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Cleaning With Baking Soda and Vinegar

Shauna believes that we can all take steps to bring ourselves and the environment back to good health using items you have in your pantry.

Vinegar and baking soda are all you really need to clean your house.

Vinegar and baking soda are all you really need to clean your house.

Baking Soda and Vinegar Are All You Need to Clean

When family comes to visit, we seem to jump into spring cleaning mode to ready our havens for the event. I’m going through this right now, as my sister and niece are coming to visit in a couple of weeks. Not only is it awesome because I haven’t seen them in two years, but it has enabled me to test the homemade cleaner tips I've presented in other articles.

Word of advice: Don’t wait until company is scheduled to do your spring cleaning. Talk about elbow grease! Not to mention, knee grease and putting some back-breaking work into it! I’m pleased to report that baking soda and white vinegar really are all you need to get your kitchen, bathrooms, and tile floors clean.

Bathroom tile cleaned with baking soda.

Bathroom tile cleaned with baking soda.

Baking Soda Cleans Textured Tile

When I bought my house 17 years ago, I had all the existing flooring replaced. At the time, I thought it very sage of me to choose non-slippery tile for the bathrooms and kitchen. However, as a property virgin, I went with aesthetics, rather than practicality when making my tile choices.

The tile I have in my bathroom, while pretty, is full of texture (aka crevices that attract and hold moisture, which morphs into mildew). To top it off, we paid our tile installer in full before he sealed the tile. He subsequently ran off with our money and left the job unfinished. So, we bought sealant and finished the job ourselves. However, do-it-yourself sealant doesn’t last forever, and, being a single mom, keeping up on the sealant application is not foremost on my mind.

This weekend, I made a paste of baking soda and water and got on my hands and knees with a scrub brush. Thank God I have a small bathroom! The baking soda paste worked. After working the paste into the tile, I let it sit awhile, then soaked a rag in water and rubbed it off. For good measure, I followed the clean-up with a damp mop.

Porcelain tile cleaned with vinegar.  Stubborn areas required a paste of baking soda and water.

Porcelain tile cleaned with vinegar. Stubborn areas required a paste of baking soda and water.

Vinegar Works Well on Porcelain Tile

To clean the porcelain tile in my shower, I sprayed full-strength white vinegar on the tiles and rubbed with a sponge. For the more stubborn soap scum areas, I dipped the scrubby part of the sponge in dry baking soda and scrubbed, then rinsed with the showerhead.

For the shower floor tiles, I sprinkled liberal amounts of baking soda on the floor and again let it sit a bit, then scrubbed with a scrub brush. I let it sit overnight and rinsed when I showered the next morning. It works just as well as Ajax but is safer and cheaper.

I keep 4-pound boxes of store-brand baking soda in the house for cleaning purposes. At $2.19 a box, you can’t beat it. Same with vinegar. I buy it by the gallon at about $2.99 a bottle.

Cats are great companions but can cause unpleasant odors.  Use baking soda in the litter box.

Cats are great companions but can cause unpleasant odors. Use baking soda in the litter box.

Other Uses for Baking Soda and Vinegar

Clear Septic Mainline

You can use baking soda, vinegar, and hot water to keep your septic mainline clear. Pour baking soda, followed by vinegar down your drains to create a “boiling action.” Follow with hot water to push any grease or other coagulants through for clog-free pipes. Be careful not to add more baking soda than vinegar, or you could create a paste in the pipes, resulting in blockage.

Kills Weeds

Instead of using commercial weed killer, which is toxic, on the weeds and grass that pop up in your sidewalk and driveway cracks, pour or spray undiluted white vinegar directly on the vegetation. Within 24 hours, the weeds will die. They can be blown free with your leaf blower or swept away. Since my driveway tends to create its own xeriscape, I tried it and sure enough, the next day the grass and weeds were dead! Be careful to avoid plant material you don’t want to be affected, as it truly does the job.

Manage Pet Odors

If you have indoor cats, you undoubtedly have a litter box. I have 3 cats in my 1,360 square foot house. Although I love cats, I hate cat stink, and having a small house means the offensive odor of cat urine would be more readily detected than in a larger home. The box is scooped twice daily, of course, and cleaned once a week. Before adding new litter, I fill the bottom with baking soda, then add clean litter and mix well. This really helps with potential odors. Most people coming into my home don’t even realize I have cats until they see them!

Cleans Your Gums and Teeth

To help massage gums, loosen plaque and clean your teeth, brush with baking soda, then follow with toothpaste to freshen your breath.

Neutralize Gaseous Properties of Beans

When making a pot of beans, or beans and ham, add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water once the beans come to a boil. The baking soda neutralizes the gaseous properties of the beans.

Clean Pet Stains on Carpet

To eliminate odor from pet stains on carpet, blot the area and pour water on it, then apply equal parts cool water and vinegar. Blot, rinse, and let dry.

Eliminate Hard Water Rings

To eliminate the hard water rings around the faucet and handle bases, soak a cloth in vinegar and wrap it around the base. Let it sit for a few hours and wipe clean.

