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Cleaning with Baking Soda and Vinegar

Updated on November 23, 2011

Cleaning with Baking Soda and Vinegar is Amazingly Easy

I am always amazed at how very flexible simple ingredients can be when it comes to cleaning around the house. So much better in many cases than the harsher chemicals that are so popular and cost so much more.

Baking soda and vinegar are my two favorites. They can each do some of the work on their own, and work quite well in combination.

My start was learning that you could use baking soda and vinegar to clear a clogged drain. If you ever did the old volcano experiment in school, it's pretty much the same thing.

You pour a cup of baking soda into the drain, followed by a cup of vinegar. Wait several minutes, then pour boiling water down the drain.

In just about every case, the drain will quickly be cleared with this method. Just don't try it if you've already poured commercial drain cleaner down. The mixture can be dangerous.

These two safe and common household items can be used for quite a bit more. You can replace most of the usual cleansers you buy at the store with these for your regular household cleaning.

Cleaning with Vinegar

Vinegar by itself can be quite effective. In most cases you are best off diluting it with water to cut the acidity. A one to one dilution is generally sufficient.

Vinegar works well as a disinfectant and deodorant. You can even use it in the laundry as a fabric softener. DO NOT try this if you use chlorine bleach in your laundry. The fumes created by mixing vinegar with chlorine bleach are dangerous.

There are some things you should not clean with vinegar, of course. Marble tops the list. Pure vinegar can also be too hard on tile grout, which is why dilution is so strongly recommended.

If you aren't sure if you should be using vinegar on a surface, do just as they suggest for other cleansers. Test it on a small, inconspicuous area.

But most hard surfaces can be cleaned quite nicely with it. That's your tile floors, sinks, countertops and appliances.

This includes your coffee maker. Run vinegar through the coffee maker's brew cycle to clean it out. Run water through a couple times after to rinse so you don't get a vinegar flavor to your coffee.

Vinegar also helps to remove sticky residue, such as what price labels leave behind on dishes and jars.

It can even help with lime deposits, although you need to be a bit more patient. Soak a paper towel in vinegar then leave it covering the area encrusted with lime for about an hour.

Vinegar can even replace your air fresheners. I've never liked the idea of spraying assorted chemicals into my home to make things smell like whatever scent they're calling "fresh" these days.

Instead, I boil a small pan of vinegar. Yes, it smells like vinegar at first. But the vinegar smell will fade away and take the other smells with it. This of course works best in the kitchen with cooking smells, where the smells are coming from in the first place.

Cleaning with Baking Soda

Baking soda is useful when you need something a little more abrasive. It's not nearly as abrasive as many commercial preparations, so you may have to scrub a little harder or use some vinegar if appropriate. However, it gets the job done in many cases.

Don't forget the classic role of baking soda in the refrigerator to absorb odors. It also works in the garbage can.

If you like, baking soda works in laundry much as vinegar does. However, you would add it with the detergent rather than treating it as you would your fabric softener. 1/2 cup is good for top loading washers, 1/4 cup for front loading. Use about half the bleach if you use baking soda.

A paste made of baking soda can clean most surfaces. It can take some extra effort to rinse them off if you let it dry on, but it has that little bit of abrasiveness that can make cleaning go faster when you're dealing with stains.

It can even remove marks from painted walls. Do this gently, so you don't remove the paint, of course. All it takes is a bit of baking soda on a damp sponge.

Mix with salt if you need something a little more abrasive.

Cleaning with Baking Soda and Vinegar Mixed

Baking soda and vinegar together do more than just clear out drains. That's just the classic one that gets people interested in the possibilities, I think. But there's much more they can do together.

Mix a half cup of vinegar, a quarter cup of baking soda into a half gallon of water and keep in a spray bottle. Use for regular cleaning.

They also combine well to get stains out of carpets and clothes. Sprinkle on some baking soda, then spray on vinegar. Scrub and allow to dry. This will remove many kinds of stains. Just be sure you do a spot test first. The excess can be vacuumed out of carpets when dry, or washed out of clothes as you would normally.

Share your ideas, successes and even problems.


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