Bicarbonate of Soda

“Chemicals have replaced bacteria and viruses as the main threat to health. The diseases we are beginning to see as the major causes of death in the latter part of (the 1900’s) and into the 21st century are diseases of chemical origin.”

Dr. Dick Irwin, Toxicologist, Texas A&M University

Bicarbonate of Soda (also known as ‘Baking Soda‘ (not to be confused with ‘baking powder’)) is a mineral that can be used to absorb chemicals, embedded in clothing, that act as irritants, cause allergies, precipitate or exacerbate asthma, or inflame chemical sensitivities; it can also be used to absorb unpleasant odours! It can be used to wash clothes; and it can be used to decontaminate clothing that has been washed in fragranced washing powders, that contain a whole cornucopia of ingredients, which are toxic to many, many people.


This a great product to use if you are visiting/work with/attend classes with/or want to spend time with someone who is sensitive to fragrances: it can be used on clothes that have been washed, previously, in washing powders. It will not eliminate the fragrances entirely, but it will help, and it may stop your clothes from leaving washing powder residue on the furniture. But know this: there are some people who are so sensitive to chemicals, particularly fragrance, that this action just won’t cut it! Linda Sepp has done some extensive research on this very subject:

“Sometimes it is possible to detox regular clothing. For mildly sensitive people it might just take a few regular washes with a tolerable detergent. For more sensitive people, a more involved protocol may do the trick. For others, we often end up without much in the way of clothing and bedding, because even the trace chemicals can be too much.

Here are some methods many people have used to successfully detox their clothing. As always, individual results may vary according to personal sensitivities, water conditions, products available, and whatever might be in the clothing to begin with.”

For me (on other people’s clothing), on average, four washes would be a sufficient amount to actually make a difference to the fragrance contaminated clothing. If this is a problem for you to do, it could be worthwhile to buy clothes that are kept aside especially to be worn around people who suffer with this affliction. (All my friends, and family members who visit me, do one of these things (or for the ones that don’t do it, I’m still in the ‘persuasion’ process of facilitating it.), they either give their clothes to me to, repeatedly, wash and air, or we buy new ones, and store them here.) I find that drip-drying the clothes in the sun in-between washes, is an awesome help; as is leaving them out in the rain—this is providing that the sun comes out afterwards—but I often find they need to be washed one more time, due to Cladosporium (outdoor) mould spores.

if you can do this for another human being, it’s an immense sign of respect for humanity, and, it shows great empathy on your part. no-one chooses to be sensitive to chemicals; it could happen to anyone at anytime, and it’s happening to more and more people all the time…

Bicarbonate of soda can be used to decontaminate new clothing. Soaking the clothes in one cup of bicarbonate of soda, along with a fragrance free washing powder, such as Herbon Washing Powder (the fragrance free version), or Liquid, can and will speed up the process. I don’t have much of a problem with new clothes on other people. (I know, who would think that anyone could suffer symptoms from being near someone else wearing new clothes? But they do. This happens in our world; you may not meet these people because they are staying at home, practicing the avoidance strategies that their doctors have recommended for them. But please be aware… )

Bicarbonate of Soda is available from supermarkets, your mother’s pantry, and many specialist stores. If you are sensitive to fragrances, or have trouble purchasing from supermarkets—due to the VOCs of cleaning chemicals and fragrances absorbing into, and adhering to the products—then you may want to choose a ‘food grade’ brand, and find somewhere else to buy your bicarbonate of soda (because it absorbs chemicals, buying it from a supermarket is not a good idea if you are sensitive to those chemicals):

freefromfragrance in Australia stock it:

Source: via The-Labyrinth on Pinterest

• Bob’s Red Mill premium baking soda is made from the deposits of mineralized sodium bicarbonate. It is extracted by an all-natural water process that uses no chemicals.
• It is a great household cleaner and odour absorber.
• Other uses include use in cooking as a raising agent, laundry washing and as a dishwaher powder alternative,
• Added to bath water for detox.
• Gluten free – Bob’s Red Mill products labeled Gluten Free are batch tested in our quality control laboratory.
• We use ELISA Gluten Assay test to determine if a product is gluten free.

