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What You Need To Know About Cleaning With Baking Soda And Vinegar

Cleaning with baking soda and vinegar can be really useful, but only if you know when it works and when it doesn't! Find out which is which here.

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 favorite natural cleaners, and they are both highly effective for cleaning up certain types of messes without using harsh chemicals! And you’d think that combining them would make them even more effective, right? Well, it may not 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 share 5 of my favorite ways to use baking soda and vinegar to clean stuff around the house.

I hope 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? Yes and no.

How Does Cleaning With Baking Soda And Vinegar Work?

Adding vinegar and baking soda together creates a fizzy chemical reaction that can help dissolve stains and loosen up gunky messes. This makes them a handy cleaning combo, even though the actual solution left behind is basically salt water!

To understand this, it helps to know how the baking soda and vinegar reaction works. Baking soda (otherwise known as sodium bicarbonate) is a base (much like washing soda, which is even more basic than baking soda) and on a chemical level, 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, can they combine to make a useful cleaner, the “yes” part of that answer applies only to the actual chemical reaction that happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar, since 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! So while the combination is powerful, it’s not something you can make ahead of time and keep in a spray bottle.

In addition to using the chemical reaction for cleaning purposes, you also can use 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. While the shower head is soaking, the vinegar breaks down the hard water and stubborn stains. Adding the baking soda at the end of the soak creates that fizzy chemical reaction I mentioned above to give a little extra power. When the bubbles stop, use an old toothbrush to give the shower head a good scrub, then rinse it clean with warm water. 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 fair 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 and thoroughly vacuum the area. 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 baking soda into the drain (about half a cup), 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 boiling 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 the 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!)

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Use Baking Powder?

No. Baking powder is made by combining baking soda with cream of tartar and cornstarch, diluting its reactive power.

Can I Use Apple Cider Vinegar?

You can, but I wouldn’t recommend it. Apple cider vinegar has a lower acidic content, which makes it so good in cooking, so it may take more of it to get the same cleansing power. Save your money and go with cleaning vinegar, which is more powerful than what you keep in your pantry.

Is It Safe To Mix Vinegar and Dish Soap?

Absolutely! See this post to see how I make it and what it can clean.

Is It Dangerous To Mix Vinegar and Baking Soda?

Not at all. While mixing bleach and ammonia can release the toxic and sometimes fatal chloramine gas, baking soda and vinegar are completely different. The reaction you get from mixing these two compounds causes a release of carbon dioxide gas, which is the same gas we exhale from our bodies. There is already a lot of carbon dioxide in the air. If you are worried, make sure you are using it in a well-ventilated area.

Do you use baking soda (and or) vinegar to keep your home clean?


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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

    Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

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