We used to believe that the personal care products we bought from the store were completely safe. Only recently have we begun to learn that many of these products contain potentially toxic ingredients.
Preservatives like parabens — found in lotions, creams, and shampoos — have been linked with breast cancer in some studies. Phthalates, which are found in nail polishes, hair sprays and perfumes, may increase the risk of diabetes and asthma.
Sulfate cleansers are harsh on the skin and can lead to dryness and premature aging. Fragrances are made up of numerous unknown chemicals and are known for causing allergic reactions and eczema.
The market is changing. As consumers demand safer products with more natural ingredients, many companies are being more careful about how they create their personal care solutions. Meanwhile, it turns out that there are often safer options right in our kitchen cupboards.
Baking soda is one of them. You probably already use it when cooking and baking and possibly to absorb odors in your refrigerator. What you may not know is that you can use baking soda as a personal care item too.
Below, we show you all the different ways baking soda can help you take care of your body. Feel free to turn to these options when you run out of your regular products. You may even find that you prefer baking soda in some cases.
1. Freshen Your Mouth
Many store-bought types of mouthwash are filled with alcohol, which can be harsh on delicate tissues inside the mouth. The American Cancer Society recommends avoiding them when you have a mouth sore or sore throat as they can cause further irritation and damage.
Colgate also recommends alcohol-free mouthwash because alcohol can cause burning and dry mouth and that mouthwashes containing alcohol can make any mouth sore or other oral irritation worse.
You can purchase an alcohol-free mouthwash or make one of your own. Mix one teaspoon of baking soda with half a glass of water, swish it around in your mouth for about 30 seconds and spit it out. Baking soda’s natural antimicrobial properties will help kill bacteria in the mouth and will also help neutralize odors so that your breath smells fresh.
In addition to cleaning out your mouth, baking soda can help clean and whiten your teeth too. You can find baking-soda-based toothpaste on the market easily, but you can also make your own.
Mix a teaspoon of baking soda with a half-teaspoon of hydrogen peroxide, dip your toothbrush into the mixture and brush as usual. The combination of the two ingredients will help kill bacteria on the teeth, reducing the risk of plaque and gingivitis. Because baking soda is slightly abrasive, it can help remove stains as well, leaving teeth looking whiter and brighter.
3. Soak Your Dentures or Other Oral Appliances
Baking soda cleans and deodorizes and kills bacteria, yet it is gentle on surfaces, so it makes the perfect cleaning soak for dentures and other oral appliances like bridges and retainers.
Mix 2 teaspoons of baking soda dissolved in a glass or small bowl of warm water. Place the appliance in the solution and let it soak overnight. The baking soda will help loosen food particles and neutralize odors to keep the items fresh. You can also use the same solution to clean and freshen your toothbrush.
4. Clean Your Hands
After working in the garden or the garage, your hands may have dirt, grime, grease and oil on them. You may be tempted to use harsh cleansers or soaps to clean them off but try baking soda first. It’s gentler than most store-bought cleansing products and often cleans just as well or better.
Mix 3 tablespoons baking soda with 1 tablespoon water into a paste. Then, use as you would any other paste hand cleaner. Rub it all over your hands, then scrub in those areas where the dirt and grime are clinging to the skin. Rinse thoroughly. Your hands will be clean and soft, but they won’t suffer like they do after you use a harsh cleanser.
5. Soak Your Tired Feet
Stinky feet aren’t pleasant for anyone, but you can freshen them up easily in a baking soda foot soak. Dissolve about 3 tablespoons of baking soda into a basin of warm water, then insert your feet and sit back and relax. Soak for about 15 to 20 minutes, then remove and pat dry.
If you want to clean your feet more thoroughly, mix 3 tablespoons baking soda with 1 tablespoon water and use the paste to scrub, paying special attention to calluses. The baking soda solution can help to soften them. When you finish, rinse and pat dry, then apply moisturizer. Your feet will feel relaxed and refreshed.
If your skin is itchy and dry, baking soda can help. It has a natural softening effect on the skin and can also help ease itching and irritation while cleansing. Add about 1/2 cup baking soda to a full bath, then slip in and soak for 10 to 20 minutes. You’ll emerge feeling softer and fresher. Apply moisturizer immediately to keep skin soft and smooth.
If you’ve got all-over itchy, wintery dry skin, add in your baking soda and about 1 1/4 cup of baby oil or your favorite massage oil to the water, then soak as directed. The oil will add moisturization to help soothe dry skin.
