16 things to clean with baking soda and vinegar

  • Vinegar and baking soda cause a chemical reaction that can remove stains and break down grease.
  • The combination can be used to clean grout, silverware, microwaves and more.
  • Vinegar and baking soda can be a great chemical-free alternative to commercially made cleaners.
  • Visit Insider’s Home & Kitchen Reference Library for more stories.

You may remember that baking soda and vinegar were go-to ingredients for science experiments on volcanoes when you were a kid. That same sparkling power can be harnessed to clean items throughout your home without any harsh chemicals.

“The acid in vinegar breaks down baking soda, releasing carbon dioxide which can help lift dirt from surfaces to be cleaned,” says Tonya Harris, founder of Slightly Greener.

In most cases, Harris recommends combining one part baking soda with two parts white vinegar. This combo can cut through grease and remove stains, sometimes better than store-bought cleaners, she says.

Water running down a garbage disposal sink drain

Baking soda and vinegar work together to loosen stuck-on debris.

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To keep your garbage disposal working like new, pour half a cup of baking soda down the drain, followed immediately by a cup of vinegar. Let the mixture sit for ten minutes, then run the water to rinse.

Clogged drains in your sink are cleaned using the same process as garbage disposal. The bubbling action can loosen stuck debris, allowing it to flow freely again. For stubborn clogs, you may need to repeat the process several times, says Harris.

A hand wearing a blue rubber glove using a yellow rag to clean a washing machine

Run a hot cycle with baking soda and vinegar.

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To clean your washing machine, add baking soda and vinegar to the drum, then run the machine on its hottest setting. Be careful not to get vinegar on the rubber seals around the doors, Harris says. The acidity of vinegar can erode rubber and make these seals less effective.

4. The sink

To clean the sink, sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda on the bottom. Then, pour in enough vinegar to make it foam. Rub with a soft sponge making sure to touch the sides as well as the bottom.

5. Stubborn stuck-on foods

For stubborn stains on the sink or microwave, mix a paste of 2 tablespoons baking soda and 1 tablespoon water. Spread the paste over the stain; then spray vinegar until it fizzes. Rub lightly with a soft sponge.

A pair of hands wearing pink cleaning gloves using a sponge and spray bottle to clean grout

Clean the grout thoroughly at least once a year.

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Cleaning your grout every year with baking soda and vinegar can keep it looking shiny. Mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of castile soap. Spread it into the grout lines, then spray with white vinegar. Let it sit until it stops fizzing, then wipe it off. Scrub gently with a toothbrush if necessary.

To clean mold or mildew from the shower, spray the area with white vinegar. Let sit for an hour, then wipe off with a warm, damp cloth. If that doesn’t clean the mold, make a paste of baking soda and water, and scrub gently with a soft sponge.

8. Carpet

Gloved hand cleaning a wet spot on the floor.

When removing stains from carpet, blot, do not rub.

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Baking soda and vinegar is a powerful homemade carpet cleaner. Sprinkle baking soda on a small stain, then spray vinegar on it. “You can see the stain peeling off the carpet,” says Harris. Blot with a light-colored towel, but don’t rub, and always be sure to test a hidden area of ​​the carpet first.

9. Clothing and upholstery

The same cleaning power that works on carpets can work on other fabrics, from clothes to sofas. Follow the same process as above, repeating it if necessary.

10. Pots and Pans

A dirty pan with baking soda inside ready to be scrubbed

Baking soda serves as a scouring agent to remove stuck-on debris.

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To clean pots and pans, mix 1/2 cup water with 1 cup vinegar directly into the dirty pot. As long as it’s stovetop safe, place it on the stovetop and bring the water to a boil. Then, remove the pan from the burner and add 3 tablespoons of baking soda and let cool. Once cool enough to handle, rub lightly, then rinse.

11. Stove

After cleaning your pots and pan, it’s time to get a sparkling cooker. Remove all crumbs and burner caps. Sprinkle a very thin layer of baking soda, then spray vinegar on top to activate the fizz. Wipe off the solution, repeating as necessary to remove all baking soda residue.

12. Baked spots

For particularly difficult spots on your stovetop, make a paste of baking soda and water. Cover the stain and let it dry completely. Then spray with vinegar and wipe.

13. Oven

How to clean an oven

The steam helps dislodge any debris.

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First, remove any crumbs or food particles. Next, heat a pot of water in the oven for 15 minutes. The steam will loosen dirt and grime. When the oven has cooled enough to the touch, sprinkle baking soda on the bottom, then spray vinegar on top. Rub lightly, repeating if necessary.

To make silverware shine, line a glass pan with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Place your silverware in a single layer in the pan. Mix 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 tablespoon of sea salt. Sprinkle the mixture over the silverware. Next, add 1/2 cup of vinegar, which will froth the mixture. Then add 2 cups of boiling water. Let the silverware soak for up to four minutes. Remove piece by piece using pliers and dry with a microfiber cloth.

A bowl of water with lemon slices floating in it sitting inside a microwave

Add lemon for a fresh scent.

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Combine 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave it for four to five minutes, making sure the mixture doesn’t boil over. When done, leave the door closed, allowing the steam to loosen the stains. Wipe with a clean towel. Use a baking soda paste to remove stuck-on stains.

16. Toilet bowl

Pour 2 cups of white vinegar into the bowl, then 1 cup of baking soda. Add a drop of essential oils for a clean scent, if desired. Let the mixture fizz, then scrub with a toilet brush and flush the toilet.

Insider’s Takeaways

Although they don’t

kill germs

, baking soda and vinegar create a powerful reaction that can remove stains and break down grease. You can clean everything from your silverware to your toilet bowl with this combination without introducing harsh chemicals into your home. “It’s a great non-toxic alternative to conventional cleansers,” says Harris.