There are literally hundreds of household uses for baking soda. Not to be confused with baking powder, which has added acidifying and drying agents — typically cream of tartar and starch, respectively — baking soda is pure bicarbonate of soda. Its beneficial qualities are the result of its ability to act as a buffer, neutralizing both acidic and alkaline substances to regulate pH. This is the secret behind its effectiveness in the laundry room.
Baking soda is inexpensive, nontoxic, fragrance-free, environmentally friendly, and safe to use on nearly all washable fabrics. It is as gentle as it is effective; because it leaves no harsh chemical residue behind, it will not irritate sensitive skin.
In the Wash
- Adding 0.5 cup (120 g) to the washing machine along with liquid detergent will boost its effectiveness.
- There’s no need to use chemical fragrances to eradicate strong odors from laundry. Simply add 0.5 cup (120 g) of baking soda to the washing machine during the rinse cycle.
- It can reduce the amount of bleach needed to brighten whites. Instead of adding 1 cup (240 ml) of bleach, use just 0.5 cup (120 ml) and add 0.5 cup (120 g) of baking soda. It’s gentler on the laundry and reduces the strong smell that bleach leaves behind.
- To remove a bloodstain from white or light-colored clothing, make a paste of three parts baking soda and one part cold water. Apply to stain and let stand for a few minutes. Rinse with 3% hydrogen peroxide. Repeat as needed until the stain is gone. Note: this may have a bleaching effect on darker fabrics.
- To eliminate the smell of vomit from clothing or bedding, place items in washing machine, allow machine to fill with water, then stop. Add 1 to 2 cups (240 to 480 g) of soda and let soak for at least an hour. Then add detergent and launder as usual.
- For cloth diapers, combine 1 cup with 1 gallon (3.8 L) water. Remove any solid material from diapers and soak them in this solution for a least an hour. Launder as usual, adding 0.5 cup (120 g) baking soda along with liquid detergent.
- To keep wet bathing suits and towels from smelling sour on the way home from a trip to the beach, place them in a large resealable plastic bag and sprinkle with a bit of baking soda.
- Remove lint and dye residue from your washing machine without scratching the finish. Sprinkle baking soda liberally on a damp sponge and wipe down the interior and exterior. Rinse by wiping with a clean damp sponge and dry the outside of the machine with paper towels.
- Sprinkle it in the bottoms of clothes hampers and laundry bags to eliminate odors there.
- Spread a light layer on the the bottom of the washing machine between uses to eliminate a musty odor inside.