Baking Soda Is the Best Way To Soften and Create Glowy Skin (Plus: 9 Other Smart Ways To Use This Pantry Staple)
Use this household staple to its full potential.
We’d like to bet you already have a bag of baking soda living under your kitchen sink — but are you really using it to its full potential? Sure, you already know that it makes the perfect cleaner when mixed with vinegar, and it’s a key ingredient for cakes and fluffy cookies. Yet this all-purpose ingredient has plenty of uses beyond the kitchen (and the bathroom). Did you know that it’s excellent for softening clothes and silencing a squeaky floor? (That’s right; it gives WD-40 a run for its money.) Check out these 10 baking soda hacks, from scraping off price tag residue to keeping your hair smooth and shiny.
1: Soften garments naturally.
You love how fabric softener makes your sweaters feel, but the fragrance irritates your skin. Try this: Fill a container with baking soda and add two drops of your favorite essential oil per cup of powder. Stir, seal, and set aside for a week. On laundry day, add ½ cup to the wash cycle in place of softener. Why this works: Baking soda softens the fabric, while the oil adds a light, irritant-free scent.
2: Silence a squeaky floor, fast.
Your wooden floorboards squeak loudly whenever someone walks to the bathroom, waking you up at night. To nix the noise, sprinkle baking soda on any loud spots, then sweep away the excess. The powder will seep into the floor gaps and prevent the boards from shifting and creaking.
3: Remove price tag residue.
The beautiful serving platter you snagged on sale was a great find. But once you peeled off the price stickers, you were left with pesky glue residue. To remove it, combine 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil, then buff onto the sticky areas. The oil will dissolve the adhesive’s bond so the baking soda can gently and safely scrub away the residue.
4: Freshen up a pup in a pinch.
Guests are due soon, when you realize your dog is smelling less than fresh. Since you don’t have time to give him a full-blown bath, enlist the help of baking soda. Stand him on top of a towel or newspaper and rub handfuls of the household staple into his coat for a minute or two, then brush him thoroughly. The absorbent powder will soak up odors and excess body oils, so Sparky’s fur is shiny, clean and fresh — fast.
5: Fix acidic tomato sauce.
Your homemade spaghetti sauce is normally a hit, but the flavor of the canned tomatoes you used to make it this time is a bit too acidic. To the rescue: baking soda. Just add a teaspoon of it to your sauce. The alkalinity of the kitchen staple will neutralize the acidity for a milder-tasting sauce. (Note: If you’re watching your salt intake and want to avoid adding salty baking soda, add a teaspoon of sugar instead.)
6: Restore hair’s natural shine.
A trick to beautiful, shiny locks: Mix a quarter-size amount of baking soda into a squirt of your regular shampoo, then work through hair and rinse as usual. The slightly abrasive particles scrub away product buildup that dulls shine for a stunning reveal.
7: Prevent a burn from blistering.
Ouch! Your arm accidentally brushed up against the handle of the hot cast iron skillet sitting on your stove. To get relief fast, mix one teaspoon of baking soda with enough water to make a paste, then apply to your scorched skin and let dry. Baking soda’s alkaline properties will balance skin’s pH level to minimize blistering, while its cooling effect provides instant ahh. (Note: For serious burns, seek immediate medical attention.)
8: Wash away thermos residue.
On chilly days, you love having a thermos of hot cocoa handy. Unfortunately, the warm drink often leaves behind a thick, crusty, hard-to-clean residue on the inside. The simple way to get it clean: Combine ⅛ cup of baking soda and ½ quart of water inside the vessel and shake. Rinse and wipe clean. The friction will gently loosen the buildup so the rest will wipe away easily with a sponge.
9: Safely de-ice outdoor surfaces.
The next time a deep freeze is in the forecast, skip commercial de-icers, which can damage concrete surfaces or grass. The safer option: Sprinkle baking soda on those surfaces the night before. It has a lower freezing point than water, so it will prevent at least some ice from forming. And since the powder particles are finer than salt crystals, it’s less abrasive and damaging.
10: Give skin a youthful glow.
This time of year, dry, indoor heat often leaves your skin looking dull and flaky. What can help: Mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 2 tablespoons of water until a paste forms. Massage into damp skin using circular motions for one minute, then rinse with water. Repeat two times a week for best results. The mildly abrasive powder gently whisks away dead skin cells to reveal a beautifully smooth complexion.
A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, First For Women.