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16 things around your house you should be cleaning with baking soda and vinegar

Business Insider US
LaylaBird/Getty Images
Spray vinegar onto baking soda to unleash a powerful fizzing reaction.
  • Vinegar and baking soda cause a chemical reaction that can lift stains and cut through grease.
  • The combination can be used to clean grouting, silverware, microwaves, and so much more.
  • Vinegar and baking soda can be a great chemical-free alternative to commercially-made cleaners.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

You might remember baking soda and vinegar as the go-to ingredients for homemade volcano science experiments as a kid. That same fizzing power can be harnessed to clean items throughout your home without any harsh chemicals. 

"The acid in the vinegar breaks down baking soda, releasing carbon dioxide gas that can help lift dirt from the surfaces being cleaned," says Tonya Harris, founder of Slightly Greener

For most purposes, Harris recommends combining one part baking soda with two parts white vinegar. That combo can cut through grease and lift stains, sometimes better than store-bought cleaners, she says. 

1. Garbage disposal

Baking soda and vinegar react to loosen stuck debris. Oxford-/Getty Images
Baking soda and vinegar react to loosen stuck debris. Oxford-/Getty Images

To get your garbage disposal running 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. 

2. Clogged drains

Clogged drains in your sink are cleaned using the same process as the 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 a few times, says Harris. 

3. Washing machine

Run a hot cycle with baking soda and vinegar. Getty Images
Run a hot cycle with baking soda and vinegar. Getty Images

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 any vinegar on the rubber seals around the doors, says Harris. The acidity of vinegar can erode the rubber and make those seals less efficient. 

4. The sink

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

5. Stubborn stuck-on food 

For stubborn spots on the sink or microwave, mix up a paste made from 2 tablespoons baking soda and 1 tablespoon water. Spread the paste over the spot; then, spray on vinegar until it fizzes. Scrub lightly with a soft sponge. 

6. Grout

Deep-clean grout at least once a year. ronstik/Getty Images
Deep-clean grout at least once a year. ronstik/Getty Images

Cleaning your grout annually with baking soda and vinegar can keep it looking bright. Combine 2 tablespoons of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of Castile soap. Spread that into the grout lines, then spray with white vinegar. Let it sit until it stops fizzing, then wipe away. Scrub gently with a toothbrush if needed.

7. Shower mold and mildew

To clear shower mould or mildew, spray the area with white vinegar. Let it sit for an hour, then wipe with a warm, wet cloth. If that doesn't clear the mould, make a paste of baking soda and water, and gently scrub that on with a soft sponge. 

8. Carpets

When removing stains on carpet, blot, don't scrub. pinstock/Getty Images
When removing stains on carpet, blot, don't scrub. pinstock/Getty Images

Baking soda and vinegar is a powerful homemade carpet cleaner. Sprinkle baking soda over a small stained spot, then spray vinegar on top. "You can see the stain actually lifting out of the carpet," says Harris. Blot with a light-coloured towel, but don't scrub, and always be sure to spot-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 clothing to couches. Follow the same process as above, repeating if necessary. 

10. Pots and pans

Baking soda serves as a scouring agent to scrub away stuck-on debris. svehlik/Getty Images
Baking soda serves as a scouring agent to scrub away stuck-on debris. svehlik/Getty Images

To clean pots and pans, combine 1/2 a cup of water with 1 cup of vinegar directly in the dirty pan. As long as it's stove-top safe, place it on the stove and bring the water to a boil. Then, remove the pan from the burner and add 3 tablespoons of baking soda and let it cool. Once it's cool enough to handle, lightly scrub, then rinse. 

11. Stovetops

After you've cleaned your pots and pan, it's time to get a gleaming stovetop. Remove all crumbs and burner caps. Sprinkle on a very thin layer of baking soda, then spray vinegar over top to activate the fizz. Wipe the solution away, repeating if necessary to clear all the baking soda residue. 

12. Cooked-on stains

For particularly tough 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 away. 

13. Oven

Steam helps loosen any debris. Jevtic/Getty Images
Steam helps loosen any debris. Jevtic/Getty Images

First, clear out any crumbs or food particles. Then, heat a pan of water in the oven for 15 minutes. The steam will loosen dirt and grime. When the oven has cooled enough to touch, sprinkle baking soda into the bottom, then spray vinegar on top. Lightly scrub, repeating as necessary. 

14. Silverware

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

15. Microwave

Add lemon for a fresh scent. MarianVejcik/Getty Images
Add lemon for a fresh scent. MarianVejcik/Getty Images

Combine 1 cup of water and 1 tablespoon of vinegar in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave it for four to five minutes, keeping watch so the mixture doesn't boil over. When it's done, leave the door closed, allowing steam to loosen stains. Wipe with a clean towel. Use a baking soda paste to scrub away any stuck-on spots. 

16. Toilet bowl 

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

Takeaway

Although they don't kill germs, baking soda and vinegar create a powerful reaction that can lift stains and cut through grease. You can clean everything from your silverware to your toilet bowl with this combination, without bringing harsh chemicals into your home. "It's a great non-toxic alternative to conventional cleaners," says Harris.

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