(Interesting Fact: Bicarbonate of Soda is found in the ingredients list of most washing powders.)

Here are some ideas/links for fragrance free washing powders:

Herbon (fragrance free version) Washing Powder, Laundry Liquid, and Stain Remover

Planet Ark: Aware Sensitive Washing Powder

Adobe Laundry Liquid: Sensitive

Seventh Generation Free and Clear Bleach

Seventh Generation Free and Clear Laundry Liquid

Ecostore Unscented Laundry Powder

Omo Sensitive Washing Powder (not recommended for use by the chemically sensitive, but it’s often a product that they can tolerate being used on clothing worn around them (Note: not for use around all chemically sensitive people. Please check first!)

Fabric Softener: Reach for white vinegar. For a cheaper and nontoxic fabric softener option, add ¼ to ½ cup of white vinegar to your laundry’s rinse cycle. Don’t worry, the vinegar smell dissipates within a few minutes.

Other Links

Environmental Health Association of Nova Scotia:Guide to Less Toxic Products: Cleaning (Scroll down for household recipes using bicarbonate of soda.)

Health Clinic:Sixty Uses of Baking Soda

Linda Sepp:Laundry Decontamination Protocols

Linda Sepp:Toxic Chemicals in Our Laundry Products

Linda Sepp: There’s WHAT in my baking soda? 

Maraposanaturals:How to Wash Clothes for the Chemically Sensitive

Safe Home Alert: What’s Wafting From Your Dryer?  (Look for the Home-made Laundry Detergent Recipe on page II)

National Geographic:Green Living

Fed Up:Cleaning and Laundry Ideas for Sensitive Children

(‘cleaning products’ image on homepage, sourced from


Michellina Van Loder is a Professional Writer, Journalist and Blogger. This is where she shares her tales about trail blazing her way out of the Labyrinth of Chemical Sensitivities and Mould. This is also where you will find the latest Research on related topics.

About Michellina van Loder


  1. Hello!

    I’ve awarded you with the Liebster Blog Award! To accept, please check out this link:

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      Oh, thank you so much. I’ll get you back with one of these one day, you know. You are a sweetie xx


  2. Love baking soda!
    And thanks for the shout out.
    Oddly enough, I have baking soda on the brain today too!
    I’ve been making calls trying to get to the bottom of the baking soda contamination problems I’ve been having lately.
    Well, lately with the type I’ve been buying in 50 lb bags since 2010, after the other type (which sells to a number of different labels) had some kind of an event in 2009 that I thought was temporary contamination.
    I just recently discovered the main source for those brands, which used to be my favorite type of baking soda, and left messages today with their quality control people, asking what they changed in 2009, since the sample I got a couple of months ago still has the problem.
    I had figured out a way to avoid store contamination by buying in bulk – 50 lb bags from stores that sell it by the lb as soon as they get it in…
    It’s beyond me why it is usually sold here in cardboard boxes that absorb chemicals when they, the companies that package it, know that’s what happens in the stores, so customers purchase pre-contaminated product…???
    BUT when the baking soda is getting contaminated at the plant before even being packaged? That is something else.
    And since most people live in a chemical stew, they don’t notice.
    I hope I can find a safe source soon, as I have so little left it isn’t funny…
    And I hope more people detox and go fragrance free.

    • Michellina Van Loder says:

      My pleasure, Linda x

      I too, have it on the brain. I’m washing everything I own, placing it out into the sun, and then into safe storage. I hope this will be enough to rid my clothes of any mould from this house. A few years ago, I bought 5 x 25 kg bags, then I placed these into 20 litre drums, which had been cleaned and aired in the sun as well. After I recovered from my sensitivities, in 2009, I worried about having wasted my money, and having to lug these tins around (I also bough the same amount in Zeolite). Lucky, that’s one of the minimally-existent bright sides of getting afflicted with this pain-in-the-sinussinus illness that is chemical sensitivities…

      Mine came from a company that sold it to restaurants for cooking, and I had to search for it too. (Food grade!)

