I don’t mean to sound seditious here, but I have a rebellious plan to combat the ills that many corporations are perpetrating in the name of fighting grime and germs. My main gripe is about the environmental pollutants from cleaning and personal care products that we wash down our drains and into our water systems, resulting in situations like the chemical triclosan (a pesticide added to many products as an antibacterial agent) being found in dolphins.
So the simple plan is to encourage everyone to use baking soda in any of these 51 applications. Besides showing kindness to aquatic life, we can also protect ourselves from the array of toxins in household cleaning products. Conventional cleansers can expose us to multiple chemicals linked to asthma, cancer and other documented health problems.
Baking soda also makes a perfect stand-in for many personal care products, which are adding their own twist to the toxic tangle of pollutants and personal health (mainly in the form of synthetic fragrance (and it’s almost all synthetic), sodium laurel sulfate, and parabens).
So exactly how does baking soda fit into my scheme to make the world a better place? Baking soda, aka sodium bicarbonate, helps regulate pH—keeping a substance neither too acidic nor too alkaline. When baking soda comes in contact with either an acidic or an alkaline substance, its natural effect is to neutralize that pH. Beyond that, baking soda has the ability to retard further changes in the pH balance, known as buffering. This dual capability of neutralizing and buffering allows baking soda to do things such as neutralize acidic odors (like in the refrigerator) as well as maintain neutral pH (like in your laundry water, which helps boost your detergent’s power). It’s a simple reaction, but one that has far-reaching effects for a number of cleaning and deodorizing tasks. And so without further ado, I’ll remove my scientist cap, put on my rebellious housekeeper’s cap, and get this folk-wisdom revolution rolling…
1. Make Toothpaste
A paste made from baking soda and a 3 percent hydrogen peroxide solution can be used as an alternative to commercial non-fluoride toothpastes. (Or here’s a formula for a minty version.) You can also just dip your toothbrush with toothpaste into baking soda for an extra boost.
2. Freshen Your Mouth
Put one teaspoon in half a glass of water, swish, spit and rinse. Odors are neutralized, not just covered up.
3. Soak Oral Appliance
Soak oral appliances, like retainers, mouthpieces and dentures, in a solution of 2 teaspoons baking soda dissolved in a glass or small bowl of warm water. The baking soda loosens food particles and neutralizes odors to keep appliances fresh. You can also brush appliances clean using baking soda.
4. Use as a Facial Scrub and Body Exfoliant
Give yourself an invigorating facial and body scrub. Make a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water. Rub in a gentle circular motion to exfoliate the skin. Rinse clean. This is gentle enough for daily use. (For a stronger exfoliant, try one of these great 5 Homemade Sugar Scrubs.)
5. Skip Harsh Deodorant
Pat baking soda onto your underarms to neutralize body odor.
6. Use as an Antacid
Baking soda is a safe and effective antacid to relieve heartburn, sour stomach and/or acid indigestion. Refer to baking soda package for instructions.
7. Treat Insect Bites & Itchy Skin
For insect bites, make a paste out of baking soda and water, and apply as a salve onto affected skin. To ease the itch, shake some baking soda into your hand and rub it into damp skin after bath or shower. For specific tips on bee stings, see Bee Stings: Prevention and Treatment.
8. Make a Hand Cleanser and Softener
Skip harsh soaps and gently scrub away ground-in dirt and neutralize odors on hands with a paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water, or 3 parts baking soda to gentle liquid hand soap. Then rinse clean. You can try this honey and cornmeal scrub for hands too.
9. Help Your Hair
Vinegar is amazing for your hair, but baking soda has its place in the shower too. Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda into your palm along with your favorite shampoo. Shampoo as usual and rinse thoroughly–baking soda helps remove the residue that styling products leave behind so your hair is cleaner and more manageable.
10. Clean Brushes and Combs
For lustrous hair with more shine, keep brushes and combs clean. Remove natural oil build-up and hair product residue by soaking combs and brushes in a solution of 1 teaspoon of baking soda in a small basin of warm water. Rinse and allow to dry.
11. Make a Bath Soak
Add 1/2 cup of baking soda to your bath to neutralize acids on the skin and help wash away oil and perspiration, it also makes your skin feel very soft. Epsom salts are pretty miraculous for the bath too; read about the health benefits of epsom salt baths.
12. Soothe Your Feet
Dissolve 3 tablespoons of baking soda in a tub of warm water and soak feet. Gently scrub. You can also make a spa soak for your feet.