When soap scum builds up, or we get a nasty whiff from the toilet bowl; most of us reach for the strong toxic cleaners but wait, there are better options. Natural cleaners can be both cheaper and better for the environment, and nothing can fill those two roles better than bicarbonate of soda. Read, 16 cleaning uses for bicarbonate of soda in the bathroom; to learn how to keep your family safe whilst keeping your bathroom squeaky clean.
A Word Of Caution
I would advise that, as with all cleaning products and solutions that you test out the product on a small inconspicuous area first. I make all the following suggestions in good faith. However, due to the vast amounts of materials; conditions and surfaces available, I cannot be held responsible for any unforeseen adverse effects.
Bicarbonate of soda is a weak basic (alkaline), with a PH score of 8 and a chemical formula of NaHCO3. The Environmental Working Group score it an “A” on its scale, so it passes with flying colors; making it safe and non-toxic when handled correctly.
The powder when in dust form however can be an irritant to the eyes.
Cleaning Bathroom Tiles And Grouting
Many online recipes call for baking soda and vinegar to be mixed together when cleaning grout. However, in my opinion, you should steer well clear of these recipes. This combination creates a reaction that looks fun, but ultimately; will cancel out the effective cleaning power of both of these ingredients.
The “fun” reaction that you see, is actually just the baking soda neutralizing the acetic acid in the vinegar. Now in some cases, the resulting bubbles may lift some dirt however, the final mix only cleans marginally better than just plain water.
A more effective, non-toxic, non-grout damaging substitute for vinegar is hydrogen peroxide. However, please follow the instructions carefully if you wish to achieve the desired outcome.
Read, 5 things you should never mix with vinegar when cleaning; to find out more about how vinegar damages grout.
So what are my favorite recipes?
Wall Grout Ingredients: 1/2 cup of bicarbonate of soda, 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide, 1 tsp maximum of dish soap (optional).
Directions: Mix together the bicarbonate of soda, hydrogen peroxide, and dish soap (optional). Rub the mixture onto the grout and leave to sit for 10 – 15 minutes then scrub and rinse.
This is the equivalent of letting dirty dishes soak for a while to let the soap penetrate the grease. however, using too much dish soap will clog the mixture. Effectively making the mixture gloopy and completely useless.
Unsealed grout is very porous. It is for this reason that dirt, grime and mold will fix into the pores. However this is what our non-toxic, sustainable mixture will be attacking.
In order to remove the trapped dirt, you should ideally use a small soft brush or toothbrush to gently scrub the tile/grout. This action may remove some loose grout so be gentle, let the mixture do the work; not the elbow.
Once scrubbed use a cloth and warm water to wipe and rinse away the mixture which will leave everything sparkling.
Dad’s tip: Don’t spray down the grout with vinegar. It will eventually dissolve the grout and leave it vulnerable.
Hydrogen peroxide is a 100% natural alternative to bleach that whitens and kills bacteria on contact. It is a safer, non-toxic product that will simply decompose into water and oxygen. This makes it very kind to the environment and an absolute favorite of mine.
Dad’s tip – Using too much dish soap will clog the mixture making it gloopy and useless.
Floor Tiles And Grouting
Floor grout is vulnerable to an increased dirt flow, and therefore should be cleaned on a more frequent basis. Please follow the recipe below remembering the rules on natural stones such as granite.
Please read the section covering, “what you shouldn’t clean with bicarbonate of soda.” This can be found in the beginning section of, 35 uses for bicarbonate of soda in the kitchen.
Floor Grout Ingredients: 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup hydrogen peroxide
Directions: Firstly, sprinkle baking soda onto the floor grout then spray with hydrogen peroxide until wet. Wait for approximately 15 minutes then gently scrub with a soft brush. Secondly, use warm water and a mop together with a little dish soap to mop the floor clean of all products. Thirdly, when almost dry take a dry cloth and buff up the floor tiles to a brilliant shine.
