April 8, 2014 at 7:45 PM ET
Strange, but true: Baking soda is the starting point for some smart budget beauty and style tricks. Read how that lonely yellow box in the back of the refrigerator is the shocking statement piece of the season.
FACE SCRUB: A paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water makes a gentle, unscented facial scrub.
SHAMPOO BOOSTER: Pour your usual amount of shampoo into your palm and add a pinch of baking soda to deep-clean your hair and remove product residue.
SUNBURN SOOTHER: Soak a washcloth in a solution of four tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in one quart of water, and apply it to the sunburned area.
TOOTHPASTE: Mix baking soda and hydrogen peroxide to make your own toothpaste, or brush with baking soda alone for a quick whitening boost.
MOSQUITO BITE SOOTHER: Make a paste out of baking soda and water and apply to your bites to calm irritation.
MOUTHWASH: Dilute a teaspoon of baking soda in a small glass of water, and use it as a non-alcohol-based alternative.
EXFOLIATING BODY WASH: Fill a sealable container halfway with baking soda, then add 10-15 drops of an essential oil and add water until you reach your desired consistency.
DEODORANT: Skip the harsh chemicals and use your fingers or a powder puff to apply baking soda lightly to your underarms.
HAND SOFTENER: Add 3 parts baking soda to 1 part gentle liquid hand soap to gently smooth your skin.
COOKING ODOR REMOVER: If you’ve been handling fish or chopping garlic, a paste of baking soda and water will neutralize the smell on your hands.
FOOT SCRUB: Fill a tub with warm water and dissolve 3 tablespoons of baking soda, then use a pumice stone to scrub.
MANI/PEDI: Dip your nail brush in baking soda to clean your nails and remove discolorations from old polish, as well as soften your cuticles.
DANDRUFF FIGHTER: Massage baking soda into the roots of your hair instead of shampooing for a couple of weeks to remove flakes and clean your scalp.
COMB CLEANER: Just like your hair, your hairbrush gets coated with oil and product buildup—cover them in a bowl of warm water and add a teaspoon or two of baking soda to clean, and rinse before using.
DRY SHAMPOO: Sprinkle baking soda a little bit at a time (too much and your hair will look white) and comb through to absorb oils.
RAZOR BURN CALMER: Add two tablespoons of baking soda to one cup of water and wipe onto legs to soothe irritation.
DETOX BATH: While you’re running a hot bath, add a half-cup of Epsom salts and a half-cup of baking soda to draw out toxins while you soak.
FOAMING BATH: Fill a Tupperware container with two and a half cups of baking soda, two cups cream of tartar, and a half a cup of cornstarch, and mix well, then add ¼ cup to your bath.
ITCH FIGHTER: Pour a cup of baking soda and one and ¼ cups baby oil into your bathwater during the winter months.
BABY BATH: Two tablespoons of baking soda in your baby’s bathwater will help get rid of diaper rash.
WINDBURN FIGHTER: Whether you’re snowboarding or jetskiing, paste of 3 parts baking soda to 1 part water will soothe redness and irritation.
JEWELRY CLEANER: Baking soda is a great fix for cleaning any jewelry without gemstones. For tarnished silver, apply a thick paste with 1/4 cup baking soda and two tablespoons water with a damp sponge and rub gently, then rinse and dry. For gold, cover the jewelry with a light coating of baking soda, and pour a little vinegar over it, then rinse clean.
FABRIC BRIGHTENER: Add one cup of baking soda to any load of laundry along with your regular detergent to boost cleaning power.
SHOE DEODORIZER Sprinkling baking soda onto leather shoes (like you would with tennis shoes) can harm the material, so fill the toe of a sock or a coffee filter with baking soda and leave in your shoes overnight to absorb odors.
DRAWER FRESHENER: Keep your pretty lacy things smelling fresh by sprinkling baking soda into your drawers, then cover with a paper drawer liner.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.