Baking soda is a household staple with many different uses. Adding a quarter cup of baking soda to a lukewarm bath and soaking for up to 30 minutes may relieve itching, irritation, or infections or just provide a detox.
Adding baking soda — also known as sodium bicarbonate — to a bath may help with a range of conditions, such as:
- yeast infections and other fungal infections
- diaper rash
- urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- damaged skin due to surgery, hemorrhoids, and other factors
This article looks at the benefits of a baking soda bath and how taking one may help. We also examine some other types of detox baths and their uses.
Baking soda is a mixture of sodium ions and bicarbonate ions. It dissolves fully in water, and people commonly add it to oral hygiene and cleaning products as it may help remove bacteria, odors, and acidity.
These properties may also be helpful for the skin, especially if a person has certain skin conditions.
Even without adding baking soda to the water, soaking in a warm bath may have valuable therapeutic properties by warming a person’s muscles and helping them relax after a stressful day.
A warm or hot bath can also promote sweating, which may help the body release toxins from the pores.
A baking soda bath can be beneficial for many conditions, including:
1. Yeast infections
Many people experience yeast infections, but some symptoms, such as itching and swelling, can often make it difficult for a person to go about their daily activities. A baking soda bath may relieve symptoms and help a person recover faster.
One study found that baking soda helped kill Candida cells, the fungal cells responsible for yeast infections.
2. Fungal skin and nail infections
Research suggests that baking soda may be useful as an antifungal agent against many fungal strains that commonly infect human skin and nails.
People with the nail fungus onychomycosis, which causes thick, discolored, or crumbly nails, may find relief from regularly soaking their hands or feet in a baking soda bath.
However, anyone with a fungal infection should ask their doctor if a baking soda bath can help relieve symptoms.
Eczema causes dry, itchy, and inflamed patches of skin to develop on the body during flare-ups. These areas may be so itchy that a person scratches and breaks the skin, leaving it prone to infection and making symptoms worse.
Baking soda may help prevent eczema flare-ups or reduce symptoms in some people. Adding a quarter cup of baking soda to a warm bath may help soothe itchy skin.
It is important to pat the skin dry and moisturize immediately after the bath.
Adding both baking soda and oatmeal to a bath may reduce irritation and itchiness.
It is essential to moisturize the skin immediately after drying off with a towel, as hot water can dry out the skin further.
5. Poison ivy, poison oak, or sumac
Baking soda may also promote the healing of rashes caused by touching poisonous plants.
Taking a bath is a good idea after touching toxic plants as bathing can wash off the oils that cause a rash, reducing the amount the skin absorbs.
A bath may also help prevent these oils from spreading to other areas of the body or another person.
Baking soda can soothe inflamed skin and reduce irritation and itching. Soaking in a lukewarm or cool tub with baking soda may
6. Urinary tract infection (UTI)
A UTI causes pain and burning while urinating due to extra acidity in the urinary tract.
Although a baking soda bath will not change the acidity of the urine, it may reduce pain and discomfort when used alongside doctor-prescribed antibiotics.
7. Diaper rash
Diapers are damp and warm, making them the perfect place for pathogens to multiply.
This can result in a red rash on the skin called a diaper rash. Constant friction from the diaper can also irritate the skin.
A baking soda bath can help remove the pathogens that cause irritation and soothe sensitive skin.
For babies and small children, it is essential only to use a minimal amount of baking soda, as the skin can absorb dissolved baking soda.
For severe diaper rash, a person should add 2 tablespoons of baking soda to a warm bath and soak the affected area for 10 minutes, three times per day. After soaking, they should apply a topical antiyeast ointment. A doctor can recommend a suitable preparation.
The constant itching and irritation caused by chickenpox can feel like torture for many people, especially children.
A baking soda bath may provide the relief they need. Soaking in a lukewarm bath with a quarter cup of baking soda in it may provide relief from itching, according to the Seattle Children’s Hospital.
Adding ingredients such as oatmeal or chamomile tea may also reduce symptoms.
9. Vulva irritation
Some women commonly experience irritation and itching around the vulva.
To relieve burning and itching, a person can add 4–5 tablespoons of baking soda to a bath and soak for 10 minutes up to three times a day. For a sitz bath, they should use 1–2 teaspoons of baking soda.
10. Hemorrhoids and other causes of pain and discomfort
A baking soda bath may help relieve irritation and pain from ulcerated, cracked, raw, or blistered skin around the anal or vaginal area or the scrotum.
This can be due to:
A person can add half to 1 tablespoon of baking soda to lukewarm water in a sitz bath and soak for 10–15 minutes. Alternatively, they can add 1–2 teaspoons of salt to the water.
Even without an underlying condition to treat, a baking soda bath may be a helpful way to promote overall well-being.
To do this, a person can try adding the following to a bath:
- one-third of a cup of baking soda
- one-third of a cup of sea salt
- one-third of a cup of Epsom salts
People may also wish to add medicinal herbs or essential oils, such as eucalyptus or lavender, to help the body sweat and relax.
To make a baking soda bath, a person should add between a quarter to 2 cups of baking soda to warm bath water and stir it around to let it dissolve.
Once the baking soda has completely dissolved, a person should soak in the tub for up to 40 minutes. After the bath, they should pat the skin dry with a towel and use a natural oil or lotion to moisturize the skin.
Other tips for before and after the bath include:
- creating a relaxing environment by using candlelight or soft music
- using a dry scrub, loofah, or body brush before the bath to help shed dead skin cells
- using lukewarm to warm water if hot water dries out the skin
- using mild soap and warm water to rinse away any toxins left on the skin
- putting on clean clothes after a bath to avoid additional environmental toxins
Baking soda baths are typically safe, but consuming too much baking soda can raise levels of both sodium and bicarbonate.
Baking soda changes the pH of body fluids. In large amounts, it can lead to:
- excessive gas in the stomach
- nausea and vomiting
- kidney failure
- breathing difficulty
If a child swallows baking soda, people should contact the emergency services or their local poison control center for immediate assistance.
The skin can also absorb dissolved baking soda, including during a baking soda bath.
People who should avoid baking soda baths include those who:
- have high blood pressure
- have serious infections or open wounds
- are prone to fainting
- have diabetes
- are pregnant or nursing
- have an allergy to baking soda
- are currently using alcohol or medications such as benzodiazepines, which depress the nervous system
Some people may have a skin reaction to baking soda. It is best for a person to test the effects on a small patch of skin before taking a baking soda bath.
People can use many other natural ingredients in a detox bath, including:
Baking soda is sometimes added to salt baths to help support their effects, but it is important to discuss this with a healthcare professional first.
As well as in a bath, people can also use baking soda for:
- teeth whitening
- skin exfoliation
- foot soaks
- dry scalp relief
As with any treatment, it is imperative for a person to talk with a doctor before using baking soda baths to treat an underlying health condition.
Doctors may want to monitor how the skin reacts. They may also be able to offer safety tips or recommend some alternative treatments to try. Anyone with symptoms that persist or worsen should contact a doctor.