When was the last time you used baking soda? It was probably when you baked a cake or tried whitening your teeth. If you’re strapped for cash or just feel like being creative, baking soda can be an excellent home remedy to have in your pantry for DYI beauty treatments, cleaning aid or kitchen use. It’s even better when it’s so cheap: under $1 for a box of baking soda. Check out these awesome uses that you might not have thought of.

What is Baking Soda?

Baking soda is actually sodium bicarbonate, a fine white powder with antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties with many amazing uses, from teeth whitening to dough rising. It’s been on the market since the 19th century, but its medical use was only confirmed at the beginning of the 20th century. It is recommended not to use it too much, as excessive use might have damaging effects on your teeth or skin. Also, do a little test before using it to see if your skin is sensitive to it.

Bake away

Fall is setting in and maybe you’re getting ready for a bake sale. As its name might suggest, baking soda can be used as a leavening agent when baking bread and cakes. Do not mistake it for baking powder. Baking soda starts fermenting and giving off carbon dioxide gas in combination with an acid, which makes the dough rise.

Feel Good in Your Own Skin

Acne and pimples? I don’t think so! You definitely don’t want to relive your adolescence years by putting up with a damaged skin covered in skin outbreaks. It’s not great for your self-confidence. There are so many products out there to help you out with skin breakouts, but sometimes it’s best to keep it simple – and environmentally-friendly. Those microbeads found in regular scrubs pollute the oceans. You can have a beautiful skin in three easy steps: just mix 1 teaspoon of baking soda with a bit of water to make a paste, leave it on for 1 to 2 minutes on the affected area and rinse it off. Do this every day for a couple of days and then only once or twice a week. Baking soda has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties and it balances your skin’s pH.

Tired of those spots on your skin? Baking soda has a mild exfoliating effect that helps remove dead cells and balance the pH level of your skin. Prepare your home-made 2-in-1 mask and scrub by mixing 1 tablespoon of baking soda with either a bit of filtered water or with fresh lemon juice, together with 4 or 5 drops of extra-virgin olive oil. Leave it in for up to 5 minutes and rinse with lots of water. Do this a couple of times a week for a brighter skin. You can scrub your whole body with a mix of baking soda and water to have a baby-like skin. This can come in handy especially a few days after applying a self-tanning lotion when all is left of your perfect tan is a few orange spots. Don’t forget to moisturize your skin as baking soda dries the skin a bit.

Get rid of annoying skin rashes and itchiness with baking soda. Its anti-inflammatory properties help reduce inflammation and itching. Just mix it with some water and apply it locally to insect bites or freshly shaven skin for a couple of minutes until the condition improves. Or soak in a cold bath after adding 1 cup of baking soda for 10 minutes. Even splinters will come out by soaking the skin in some water with baking soda twice a day. Do not apply baking soda on the overly irritated skin or if there are any open wounds.

Did you survive the summer sunburn-free? Hitting the beach after a long break feels so awesome that sometimes you can’t help dozing off in the sun for an hour or two, the wind in your hair, sand on your wet body. Waking up isn’t as great, especially if you forgot to apply some sunscreen before. Baking soda can provide sunburn relief thanks to its alkaline nature, antiseptic and drying properties. You will soon feel the relieving effect on the itching and burning sensations. Just mix 1 to 2 tablespoons in a cup of cold water and apply a cool compress for up to 10 minutes a couple times a day. Alternatively, take a nice bath with a ½ cup of baking soda for 10 to 15 minutes.

Baking soda can help you have a bright skin complexion, free of outbreaks and itches. Check first that you don’t have sensitive skin.

Brighter Smile

Coffee and smoking can make your teeth look all yellow. It’s time to regain that big smile in your selfies. Baking soda has a mild abrasive effect and it helps whiten teeth, remove yellow stains and plaque by neutralizing acids produced by bacteria. Studies have found that toothpaste containing baking soda is more efficient in removing plaque than non-baking soda toothpaste. Next time you brush your teeth, just put a little baking soda on top of your regular toothpaste. Alternatively, you can make your own paste by mixing 2 teaspoons of baking soda with 4 tablespoons of turmeric root powder, and 3 tablespoons of extra-virgin coconut oil. Brush your teeth once every day for a few days, but avoid excessive use as it can damage your teeth’s enamel. If you drink a glass of water with ½ teaspoon of baking soda your breath will smell all fresh.

Baking soda has also been found to kill Streptococcus mutants bacteria, a bacteria that leads to tooth decay. For a highly effective mixture at killing bacteria, blend six parts of baking soda and one part of sea salt and place the mix on your gums by wetting your finger.

Keep in mind that baking soda should not replace your toothpaste. Toothpaste contains fluoride, which helps protect your teeth against cavities.

