Everyone knows baking soda (bicarbonate soda) as the mystery ingredient that's essential for cake-baking. A little goes a long way, and recipes usually only call for around a quarter teaspoon at a time. If you have an entire tub of unused baking soda sitting in your cupboards from that one time you thought you'd attempt a baking hobby, don't worry! There are also plenty of ways to clean with baking soda, so you'll be able to use it up in no time.
If you didn't know this already, baking soda and vinegar are a match made in heaven. While both pantry staples can used for effective cleaning alone, thanks to baking soda's abrasive and deodorizing properties and vinegar's acetic acid content, they're a powerhouse when combined.
Let's jump right into the uses of baking soda and vinegar around the house.
1. Laundry Assist
You can add vinegar and baking soda to your washing machine together. The baking soda will brighten your clothes, while adding vinegar to your rinse cycle will get rid of any lingering odors and prevent your laundry from being too stiff or starchy.
No need to use fabric conditioner if you're washing your clothes with vinegar. Just be sure not to exceed 120 milliliters of vinegar per wash.
2. Unclog Plugs
Kitchen plugs can get clogged with all sorts of nasties, from food and oil to dirt and even some cleaning products. Bathroom sinks are the same, though hair is the main clogging culprit here. When a drain gets blocked, you'll probably notice that water empties at a slower rate, and there's a bad smell coming from your sink.
Luckily, if you don't have any drain cleaner on hand, unclogging your plug is as simple as pouring baking soda into your plughole, followed by vinegar. The vinegar and baking soda combined will produce an immediate reaction that should help break down grease and dirt, helping to get rid of the source of the blockage.
Because baking soda is a natural deodorizer, it'll help get rid of any nasty smells, too.
3. Clean a Stainless Steel Sink
For its name, stainless steel can still get pretty stained over time. If your stainless steel sink has picked up grease, food, and other unpleasant sights and smells over weeks of use, save your money on expensive cleaning products and opt for baking soda and vinegar as a natural cleaning solution.
Just make a paste by mixing equal parts white vinegar and baking soda. Then dip a cloth into the paste and use it to wipe down your sink. Leave it for five minutes before washing away with water, then give it a good wipe down once more using a cloth.
4. De-Grease An Oven
If your oven isn't self-cleaning, this is one of the most helpful natural cleaning tips for you. Just mix half a cup of lemon juice with a full cup of white vinegar. Add the mixture to a spray bottle and use it to spray the sides and the bottom of your oven.
After 10 minutes, sprinkle baking soda onto the same areas of your oven. After waiting for another 10 minutes, wipe the solution away with a cloth.
You should pull the grime away with the cloth. If you need to repeat, simply add a small amount of hot water to your oven and wipe again.
5. Clean Bathroom Grout
Grout - i.e. the spaces between your tiles - can quickly get clogged with dirt and mold after being exposed to a damp environment. To keep your grout looking nice and clean, use baking soda and vinegar. Just combine a cup of baking soda with enough vinegar to form a paste.
Dip a toothbrush into the paste and apply the paste to your grout. Let it sit for up to 10 minutes before wiping off. To remove any leftover baking soda, wipe the area with warm water after.
6. Soften Paintbrushes
When paintbrushes haven't been used in a long time, they can get so stiff that even a bit of warm water won't soften them up. In this case, you need to resort to a special cleaning solution - this is one of the best tips for you!
Just combine half a gallon of water with half a gallon of white vinegar and a cup of baking soda. Add your paintbrushes to the hot water mixture. The baking soda and vinegar will work to help banish the stiffness.
7. Remove Carpet Stains
You know how it is - you spend 20 years with the same carpet, and not even a speck of dirt gets onto it. Then, the day after you arrange for a new carpet to be fitted, somebody spills their dinner, the cat's sick, the children bring mud pies inside, and all is chaos.
If you need help getting a stain out of your carpet, fast, mix baking soda and water with salt and vinegar. Add the baking soda vinegar cleaning solution to the stain. Make sure it resembles a paste - add more baking soda or reduce your vinegar and water content if not. Leave the mixture to dry before vacuuming away.
8. Scrub Tough Tea & Coffee Stains
No matter how much you pride yourself on having a clean home, no amount of scrubbing can remove certain tea and coffee stains - but there's no need to resort to chemical cleaning products to get your mugs sparkling again. You can combine baking soda and vinegar (white vinegar is best) to remove stains from mugs.
Just mix equal parts baking soda and vinegar, then dip a scrubbing brush or toothbrush into the mixture and use it to scrub your afflicted mugs. For extra effect, soak your mugs in this solution, then wipe away the stains with a cloth, rinse thoroughly, and leave to dry.
9. Wash Fruits & Veggies
Not all of us can afford organic fruits and veggies, which means the produce we bring home may still be laced with pesticides and other nasty chemicals. You can use bicarbonate soda alone to help clean the surface of your fruits, or combine with white vinegar for even better results.
Your cleaning won't affect the taste of your produce - just make sure to rinse it well after you've applied the baking soda and vinegar.
