Baking soda—aka sodium bicarbonate, if you want to get scientific—is just one of those things that everyone should have because it is incredibly useful. In a concentrated paste, it’s a natural and powerful deep cleaner for your home [source]. Adding a few cups to a warm bath is a comforting and relaxing, health-boosting soak. Although it may not have the glitz and glamor (or the price tag) of many other ingredients in the marketplace, baking soda might just top the charts for the most versatile beauty ingredient.
Don’t get baking soda mixed up with baking powder. While they are similar, baking powder isn’t going to give you the results that you’re looking for. Baking powders usually have weak acids in them, but we need our baking soda to be 100% basic (on the pH scale, obvi), coming from sodium bicarbonate.
The reason baking soda works so well is because it’s alkaline and, when combined with water, makes the water slightly more alkaline too. As soon as you add baking soda to water, you can feel the difference—the water seems a little more silky, without feeling outright slippery on your skin. Adding baking soda to your bath can reduce skin irritation and itching, and also provide detoxifying benefits.
You can add up to 2 cups of baking soda to your bathtub for the perfect soak, but feel free to adjust this to your preferences. You can also do a couple things to totally prep your body to make the most of the bath, too.
If you’re not hopping into the tub to sort out your skin issues (further details on this below), you’ll want to use a dry brush all over your body before getting in. Dry brushing helps get rid of any dead skin cells, so you can get the most detoxifying and purifying benefits out of your bath. Make sure to always brush in the direction of your heart to boost circulation, too.
There’s no reason that you shouldn’t light a few candles, put on some tunes, and make it a super blissful experience, either! If you’re a fan of bath bombs but find the added fragrance and color just too much for your skin, baking soda is a great alternative (plus, it’s actually good for you!)
Want to know exactly what baking soda can do for you when added to a warm bath? Here are my top 8 reasons why you should be doing a baking soda soak on the regular.
8 Reasons to Add Baking Soda to Your Next Bath
1. Soothes Eczema
Eczema is an incredibly common skin condition. Only eczema sufferers know how itchy and horribly uncomfortable it can be (including me!) Studies have found that frequent baking soda baths can help to relieve the itching that is so often severe with eczema [source].
Eczema is often coined “the itch that rashes,” so controlling the itch is key to soothing flare-ups and healing your skin. When it comes to using baking soda baths to treat eczema, it’s super important that you use lukewarm rather than steaming hot water, which can dry and damage your skin further.
2. Detoxify Your Body
If you’re feeling sluggish and under the weather for no obvious reason, you might just need a detox bath to perk you up again. Baking soda is amazing for cleansing and detoxifying your whole body, boosting your immune system and eliminating any toxin build-up [source].
Drawing impurities and toxins out of the skin while softening at the same time—is there anything baking soda can’t do?!
3. Sore Muscle Relief
Combined with another must-have for everyone’s medicine cabinet, Epsom salts, aka magnesium sulfate, and baking soda is a perfect combination for soothing sore muscles after a gym sesh [source]. Recovery is key to making good progress with your workout routine—so be sure to do a therapeutic muscle soak at least once a week.
4. Calm Hives
If you’ve ever had hives, you know that the need to scratch is something terrible. The skin gets raised, raw, and red, and there’s not a lot you can do short of applying steroid creams. If you have already seen your doctor, and want to help calm it down, try taking a cool bath with a little baking soda sprinkled in [source]. Stay in for about 10–15 minutes and then gently blot the skin dry with a towel when you get out of the tub.
5. Stop Poison Ivy
If you’ve accidentally grabbed some poison ivy or poison oak leaves, baking soda is a perfect natural remedy [source]. A few cups added to a warm bath will help relieve the itching. Or, for a more concentrated treatment, a paste of water and baking soda can be directly applied to the skin.
6. Odor Eliminator
Sometimes that body odor just gets to you, doesn’t it? When you’ve been ill, or are fighting a hangover, the detoxification process your body goes through can be overwhelming, especially when you feel like you can’t get rid of that lingering smell coming out of your pores.
Long known for its ability to absorb odors in refrigerators, kitchen waste, and even rooms, baking soda is a perfect addition to your cleansing bath to lift and clear them out, leaving you feeling clean and refreshed without the use of masking perfumes [source].
7. Help Fight Skin Fungus
Baking soda has unique anti-fungal properties that could help resolve skin or nail fungus issues. The fungus will sometimes show itself as a discolored nail (girl, I hope you didn’t go to a sketchy nail salon!) or an odd rash.
Along with using the medication your doctor prescribes, having regular soaks in a baking soda bath can inhibit growth of the fungus and get your skin back to normal [source].
8. Diaper Rash
Baking soda baths aren’t just for adults—they are safe enough for babies’ skin, too. Adding a few teaspoons to a baby’s bath can help soothe and heal their sensitive skin from diaper rash—totally naturally [source].
Dry brush your skin before the bath, vigorously (but not abrasively) brushing in upward motions to prepare skin. Pour the baking soda mixture into your bath while running warm water, and enjoy a nice soak!
After say, 40 minutes or so, you should be feeling great and will have gotten the most benefits out of your baking soda bath.
When you’re ready to get out, don’t forget to give yourself a super thorough rinse. This makes sure there’s nothing lingering on your skin before you go ahead with your regular moisturizing routine. You will be feeling super relaxed, and your skin should feel amazing – all thanks to baking soda!
Baking Soda Bath Soak
- Mix the baking soda and Epsom salt together in a bowl and add the essential oils. The oils will be absorbed into the baking soda and salt, as opposed to sitting on top of the water in your bath.
- Add to a warm bath, and soak for 20–40 minutes.
- Can repeat up to twice a week.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified pediatrician who has been practicing for more than 20 years. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical review board here. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.
Photos by Ana Stanciu671