15 things you can clean with baking soda

Cleaning with baking soda can be an easy, eco-friendly way to get a sparkling clean, fresh-smelling home

Baking soda in a pot and in a spoon plus pots
(Image credit: Alamy)

We're forever promoting cleaning with baking soda. After all, most of us have a box or tub of baking soda in the back of a kitchen cabinet or in the pantry. If you've only ever used baking soda in home baking as a leavening agent in cookies, cakes and muffins, you might be surprised to know that it's really effective when used around the house to keep everything from mugs and ovens to carpets and curtains fresh and clean. 

This humble white powder is an important alkaline that can take on the toughest of cleaning tasks and there are so many things you can clean with baking soda. It’s also one of the best eco-friendly ways to keep everything looking good as new. Here’s our pick of the top cleaning tips for things you can clean with baking soda.

Clean with baking soda

Baking soda

(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are so many things you can clean with baking soda really effectively – without the need for store-bought cleaning chemicals. Remember, too, if you have a really tough cleaning job to do, you can use baking soda when cleaning with vinegar or when cleaning with lemon juice as these pairings make a powerful combination. In the meantime, these are our top jobs for cleaning with baking soda, the pantry staple you probably already have at home. 

'I keep a large tub of baking soda (I like this one from Amazon) in my utility room,' says Lucy Searle, Homes & Gardens' Editor in Chief. 'That way, there's always some on hand to tackle a whole raft of household cleaning jobs, as well as weekend baking.'

1. Windows

Cream kitchen with green cabinetry, window with white shutters, black Aga, white countertop decorated with kitchenware

(Image credit: Thomas Sanderson)

If you'd rather not use strong chemicals, using baking soda to clean windows can be a more eco-friendly way to get a streak-free finish. 'Simply apply the baking soda to a damp cloth and smear over the glass; then simply remove and buff it clean,' says Megan Slack, H&G's News Writer and resident cleaning expert. 'Any stubborn marks, perhaps caused by limescale or grease, can be removed by applying the baking soda, then spraying on some white vinegar before wiping off and buffing.'

2. The oven

Stove with veined stone backsplash and niche with cookbooks

(Image credit: Maestri Studio Photograph: Jenifer McNeil Baker)

No-one likes using harsh chemicals with their toxic odor that doesn’t do our environment any good. Instead, simply use a homemade paste of baking soda and water brushed onto the surfaces will help you to clean an oven really effectively. Spray the paste with white vinegar and let it foam to shift really stubborn grime. Repeat spraying as needed until any baked-on food residue can be easily wiped away.

'I am a big fan of steering away from harsh chemicals in the oven so use a more natural method of baking soda and white wine vinegar,” agrees Lynsey Crombie, the self-styled Queen of Clean. 'Baking soda is really effective and makes the daunting task of oven cleaning a little easier. All you have to do to get a shining oven is spray the whole oven down, including cleaning a glass oven door, with a water bottle so that it is damp. Pour on a thick layer of baking soda, especially on the bottom, until there is about a quarter inch layer of soda paste on the bottom. If any of the baking soda is still dry, I wet it with the water bottle.'

3. Carpets and curtains

Carpet trend striped rug

(Image credit: Future)

Lynsey Crombie also recommends making your own freshening spray for a carpet, curtains and fabric surfaces, 'Mix up into a spray bottle half boiling water, two teaspoons of baking soda and a capful of your favorite fabric softener. Allow to sit for half an hour so all the products mix together and then spray away. Always keep a distance of approximately 8in (20cm) when spraying and be careful around pets and children.'

Another fan of baking soda for cleaning tasks is Erin of Lemons, Lavender and Laundry. 'Many years ago I decided to start making my own cleaning products,' she says. 'At first, it was simply a way to save money. Then, it became a way to reduce toxic chemicals in our home. I never knew baking soda was such a powerful, effective cleaning agent until I started to explore all the ways it can be used... clean your oven, freshen fabrics and carpets, clean your sink... The list goes on.'

4. The shower

walk in shower with wooden flooring, mirrored glass walls, glass shower door, open plan

(Image credit: Future)

Limescale is the enemy of all showers, especially if you live in a hard water area. To get rid of that scaly build-up quickly and without fuss when you’re cleaning a bathroom, take a wet microfiber cloth and sprinkle a small amount of baking soda and a few drops of dishwasher liquid onto it.

Rub the cloth to make a soapy lather and scrub the shower screen. For the shower tray, sprinkle some baking soda straight onto the floor, adding a squirt of dishwashing liquid then rubbing with a wet brush. Rinse everything with hot water and dry with a dry cloth. Shower curtains can also be cleaned with the same cloth.

5. Mugs and china

mugs and china

(Image credit: Future / Mark Bolton)

'I drink a lot of tea and coffee while working,' says Lucy Searle, Global Editor in Chief for Homes & Gardens, 'My mugs quickly become stained and are hard to get clean in the dishwasher. One of my favorite cleaning hacks is to sprinkle a small amount of baking soda onto a scouring pad and scrub for about five minutes. It does need some elbow grease but once finished, simply pop in the dishwasher or rinse under the tap and it looks as good as new. It works for other china that's gotten stained, too.'

