10 Genius Uses for Baking Soda

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You already know you can use baking soda for, well, baking. But did you know you can use baking soda in other ways around your house? The familiar yellow box is your ultimate DIY tool for everything from unclogging drains to eliminating pests.

1. Get your bathtub sparkling. Use baking soda to banish those tub rings. As a mild abrasive, baking soda is great for scrubbing stains. Just sprinkle some onto a sponge along with your normal bathroom cleanser.

2. Create a barrier in your garden against pests. Many common garden pests dislike baking soda. Sprinkling a little bit around your garden can guard against slugs, silverfish, rabbits, and other critters. Even better -- adding baking soda to the soil around your tomato plants results in sweeter tomatoes.

3. Unclog a slow drain. If you ever made a volcano for the science fair, you’re familiar with the explosive reaction of baking soda and vinegar. The explosion is not just fun to watch--it’s useful, too. If you have a slow drain in your house, try this trick. Pour ½ cup of baking soda down the drain, followed by ½ cup of white vinegar. Lower the drain plug to trap the reaction inside the pipe. After a few minutes, pour a kettle’s worth of boiling water down the drain to clear it out.

4. Give produce a good cleaning. Baking soda is a mild biopesticide, meaning it can kill certain bacteria and fungi. It is also mildly abrasive, which makes it an excellent cleanser for produce you don’t want to peel, like apples or tomatoes. And because baking soda is safe to eat, you don’t have to worry that you haven’t rinsed it all off.

5. Eliminate cooking odors from your hands. Clean garlic, fish, or other harsh cooking odors from your hands by adding some baking soda to your liquid hand soap. Scrub thoroughly.

6. Polish silverware. To restore luster to your tarnished silver, place a sheet of aluminum foil on the bottom of a pot or large bowl. Place your silver items on top of the foil, then add a spoonful of baking soda, a pinch of salt, and boiling water. The resulting chemical reaction removes old, black tarnish.

7. Put out a fire. Keep a box of baking soda handy next to the stove in case of fire. You probably know that throwing water on a grease fire can have explosive results --smother the flames with baking soda instead. The baking soda will release carbon dioxide, depriving the fire of oxygen and extinguishing the flames.

8. Give roaches the death sentence. Sprinkle baking soda under your kitchen cabinets, in your basement, and in any other location roaches frequent. Baking soda acts as a desiccant, drying up the roaches’ bodies and killing them. And because baking soda is all-natural, it does not pose a danger to children or pets like traditional insecticides do. This works for silverfish, too.

9. Sop up oil spills. If you have a gasoline or oil spill in the garage, sprinkle baking soda on it. The baking soda will soak up the liquid, making cleanup easier. (Sweep it up and dispose of it in accordance with local laws.)

10. Remove splinters. A deeply buried splinter can irritate the skin if you're trying to dig for it with tweezers. Instead, make a paste of baking soda and water and apply it to your skin, covered with a bandage, before going to bed. The baking soda should draw the splinter to the surface overnight, allowing you to remove it easily with tweezers in the morning.