      I also wondered why companies sell bicarb in cardboard boxes, in supermarkets (sitting on the shelves for who knows how long) when they know it will absorb, not only the odours, but the chemical components of these pesticides, herbicides, fragrance products (scented candles and air-wicks and ambi-purs and fabric softeners and washing powders and personal care products and monkey knows what else!); that hardly leaves their product as ‘food grade’ quality, which is what is stated on the box! Are they stupid? Don’t care? Ignorant perhaps? Parents need to know that this product is not ideal to cook with. Best to buy it from somewhere that sells fragrance free products only (especially if only buying one box)!

      As for your supply getting contaminated before leaving the plant, best contact them and tell them. (I’m sure you do this all the time about things? They NEED to know.) They will probably appreciate it. (I had this problem with my dishwashing liquid that I’d been buying for years. The company, made the mistake of not washing the tubs well enough after making a fragranced (with ylang ylang essential oil) batch. As I buy in bulk (at the time, a box of 12 one litre bottles) I took it back in person and explained my problem with it; they were skeptical, but as a valued customer, they investigated it, and came to the conclusion that the tubs had not being washed properly. Now I buy it in 20 litre containers, and haven’t had the same problem in over four years.) In your case, it’s definitely a ‘quality control’ issue, and I’d say maybe where it was stored? If they can’t take your information on board, then you have to find someone else. But, you know Linda? That’s where people like us are valuable, we can let them know, and they can fix it (or not); and if they don’t, well, you better bloody well blog about it, sweets!

      You know we are valuable right?

      I truly think more and more people will go fragrance free. I’ve met many people who have changed the way they do things after meeting me; I’ve also met just as many who have the attitude: ‘Oh, it won’t happen to me.’ I think it’s the people who have children, or want to, who change their habits out of pure fear and horror at seeing the way some of us live. PS: I don’t preach. I’m just a walking example of what can happen when a person becomes addicted to fragrance chemicals!

      Good luck. And do let me know how you go, yes? Can you post a link on our blogs when you find a good supplier?

      • So far the head office of the retail franchise I bought it from and the manufacturer have brushed me off as being the one with a problem since I am the only person who has complained, and they both claim to be fragrance free facilities (and we both know how that can mean something different to every person who hears or says it).

        I’ve gone through this with manufacturers of many products over the years (kitty litters and dish detergents to name 2) and some were really thankful to learn there were problems and they acted quickly to remedy the situations…
        These guys, not so much.

        Arm and Hammer’s consumer branch is more responsive, but this time (it’s the 2nd time it happened in 1 1/2 years) they passed me on to their Specialty Products Division, their non-consumer (ie bakers and other large scale food customers) branch, who I am guessing don’t like that I am not a corporation and that I dared to suggest they have a problem with their product.

        The other manufacturing company that I stopped buying from several of their labels in 2009 responded better so far, but we’re playing phone tag, and the person in charge wasn’t there in 2009, so it won’t be as easy to trace what changed to cause the problem, which to me smells like a diesel contamination.

        These two sources are the biggest suppliers on the continent, I haven’t been able to locate another (folks don’t seem to like to divulge info like this) so unless the A&H thing is a single facility issue and I can find a way to access product from a different facility, which may not be an option as shipping 50 lb bags of white powder across the border doesn’t seem like something that would go over well… I don’t know what I’m going to do.

        I am not tolerating the soap nuts as well as I hoped I would.
        Wish me luck with finding safe baking soda!

        Oh, and as soon as I can, when I’ve heard more from the various parties involved, I’ll be writing a blog post with more details… stay tuned!


Information, products and views presented by guest bloggers @The Labyrinth are not necessarily the same as those held by this blog's author, Michellina van Loder. Reviews are my own personal opinions (unless stated otherwise); and satire is used throughout personal posts. Any health topics discussed are not to be taken as medical advice. Seek out medical attention if needed and do your own research; however, you're welcome to use mine as a start.
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