As you may have already noticed, I’ve written a lot about both baking soda and vinegar here on my blog over the past several years. They are two of my very favorite natural cleaners, and they are both highly effective for cleaning up certain types of messes! And you’d think that combining them together would make them even more effective, right? Well, it may not actually be that simple.
In today’s post, we’ll be exploring the relationship between baking soda and vinegar and whether or not they can be combined to make an effective cleaner. I’ll also be sharing 5 of my favorite ways to use baking soda and vinegar for cleaning stuff around the house.
My hope is that this post helps demystify that famously fizzy reaction, and that it answers the questions you might have had about using both baking soda and vinegar for cleaning! So let’s start at the beginning: can you clean something using both baking soda and vinegar?
Does Cleaning With Baking Soda And Vinegar Work?
The short answer to this question is yes, and no. To understand why, it helps to know how the baking soda and vinegar reaction works.
Baking soda is a base, and bases want a proton; vinegar is an acid, and acids have a proton they want to get rid of.
The fizzy chemical reaction you see when you mix baking soda and vinegar is the exchange of those protons, producing carbon dioxide in the form of bubbles and leaving water behind.
So the “yes” part of the answer applies only to the actual chemical reaction that happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar. The fizzing action can help dissolve gunk and messes, making them easier to wipe away! The “no” part of the answer applies to what’s left after the reaction has stopped. Because what’s left behind once the reaction is over is essentially just water!
In addition to using the chemical reaction for cleaning purposes, you also have the option of using baking soda and vinegar separately to clean the same item. Each one is a powerhouse cleaner in its own right! (You’ll see some examples of this method in the list below!)
5 Ways To Clean With Baking Soda And Vinegar
1. Clean Your Shower Head
If you live in an area with hard water, it’s nearly impossible to avoid getting limescale and mineral buildup on your shower head over time. But baking soda and vinegar can take care of it overnight!
Place your shower head into a big ziplock bag, and pour in enough white vinegar to cover it. Seal the bag and let it sit overnight. In the morning, remove the shower head and sprinkle some baking soda over the surface. Use an old toothbrush to give the shower head a good scrub, then rinse it clean. For more information about cleaning your bathroom with vinegar, check out the link below!
Related: 8 Of The Best Ways To Use Vinegar To Clean Your Bathroom
2. Clean Your Toilet Bowl
Spray the inside of your toilet bowl with white vinegar until it’s completely wet. Then sprinkle a good amount of baking soda onto the wet surface, spraying a bit more vinegar if necessary to start the reaction. Wait a minute or two, then scrub the toilet bowl thoroughly with a toilet brush.
3. Remove Pet Stains From Carpet
Use baking soda and vinegar to remove pet stains from your carpet! Dampen the spot with vinegar, then sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the top. Leave the spot alone until the baking soda and vinegar have dried completely, then vacuum the spot thoroughly. The stain and the smell will be gone!
Get more details on removing pet stains at the link below.
Related: This Is The Best Way To Remove Pet Stains From Carpet
4. Clear A Clogged Drain
The fizzing reaction of baking soda and vinegar can help you clear out a clogged drain. Pour half a cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by one cup of white vinegar. Cover the drain and let it sit for 30 minutes. After waiting, boil a kettle of water and dump all of the hot water down the drain to flush out the loosened clog.
(Note that this process can clear out mild clogs, but it probably won’t be enough to clear out a more serious clog.) Get more details on this drain cleaning method by reading my blog post about it at the link below.
Related: How To Unclog A Sink Using Just 2 Natural Ingredients
5. Add Them To Laundry
Baking soda and vinegar both make valuable additions to your laundry routine. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of baking soda over your clothes before starting each wash load to help brighten colors and soften hard water. Then add 1 cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle to soften fabric and remove odors!
I also use baking soda and vinegar to freshen up smelly towels. Get the full details on that process at the link below!
Related: How To Fix Your Smelly Towels In 3 Easy Steps (And Why It Works!)
Do you use baking soda (and or) vinegar to keep your home clean?
Clean your oven without harsh chemicals
The inside of your oven is probably a lot dirtier than you'd like to admit.
