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Looking to stock up on cleaning products to make your home to gleam? Love a natural product that's super effective and can tackle all manner of jobs? You don’t have to fork out for pricey, manufactured cleaning solutions. There might be a cheap, effective and natural grime buster in your kitchen cupboards already: bicarbonate of soda.
At Real Homes it tops our list as one of the best natural cleaning products you can use to clean everything from floors to fittings, so put your feet up (temporarily) and discover how to clean your home with bicarbonate of soda in our guide. Then, find more step by step cleaning guides and hacks on our dedicated hub page. Take a look at the Real Homes pick of the 50 best cleaning products for your home, too.
How bicarbonate of soda works as a cleaning product
Bicarbonate of soda is a super-effective but gentle abrasive cleaner and natural deodoriser. Although tons of us keep it in our cupboard to use as a leavening agent in cooking, it’s a form of salt that causes dirt and grease to dissolve in water, as well as being brilliant at absorbing odours.
Is bicarbonate of soda the same as baking soda?
Yes, baking soda and bicarbonate of soda are the same thing. Baking soda is the American name for what in the UK and Australia is bicarbonate of soda.
Can you mix bicarbonate of soda with vinegar to clean?
In addition to tackling so many cleaning and freshening tasks both inside and outside your home, when it’s combined with white wine vinegar, the dynamic duo produce a fizzy chemical reaction that works wonders in the kitchen and bathroom. (use our guide to cleaning your home with vinegar to find out more about that wonder product).
How much bicarbonate of soda do you need for cleaning?
That tiny tub of bicarb that you have on your kitchen shelf won’t last you very long once you start to reach for it everyday, so look online for a larger, money-saving quantity, such as Hexeal's 5kg bucket of bicarbonate of soda or Dri-Pak's 1kg bags of soda crystals specifically for cleaning purposes.
What can't you clean with bicarbonate of soda?
Aluminium cookware will discolour if bicarbonate of soda is allowed to sit on its surface for too long, so if you do use it, rinse it off quickly.
Antique silver: despite the fact that bicarb is good for removing tarnish from silverware, some jewellers advise against using it on antique silver because it can be too abrasive on items that aren’t made from sterling silver.
Jewellery: don’t use it on any jewellery decorated with inset jewels such as turquoise or pearls.
Gold-plated items: if you have any dinner services with a gold rim or gold accents, bear in mind that gold is a soft metal and is easily scratched – even with a light abrasive like bicarb.
Marble surfaces: stone manufacturers don’t recommend using bicarb as a marble cleaner because repeated applications can cause the sealant to wear away.
How to clean a kitchen with bicarbonate of soda
Almost every greasy, grimy spot in your kitchen can benefit from a wipe over with the wonder powder. Here are just a few to try – find more clever kitchen cleaning hacks in our dedicated feature.
1. How to clean fruit and veg with bicarbonate of soda
You can take the mud and waxy coating off your fruit and veg by sprinkling a small amount of bicarb on a damp sponge, rubbing it gently all over your produce to clean it and then giving it a thorough rinse in cold water.
2. How to clean pots and pans with bicarbonate of soda
Banish baked on food residue from a heavy cooking session by shaking a generous amount of bicarb onto your pots and pans. Add some hot water and washing up liquid and leave to soak for at least 15 minutes before washing it off.
3. How to clean a microwave with bicarbonate of soda
Clean the interior and exterior of your microwave by wiping it over with bicarbonate of soda on a clean, damp sponge that has been dipped in warm water and wrung out, before rinsing thoroughly. It won’t leave a harsh, chemical smell in the way that some shop-bought cleaners will. It will also cut through the grease that accumulates on your cooker hood and leave your worktops looking spruce.
Find more ways to clean a microwave in our guide.
4. How to clean Tupperware with bicarbonate of soda
Some highly coloured foods and sauces will discolour your plastic storage boxes and their lids when you store your leftovers in them. Wipe them over with bicarb on a sponge and give them a good rub before rinsing.
5. How to clean a fridge with bicarbonate of soda
If you leave a small open pot of bicarb in your fridge it will absorb any strong food odours. Stir it up occasionally so that it continues to be effective, replacing it with a new batch every few weeks. It’s also a great way to clean and freshen your fridge if you wipe over the shelves and walls with a soft, damp cloth dipped in bicarb before following it up with a cloth rinsed in warm water.
Find more ways to clean a fridge in our guide.
6. How to clean an oven with bicarbonate of soda and vinegar
Avoid those oven cleaners packed full of powerful, harsh chemicals by using bicarb to clean out your oven:
1. Remove all racks and trays for separate cleaning.
2. Use a bowl to mix bicarbonate of soda and water until you achieve the consistency of a spreadable paste.
3. Spread the paste all over the walls of the oven but avoid the heating elements.
4. For best results, leave overnight.
5. Wipe the oven walls clean with a damp cloth, removing as much bicarb as you can.
6. Use a spray bottle to squirt white wine vinegar onto the oven walls.
7. Wait for the foaming reaction when the vinegar comes into contact with any residue of bicarb and then wipe it off with a damp cloth.
8. Clean the racks and trays with a similar method by sprinkling bicarb on them and then spraying them with vinegar. Once the foaming reaction has occurred, soak them in hot water for a while to loosen the baked on grime before scrubbing it off.
Use our guide to cleaning an oven for more clever tricks.
How to clean a bathroom with bicarbonate of soda
Bicarbonate of soda can work wonders in a bathroom, making fittings gleam and cleaning clogged drains. Here are just a few ideas. You can find more clever bathroom cleaning hacks in our guide.