Cleaning Chrome Taps And Accessories
Chromium, (chrome); is a very soft metal that is commonly used as a thin protective coating on bathroom taps and accessories.
Because it is so soft, you will rarely find anything that is made entirely of solid chrome.
Chances are that it will be just an extremely thin layer of chromium that was applied through electroplating.
The problem is that, whilst can last for years, it doesn’t take long for it to get dirty, stained; and dull looking. Therefore as you will need to clean chrome frequently, it is important to know how to clean it without damaging it.
One of the best ways to clean your taps and accessories is with our favorite cleaning combination. Soap; water, a soft cloth; soft to medium toothbrush, and some elbow grease. For those tougher stains and especially where the tap meets the basin a repeated applications may be needed.
Chrome Tap and accessories Ingredients: Bicarbonate of soda, water, liquid soap.
Directions: Add a small amount of water to the bicarbonate of soda in order to make a light creamy paste. Next, add a few drops of liquid soap to the mixture and spread the mixture over the chrome with a soft cloth.
Leave this mixture to work for about 10 minutes, then using a soft toothbrush, very gently scrub any harshly stained areas. All other areas should only need to be gently rubbed over with a soft cloth.
Finally, rinse away the mixture with a clean cloth, dry and buff to a shine.
Dad’s tip – Hard water can leave mineral deposits, so for a final rinse use distilled water or club soda to avoid water stains.
Hard Water Stain Removal
Lemon is also a great way to dissolve hard water stains.
Hard water stain remover ingredients: 1 Lemon, Bicarbonate of Soda, Distilled water
Directions: Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice onto a cloth until soaked. Next, rub the stain all over and leave to “sit” on the stain for about 30 minutes.
If the staining is particularly bad, secure the cloth to the item with an elastic band and leave to work for one hour.
Once the time has elapsed make a light paste with the bicarbonate of soda and water. Follow this by adding the paste to the lemon soaked cloth, and then rub this gently over the item to be cleaned.
Next, use a soft brush or toothbrush to scrub away at the stained area. Lastly, use a fresh cloth to rinse down the item with clean warm water and buff to a shine.
Dad’s tip – Cut a lemon in half, dip it into a bowl of bicarbonate of soda; and then directly apply it to light stains to speed up the process.
Preventing Damp In The Bathroom Cupboard
This is the home of cleaning cloths, bowls; dog shampoo, and all the leftover bottles of stuff you received as gifts over the years. Or in my house, the place for all the things I don’t want the wife to find!
However, this is the perfect environment for damp and mold to grow and spread into the rest of the bathroom. Prevent this from happening by simply leaving a tub, (or an open box); of bicarbonate of soda in the cupboard.
Refresh the box every couple of weeks by emptying out the top crusty layer to expose the dry powder, and thus extend its lifespan.
If the cupboard already suffers from mold then spray the area with undiluted distilled white vinegar. The vinegar will kill the mold spores and the distinctive vinegar smell will dissipate after a few days. Leave the vinegar to work for 10 – 30 minutes before wiping clean.
Alternatively wipe down the area with a cloth soaked in vinegar to kill and remove the mold spores.
Cleaning the Toilet Bowl
Porcelain toilet bowls can stain very easily from the mineral deposits within the water used to flush them. They can also stain from other materials so it is important to use cleaners that can provide a preventative action.
Bicarbonate of soda provides this protection and it is a good idea to use it in the cistern as well as the bowl.
The Chemical blocks that you put into the cistern can clog the flush and damage the rubber flapper.
It is also chemically dangerous to the environment so why use them?
It is far better to dump a half cup of bicarbonate of soda into the cistern, wait for one hour and then flush. Do this twice a month and you will be cleansing the entire system. Furthermore you will be extending the overall life of the flushing system.
Toilet bowl cleaner ingredients one: 1 cup of bicarbonate of soda
Directions: Sprinkle 1 cup of bicarbonate of soda into the bowl and give a quick scrub around with a toilet brush.
