her own kitchen cleanser. She places 1/4 cup baking soda in a small glass bowl and mixes in enough hydrogen peroxide to create a paste. She uses the homemade cleaner to polish large and small kitchen appliances, remove water stains from utensils, and erase greasy residue that builds up on baking pans. This baking soda paste also works well for cleaning tile grout.

6. Easily clean an oven with baking soda.

Leslie Reichert, a housekeeping expert and author, recommends brushing a paste of baking soda and water on the sides and bottom of your oven. Spray the paste with vinegar and let it foam. Repeat spraying as needed until you can easily remove baked-on food particles.

undermount kitchen sink subway tile backsplash
Credit: Robert Brinson

7. Create a sink cleaner.

Combine baking soda with the cleaning power of lemon to clean stainless-steel sinks. Sprinkle baking soda on half of a lemon (or make a paste of lemon juice and baking soda) and use it to scrub the sink basin. Go with the grain to avoid scratching the surface.

8. Unclog kitchen drains.

Baking soda can also help remedy a slow-moving kitchen drain. Start by shaking a few tablespoons of baking soda into the drain. Pour in heated vinegar, which will make the baking soda fizz to break up clogs, and rinse the drain with boiling water.

9. Gently clean painted surfaces.

Painted surfaces require a gentle cleaning method that won't mar the finish. Sprinkle baking soda on a damp sponge and lightly rub the sponge on walls and painted furniture to remove dirt and stains. Wipe dry with a clean cloth. This method works especially well on greasy stains, such as smudges and fingerprints.

10. Mop tile and wax-free flooring.

Use baking soda to create a powerful cleaner for tile and other types of flooring. Mix a half cup of baking soda in a bucket of warm water, mop the floors, and rinse. Note: this method should not be used to clean floors that have been treated with wax, such as hardwood flooring, as it can damage the finish.

organized corner of laundry room
Credit: Marty Baldwin

11. Add a laundry booster.

Keep whites white and brighten colors with the help of baking soda. Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to each laundry load along with your regular detergent. This trick can also help lift odors from dirty clothes.

12. Eliminate trash can smells.

Baking soda can neutralize the unpleasant odors coming from your kitchen trash can. As waste accumulates, periodically sprinkle baking soda in between the layers to control smells. Your kitchen will stay smelling fresh until it's time to take the trash out.

13. Refresh carpet and upholstery.

Naturally eliminate odors from carpet and upholstered furniture. Shake some baking soda onto the surface, let it sit for 15 minutes, and vacuum to remove the baking soda and the odors it has absorbed. For a fragrance boost, add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the baking soda before you sprinkle it on.

14. Deodorize stinky shoes.

Shoes are a prime spot where odor-causing bacteria thrive. To eliminate stinky sneaker smells, sprinkle baking soda inside the shoes, making sure to distribute it evenly. Let sit overnight before shaking out the residue.

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