May 31, 2009–Today’s Way: An essential ingredient of any green cleaning kit is our old friend, baking soda.  Sodium bicarbonate is a naturally ocurring salt (in its natural form it is called nahcolite), though for commercial use, it is formed by combining soda ash into a carbon dioxide solution, and the result is sodium bicarbonate, or baking soda.  The crystal powder is slightly alkaline, which makes baking soda an excellent neutralizer for acidic conditions.  It is its alkalinity that makes baking soda an effective leavening agent in baked goods; when baking soda is mixed with an acid, such as lemon juice or vinegar, they set about neutralizing each other and releasing carbon dioxide, in the form of bubbles.

But baking soda has so many more talents than simply baking!   Baking soda works wonderfully to neutralize acid-based stains in fabrics, as well as acidic odors.  Adding a cup of baking soda to your laundry boosts detergent’s cleaning power by stabilizing the pH.  Baking soda’s mild abrasiveness makes it an excellent gentle scrub—just add your favorite dish or laundry soap to enough baking soda to make a paste, scoop a bit onto a sponge and use the mixture to scrub toilets, tubs, tile and sinks (this mixture is a great way to clean a tub after using WoodSprite Organic Body salt glows and sugar scrubs).  For dishes with stubborn baked-on grease, place in hot soapy water and sprinkle baking soda over the soiled areas evenly, leave to soak overnight.  The baking soda should soften or dissolve the grease stains.  When you have oily dishes to clean, sprinkle first with baking soda, then wipe clean with a soapy sponge; the baking soda will help to absorb the oils and rinse them away.  For clogged drains, you can try pouring baking soda down the drain, then add a bit of vinegar; the intense foaming can dislodge minor obstructions.  Keep a bowl of baking soda in your fridge, sprinkle into hampers and cloth diaper pails for a natural deodorizer.  Baking soda can be used in place of some chemicals in pools to keep the water pH equalized and clear.  Baking soda makes a very effective tooth brushing powder (though you may want to add a touch of mint essential oil for a bit of flavor).  Just remember: whenever you mix vinegar or another acid with baking soda, they neutralize each other and will not be as effective.  If the problem is acidic, then baking soda will be able to help.  Alkaline problems will need to be neutralized with acid-based ingredients (such as vinegar).