Clean IQ: 7 Things to Know About Cleaning with Baking Soda

You probably have at least one box of baking soda hanging around at home, right? Whether you keep it in your fridge as a deodorizer, or you use it to cook with, clean with or even to brush your teeth, you know that baking soda is smart to have on hand. In fact, it may be even handier than you realize.

Below, some handy cleaning uses for baking soda—and some important facts you need to know about using it throughout your home.

1. It can polish silver

If you’ve got tarnished silverware or sterling silver jewelry, you can use baking soda (with a little help from aluminum foil, vinegar, salt and boiling water) to get it looking shiny and new again. Get the tutorial here.

2. You can use it to deodorize your washing machine

If your front-loading washer has gotten a little musty, a little bit of baking soda can help you get out any weird smells. Just pour a mixture of baking soda and water into the detergent tray, then run the wash cycle on the hottest setting. See the full instructions here.

3. It can salvage smelly plastic food containers

Take on leftover food odors in plastic containers by immersing the containers in a mixture of baking soda and warm water, according to Good Housekeeping. About 30 minutes in the mixture followed by a good rinse should do the trick.

4. It can deodorize upholstery and carpets

If your carpeting or upholstered furniture smells a little stale, you can get it smelling fresh and clean again thanks to some baking soda and your vacuum cleaner. First, SF Gate says to vacuum the sofa to get any hair and crumbs up, then sprinkle with baking soda and let it sit for 15 minutes (or overnight for strong odors). Afterwards, vacuum up the baking soda residue.

5. It expires, so don’t expect it to last forever

If you can’t remember the last time you bought a new box of baking soda, it’s probably time for a refresh—it does expire, after all. The expiration date on the box is probably around 18 months, but a good rule of thumb for an open box of baking soda is 6 months, according to LifeHacker. The good news is, you can test if yours is still good by following these steps.

6. You can use it with vinegar, but don’t store them as a mixture

While you can use vinegar and baking soda together in some cleaning situations (like some of the ones above), straight-up mixing them into one solution doesn’t really do much—since baking soda is basic and vinegar is acidic, they really just cancel each other out. And vinegar can also make baking soda foam up, so never store them in the same container or it could explode, according to Good Housekeeping.

7. You can put out small grease fires with it

If you find yourself facing a small grease fire in the kitchen, you can actually use baking soda to put it out—but it has to be a small fire, because you’ll need a lot of baking soda for it to work.

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