When I grew up we always kept two boxes of baking soda in the kitchen. We kept one in the cupboard, to use in various recipes, and we kept one in the refrigerator, to absorb odors and keep it smelling fresh. These days, I keep a third box of baking soda in my laundry room.

Baking soda continues to amaze me with its versatility. Its natural cleaning and deodorizing properties, combined with its low price, make it a must for my laundry room. Want to learn more? Here's a list of tasks of uses for baking soda in the laundry room.

1. Deodorize Your Laundry

A front loading washing machine.

Baking soda is legendary for its natural deodorizing properties. Families have been keeping orange boxes of the stuff in our refrigerators for years to keep odors under control. Those same qualities make baking soda the perfect helpmate in your laundry room.

Let's face it, laundry doesn't always smell fresh, even after it's washed. Body odors, musty smells, and a host of unpleasant aromas can saturate the fibers. Sometimes your detergent needs an extra hand to remove them. This is where baking soda steps in.

The best part is how simple it is to use baking soda to deodorize your laundry. Just add half a cup of baking soda to your next smelly load. The powerful substance will work in tandem with your laundry detergent to break down the bacteria that cause odors and help keep your laundry smelling clean and fresh. For particularly pungent aromas like those gym clothes, add one cup of baking soda to your detergent per load.

2. Give Bleach A Boost

Freshly washed laundry hanging to dry in the sun.

If you wash whites, you know they get dingy over the course of time. Sometimes it happens so gradually you don't notice it until one day you look in the mirror and realize the white t-shirt you're wearing is actually grey.

I add a bleach to my whites once periodically to keep them looking crisp and bright, but I don't like the smell of bleach, nor do I like its impact on the environment.

Luckily I found out that baking soda balances the pH level in loads of laundry. This helps bleach break down bacteria and dirt more effectively. This means you can use less bleach if you add in baking soda.

The amount of bleach you normally use in your laundry probably varies according to the size of your load and how soiled the textiles are. If you substitute baking soda for half of the bleach, you'll have the same great results while avoiding some of the bleach smell and decreasing the environmental impact.

3. Naturally Soften Fabrics

A woman pulls a soft sweater over her face.

There's nothing like a soft, fluffy towel when you step out of the shower. But we all know our fabrics lose some of their softness after repeated washings and wearings. Enter baking soda. The little substance that could.

Add a half a cup of baking soda to your rinse cycle to soften fabrics. It works, once again, by regulating the pH levels in the water, rendering it less acidic. It also helps release residue from detergent from your clothes, which can build up and leave your fabrics feeling less soft. Best of all, baking soda is a fraction of the cost of the dryer sheets or liquid fabric softeners you buy in the stores, and it doesn't leave a weird, perfumed scent behind.

4. Clean Your Washing Machine

Vinegar and baking soda in a measuring cup.

Did you know it was important to clean your washing machine once every two months or so? To many people, this seems like an oxymoron. You bought your washing machine to wash things, why would it be the other way around?

Washing machines do require cleaning on a periodic basis to make sure they don't develop funky, musty, moldy smells that can transfer to your laundry. Luckily, it's easy to do. Just add ½ a cup of baking soda and ½ a cup of distilled white vinegar and run the empty washing machine on the hottest, longest cycle. When it's done, open the door immediately to allow the interior to dry. This will help chase away funk and mildew and keep your laundry fresh and clean.

5. Clean Your Iron

A green clothes iron.

The bottom of your iron doesn't always look like something you want to use on newly laundered clothes. Over time it gets coated with hard water deposits, starch, and burn marks. Let baking soda come to the rescue! Make a little bit of paste of equal parts baking soda and water and use it gently scrub the bottom of your iron so it's shiny and clean. Be sure to wipe away all the paste with a damp cloth and dry the iron thoroughly before you put in into use again.

There you have it. A round-up of all the reasons baking soda is your laundry rooms best friend. Now, if we could only teach those little orange boxes to fold clothes, we'd really be on to something...

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