Leave the mixture to sit for an hour then scrub around once again to clean the bowl and flush.
If you are trying to eliminate limescale deposits leave the bicarbonate of soda to work overnight. Follow this by scrubbing and flushing in the morning.
Toilet cleaner ingredients two: 1 cup of bicarbonate of soda, 2 cups of distilled white vinegar. (half this mixture if the bowl is unstained).
Directions: This method is recommended to me but I don’t use it.
Firstly, sprinkle the bicarbonate of soda into the bowl and let it “sit” for about half an hour. Secondly, pour 2 cups of distilled white vinegar into the bowl, close the lid and leave for a further half an hour. Thirdly, scrub the bowl thoroughly with a toilet brush and flush.
Cleaning Shower Doors
Bicarbonate of soda has very mild abrasive qualities and therefore can etch into soft materials over time. For this reason, I always advise to scrub gently and not to use powerful elbow grease.
However, you can use bicarbonate of soda to clean glass, plastic; and chrome if you want to. In order to reduce the elbow grease required ,simply apply the mixture and let it “sit” for a while before rubbing.
Shower doors can be effectively cleaned by sprinkling bicarbonate of soda onto a wet cloth, or sponge. follow this by rubbing the mixture gently over the surface to be cleaned.
For particularly stubborn stains mix up a light paste of bicarbonate of soda and water, apply to the stain and let it sit for five minutes. Then return to the stain and rub gently until the stain is removed.
Glass shower doors and glass mirrors can show a white film of bicarbonate of soda once they are dry.
To prevent this simply spray a 50/50 mix of distilled white vinegar or lemon juice over the surface and wipe dry. Bicarbonate of soda however is very good at removing unsightly soap scum, toothpaste; and general dirt from these surfaces.
Bathrooms are largely damp environments and shower curtains tend to attract moisture. For these reasons they are prime targets for mold and mildew growth and should be cleaned regularly.
Light mold and mildew Ingredients: Bicarbonate of soda, water, distilled white vinegar
Directions: If your shower curtain only has a few drops of mold or mildew on them, then this can be removed with a light paste of bicarbonate of soda and water.
Apply the paste to the area to be treated and scrub gently until the stain is gone. Finally, spray down the area with neat distilled vinegar to prevent any mold regrowth.
Heavy mold and mildew ingredients: Bicarbonate of soda, washing detergent, distilled white vinegar, 2 bathmats
Firstly, wash the shower curtain in a washing machine with two bathmats on a low-temperature setting. Secondly, add one cup of bicarbonate of soda to the detergent during the wash cycle. Thirdly, add one cup of vinegar during the rinse cycle. Finally, allow the shower curtain to drip dry, and it should be stain-free.
It is important to put the washing machine through a further rinse cycle to clear the vinegar from the system.
This will prevent a mild acid from “sitting” on the rubber seals within the machine. The bathmats are included in the wash to provide a rubbing action to the shower curtain whilst in the wash.
Unclogging A Drain
Many people will tell you that the best combination for unblocking drains is bicarbonate of soda and vinegar, however, I believe this to be wrong.
There are many youtube videos and websites which combine these two elements together. However, frothing and fizzing is only the chemical creation of water and salt. (H2O) & (C2H3NaO2).
whilst this activity may dislodge something, all you are really getting is a mild soft scrub and some fizzing, not an effective cleaner. For a list of 23 effective cleaners please see follow this link to my post.
My favorite way to unblock a drain is this. Pour half a cup of bicarbonate of soda and a squeeze of liquid soap down the drain. Follow this up by probing the blockage with a flexible curtain rod or similar item. (Nothing sharp or stiff).
Follow this by pouring a kettle full of boiling water into the drain and leave to sit for 30 minutes. Once the blockage is cleared use a plunger and running hot water to clear the u bend trap.
