When I first started my journey towards a more natural lifestyle, meaning that I was starting to buy organic food, replace my toxic cleaners for safer alternatives, overhaul my makeup bag and medicine cabinet, etc. I was immediately noticing that these things were almost always more expensive, and sometimes by a lot. What that meant to me at the time was simply that I could not afford to purchase everything I would have liked to. For me, it wasn’t feasible to switch everything over and never look back, because we didn’t have the money. But then I realized that by making a few sacrifices in other areas, such as not eating as much meat, familiarizing myself with the bulk bins, which often have much lower prices, and just living an overall more simplified lifestyle, we could afford a lot more of the products I was hoping to buy.
Now that Marshall is done with school we have a lot more wiggle room with our finances, but even so, we have financial goals and plans, and a budget we follow pretty strictly. I knew from the very beginning that a huge part of this journey was going to be learning how to make things on my own, because that is almost always cheaper. I have found a couple of resources that are very affordable and have basically countless uses, and one of those is baking soda.
You can buy 13 pound bags of baking soda at most department stores and some grocery stores for around $10, which will last you a long time and replace so many different products in your home. Here are a few things I use baking soda for that you may not have heard of before.
- Tub scrub – Coat the affected area with baking soda, and if the tub was not already wet add some moisture. This could be a multi-purpose cleaner (recipe to come!) or tub cleaner, or just water. Let it sit a few minutes and then scrub scrub scrub! Your tub should now be nice and clean!
- Face exfoliant – I use this on my face every couple of days. I just wet my face, put about 1/4 teaspoon of baking soda on my fingers, get them just a little wet, and then gently massage all over my face (and neck if you’d like), and rinse it off. I don’t like exfoliants to be too abrasive and this one is just right for me. My face always feels so fresh and clean after I do this.
- Dish stain remover – We have a set of white mugs that get stained regularly since they are being filled up with tea and coffee repeatedly. When I start to notice that they are staining I just put about 1/2 a teaspoon of baking soda in the mug, add about a tablespoon of hot water, and then just scrub it with a sponge or rag. The mugs are left shiny white!
- Laundry soap – Baking soda is one of the key ingredients in my Homemade Laundry Soap.
- And the funniest use for baking soda is…….Crayon remover – Estella was recently introduced to crayons. She almost understands now that the crayons are only for paper, but on her first day she colored on the doors, the floor, and her shoes. When I found it on the door I actually thought it would come right off with a multi-purpose cleaner. I was wrong. Nothing happened at all! Then I tried baking soda and it came off so easily! Baking soda saved the day again. For the floor I just sprinkled on some baking soda and used a wet rag to scrub the crayon off, and for the door I got my rag wet first, sprinkled some onto the wet rag, and then scrubbed it off that way. Both worked great!
In addition to baking soda, there is another product called washing soda. The texture is very different, and washing soda cannot be ingested, but they work very similarly. For most of the above ideas you could use washing soda, in fact, that’s what I would suggest for the laundry soap, but I would not use the washing soda as an exfoliant because it would be much more abrasive. The texture of washing soda is much more course than baking soda. Here is a description of the difference between them from a blog called Penniless Parenting:
The difference between baking soda and washing soda is water and carbon dioxide. Seriously. Baking soda’s chemical makeup is NaHCO3 (1 sodium, 1 hydrogen, 1 carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules). Washing soda’s chemical makeup is Na2CO3 (2 sodium, 1 carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules). When baking soda is heated up to high temperatures, it breaks down to become washing soda, water steam, and carbon dioxide.
If you want to do more reading about the differences between baking soda and washing soda, here is a good start. How to Make Washing Soda. They are not actually the same thing, but they can often be used interchangeably.
So if you find yourself in the place I was a few years ago, wanting to switch to more natural household supplies, go head and grab yourself a big ole’ bag of baking soda. You’ll be glad you did!