20 Ways With Is a series on the simple things for those wishing to save money, time and the planet.

Life is complicated enough. Why waste time trying to make it more complex with all the extra products, shopping trips, and packaging? This series is designed to save you time, money, and help the environment with a set of simple posts on how to make the most of the little things.

First up? Everyones eco-panty-fave. Bicarbonate of Soda.

Here you will find twenty ways to use bicarb to the max and hopefully save some dosh in the process. Eco tip? Source your bicarb from bulk food retailers to avoid packaging, if you can’t find it this way some supermarkets sell in recyclable cardboard boxes.

  • Deodorise your stinky shoes by filling old socks with bicarb and leaving them in your shoes overnight (or longer for extra offensive stenches). No old socks? Sprinkle a little bicarb in the shoe, leave overnight and then shake out the powder in the morning. Better for sneakers and fabric shoes than leather as leather can get a little dry if you do this too often.
  • Pulled your fave whites out of storage to discover they have yellow perspiration stains? Annoying and gross but you don’t have to throw them away! Perspiration, rust, and other stains can be tackled with a bicarb and water paste. Aiming for a grainy paste like consistency add a little water to your bicarb (a ratio of one tablespoon of water to three of bicarb) rub this paste into your stains before washing- and you can leave the paste on for an hour of two for stubborn stains. If the stain is still there after washing, repeat the process again- it should continue to fade. White clothes with stubborn stains? Do this bicarb process- wash- then leave the garment in full sun with stain side out. Usually a few days in the sun post-bicarb will make the stain vanish.
  • Add to the wash with your laundry powder to boost the white of your whites and the brights of your clothing. Depending on your load and your machine (use less in front loaders) around a ¼ to a half a cup will do.
  • Whiten teeth by brushing with bicarb. Many whitening toothpastes use bicarb as the whitening ingredient. Cut the plastic and costs by brushing with bicarb. Beware that this is a very abrasive treatment and despite what companies or eco bloggers will tell you, it’s not something you should do every day (unless you hate teeth enamel). Treat it as a treatment and use only when you notice your teeth getting a little dull.
  • Stinky dog and no time to wash? Use bicarb as an emergency dog-de-stinkifier by sprinkling the powder through their coat and giving them a brush. This should reduce the stink factor until you have time to wash them.
  • You know those stains that you had on your teeth? Your tea cups suffer from the same ones! If your office coffee mug or evening peppermint tea cup looks a bit crappy and stained make a paste with some water and rub the insides of your cups with it and a soft cloth. It’s amazing how quickly your grubby old cup can look new again using this technique.
  • Stinky armpits… we don’t like to talk about them but they do happen. If you have been on a mission to cut back on chemical and/or packaging why not try a little bit of bicarb as a deodorant. Just use like a powder under your arms. It’s surprisingly effective. Few side notes- don’t use right after shaving (ouch!!!!) and some people can’t use this option because it’s too abrasive and irritating. I personally rotate a bicarb deodorant with a solid block deodorant so I don’t get sensitivities from too much of one option.
  • Do you work in customer service and run around all day? This tip’s for you. Anyone who spends a lot of time on their feet will benefit from a end of day foot soak, fill a bucket with warm to hot water add 5 tablespoons of bicarb and soak your day away. Want to be a bit fancy? Add some essential oil (around three drops of one of these: rose is a nice one for antidepressant properties, peppermint is a soothing foot option, and lavender is great for sleep/calming) and sprinkle with rose petals or lavender. Who needs a day spa?
  • When you cook for friends and family and want to convey the image of hostess with the mostest sans-onion-hands try using a couple of teaspoons of bicarb as a soap substitute.
  • Worried about chemicals on new clothes or smells in new second-hand clothes? Doing a wash through pre-wear with some bicarb will shift some chemical finishes and any ‘new’ or ‘a-little-bit-second-hand’ smells.
  • Mothballs can be the most persistent stink and sort of needed a special mention! It’s easy to get rid of that distinct odour using the method above. Remember that most items stored in mothballs are delicate or wool check washing instructions.
  • Keep closets smelling fresh by hanging little parcels of bicarb in them to absorb smells. Best way to do this is to add a few tablespoons of it to an old sock, stocking, or scrap of material and secure tight. You can replace these every six weeks or so for maximum freshness.
  • Party got a bit out of hand and your worried that the landlords might notice the grubby walls? Create a bicarb paste and use it on a damp sponge to wipe away traces of dirt, finger grease, and crushed Cheetos marks. Wipe down with a clean damp cloth afterwards to remove the powdery residue. No traces of party will remain.
  • Carpets and rugs can get really stinky when you have pets or kids rolling around on them. Sprinkle bicarb over these surfaces, leave for half an hour, then vacuum, shake, or sweep the bicarb (and the smells) away.
  • Did the party damage extend to the carpet? Red wine, juice, and all those other delicious brightly coloured things can wreak havoc on rugs and carpets. Spills can be rectified by blotting away all excess liquid as soon as it occurs, then dumping a decent amount of bicarb over it (you want to well and truly bury that stain like the dirty secret it is). Leave the pile of bicarb to do it’s absorbing work for at least an hour, then vacuum it up. Hopefully (for the sake of your bond) it should be good as new.
  • Book-a-holic? Me too! Second-hand or old books can have a lovely worn in smell, however the occasional one can push the boundaries of lovely-old-book to ‘eww reading you transports me to the dank corners of Aunt Madges garage’ territory and ruin the reading experience. Recycle a paper bag by adding a couple of tablespoons of bicarb to it, put your book in, and leave it to destinkafy for a week.
  • Washing dishes after entertaining can be a bit of a drag. Cut through grease and grime in record time by adding a tablespoon of bicarb to your dishwater.
  • Stovetops can be easy cleaned by misting with water, sprinkling with bicarb, then scrubbing the grease away with a damp cloth or sponge. Wipe with another damp cloth to remove the bicarb residue
  • Cooking didn’t go so well? Removed burn or scorch marks from pots by filling the offending pot around a quarter full of boiling water, adding a half a cup of bicarb, and leaving to soak for 24 hours. This should soften the burnt bits and a little bit of elbow grease should see them come right off.
  • Our chopping boards do all the hard yards in the kitchen and are usually a bit of an afterthought. If they start to get a little smelly and tired give them a scrub with a paste from bicarb, salt, and water then wash thoroughly with hot water before leaving to dry in a warm sunny place.

What’s next in the 20 Uses series?

It’s bicarbonate of soda’s best friend- Vinegar! Stay tuned for that post. There are SO many more ways to use bicarb so if you have an alternate one to these (I had more but had to draw the line somewhere before the post became and essay) please share it below.


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