7. How to unblock a drain with bicarbonate of soda and vinegar
If you have a clogged drain, pour 125g of bicarb down it, followed by 125g of hot white wine vinegar. Cover the plughole with a wet cloth to contain the fizzing effects. Wait for five minutes before flushing it through with water.
Find out more tips on unblocking a drain in our guide.
8. How to remove mould and mildew with bicarbonate of soda
While you are in the bathroom, you can remove stubborn mildew stains on tiles and shower curtains with a damp sponge and bicarb. Use our guide to getting rid of mould for more tips.
9. How to clean a toilet with bicarbonate of soda
To clean the loo, add 50g of bicarb to the bowl, swill it around and give it a scrub. Find more tips in our guide to cleaning a toilet (oh yes, we went there, too).
10. How to clean tile grout with bicarbonate of soda
Form a paste that is half bicarbonate of soda and half water and use it to brighten your grotty grouting. Apply it along the grout in between the tiles and let it soak in for about 10 minutes. Use a toothbrush to gently scrub the grout once the dirt has loosened, and then wipe over with a damp cloth.
11. How to clean bathroom sponges and toothbrushes with bicarbonate of soda
You can even clean and revitalise your sponges (kitchen or bathroom ones) and your toothbrushes by soaking them over night in a mixture of equal parts bicarb and warm water, before giving them a good rinse in the morning.
How to clean the house with bicarbonate of soda
Bicarbonate of soda isn't just perfect for cleaning kitchens and bathrooms – it can be used all around the house, for freshening everything from laundry to carpets. Find out more below.
12. How to do laundry with bicarbonate of soda
How about brightening your laundry whites and colours with 200g of bicarb added to your load? When working in combination with a liquid detergent it helps get clothes cleaner and brighter. Find out how to do laundry for more washing-brightening tips, and don't miss our laundry hacks to find out how to clean everything from delicates to the washing machine, too.
13. How to clean children's toys with bicarbonate of soda
Freshen up cuddly toys that have become musty and dusty by putting them in a large plastic bag with 100g of bicarb. Make sure the top is tied up and take it outside for a good shake. The bicarb will help to draw out the dust. Complete the makeover by removing the toys from the bag and giving them a gentle vacuum. Find more cleaning hacks for kids' rooms in our guide.
14. How to clean walls with bicarbonate of soda
Bicarbonate of soda on a damp sponge can also be effective when trying to remove crayon from walls. Remember to rub and scrub gently. Find more ways to clean wallpaper in our dedicated guide.
15. How to clean a carpet with bicarbonate of soda
Smelly carpet? Sprinkle bicarb on the carpet, wait for 15 minutes or overnight, and then get busy with the vacuum cleaner. The bicarb will help to draw out any dust, dirt and odours to revive your carpets. Find more tips for cleaning a carpet in our guide.
16. How to clean a mattress with bicarbonate of soda
Niffy mattress? Freshen i tup by sprinkling bicarb on the mattress, wait for 15 minutes or overnight (if you're going away), and then get vacuum thoroughly. The bicarb will help to draw out any dust, dirt and odours just as it does with carpets. Find more tips for cleaning a mattress in our guide.
17. How to clean a pet bed with bicarbonate of soda
You will get a similar effect if you cover a smelly pet bed with bicarb, leave for a decent amount of time, and then vacuum it thoroughly. Find out more about cleaning up after dogs and tidying up after cats in our guides.
18. How to get rid of household smells with bicarbonate of soda
Bicarbonate of soda is brilliant for getting rid of household smells, whether in carpets or mattresses. But it's great for use on cat litter trays, too. Lay down a layer of bicarb in the cat litter tray before sprinkling the litter on top to help keep the smell at bay. Find more ways to get rid of household smells with our feature.
19. How to clean shoes and trainers with bicarbonate of soda
Running shoes and trainers can have their sweaty odour removed if you pour a layer of bicarb into each one and leave it to work its magic until the next time they’re worn. Just remember to knock it all out before the feet go back in.
How to clean the garden and outdoors with bicarbonate of soda
The hidden talents of bicarbonate of soda aren’t confined to indoors. There are also jobs that it can tackle outside. Here are just a few of our favourites.
20. How to clean up oil stains with bicarbonate of soda
For an oil stain on the garage floor or paved driveway, sprinkle the area with bicarb and then scrub it with a damp brush, rinsing and repeating if necessary.
21. How to clean patio furniture with bicarbonate of soda
If you are about to bring your patio furniture out of storage, ready for summer, spruce it up with a wipe down of bicarb and water on a cloth. If the soft furnishings that go with your outdoor furniture smell a bit musty after spending winter in the shed, sprinkle bicarb on them, leave for at least 15 minutes, and then vacuum gently. Find out more about reviving metal garden furniture in our guide.
22. How to clean a barbecue with bicarbonate of soda
Before you get the barbecue grill going this summer, scrub it with a damp brush that has bicarb on the bristles before rinsing.
23. How to clean bins with bicarbonate of soda
Stop your bins smelling in the summer by sprinkling a layer of bicarb in the bottom of them. This can apply to kitchen bins, too, of course.
24. How to use bicarbonate of soda to kill weeds
You can discourage weeds by sprinkling bicarb into the cracks in your paving.
25. How to de-ice slippery paths and paving with bicarbonate of soda
You can also scatter it onto icy paths to make them safe to walk on because it is as effective as salt, but not as corrosive.