Uses for Baking Soda: Outdoors Activities

By: Christine Halvorson

Baking soda's versatility makes it one of the best items to place in a backpack, boat, trunk, or garage. Closer to home, it can clean your screens and aluminum siding and keep your garden green and thriving. In this article, you will find many uses for baking soda in outdoors activities. Let's start with lawn and garden care.

Acidity test for soil: To test the acidity level of your garden soil, add a pinch of baking soda to 1 tablespoon of soil. If it fizzes, the soil's pH level is probably less than 5.0. Flower species that prefer alkaline soil such as geranium, begonia, and hydrangea should be watered occasionally with a weak baking-soda and water solution.


Sprinkle baking soda lightly around your tomato plants. This will sweeten the tomatoes by lowering their acidity.

Raise alkalinity in potted plant soil:Carnations, mums, and petunias prefer neutral soil. To raise potting soil alkalinity, apply some baking soda but use it sparingly.

Flowers and planting pots: Coat clay pots with a thin layer of baking soda when transplanting plants but before adding the soil. This helps keep the dirt fresh. If you have cut flowers, dip them in a solution of baking soda and water to lengthen their life.


On the Deck

Oily stains on the deck wood from the grill or suntan lotion can be absorbed by sprinkling with baking soda and letting it sit for 1 hour. Repeat the step if necessary.

Patio furniture: Clean lawn furniture at the start of the season with a solution of 1/4 cup of baking soda in 1 quart of warm water. Wipe the furniture down with the solution then rinse it off.


Pool toys: Remove mildew odors from plastic and vinyl pool toys with 1/4 cup of baking soda in 1 quart warm water.

Grill cleaning and safety: Loosen burned-on foods from barbecue grill racks by enclosing the racks in a large plastic bag. Mix 1 cup of baking soda and 1/2 cup of ammonia, and pour it over the racks. Close the bag, and let it sit overnight.

Control the flames when fat drips on coals by keeping a spray bottle filled with 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 1 pint of water. Spray the solution lightly onto the coals when flames shoot up.


On the Open Road

Take baking soda with you as you travel on the road. It doesn't take up much room and can come in handy in a variey to ways.

RV or boat holding tank: To dissolve solids and control the odor in toilets of recreational vehicles and boats, pour a small box of baking soda into the tank after each cleaning.


RV water tank: Deodorize and help remove the mineral deposits in an RV water tank by flushing periodically with 1 cup of baking soda in 1 gallon of warm water. Drain it, then flush the tank before refilling.

Fishing tricks: Keep fish hooks from rusting between fishing trips by sticking them in a cork and submerging the cork in baking soda. Add baking soda to the hollow fishing lures to give them spin in the water.


Cleaning Out the Garage

You can refresh musty old magazines found in cellars or garages if the pages aren't stuck together. Lay the magazines out in the sun for a day. Then sprinkle baking soda on the pages, and let sit for an hour or so. Brush off the baking soda.

Battery terminals: Neutralize acid from leaking batteries by applying baking soda to the spill. One pound of soda will neutralize 1 pint of acid.


Garage floors: Mix equal parts of baking soda and cornmeal to sprinkle on light oil spills in the garage. Let it dry, then sweep or vacuum the material away. For tougher spots on the floors, sprinkle on baking soda, let it stand, and then scrub away with a wet brush.


Home Maintenance

The outside of your home can always use sprucing up. Baking soda can be a solid companion in those tasks.

Screens: Dip a damp wire brush into baking soda, and scrub the door and window screens clean, then rinse with a sponge or hose.

Painting: Soak brushes in a warm baking-soda solution to remove paint thinner. Revive hardened paintbrush bristles by boiling them in 1/2 gallon of water, 1 cup of baking soda, and 1/4 cup of vinegar.

©Publications International, Ltd.