If you’re anything like me, you buy a big box of baking soda when it’s on sale and end up having lots leftover after it has expired. But even though it may not be fresh enough to bake with anymore, your money isn’t all wasted. I found 11 smart ways to use expired baking soda around the house, from play dough recipes to bug repellent.
Yes, really! Check them all out below.
Before we get to the many ways you can use your expired baking soda, here’s a pro tip on how to tell if your baking soda is still fresh: Start by adding a 1/2 teaspoon of white vinegar to one cup of hot water. Then, once that’s mixed, stir in a 1/2 teaspoon of your baking soda. If it bubbles up like a kid’s science experiment, it’s still fresh. Otherwise, it’s kaput and time to put it to use in one of these clever ways.
By the way, you can use fresh baking soda for all of these uses, too, but the point is that expired will still work for these jobs. Another pro tip is to consider buying baking soda in bulk. It saves money in the long run, and having an extra box or two on the pantry shelf is always a good thing.
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1. Clean your oven, pots, and pans. Mix a 1/2 cup of baking soda with a few tablespoons of water to create a cleaning paste that you can use to scrub off cooked-on stains. Be careful, though, and consider using this just on stainless steel like these stainless pans from All-Clad since the mixture it is surprisingly abrasive. I’d personally use a gentler formula on my ceramic and non-stick cookware.
2. Clean your drains. Run really hot water down your kitchen sink, then slowly pour 1 cup of baking soda followed by 1 cup of lemon juice down the drain. Finally, run your disposal (if you have one) to clear it — and all the built-up junk — out.
3. Deodorize your refrigerator. Your grandma probably taught you this one, but just in case: Set an open box of baking soda in your fridge, and it will absorb any stinky odors that build up in there. We’ve been doing this for years, and it really does work, even with the baking soda has expired.
4. Soften your skin with a bath soak. You know all of that free time you have to take a long, relaxing bath? Well, while you’re in there, add 1 cup of baking soda to the bath water to soften your skin. Or perhaps more realistic: Add some baking soda to your baby’s bath water. It also helps with diaper rash.
5. Make a DIY decongestant. If cold season has you all stuffy, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to your vaporizer. Some claim that it works as a decongestant while you sleep overnight.
6. Soften stiff paint brushes. If you’re in the middle of a DIY project around the house, but your paint brushes have gotten too stiff to use, you’re not out of luck. Boil the brushes in a half gallon of water combined with 1/4 cup of white vinegar and one cup of baking soda to loosen and clean them up.
7. Whip up a DIY bug repellent. If you have an ant infestation in your kitchen (hand, raised), try putting an open container of baking soda near where bugs enter your house. They don’t like baking soda, so they’ll turn around and head right back out. Or so say the experts.
Photo: Annie Spratt via Unsplash
8. Use as a homemade laundry freshener. Soak cloth diapers, baby bibs, or anything else stained and stinky in water and baking soda before washing. It will loosen the stains and freshen up those dingy items. The amount doesn’t have to be exact: About a 1/2 cup of baking soda in a sink full of water should do the trick.
9. Make DIY play dough. Cook 2 cups of baking soda, 1 cup of cornstarch, and a 1/4 cup of water in a small pot set over medium heat. Once the mixture starts to look like mashed potatoes, remove the pot from the heat and cover with a damp cloth until cool. Once you can comfortably touch the mixture, knead it on surface that has been generously sprinkled with cornstarch. Add some food coloring, if you like, and viola, a DIY, kid-safe play dough will take form.
10. Freshen up carpet or upholstery. Sprinkle baking soda on your fabrics or carpet before vacuuming to help reduce pet (and kid!) odors. And, honestly, I’m not sure which one is worse. Ha!
11. Brighten your toilets. Got toilet envy? Just kidding: That’s not a thing and let’s not make it one! But if you do want cleaner johns, add 1 cup of baking soda to your toilet bowl, let it sit for an hour (at least), then flush. It will brighten your ceramic and absorb any — ahem — odors.
Top photo: @armandhammer