Give Your Hair a Boost

Does your hair always look oily and smelly, even if you washed it a couple of hours ago? Baking soda can make your hair less oily and can also neutralize bad smells. Just add 1 tablespoon of baking soda to your shampoo once or twice a week. It will make your hair shinier and easier to manage. Alternatively, if you got the habit of mixing already, apply 1/4 baking soda with 3/4 water on damp hair for 5 minutes once or twice a month and then rinse. Baking soda can clean your hairbrush too: just let it soak in some water with baking soda for up to half an hour to get rid of the build-up around the bristles.

If you’re on the go, after the gym or if you slept in, how about skipping washing altogether? Dry shampoos are so trendy these days and can really make a difference in getting that second date. Baking soda mixed with cornstarch in equal amounts can be used as a dry shampoo. Just sprinkle the mix at the roots of your hair, tousle it and give your hair a brush and you are ready to go and can be as spontaneous as you want.

But not if your hair looks healthy and clean, but your shoulders are covered in dandruff. Believe it or not, baking soda can help you get rid of dandruff too. Because of its alkaline nature, baking soda can balance the pH of the scalp. Apply it on its own to your wet hair and scalp for a minute once a week, then rinse it out with plenty of water. Alternatively, mix it with a bit of freshly squeezed lemon juice and leave it in for a couple of minutes and then rinse it out.

Happy Feet

If you’ve used cheap nail polish for too long without a protective layer or without giving your nails a breather every now and then, you will probably start having unhealthy-looking yellow nails. That leaves you little choice than to continue to cover them with nail polish. You’ll be pleased to know that baking soda has bleaching and exfoliating properties that help remove the yellow stains on your nails. Just mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with ½ cup of water and 1 teaspoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide, stir well and dip your nails in a small bowl for a couple of minutes every two weeks. You can also leave out the water and make a paste instead by combining 1 tablespoon of 3% hydrogen peroxide with 2½ tablespoons of baking soda. Apply it on your nails and rinse it off after a couple of minutes once every 2 months.

The yellowish aspect can also be due to nail fungus that started growing under the nails. The alkaline nature of baking soda hinders the growth of fungi. Soak your nails in a mix of 1 cup of unfiltered apple cider vinegar with 2 tablespoons of baking soda for 5 minutes twice a day. Alternatively, make a paste of 1 to 2 teaspoons of baking soda mixed with warm water and apply it once daily.

Happy feet also mean smooth skin. Soak your feet in a tub of warm water with three tablespoons of baking soda and give them a scrub with a baking soda paste for enhanced exfoliation. Then apply some foot cream and wrap them up in a warm towel and put your feet up. Enjoy the home spa treatment.

Smell Like a Daisy

Are you an active person, but have trouble controlling body sweat and odor? Many deodorants and antiperspirants have parabens and aluminum that you should avoid, not to mention that they also leave white stains all over your clothes. Body odor is caused by bacteria. Baking soda has antibacterial properties and helps you control your body odor by killing bacteria and absorbing sweat from your skin. This can also be a great solution if you have sensitive skin and cannot use many of the regular deodorants on the market. Just mix a ⅛ teaspoon of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of water and a few drops of essential oil. Or how about mixing baking soda and corn starch in equal amounts? Apply this mix to your underarms or any areas where you sweat too much.

Upset Tummy

Make your tummy smile again. Baking soda is efficient in neutralizing stomach acid and relieves indigestion, heartburn, and ulcer pain almost instantly. Most antacids you can get prescription-free contain some form of bicarbonate. Drink half a glass of water with a ½ teaspoon every two hours, but do not exceed seven ½ teaspoons in 24 hours. If you’re over 60, do not drink more than three ½ teaspoons. It is not suitable for children under 6 unless prescribed.

However, indigestion isn’t always caused by acid, so if your condition doesn’t improve within 2 weeks, consult a health practitioner. Don’t take baking soda within 2 hours of other medications as it slows down the effect of some medicines.

Nice and Clean

Keep your house nice and clean and smelling fresh. Baking soda was even during the 1986 restoration of the Statue of Liberty to clean and restore the inner copper walls, so it’ll do wonders in your kitchen and bathroom. Soak your pots and pans in it. Sprinkle it over tiles before a thorough scrub. Mix it with apple cider vinegar to clear your drain.

Strong acids or bases cause most bad smells. By adding baking soda, you will change the pH balance, so odors in your carpet or your fridge will be neutralized. Put some baking soda in your fridge to absorb those nasty smells. Get rid of shoe smells by sprinkling a bit of this natural deodorizer in them. Sprinkle a bit of bicarbonate on the carpets before vacuuming. After a cleaning session, clean your hands with three parts of baking soda dissolved in one part of water to make them smell fresh.

Enhanced Performance

Due to its alkaline nature, sodium bicarbonate increases the pH of the blood, which reduces the acidity produced in the muscles during intense exercise like running or swimming.

Kidney Disease and Cancer Treatment Aid

Baking soda has been found to help chemotherapy for certain types of cancer work better. Some chemotherapy drugs work better in alkaline conditions. Your oncologist can advise if you can profit from using baking soda with your prescription medicines.

Daily baking soda intake can also help patients whose kidneys can no longer remove enough acid from their blood.