Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Living Chemical Free, Part 2: Baking Soda, Nature's Jack-of-all-Trades

Part 1 is here, wherein I discuss my adventures (and misadventures!) with using baking soda instead of shampoo, and vinegar as conditioner.

Baking Soda as a General Cleanser

This is not the Soda you are looking for.

So today, I'm going to talk about using baking soda (bicarbonate of soda, for you non-American English speakers out there) as a cleansing agent in other areas of life besides a shampoo substitute.

In the shower, I use it in place of soap about 50% of the time. It sounds totally weird, but I find it works better than shower gel or soap, and I like the clean-but-not-smelling-like-fake-flowers-or-something smell that I come out with.

I keep a little container of baking soda in the bathroom, and when I'm showering I just sprinkle some into the palm of my hand and make a paste.

This doesn't work for my hair, because we have hard water and baking soda won't dissolve in hard water, but I  am basically just using it as a mild scrub. I've even used it on my face, with no adverse effects.

I find that the baking soda paste gets rid of B.O. better than the strong smelling shower gels that my hubby prefers! Weird or what?

It makes my showering time go by faster, too, because I always used to compulsively rinse, rinse, rinse in case I left soap on my skin somewhere. I don't know why that bothers me so much, but it does.

Anyway! Aside from showering and TMI, I also like to use baking soda in general household cleaning. I've used it in scrubbing toilets, shower tiles, and my laminate wood floors. I also used to use it as a pre-wash for my daughter's nappies, with vinegar in the fabric softener section and normal laundry detergent in the regular wash section.

It is a gentle cleanser that is not only effective but CHEAP. On eBay I paid about £12.50, including shipping, for my 5kg bag of baking soda, which works out to less than a penny for a tablespoon of the stuff. In fact, I bought my bag so long ago that it isn't even in my archived eBay purchases. I hopefully won't need to buy any more for several more months.

I really love stuff that has many functions. I could have various bottles of different single-purpose items scattered around the house and in locked or high-up cupboards because the chemicals are dangerous and musn't be touched by small children, OR I could have one item, that doesn't taste nice at all (ask me how I know!) but isn't even toxic (unless we're talking huge doses), and use it for a million things that I don't even know off the top of my head.

Uses of Baking Soda That I Just Googled Right Now:

  • Put out grease fires
  • Fridge deodoriser (although many of us knew that one already! I grew up with the ubiquitous box of Arm & Hammer in the fridge)
  • Wash out thermos containers to get rid of the stale smell
  • Polish silverware with dry baking soda and a damp cloth
  • Let a burnt pan soak with a layer of baking soda on the bottom
  • Put 4 Tbs of baking soda in your drains, rinsed down with boiling water, to keep them clear
  • Put 2 Tbs in baby's bathwater to ease a bum rash
  • Use a paste of baking soda and water to ease a sunburn
  • Add to your soaking dried beans to help them soften
  • Wipe down your car windows with it to help repel rain (although I would test this somewhere first just in case it scratches the glass???)

And there's loads more! Very cool stuff, this baking soda. I'm glad to have it around.

It also makes a fantastic ingredient for homemade deodorant. But that is for Part 3.

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