Fortunately, it's easy to clean. The following method works well if your oven doesn't have a self-clean cycle, or if you simply want to spot-clean it without using harsh cleaning products. And since you're probably self-isolating at home right now, now is as good a time as any for some spring cleaning.
- Dish gloves
- Baking soda
- Dish soap
- A spray bottle
- A sponge or cloth
It just takes baking soda, vinegar and some elbow grease to clean your oven.
Step 1: Remove your oven racks
Remove the racks from your oven and wash them in warm, soapy water. Some oven racks are dishwasher-safe, but check your oven manual first to make sure they won't be damaged in the dishwasher. Dry the racks and set them aside.
Step 2: Clean out food particles
Wipe away any loose food particles in your oven.
Step 3: Make your oven cleaner
Make a paste using three parts baking soda and one part water. You can “ballpark” this measurement and adjust as needed to achieve a pasty consistency.
Step 4: Apply the paste to your oven
Spread the baking soda paste around the inside of your oven. If there are really tough, burnt-on spots, put a little extra paste on them. Avoid putting the paste on heating elements inside the oven.
Step 5: Let it sit
Close your oven, and let the paste sit overnight.
Step 6: Clean out the baking soda
Moisten your sponge or cleaning cloth with warm water and wipe away the baking soda paste. You may need to rinse the sponge as you go to clean off bits of paste. For any stubborn messes, use a scraper or a spatula.
Step 7: Make a vinegar mixture
Fill a spray bottle with one part vinegar and one part water. Spray down the oven and wipe away leftover baking soda paste with your sponge.
Step 8: Replace the oven racks
Return the racks to your oven; you can start cooking now.
See all photos
Supercharge your dryer by cleaning its vent
Further reading: It's almost grilling season — here's how to clean your grill.
Green Cleaning Ingredients You Should Never Mix
Cleaning supplies made from from all-natural green cleaning ingredients such as vinegar, baking soda, Castile soap and hydrogen peroxide are amazing! In the correct combinations these green cleaning ingredients can leave your whole house sparkling (for only a few cents) while eliminating the need for toxic household chemicals.
Many natural DIY cleaner recipes found online combine ingredients that should NEVER be combined.
Some of the combinations simply neutralize one another, killing their cleaning power and wasting your money… while other combinations can produce dangerous reaction that can damage your lungs or home surfaces.
Ineffective Green Cleaning Ingredients
There are three green cleaning ingredient combinations that should NEVER be used in one DIY cleaning recipe. Learn about these ineffective combinations:
1. Hydrogen Peroxide + Vinegar = Peracetic Acid
Hydrogen peroxide and vinegar are both great natural cleaners and sanitizers, BUT combining them in a container creates a corrosive acid.
The risk: Bodily damage and/or damage to household surfaces. Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide create an acid when combined. Peracetic acid can irritate your skin, eyes, and respiratory system and can be corrosive to household surfaces.
How to use them effectively: You can use hydrogen peroxide and vinegar while cleaning, but always think of them as one-two punches…NEVER mix them into a cleaning solution bottle!
When I want to disinfect I simply screw a spray top onto my hydrogen peroxide bottle and another spray top onto my white vinegar bottle. I then spray and wipe with one cleaner and then the other. (This makes a great bathroom disinfecting cleaner when kiddos are sick.)
If you want a disinfecting cleaner you can mix and store in a bottle safely, try my Lemon Infused Disinfectant Spray Cleaner recipe or Natural Fabric and Room Refresher recipe (it doubles as a surface disinfectant) both disinfect the whole house!
2. Baking Soda + Vinegar = Water and Sodium Acetate
Baking soda and vinegar are a bubbling combination, BUT those bubbles are not doing any deep cleaning.
The risk: Wasting your money. Baking soda is basic while vinegar is acidic, their reaction produces water and sodium acetate. This is an ineffective homemade cleaning solution of water with a tiny amount of salt in it.
How to use them effectively: Don’t waste your time cleaning with an ineffective cleanser! Instead use baking soda as a scouring agent to clean ovens, sinks, and bathrooms and simply rinse with tap water.
