A Re-Examined Life

Canberra girl’s mission to live a more natural, sustainable life.


1 Billion uses for Bicarb (make it from scratch – laundry detergent recipe)

bicarb soda - laundry detergent recipe

If there are a million uses for citrus peel, then there are undoubtedly 1 billion uses for bicarb.  Recently I borrowed a fabulous little book from my local Library called “The Miracle of Bicarbonate Soda, practical tips for health and home”, which contains around 100 pages of things you can do with bicarb.

You may think that calling bicarb a miracle is going over the top.  But not as far as I am concerned.  The 3rd definition for the word miracle, as listed on Dictionary.com (my favourite online dictionary) is, “A wonder; marvel”, and that is exactly what it is.

Here is a list of all the things I am currently using bicarb for:

I clean my toilet and bathroom with it by mixing it with my homemade citrus cleaner to make a cleaning paste.

I clean my oven with it by mixing it with vinegar, again into a paste, and leaving overnight.  (Sadly bicarb is not so miraculous that you wake up in the morning to a clean oven, you will need to apply some elbow grease and give it a good rinse)

I use it to clean my teeth.   I haven’t gone to the straight out bicarb on the teeth thing just yet, (yes I fully intend to give it a go) but I am using a shop-bought toothpaste that has bicarb in it.

I make my own laundry powder with it (see recipe below).

I deoderise my rubbish bin with it by sprinkling some on the bottom of my bin, it helps to reduce odours.

I deoderise my armpits with it by mixing it with coconut oil and cornflour.

I regularly bake with it.

I make a face/body scrub by mixing equal parts of bicarb and honey with a bit of water.   Skin feels amazing after using this scrub.

I unblock my regularly-getting-blocked-up-sink with it.  Pour 1 cup of bicarb into the blocked sink, followed by 1 cup of vinegar.  This will create a bicarb foaming frenzy, put the plug in on top of the bicarb eruption and let it sit for about 5 minutes and then pour boiling hot water down the drain.   If drain blockage is still occurring, repeat until drain blockage is gone.

I have recently removed a splinter with it.  A more obscure use for bicarb that I found whilst searching on google for the best way to remove a splinter, is to make a paste with bicarb and water and put it on the skin where the splinter is and cover with a band-aid.  Leave it for 12 -24 hours, after which the splinter will hopefully have removed itself.  If it  hasn’t come out, repeat.

(A note for anyone who is new to using bicarb for things other than cooking.  As mentioned above, when mixing bicarb with any kind of vinegar, and sometimes other liquids, it will foam like crazy.  Very cool, but potentially disastrously messy.  Be sure to mix in a container that is big enough to handle the foam.)

Some other more obscure uses for bicarb soda that might come in handy for you one day:

Putting out fires –  apparently you will find bicarb in certain types of fire extinguishers, and if you find yourself in the position of needing to put out a fire ,but with you don’t have a fire extinguisher,  chuck some bicarb on it.

To treat a jellyfish sting –  apparently by mixing bicarb with a couple of other regular house hold ingredients,  vinegar and meat tenderiser you can create a concoction to help treat the reaction to jellyfish venom.  (I have just confirmed that this does not mean you should start hitting the infected area with a meat cleaver, but there is a powder you can buy for the purpose of tenderising your meat. It sounds fairly gross and, in my opinion, should probably only ever be used for treating jellyfish stings)

And lastly my favourite, to make invisible ink (because I know you wish you had some)-  mix some bicarb with some water to create the ink, write/paint with it and let it dry.   To see the secret message, heat the paper by holding it over a light globe and the writing should display.

If you are looking for more things you can use bicarb for, check out 75 extraordinary uses for baking soda (a.k.a bicarb) on the Lifehackery website.

Now to my laundry detergent recipe, which I have been using for almost a year now, and because I am making it, you know it’s going to be easy.


As you can see, I keep mine in an old frozen yoghurt container and use an old kids plastic spoon to get it into the washing machine.

Laundry Detergent Recipe


Adapted from Readers Digest book “Homemade”.

2 cups of bicarb soda

2 cups of soap flakes

1 cup of washing soda

1 cup of borax

What to do

Combine all ingredients into a container and give it a good mix. That’s it.

Some recipes say to use a food processor, but I don’t bother.   I  use around 2 tablespoons for each load and just chuck it in, directly under the running water,  I was in cold water and it dissolves fine.

Washing soda and borax are both available in the cleaning aisle of the major supermarkets.   For the soap flakes I buy bars of natural soap (be very wary about anything labelled “natural soap”) whenever i see them and grate them with a cheese grater.  I wish cheese was as easy to grate as soap.

With each wash I fill my fabric softener dispenser with vinegar to replace the fabric softener.   I was very skeptical about this one when I started, but it genuinely works and my clothes never smell like vinegar.  You can also add some essential oils to the vinegar to make your clothes smell nicer.  In my experience you need a very strong essential oil scent, I find lemon myrtle and eucalyptus work well.

Just a note on borax.  When I first started looking into washing powder recipes I decided against using borax as the environmental working Group in America suggest it is not a good option.  But after doing some additional reading, including the David Suzuki foundation and Crunchy Betty (both of whom’s opinions I respect)  I have decided to use it.  If you prefer not to use borax you can leave it out of this recipe (although I found that without the borax that it didn’t clean as well), or David Suzuki has a recipe you might want to try.