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Baking soda is one of the most versatile items in your home. It can clean, brighten, freshen and substitute for other common cleaning products in a pinch.

First published May 18, 2016.
Update, April 26, 2018: Added more tips.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Alina Bradford/CNET
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​Get your fridge fresh

You've probably seen the commercials that recommend putting an open box of baking soda in your fridge to absorb odors. It's true! Here's why baking soda works and why your fridge probably stinks in the first place.

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​Make cut flowers last longer

Bouquets typically last only a few days, but you can make them last a day or two longer by sprinkling 1 teaspoon of baking soda and a pinch of salt into the vase when filling it with water. The mixture feeds the flowers, keeping them fresh for longer.

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Get dust off your plush friends

If you have some stuffed animals that can't be put in the washer, throw them in a garbage bag with 1 cup of baking soda. Hold the bag closed and shake for 90 seconds. The baking soda will remove dirt from the plushies and will nix smells.

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​Give your silver a shine

Has your best ring lost its sheen? With just some aluminum foil, dish detergent and some baking soda you can remove tarnish from silverware and jewelry. Here's the recipe for making silver polish with baking soda.

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Carpet freshener

Carpets can get a strange smell from time to time. To freshen things up, mix 1 cup of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of ground cinnamon. Sprinkle the mixture on your carpet. 

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Finish for freshness

Let the baking soda mixture sit for 30 minutes and then vacuum.  Want to add a new scent? Add a couple drops of essential oil to the baking soda instead of cinnamon.   

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​Sprinkle on tinkles

If burning your bed isn't an option after your pet sprays the mattress, don't give up hope. Baking soda will work when nothing else will to get rid of that awful smell.

Clean up where your pet sprayed, let the area dry, then sprinkle the mattress with a liberal amount of baking soda. You can sleep on the mattress while the baking soda goes to work by covering your mattress with a fitted sheet. Let the baking soda sit for around three days and then vacuum it up. Your mattress will smell fresh and clean again.

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Another remedy for animal smells

Baking soda spray is fantastic for getting rid of pet smells in fabrics and carpets, too. Mix half a cup of baking soda with four cups of warm water and pour it in a spray bottle. Clean the soiled area and then spritz it with the spray. Let the area dry. The smell will be completely gone in a couple of days.  

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Scrubbing with soda

Baking soda and a mist of water can get rid of tough soap scum in the bathroom. Spray the sink or tub with water, then dust it with baking soda. Use a sponge or cleaning cloth to scrub and rinse.  

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Works for smelly shoes, too

Dust the inside of your shoes with baking soda and let them sit overnight to get rid of smells. Just don't forget to shake them out before you wear them.

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​Defunk the dishwasher

If your dishwasher is a bit rank, sprinkle baking soda on the bottom of the washer, let it sit overnight and then run a normal load while the dishwasher is empty. It'll smell like new again. Here are some more dishwasher cleaning tips.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Tyler Lizenby/CNET
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​Unclog a drain

My colleague Taylor Martin has a temporary fix for a slow drain. He recommends pouring 4 ounces (113 grams) of baking soda in the drain, then half a cup (118 milliliters) of distilled vinegar and place the drain cover in the drain. Let sit for 15 to 20 minutes. Rinse the drain with several cups of boiling water.  

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Clean your oven

Baking soda and vinegar are a dynamo pair for household cleaning. Here are step-by-step instructions on cleaning your oven with the two without chemicals.  

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​Make cleaning your microwave a breeze

If your microwave looks like a hotel room after a rock band stayed the night, you need a little baking soda magic. Put a heaping tablespoon of baking soda in a bowl of water. Place the bowl inside your microwave and run it on high for 3 minutes. The gunk stuck inside of the microwave should just wipe off.

Bonus tip: Add a slice of lemon or some lemon juice to the water before you nuke it to make your microwave smell great, too.

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​Soak up car messes

Don't you wish they made diapers for cars? Until that happens, you can soak up oil and grease puddles in your garage using baking soda. Cover the spot with a liberal amount of baking soda, let it sit for around 10 minutes and scrub the area with a damp brush.

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​Remove crayon from walls

If the budding artist in your family decided to turn your walls into their canvas, don't ground them for life. Instead, sprinkle some baking soda on a damp sponge and rub it on the crayon masterpiece. Once the drawing has faded away, rinse the area with a clean, damp rag.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Alina Bradford/CNET
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Make your own dishwasher detergent

Baking soda makes a good dishwasher detergent when you don't feel like running to the store. Just mix dishwashing liquid and baking soda for shiny dishes. Here's the recipe for homemade dishwasher detergent.   

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Laundry soap alternative

Baking soda works as a laundry soap alternative, too. It's also super simple. Just throw one cup of baking soda into the load. Everything will come out fresh and clean. This is a great fix for people who are allergic to regular detergent.    

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Spiff up your furniture

Make a thick paste of water and baking soda. Spot test it on a less noticeable area. If the mixture works OK with the fabric (it doesn't stain or discolor it), use the paste to lift dark spots out of the seat cushion and neck area of the chair. Just rub it in, let it sit for a few minutes and dab off with a damp cloth.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Alina Bradford/CNET
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Wash produce with baking soda

Skip fancy produce washes. You can get a good clean with a 1 percent baking soda and water solution. In fact, a study by the University of Massachusetts at Amherst found that the mixture was more effective at removing pesticides than commercial cleaners.  

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Remove stains from plastic

If your plastic containers have stains from your famous spaghetti sauce or chili recipe, mix a quarter cup of baking soda and a quart (just under a liter) of warm water in your sink and let the container soak. Then, clean like normal. 

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Combo with coconut oil

Black marks, scuffs and dried paint come off of most floors with a mixture of 1 part coconut oil and one part baking soda.   

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Keep kids happy

Baking soda can even solve rainy days with the kids. You can use it and a few other common household items to make borax-free slime.  

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Scrub tough pans

Get rid of gunky pans with this simple solution: Sprinkle a layer of baking soda gunk, then a layer of sea salt. Finish up by spritzing on a layer of vinegar. Let the pan soak for about 10 minutes and scrub clean with a sponge. Here are some more pan-cleaning techniques.

Updated:Caption:Photo:Alina Bradford/CNET
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Tabletops and toothpaste

Water rings on tabletops are no match for a toothpaste that contains baking soda. Gently rub the area with a pea-sized dab of toothpaste and a damp, soft cloth.

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