Use the vinegar as a scum busting glass cleaner or as an odor neutralizer. My favorite glass cleaner recipe combines vinegar and vodka to make your glass surfaces sparkle!
(Want to learn more about baking soda and vinegar? Read Why You Should Never Use Baking Soda and Vinegar to Clean Clogged Drains. If you are looking for a green drain cleaner check out How to Naturally Clean a Clogged Drain. I test and explain several green drain cleaning methods!)
3. Castile Soap + Vinegar = Gunk
Castile Soap and vinegar are versatile green ingredients with many uses, BUT combined in one cleaner they actually make your home dirtier.
The risk: Wasting money and time. Castile soap is basic while vinegar is acidic
How to Make Cleaning Solution With Baking Soda and Vinegar
Homemade cleaners appeal to consumers because they ditch the potentially toxic and harsh ingredients that fill many commercial cleaners. Two ingredients you probably have in your pantry, baking soda and vinegar, are both known for their cleaning power. Combining them is an option, but sometimes the combination can counteract the effects.
How to Make Cleaning Solution With Baking Soda and Vinegar
Image Credit: Eskay Lim / EyeEm/EyeEm/GettyImages
Cleaning Benefits of Baking Soda
Baking soda helps with cleaning in two ways. As a mild alkali, it helps get rid of dirt and grease easily. If you keep it as a powder, it has a mild abrasive effect that helps you gently scour surfaces. Because it's a natural product and a food, you know it's safe to use on different surfaces with no worry of toxic chemicals contaminating your space.
Baking soda also helps neutralize odors, which is why many people keep a box in the fridge. You can also use it to deodorize carpets, furniture and similar items.
Cleaning Benefits of Vinegar
Vinegar is another natural food product that can replace harsh toxic cleaners. The acidity
50 Surprising Ways to Clean with Baking Soda
We all know that baking soda is an essential ingredient in whipping up fluffy pancakes, quick breads and perfect cakes. But did you know it works wonders cleaning around the house, too? This gentle, non-toxic pantry staple is a powerhouse when it comes to removing oil stains, cleaning your kids’ toys, and even freshening your breath. (Try these other natural home cleaners, too.)
Whether you’re diving deep into spring cleaning or tidying up an everyday mess, a box of baking soda will be your new best friend. Best part? It’s a wholesome, homemade alternative to the expensive stuff you get at the store. Freshen your household inside and out with our 50 must-know ways to clean with baking soda.
Make sure you grab your baking soda, not powder, for these projects. There’s a difference!
Trash Can Deodorizer
Sprinkle a small amount of baking soda into the trash can once a week to help absorb odors.
Stainless Steel Sink Cleaner
Make a paste of baking soda and white vinegar. Soak paper towels in solution and wipe down sink.
Pour baking soda directly onto grimy surface and let sit for 5 minutes. Wipe with a damp sponge, scrubbing gently. Wipe clean with soft cloth.
Non-Self-Cleaning Oven Cleaner
8 Homemade Cleaners Made With Baking Soda
Baking soda is a real cleaning powerhouse around the home. It removes stains, sanitizes, deodorizes, polishes, cuts through grease and much more. The best part? It costs a fraction of the cleaners you buy at the store, and a single box can tackle more than one task!
If you're ready to drop all of those chemical-filled cleaners and spruce up your house with natural and safe DIY cleaners, grab a box of baking soda and start scrubbing!
The first rooms that you will find baking soda useful in are the kitchen and bathroom. From a scouring powder to take care of mold, mildew, and stains to a drain or oven cleaner, this can be a great tool for your cleaning kit.
- General-Purpose Scouring Powder: Many surfaces in your home can be cleaned with a simple scouring powder of baking soda mixed with water. It is one that you won't mind bringing into the kitchen, either, because it's safe, chemical-free and the same baking soda you use for food.
- Drain Cleaner: The old science fair trick of combining baking soda and vinegar to create an erupting volcano works wonders to clean drains as well. The foaming reaction cleans out grime and clogs and is a natural deodorizer.