Dad’s tip – Be gentle as excess force used on any drain can lead to permanent damage to your pipes and fixtures.
If however, you do want to use a combination of bicarbonate of soda and distilled white vinegar to unclog a drain; follow this recipe.
Dump half a cup of bicarbonate of soda into the drain followed by a half cup of distilled white vinegar.
Leave this mixture to “sit” for about 30 minutes and then pour down some very hot water. (leave bicarbonate of soda and vinegar overnight if required).
The Big Guns!
If you truly want to unblock a stubborn drain then washing soda, liquid soap; boiling water, and a plunger is a great combination. Just be sure to cover the overflow first so that the air pressure is not released.
Use a cup of washing soda, and a squirt of liquid soap to dissolve the grease and grime in the drain; then follow this up with some very hot water.
Washing soda is an even more powerful version of bicarbonate of soda and should only be handled with rubber gloves on.
Although non-toxic and easy on the environment, washing soda is a strong alkaline which is classed as an irritant, therefore you should not breathe in the dust. That being said, once it is dissolved in water it does not give off any toxic fumes.
Cleaning Bathroom Traps
If you have removable traps in the shower, washbasin; or bath, remove them along with the gunk that has collected within them. Secondly, mix up a solution of water and bicarbonate of soda in a container large enough to hold the units and drop them in.
(A solution of one part bicarb to 4 parts water should suffice).
Finally, leave the traps to soak overnight, then use hot water to rinse away the solution in the morning and replace them.
Bath And Washbasin
Baths and washbasins can scratch easily, so please use a soft cloth/sponge and a gentle scouring action when working on these items. Also due to the higher levels of soap scum and mineral deposits, its always a good idea to give these items a quick pre-wash before the real work begins.
Bath and washbasin Ingredients: 1/4 cup of bicarbonate of soda, 1/4 cup of dish soap; citrus essential oil, (optional).
Directions: Make up a light paste in a shallow bowl with all of the ingredients. Rinse the area to be cleaned so that it is damp as this will allow the mixture to cling to the sides easily.
Next, rub the mix all over the area to be cleaned and leave to “sit” for about 5 minutes.
After the time has elapsed, take the gentle abrasive part of the cloth/sponge and work the mixture all over the bath/basin. This should remove the grease, dirt, and soap scum. Follow this up by rinsing the bath/basin with warm water and rub dry.
The citrus oil will not only help to remove the soap scum but will add a nice fresh smell to the bathroom.
Dad’s tip – for heavy mineral stains add 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide to the mix and leave out the essential oil.
Quick Washbasin Cleaner
Sometimes you just need a quick clean and this recipe is perfect for that. As an added bonus it leaves the bathroom smelling fresh, clean and fragrant for the next user to walk into.
Ingredients: 4 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda, 1 teaspoon of liquid soap; 6 drops of essential oils.
Directions: Mix the bicarbonate of soda and liquid soap together to form a paste. You may need to adjust this slightly depending upon the density of the soap. Add 3 drops of orange plus 3 drops of lemon essential oil to the mixture, and stir until completely mixed together.
Next, dab a soft cloth or sponge into the mixture and rub around the washbasin. Apply light pressure to mild and stubborn stains.
Allow this mixture to “sit” for five minutes then simply rinse and rub away and give a light rinse.
Deodorize Body Scrunchies/Sponges
Scrunchies/sponges, left in the damp atmosphere of the bathroom can get very “gross” pretty quickly.
Not only do they look unsightly and start to smell but they are also a breeding ground for bacteria.
If you find yourself throwing them out more often than you’d like, there’s an easy way to make them last longer; and smell fresher.
Ingredients: 4 tablespoons of bicarbonate of soda, 1 litre of water
Directions: Drop the Scrunchies/sponges in the solution of bicarbonate of soda and water. Leave them to soak for about 10 to 15 minutes, or longer if heavily greased.