6. Drains

butler's sink by window with floral blind and blue kitchen cabinets

(Image credit: Rachael Smith)

Our household drains can quickly turn stinky if they don’t get some TLC every now and then. So once a week, run some hot water down the drain – on sinks, showers and baths – then pour in about half a cup of baking soda. Let it sit there for 15 minutes or so and rinse with hot water. Het presto, any nasty smells will disappear.

7. Le Creuset

Christmas sales on Le Creuset at Sur la Table

(Image credit: Sur la Table)

Our cookware can also benefit from baking soda. Marisa Kerkvliet of @lemon.thyme.kitchen uses it for her best Le Creuset buys, 'After a few years of use, my beloved Le Creuset was starting to show some wear with staining and discoloration both on the inside and out. This morning I discovered that simply boiling water and baking soda in the pan for 15 minutes did the trick and left the pan sparkling clean.'

You can also use this trick for pretty much any pan, apart from aluminum.

8. Laundry

stack of neatly folded towels

(Image credit: The Fine Cotton Company)

Get rid of odors on dirty clothes and keep whites white at the same time by adding a cup of baking soda to your laundry every time you wash. It also helps keep bright colors bright, too.

9. Tile grout

Patterned tile backsplash behind sink and faucet in kitchen

(Image credit: Harvey Jones)

Tiles can look dirty and grubby if the grout has those horrible black spots caused by mould and mildew. So to clean grout, mix together two parts baking soda and one part hydrogen peroxide (available at drug stores and health shops). Use an old toothbrush to apply it to the grout. Leave for 20 minutes then rinse with clean water.

10. Sinks

kitchen with marble surfaces and double islands with matching Belfast sinks with contemporary pendant lighting above and range cooker

(Image credit: Jennifer Hughes)

To keep your sink in tip-top condition when you’re cleaning a kitchen, simply sprinkle some baking soda onto half a lemon and wipe all around the sink before rinsing with water. The acid and alkaline react together to create a frothy substance that helps dissolve dirt.

11. Refrigerator

Kitchen cabinetry with wine fridge

(Image credit: Gunter & Co)

When foods start to go off in the refrigerator, it can quickly become a bit smelly inside. So keep a small bowl of baking soda in the refrigerator and this will help to neutralize any odors. As part of your refrigerator cleaning regime, change it every few weeks to keep it working efficiently.

12. Tupperware

Tupperware is so handy for storing leftovers but when you are organizing Tupperware, have a look to find those items that are starting to look a bit stained. Simply soak overnight in washing-up bowl filled with hot water and a dash of baking soda.

13. The microwave

Pop a spot of baking soda onto a damp sponge and use it to clean a microwave. Quick and easy and it helps get rid of odors, too.

14. The trash can

Cleaning with baking soda is a really good way to deodorize smelly items, too. Think: the trash can that has a lingering aroma that you just can't get rid of. The best way to tackle it is to wash out the trash can with hot water and dish soap, empty it of the dirty water then, while it is still wet, sprinkle baking soda into it. Leave for 15 minutes then rinse and allow to dry. If the smell persists, spray the trash can with vinegar then sprinkle on the baking soda. Allow to sit for a few minutes, rinse and dry.

15. The pool

pool with surrounding planting and steps up sloping garden

(Image credit: Annaick Guitteny)

Using baking soda in your pool is an effective way of increasing the alkalinity and pH level for clear water and curing black algal outbreaks on your pool's walls. 

Alicia Johnson, founder of Cleaning Green LLC, says: 'The rule is 1.5 lbs of baking soda per 10,000 gallons of water will raise the ppm by 10.'

Does baking soda kill ants?

Yes, baking soda does kill ants, when mixed with vinegar. Sprinkled liberally over an ants' nest, this will help you get rid of an infestation. However, we would never advocate killing ants if you can get rid of them in more humane ways, or simply by removing what tempts them into your home or yard.

Can baking soda kill bed bugs?

Can baking soda kill bed bugs? The short answer is: no. If you have a bed bug infestation, you need a professional to help you get rid of it.

Is baking soda a good cleaning agent?

Yes, baking soda is a good cleaning agent. Baking soda acts as a cleaning agent because it is a mild alkali and can cause dirt and grease to dissolve easily in water for effective removal. Because baking soda is a pure, natural product that is also a food, it is non-toxic, unlike many other household cleaners.

What can you not clean with baking soda?

Things you should never clean with baking soda include aluminum cookware. While you can give many metal surfaces a scrub with baking soda, use caution if you’re cleaning aluminum cookware. Also, never use it for cleaning silver and gold if it’s antique, gold-plated serving pieces and marble surfaces. Also avoid cleaning marble countertops and ceramic hobs.

Hayley Gilbert
Contributing Editor

Hayley is an interiors journalist, content provider and copywriter with 26 years experience who has contributed to a wide range of consumer magazines, trade titles, newspapers, blogs and online content. Specialising in kitchens and bathrooms, she has twice won the CEDIA Award for Best Technology feature. Hayley writes for H&G about kitchens, bathrooms, cleaning, DIY and organizing.