- Oven Cleaner: Commercial oven cleaners are some of the worst culprits when it comes to chemical fumes and inhaling those make an already difficult task that much more unpleasant. Don't avoid cleaning your oven, avoid the toxic sprays by turning to baking soda and water instead.
Your kitchen cabinet holds the key to keeping your carpets looking good and smelling fresh. Baking soda comes to the rescue again!
- Carpet Deodorizer: Pets and other household odors can get trapped in your carpets, and you may become nose blind to the smell. Commercial deodorizers can be expensive, often only mask the odor and may irritate allergies. Baking soda neutralizes the smells and is even easier (and cheaper) to use.
- DIY Carpet Cleaners: Whether you need to scrub out a tough stain or want to give your carpets a deep cleaning, your pantry has everything you need. Between baking soda and vinegar, your carpet cleaning should be a breeze and create a better environment for your entire family.
Whenever testing out a new carpet cleaner, do a spot test in a discrete area before tackling the entire room.
Part of baking soda's appeal as a natural cleaner is that it is a mild abrasive. In most instances, it will clean a surface without damage, and that is why it is a great choice for some of those more delicate surfaces around the house.
Test out any homemade cleaner on a small area before committing to clean these surfaces.
Bicarb, vinegar, lemon juice: how to clean your house – even the oven – the old-fashioned way
Go into any supermarket, and it will be full of them: the aisles and aisles of cleaning products in their brilliantly coloured plastic bottles, promising dazzle and shine; a life free of grease and grime.
But do we really need any of it? As many of us look to the zero-wasters trying to eschew packaging to reduce our own impact on the planet, the internet is awash with recipes for making your own all-purpose cleaners – from bathtub sprays and floor washes, to oven scrubs and window spritzers.
But can you really clean your home with them? Yes, says Ingrid Caldironi, one of the founders of Bulk Market, a zero-waste supermarket in Hackney, east London: “It’s so easy to make your own products. I do all my own cleaning with vinegar, bicarbonate of soda and castile soap – you can clean your whole house with those three ingredients.”
The key ingredients. Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian
It’s not as if this is a new idea. Bicarbonate of soda has been valued for its antibacterial properties since the 1920s. Barbara Allred, who was head housekeeper at Sandringham for 10 years, and now lectures at the English Manner household consultancy, has been espousing the virtues of lemon juice – from sprucing up a microwave to stopping mildew – for years.
Caldironi says the biggest difference between supermarket cleaning products and homemade ones is that “conventional cleaning products are labelled for one specific task”.
When making your own, you use the same basic ingredients: vinegar, lemon juice, bicarbonate of soda, plant-based liquid soap and essential oils and vary the ratios, depending on the job.
I put it to the test to see if I can DIY-clean my own home:
‘The porcelain gleams.’ Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian
I put ½ cup bicarb, 10 drops of essential grapefruit oil and ¼ cup white vinegar into my toilet bowl and scrub as it fizzes. The smell makes me happy. The porcelain gleams.
Bath … ‘takes some elbow grease.’ Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian
I use blogger Amanda Watters’ bathtub mix (¼ cup of liquid castile soap, 10 drops of thieves or tea tree oil and one cup of baking soda). It does leave my bath clean, but takes a good amount of elbow grease and some water to leave my bath shining.
Worktops … ‘degrease smoothly.’ Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian
For an all-purpose spray, I make up a solution of equal parts vinegar and water, and add some lemon juice. It’s a bit more watery than my usual kitchen spray, but it smells fresh and degreases smoothly.
The oven … ‘totally works.’ Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian
Always the cleaning job I dread the most, and a job for which conventional cleaners charge a small fortune. I coat the inside of my oven with a paste of bicarb and water. Left for at least an hour, preferably overnight, it totally works (with a good amount of vigorous scrubbing).
Floors … ‘perfectly clean.’ Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian
I wipe down my wooden floorboards with a solution of 1 tsp castile soap and 10 drops of tea tree oil in 4.5 litres of warm water. It’s great – the floor is perfectly clean. My whole house, in fact, is dandy; mixing up the ingredients isn’t very taxing – all I needed was a fork and a glass. Once they are rinsed, I’d happily make an omelette with them.