7. Soothe Painful Bug Bites
If you get a bug bite, whether it’s a spider, bee or mosquito, you can soothe the sting and calm the itch with baking soda. Immediately after the bite, mix 1 tablespoon of baking soda with just enough water to create a paste. Apply the paste to the bug bite and let it sit for 10 minutes before washing away. The paste will help reduce redness, itching and stinging.
8. Ease Itch from Poison Ivy and Rashes
Just like baking soda eases the pain and itch of bug bites, it can do the same for poison ivy itch and rash or other skin rashes and irritations. Apply baking soda directly to the skin after emerging from the bath or shower or make a paste-like the one for bug bites and apply to the affected area. Let sit for 10 minutes and rinse off.
9. Kill Body Odor
Whether you’re looking for a more natural deodorant or want a quick refresher when you’re on the go, baking soda can do the job. Dust a little baking soda in your armpits to eliminate odors when you don’t have the time to shower.
When traveling, take some baking soda and a soft cloth or some large cotton balls with you. Use this refresher until you have better access to soap and water.
If you want to avoid store-bought deodorant, you can try a baking soda mixture instead. In a large bowl, mix 3 tablespoons baking soda, 5 tablespoons arrowroot powder or cornstarch, 6 tablespoons shea butter and a few drops of your favorite essential oil for a natural scent.
Whip all the ingredients together using a hand mixer. Transfer to a clean glass jar, then using your fingertips, apply a small amount and rub into the skin of the underarm area. The solution will help kill body odor and keep you smelling fresh.
10. Exfoliate the Skin
Because of its mild abrasiveness, baking soda can help exfoliate the skin, sloughing off that layer of dead skin cells on the surface and allowing the newer cells to rise up and take their place. Exfoliation can help keep the skin looking it’s best and also helps your moisturizers and serums absorb better.
Wet your skin with warm water, then add a teaspoon or two of baking soda to your palm, add some water until it forms a paste, then massage gently in circles over the area of skin you want to exfoliate. Avoid the eye area. Rinse and follow with a toner to restore the skin’s pH balance and then moisturizer to soothe and soften.
If your skin is inflamed after a sunburn, baking soda can help. Its gentle action will help remove some of the stinging and burning while easing inflammation.
Mix 1/4 cup baking soda in your bath and soak for 15 to 20 minutes to remove discomfort or mix 1 cup water and 4 tablespoons of baking soda, then use gauze or cotton balls to blot the mixture gently onto the burned area. Use every two to four hours to help ease the bite of the burn.
12. Make Your Own Dry Shampoo
Shampooing every day can strip your hair of its natural oils, leaving it dull, dry and lifeless. To enjoy healthier, shinier hair, skip that shampoo when you can. If your hair is oily and feels dirty, you can use baking soda as a dry shampoo to restore your hair without stripping it.
Take a teaspoon or so of baking soda in the palms of your hands and rub it through your dry hair, especially onto the scalp. The baking soda will absorb the dirt and oils and will leave behind a fresh feeling on your scalp. Once you’re finished rubbing it through, shake your head over the sink and you’re ready to go.
13. Get Shiny Hair
If your hair is looking dull and dry lately, add some baking soda to your morning routine. Mix about a quarter-sized amount along with your favorite shampoo in your palm, and then cleanse as usual. Rinse thoroughly. The baking soda will help remove the residue that tends to build up in the hair and scalp over time, leaving hair shiny and more manageable than before.
14. Care for Your Nails
Clean fingernails and toenails by dipping a nailbrush in a baking soda and water mixture, then scrubbing your nails. The mixture will not only clean and deodorize but will also help soften the cuticles so you can push them back when you’re done.
If you’re out of shaving cream or want to make your own, make sure you have some baking soda around. Mix about 1 tablespoon with 1 cup water, and then dap the paste on your face just like you would a shaving cream or gel. Shave as usual. You may find that you prefer this solution to store-bought shaving cream, particularly if you have sensitive skin.
Baking soda also makes a good quick remedy for razor burn. Dab on the same baking soda solution and allow to sit for a few minutes, and then rinse off.
American Cancer Society. (n.d.). Mouth Sores or Sore Throat. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatments-and-side-effects/physical-side-effects/mouth-problems/mouth-sores.html
Colgate. (2018, March 20). Benefits of Alcohol-Free Mouthwash. Retrieved from https://www.colgate.com/en-us/oral-health/basics/selecting-dental-products/benefits-of-alcohol-free-mouthwash-1214