10. Clean Bathroom Surfaces
Many of the commercial products used for cleaning bathrooms are toxic and bad for our respiratory health. Using baking soda and vinegar is one of the best bathroom cleaning hacks if you're looking for an effective natural alternative.
Just mix a quarter-cup of baking soda with white vinegar and a tablespoon of dish detergent. Stir the mixture until it's thick and creamy, then apply to your bathroom surfaces. Let it sit for 5 minutes before wiping away with a clean towel. You can also dilute with water and add to a cleaning spray bottle if you like.
11. Scrub Your Toilets
Trying to keep a toilet bowl clean is an ongoing challenge, especially if you have a house full of messy children. If your toilet cleaners aren't doing the job, try adding half a cup of baking soda to your toilet bowl.
Leave it for 10 minutes, then scrub clean with a toilet brush as usual. You can follow up with a cup of diluted white vinegar, leaving it to soak overnight, before scrubbing and flushing in the morning. It'll sparkle like it's brand-new!
The above cleaning hacks are common uses of baking soda and vinegar together. But you don't always have to use the two in conjunction to achieve the cleaning results you're looking for. In this next section, we'll be sharing some cleaning tips on how to use either bicarb soda or vinegar to clean your home.
12. Deodorize a Rubbish Bin
Whether you call it a trash can or a rubbish bin, you know that the thing you empty your waste into can take on a pretty unpleasant smell. The simplest way to keep it smelling fresh and clean - without actually emptying the bin - is to pour baking soda into the bin. It'll neutralize any bad odors for the time being.
13. Clean Stirling Silver Jewelry
Stirling silver looks pretty when new, but if your sterling silver jewelry is past its best, it's easy to make it sparkle once more. To clean, just line the bottom of a dish or bowl with tin foil, making sure the shiny side is facing up.
Then add baking soda and water (roughly one tablespoon of baking soda to one cup of water). Add your jewelry to the bowl and make sure it's flat against the foil. Leave for 10 minutes before rinsing your jewelry and wiping it clean with a cloth.
You can also use baking soda on a damp cloth and rub it directly onto your silver jewelry as a natural cleaner to give it a good shine.
14. Soak Shower Heads
Most of us have hard water in our homes. The calcium and magnesium minerals in this type of water can stick to surfaces in the form of soap scum and limescale, which is peaky throughout the home - especially in the bathroom.
If your shower head has become clogged with limescale and you're keen to clean it, vinegar is your answer. Just unscrew your shower head and place it in a solution of one part vinegar, two parts distilled clean water. Leave for 15 minutes. You should find that most of the residue has come away from your shower head, and giving it a scrub should remove the rest.
15. Freshen Air
Don't like the artificial scent of a commercial air freshener in your home? Make your own instead - you just need to use baking soda, water and a drop of your favorite essential oil.
Tea tree makes for an incredibly refreshing, clean scent, while cinnamon, orange and grapefruit are stronger scents that should linger pleasantly in the air if you have guests visiting.
16. Clean Childrens' Toys
If you're a parent, you're probably in need of more cleaning tips than most! Childrens' toys, for instance, are some of the dirtiest items in a home.
One of the best natural cleaning hacks to keep them fresh and remove grime is to add them to a bucket of baking soda and boiling water. Leave them for at least 15 minutes (20 minutes is preferable), then give them a good rinse and dry them thoroughly before handing back over to your children.
17. Sanitize Sponges
Have you ever stopped to think how dirty your kitchen sponges are? To prevent a build-up of bacteria, you just need a teaspoon of baking soda and a cup of clean water.
Soak sponges in this baking soda water mix every day after using to make sure they stay nice and clean. You can follow this hack by microwaving your waterlogged sponge to completely remove any nasties. Afterwards, rinse & use as normal.
18. Deodorize Cutting Boards
If you have a wooden cutting board that smells damp and funky, try using some bicarb soda to freshen it up. Sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the surface of the board, then let it sit for around five minutes.
The natural cleaner will deodorize the cracks and crevices in your board, cleaning away the grime. Scrub and rinse with water for the best results.
Note that you'll need to use a proper disinfectant for deep-cleaning your cutting boards, but bicarbonate soda works nicely enough as a deodorant.
19. Clean Your Kettle
Shower heads aren't the only things that are affected by limescale - so are kitchen appliances, especially kettles. If you use your kettle on a daily basis to make tea or boil water for cooking, it's probably coated with a thick layer of limescale on the inside.
There are many hacks you can follow to remove this limescale, but the most effective cleaner for using in this case is vinegar. Simply fill your kettle half-full with vinegar, then leave for an hour.
Boil the kettle, then leave for another two hours before pouring the vinegar away. Using white vinegar is best here as it's less likely to leave a vinegar scent in your kettle.
If you didn't already know, you should now be convinced that bicarb soda and vinegar are the best natural cleaners that can be used throughout your home. Using baking soda or vinegar for cleaning is a good way to reduce your chemical use - and you won't miss your commercial cleaners, either, as these natural cupboard staples are just as effective!
Got any of your own bicarbonate soda or vinegar home cleaner tips? Help a friend and share them in the comments below.