How to Clean with Vinegar and Baking Soda

Gretchen Becker
Written by Gretchen Becker
Updated February 15, 2016
vinegar, baking soda, toothpicks, water and sponges
Vinegar and baking soda can be useful all over the home. (Angi photo)

These two common household items allow for a wide array of potential uses.

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Want a great cleaning solution that eliminates hard water scum? How about removing crusted food from the microwave without scrubbing?

House cleaning experts say the answer’s likely right inside your kitchen cabinets in the form of simple products, such as vinegar, baking soda, lemon oil or just a damp cloth.

“Part of cleaning for me is the basics,” says Franklin, Indiana member Sara Colburn-Alsop, who used Indianapolis' The Best Cleaning Lady service for biweekly cleanings and a deep clean when she moved into a new house. “If you have vinegar, and you have baking soda, you can clean your house.”

Cindy Wright, owner of Indy's highly rated Cindy’s Custom Cleaning, says a spray bottle of rubbing alcohol and paper towels can clean most surfaces in her clients’ homes. Her other must-have supplies include cleaning vinegar, laminate floor cleaner, toilet bowl cleaner and Comet for bathrooms.

Wright, who charges an average of $120 to $130 per cleaning, says she also keeps a damp rag in her arsenal. “Right underneath the doors and next to the floor, just use a damp cloth and run it under there,” she says.

Ways to use baking soda and vinegar

Silver cleaner: Make a paste using three parts baking soda to one part water. Rub the paste into the silver and then gently scrub it away using warm water. For a sparkling finish that your grandmother would be proud of, gently dry with a clean, soft cloth.

Baked on foods: Meals that stick to the bottom of the pan can take forever to clean out, but baking soda will speed up the process. Simply sprinkle baking soda in the bottom of the pot, add a little hot water and allow it to soak overnight. The next morning you can easily remove that food and finish cleaning the pot, pan or glass dish.

Scuff marks: Linoleum and even tile floors can fall victim to scuff marks. Easily clean away by sprinkling the scuffed area with baking soda and then wiping it clean with a warm, damp cloth. This method is even appropriate for no-wax floors.

Countertop stains: Whether it’s the kitchen or the bathroom, stains on the countertop can be unsightly. Make a paste of three parts baking soda to one part water and apply it to the stain. Allow it to sit for a few minutes then wipe it away along with the stain.

Clogged drains: Copper pipes in older homes require special cleaners that won’t corrode the copper. Use baking soda as an alternative that is safe for all piping and won’t create dangerous fumes. Just pour 1/4 cup or baking soda down the drain weekly, and then rinse away with hot water.

Carpet odors: Sprinkle baking soda into the carpets 15 minutes before vacuuming and you will soon enjoy a fresh smelling carpet.

Cigarette smoke: If you have smokers in the home, add some baking soda to the ashtrays to prevent the smoke smell from permeating your home.

More simple home cleaning tips

Also, try these expert tips:

Use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to eliminate fingerprints or marks on white or light-colored walls and floors. Lemon oil works well to treat spots on dark wood.

Combine Murphy's Oil Soap and water to make a solution to clean hardwood floors, cabinets and baseboards. It also makes them shine!

Microwave a cup of vinegar to break up food residue that’s stuck inside before wiping it out.

Remove smudges and smears on stainless steel by using a damp microfiber cloth.

Instead of spraying and wiping down every leaf on artificial plants, rinse them all off at once in the sink or hose and set them outside or on a counter to dry.

For glass shower doors with hard-water stains, clean them with vinegar to leave behind a streak-free surface.

If you find it tricky to keep dark granite countertops smudge-free, use soapy water to wipe them and then buff dry with a clean, dry cloth.

Sanitize doorknobs, doors, walls and other areas by wiping with a mixture of antibacterial dish soap and white vinegar in a bucket of hot water.

Sprinkle baking soda in showers and sinks to act as a natural cleanser and deodorizer.

Editor's note: This is an updated versino of an article that was originally posted on March 3, 2014. Additional reporting by Staci Giordullo.

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