Clean Coffee Pot

To clean your coffee pot and free the filter tubes of residue, pour vinegar into the reservoir and brew. Pour out the brewed vinegar and repeat a few times with clean water.

Remove Stains/Odor From Hands

Rub vinegar into your hands to remove fruit stains, such as blueberry, blackberry, and cherry. This also works to remove onion odor.

Polish Chrome

Use full-strength vinegar and a soft cloth to polish your chrome.

Clean Windows, Mirrors, and Windshields

Last week, I recommended using vinegar to clean windows, mirrors, and windshields. This absolutely works and also helps prevent condensation from settling on the surface, especially in the bathroom and car, where humidity creates a smoked glass effect. To avoid towel fuzz, whether from paper or cloth, spray the surface with vinegar and wipe clean with a wadded-up newspaper.

My sister, the Cat Whisperer, de-matting Axel on my kitchen floor cleaned with baking soda and water.

My sister, the Cat Whisperer, de-matting Axel on my kitchen floor cleaned with baking soda and water.

Questions & Answers

Question: The walls of my home only have primer on them. My son put pink nail polish on my carpet and walls, and I have no clue how to get it out. Can you help?

Answer: I would make a loose paste of baking soda and water for both applications. Rub with a coarse, but soft cloth like a washcloth. Do small bits at a time and work in a circular motion, moving down the polish until it comes off.

You can also try using a fine grade sandpaper, the kind that works on removing the mud from drywall when prepping for paint.

If that doesn't work, try non-acetone nail polish. Hopefully, the polish isn't made with gel, as are many today. I wouldn't put that stuff on my nails if you gave it to me!

As far as the carpet goes, I would do what I've done in the past when I've spilled hot candle wax: pour some boiling water on the stain, then take a razor blade and scoop the melted substance up. Follow with dipping a cloth in a baking soda paste or diluted white vinegar. One thing you need to watch about using baking soda is it's a natural whitener, so if your carpet is dark, you might want to go with diluted white vinegar.

If and when you do paint, apply a paint made for bathrooms and kitchens that can easily be wiped clean and resists stains.

Also, keep your nail polish out of reach of your children. Keep your bedroom door shut and let them know that's YOUR private space!

© 2012 Shauna L Bowling


Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on August 26, 2019:

Karen, I've never heard of that remedy. Come back and let me know if it worked!

Karen on August 24, 2019:

I have been told that a paste of vinegar and baking soda put on thick toenails let set wrapped in plastic wrap 10 min helps to make toenails thinner and remove the gunk under them. I am trying it now. Hope it works, it will save me money from getting a pedicure and not hurt.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on September 19, 2018:

Sonia, eliminating chemicals from your every day living is good for you and the environment - and hopefully for your allergies!

Thanks for the visit.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on August 12, 2016:

You're welcome, Peg. It'll take some elbow grease, but it's better than using chemicals and is safer for your skin as well.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on August 12, 2016:

Definitely will be trying the baking soda on the bathroom tiles as it's been years since they were installed and they have built up a film of soap. Thanks for the great ideas on using household products for cleaning agents.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on May 27, 2015:

Thank you, Kelsey. Baking soda can be used for so many things. It really is a wonderful item to keep around the house.

Kelsey Elise Farrell from Orange County, CA on May 26, 2015:

I hadn't thought of using baking soda for textured tile but it totally makes sense! Great hub!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on August 03, 2013:

Anything to save money, Flourish! These pantry items are so much easier on the environment and our skin. Especially if you spend your life barefooted as I do! I'm glad you found this useful.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 03, 2013:

I hadn't heard about the bean trick, nor about the onion odor removal tip. Good ones to know. You can never have enough of these handy household tips and tricks in your tool bag. Voted up and useful.

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on July 18, 2012:

Oops! Tried to fix a typo and it gave me a "hide" button, so forgive me if this is a re-run!

Yes Beckie, vinegar works on weeds! I ALWAYS put baking soda in the litter box before adding the litter, then I mix it up.

Thanx for the comment, Beck!

Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on July 18, 2012:

Yep, vinggar works on weeds! I ALWAYS put baking soda in the litter box before adding the litter. Thanx for the comment Beck!

Shining Irish Eyes from Upstate, New York on July 18, 2012:

Shauna - These are useful tips. I had no idea vinegar helped to kill weeds and I will be using that one right away. Isn't baking soda great? I never realized lining the cat box was an option.

I do hope you enjoyed your visit with your sister and niece and hoep your sister is in a batter frame of mind. How can she not be after spending time with you.

Tell your Mom her tips were great as well.


Shauna L Bowling (author) from Central Florida on July 17, 2012:

You got that right, Alocin! It's really all you need and no poisons to ingest. And they are so much cheaper, too! Thanx for stopping by!

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on July 16, 2012:

It sounds like this combination can get rid of a whole lot of toxic cleaning chemicals. Voting this Up and Useful.