There are literally hundreds of household uses for baking soda, which 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 so many personal-care applications. It should not be confused with baking powder, which has added acidifying and drying agents (typically cream of tartar and starch, respectively).
Baking soda is inexpensive, nontoxic, fragrance-free, environmentally friendly, and available on grocery-store shelves everywhere.
Face and Hair
- To remove the residue left behind by styling products and chlorine, add 1 teaspoon to a dollop of your favorite shampoo and lather up as you usually do. Rinse well.
- To rejuvenate the complexion, make a paste of baking soda and water — three parts to one part — and gently massage into clean skin. Rinse well with cool water and pat dry.
Hands and Feet
- To remove strong food odors like garlic and onions from hands, make a 3-to-1 paste with water and scrub hands with it. Rinse with clean water. Your hands will be fresh-smelling and skin will be soft and smooth.
- For a pre-pedicure foot soak, fill a basin with warm water. Add 0.25 cup (60 g) baking soda to the water and stir to dissolve. Soak the feet for ten minutes, then rub heels and any other calloused areas with a baking soda paste to smooth away dead skin. Rinse well.
- For a relaxing bath, add 0.5 cup (120 g) to bath water. This is especially soothing to dry, itchy skin, and will provide some relief for poison ivy, skin rashes, and mild sunburn.
- Add 1 teaspoon to a quarter-size dab of your favorite body wash and use it to wash your elbows and knees. Scrub gently in a circular motion to exfoliate and smooth rough skin.
- 1 teaspoon (5 g) dissolved in 4 ounces (120 ml) lukewarm water makes an excellent mouth rinse for eliminating bad breath.
- To deodorize and refresh dentures, retainers, and other oral appliances, soak them in a solution of 2 teaspoons (10 g) baking soda dissolved in 1 cup (236.5 ml) lukewarm water.
- Liberally sprinkle a damp toothbrush with baking soda and brush for clean, white teeth.
Other Personal-Care Uses
- Baking soda can be used as an effective deodorant. Combine 0.5 cup (120 g) with 1 tablespoon (15 grams) or so of cornstarch in a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid. Simply dust armpits with this after showering and drying off.
- Sprinkle a little of this mixture into your athletic shoes, work boots, ski boots, or other shoes to minimize foot odors and keep feet feeling fresh and dry.