Baking Soda: Clean for the Environment, the Kitchen, the Bathroom, and You

alternative-cleaning-and-cosmetic-suppliesBaking Soda is an excellent alternative to most cleaning and hygienic products which contain toxic chemicals which are harmful to the people who use them as well as the environment. Concern about the damaging chemicals in cleaning and hygienic products has been recently justified by frightening revelations such as triclosan being found in dolphins and paraben being linked to cancerous tumors. 

Parabens are a man-made chemical preservative which is cheap to produce and can be found in almost all shampoos, moisturizers, gels, lubricants, toothpaste and food additives. Parabens are particularly dangerous to women, as they can mimic the hormone estrogen. Parabens have been found in tumors removed from breast cancer patients. It is likely that parabens also damage to reproductive systems of males, in the July 2002 Archives of Toxicology a study was published by Dr. S. Oishi of the Tokyo Metropolitan Research Laboratory of Public Health, which showed a causal relationship between parabens and adverse effects to the male reproductive system in newborn male mammals.

Triclosan is an antibacterial agent commonly found in cleaning products like dish detergent. A 2005 study published in Environmental Pollution documents how blood samples taken from bottlenose dolphins in South Carolina and Florida showed that an average of 27 percent of the animals from various locations in both states contained triclosan. The presence of triclosan signals that not only has the health of the dolphins been affected, but also the water has been contaminated. So every time we wash our hands, dishes, and clothes triclosan is entering the wastewater and residual remains of triclosan leak into rivers and estuaries despite the water treatment process.

Fortunately, baking soda, known scientifically as sodium bicarbonate, is a multifaceted, multipurpose substance, which can clean and deodorize your home and your body without damaging your health or the health of the environment. Baking soda regulates pH and when baking soda encounters either an overly acidic or overly alkaline-based substance baking soda’s natural reaction is to neutralize that pH. Beyond that, baking soda also acts as a buffer by preventing further changes in pH balance. Baking soda’s dual properties of buffering and neutralizing make it a sustainable product with many helpful uses.

In your home, baking soda can be used to clean the toilet, the walls, mirrors, countertops, and other surfaces. By using baking soda in your toilet you can improve the flow of your whole septic system. Baking soda removes grease from dishes, can dry wet furniture and carpet, remove scratches and marks from floors and walls, and can be combined with water to polish chrome and stainless steel. Baking soda can also clean appliances like microwaves and coffee pots and has the ability to clean and unclog your drains and stoves (it can unclog gas stoves!). Baking soda can also deodorize and clean your trashcan, cat’s liter box, cutting board, drain, dishwasher, lunch boxes, dishrags, ashtray, refrigerator, carpets, cars, footwear and even stuffed animals. You can even make fresh cut flowers last longer by adding a teaspoon of baking soda to the vase.

Baking soda is also incredibly helpful to aiding you in hygienic needs. For instance, you can apply baking soda to your underarms with a powder puff to act as deodorant, which cuts back on the use of harmful parabens and can prevent more plastic waste from being put in landfills. Baking soda can be used to make toothpaste when mixed with a half a teaspoon of peroxide paste. You can use baking soda to scrub your body and face. If you add it to a bath it will soften your skin. Baking soda can be used for fresh breath or canker sores if you gargle with it using a mixture of water. Baking soda can even be used to alleviate pain from insect bites, sunburn, diaper rash, poison ivy rashes, windburns, and jellyfish stings. If added to a vaporizer or humidifying, baking soda can relieve a stuffy nose.

Other helpful uses include washing vegetables and fruit with baking soda and water. If you are a hunter you can remove the gamey taste from your food using baking soda. If you sprinkle your tomato plants with a little baking soda it will sweeten the tomatoes produces. If you sprinkle soil in your garden with baking soda it will repel rabbits and can be used in your home as well to repel cockroaches and ants. If applied to a windshield it will repel rain.. You can even create modeling clay with baking soda by mixing it with 1 ¼ cup water and 1 cup cornstarch.

All of these helpful tips and more can be found at care2.com,where Melissa Breyer has compiled a through list, as well as on lifehackery.com. To encourage a stricter labeling process on items such as cosmetics that contain harmful toxins, sign this petition on ForceChange.com.

Photo credit: maine.gov/spo/recycle/images/clipart/hhw/vinegar.gif

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