Once soaked you should rinse them thoroughly with warm water. Next, squeeze out the excess water and leave them to dry naturally. The offending smell will now be just a distant memory and your breeding ground for bacteria will be gone.
Just to be clear, even as a dad I know that you should replace your scrunchies/sponges regularly. They are a breeding ground for bacteria after all. However, this cleaning routine is extremely simple and can win you some brownie points in the; “keeping the wife happy department”.
Disinfecting Your Toothbrush
Your toothbrush picks up a lot of bacteria and food debris from your mouth. For this reason it is very important to keep it germ-free,clean and hygienic.
A simple way to do this is to mix 2 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda into 1 cup of water. Drop your toothbrush into this solution and let it soak for a while.
Dad’s tip – You can also use this solution as a totally organic mouth wash!
Cleaning The Kitchen Walls
You can remove crayon and ink marks from painted surfaces easily by following this method.
Apply a creamy paste of bicarbonate and water to a soft cloth, and then gently rub the mark until it has gone.
Once the task is completed rinse the area with hot water to remove the white residue.
Bicarbonate of soda is a natural deodorizer and will absorb and neutralize smells rather than just covering them up. It’s also completely non-toxic making it the ideal product to put down on any bathroom carpet. After all this is where your little ones will be running around naked so we need it to be as safe as possible.
Ingredients: Bicarbonate of soda
Directions: Simply shake the bicarbonate of soda directly onto the carpet from the box until all the carpet has a light dusting of the product. Then leave it for a minimum of 3 hours or overnight, (the longer the better); then vacuum up. The carpet odors will be neutralized and as an added bonus, any light staining will be lighter or may even have disappeared altogether.
To Deodorize a bathroom without carpets, simply tear off the lid of a box of bicarbonate of soda/baking soda; and place it in an open spot. The bicarbonate of soda will absorb the odors effectively for about six weeks, however; you will need to agitate the powder regularly.
Hairbrushes and combs can get full of grease, hair; dirt, grime; and bacteria and so should be cleaned and sanitized regularly. The more often this is done, the easier this cleaning task will become and the time that’s taken will become shorter.
I am all in favor of cleaning tasks taking a shorter time!
Ingredients: Tablespoons of bicarbonate of water, a small bowl of water, scissors, toothbrush.
Directions: Firstly, using the closed scissors to get under the trapped hair, pull the hair up and away from the brush to just above the bristles. Secondly, cut the raised hair on the brush then pull away most of the hair with your hands.
Thirdly, drop the hairbrushes/combs into the bowl of water and bicarbonate of soda mix.
During the soaking process the bicarbonate of soda will dissolve the grease and build up of hair lacquer.
This will also release the build-up of dirt, grime and fluff whilst sanitizing the items.
Once again the longer you leave these items to soak the more effective the mixture will be.
When you take them out of the water use the toothbrush to clean between the gaps and prise away any remaining hair. If the items are still holding clumps of hair then simply repeat the process from the beginning.
Yes, real men do clean the bathroom and do other housework chores.
Personally, I don’t get hung up on the small stuff and I like to clean in a man’s way. To me, if it’s comfortable, clean; and non-toxic safe for the family, then it’s clean enough.
That also means fast enough, and thorough enough; to do it just once. I never want to have to come back to it a day later.
For me then, bicarbonate of soda is a magical stuff and every house needs to have this on hand.
I am only giving a flavor of what can be achieved with bicarbonate of soda once the box is opened. It really is that good.
Remember though that it begins to lose its effectiveness and is almost inert after 60 days, so use it wisely and restock it often.
Can you think of more cleaning uses for bicarbonate of soda in the bathroom?
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Mark Aspland is a proud father of two boys, would be amateur actor and green living enthusiast. He has been sharing hints, tips and sustainable living content on his website Sustainability Dad since august 2019.
He now has an army of followers who are like hearted individuals passionate about the environment and how to affect positive change through peaceful action.