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.
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 in vinegar is what makes it effective on various surfaces. Like baking soda, vinegar can help deodorize, and it is effective at removing some stains.
However, because of the acidity, vinegar isn't safe to use everywhere despite its nontoxic nature. Natural stone surfaces on floors and countertops can become etched from vinegar. The liquid can also damage many wood surfaces, including hardwood floors.
Baking Soda and Vinegar Combination Considerations
While each ingredient is an effective cleaner on its own, combining them can sometimes neutralize the effects. Combining the basic baking soda and acidic vinegar produces mainly water with some sodium acetate. Basically, after the big fizzy reaction, the combination may have little more effect than water on the cleaning situation.
Another consideration is the reaction caused by the combination. If you put the two together in a container with a lid on it, there's a chance the trapped reaction can build up too much pressure and explode. If you make a baking soda and vinegar cleaning solution, do so with caution. If you find that the two ingredients aren't working well together, you may have better luck using them individually.
Carpet Cleaner Recipe
If you have a stubborn stain on your carpet, add just enough vinegar to baking soda to make a paste. Use your fingers to apply the paste to the stained area. After it dries overnight, vacuum up the remnants. It's always a good idea to test any carpet-cleaning methods on a small spot first to make sure it doesn't damage the fibers.
Drain Cleaner Recipe
The familiar explosive reaction between baking soda and vinegar can come in handy when it comes to a slow drain. That bubbling effect may help clear away some of the gunk in the pipes. Plus, it's gentler on your pipes than harsh drain cleaners.
To help slow drains, pour 1/2 cup of baking soda into it. Then, pour in 1 cup of white vinegar to initiate the reaction. You can use other measurements as long as you use one part baking soda and two parts vinegar. After the fizzing stops, run hot water down the drain to flush everything.
Bathroom Cleaner Recipe
Combine 1 2/3 cup of baking soda with 1/2 cup of dish soap in a bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup of water followed by 3 tablespoons of vinegar and continue mixing to combine the ingredients and get rid of any lumps. To easily apply this cleaner to any bathroom surface, put it in a squirt bottle.
When you're ready to scrub away soap scum on hard bathroom surfaces, spritz on this cleaner and scrub it with a sponge or scrub brush. When you're done, rinse away the homemade cleaner with water.
- Reader's Digest: 5 Best Baking Soda and Vinegar Cleaning Solutions
- Bob Vila: The 2-Ingredient Powerhouse That Cleans Almost Anything
- HGTV: Clean Your Entire Home With These 12 All-Natural Baking Soda Solutions
- Good Housekeeping: 6 Cleaning Products You Should Never, Ever Mix
- Good Housekeeping: How to Clean Almost Everything With Vinegar
Shelley Frost combines her love of DIY and writing in her freelance career. She has first-hand experience with tiling, painting, refinishing hardwood floors, installing lighting, roofing and many other home improvement projects. She keeps her DIY skills fresh with regular projects around the house and extensive writing work on the topic.