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5 Best Baking Soda and Vinegar Cleaning Solutions

Updated: Apr. 14, 2024

Here's what happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar—and how to use them for cleaning.

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baking soda vinegar lemons
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What happens when you mix baking soda and vinegar?

Baking soda and vinegar are two strong products people love to use for cleaning. Each have their own individual sanitizing perks, according to Brian Sansoni of the American Cleaning Institute, an expert on all things cleaning. “Baking soda is a natural deodorizer and a fine abrasive; that’s good for odor absorption and scrubbing,” Sansoni says. Vinegar is especially great at removing hard water stains. When you combine baking soda and vinegar, you mix an acid (vinegar) and a base (baking soda) which creates salty water and carbon dioxide gas, according to Sansoni. “The reaction has an immediate ‘clean’ look, but when you look deeper you realize that you’re left with saltwater,” Sansoni says. “The agitation of the fizzy reaction itself can be useful to physically break up and carry away dirt, but there’s no long-lasting help.” So although this combo visibly breaks up muck, it’s not necessarily the most effective way to disinfect and sanitize, according to Sansoni.

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Clean a stainless steel kitchen sink

Although Sansoni says mixing baking soda and vinegar shouldn’t be your first line of cleaning defense, other cleaning experts say the duo could come in handy in some situations. The bubbly and pasty mixture breaks up and removes scum or grease, like that in your kitchen sink drain, according to Sarah Brunette, the Brand Director of Molly Maid, a Neighborly company.

Here’s how to clean your kitchen sink: 

Wet the sink, sprinkle baking soda over the surface, and scrub, then rinse. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and the same paste on the rim and caulk. Line the sink with paper towels that you’ve soaked in white vinegar. Leave them there for 20 minutes. When thinking of home remedies, don’t forget these amazing uses for rubbing alcohol. 

Here’s how to clean your drain: 

Brunette says to sprinkle 4 tablespoons of baking soda followed by two cups of vinegar. Once the bubbling stops, flush the drain with boiling water. Use soapy water and vinegar-soaked paper towels to clean the faucet, too.

RELATED: Here’s everything you need to know about red wine stain removal.

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iStock/Shane White

Make a bathroom cleaner

This cleanser works on any bathroom surface. It cuts through soap scum and mildew as well as any commercial bathroom product and costs just pennies.

Here’s how to make the cleanser: 

Mix 1 2/3 cups baking soda and 1/2 cup liquid soap in a bowl. Dilute with1/2 cup water and add 2 tablespoons of white vinegar. Stir the mixture with a fork until any lumps dissolve. Pour the liquid into a spray bottle. Shake well before using. Squirt on the area to be cleaned. Scrub with a nylon-backed sponge. Rinse off with water. Keep covered between uses.

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Remove stains on the carpet

Of course, baking soda and vinegar are great cleaners, independently. One thing you can clean with vinegar is your carpet.

Here’s how to lift carpet stains with vinegar: 

Rub light carpet stains with a mixture of 2 tablespoons salt dissolved in 1/2 cup white vinegar. Let the solution dry, then vacuum. For larger or darker stains, add 2 tablespoons borax to the mixture and use in the same way.

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Boost laundry detergent

It may sound like a cliché, but adding 1/2 cup baking soda to your usual amount of liquid laundry detergent really will give you brighter colors. The baking soda also softens the water, so you can actually use less detergent. Adding 1/2 cup baking soda in top-loading machines (1/4 cup for front-loaders) also increases the potency of bleach, so you need only half the usual amount of bleach. Although baking soda is a classic laundry staple, there are things you should never clean with baking soda.

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Refresh the fridge

Did you know that vinegar might be an even more effective safe cleanser for your refrigerator than baking soda? Use equal parts white vinegar and water to wash both the interior and exterior of your fridge, including the door gasket and the fronts of the vegetable and fruit bins. To prevent mildew growth, wash the inside walls and bin interiors with some full-strength vinegar on a cloth. Also, use undiluted vinegar to wipe off accumulated dust and grime on top of your refrigerator. Of course, you’ll still want to put that box of baking soda inside your refrigerator to keep it smelling clean when you finish. Even if you clean your fridge and kitchen religiously with baking soda and vinegar, chances are you’re still making some of these kitchen cleaning mistakes.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest