You sprinkle and pour and watch the satisfying bubbles rise up. You watch the bubbles pop and feel proud that you’re using a safe and non-toxic cleaning solution. The bubbles fade away and you scrub down your sink, toliet, tub, or counter. But do you really know what you’re actually scrubbing around and how effective it is?
I learned something interesting last month when I wrote a post over on Keeper of the Home about vinegar not being a great non-toxic cleaner. Some people love their vinegar and can be kinda defensive about it! But, I’m here today to dispel a green and natural cleaning myth: That vinegar and baking soda is an effective homemade cleaning solution.
So should you use a vinegar and baking soda mixture for cleaning? The truth might actually surprise you.
The Truth About Vinegar and Baking Soda Mixed Together
We all know that when you mix vinegar and baking soda together, you get a great bubbly, fizzing reaction. But what do you really have left after all the bubbling and fizzing dies down? Really not much more than a salt water solution.
I will admit, this was news to me too when I first read about it while doing research for my book!
“What?!” I thought, “but I’ve read in so many different places about using vinegar and baking soda together as a homemade, non-toxic cleaner ! I’ve even written about it and advised other people to use it for cleaning!” Oops!
But it’s true:
The chemical reaction actually occurs in two steps. First, there is double displacement reaction in which acetic acid in vinegar reacts with sodium bicarbonate to form sodium acetate and carbonic acid. Carbonic acid is unstable and undergoes a decomposition reaction to produce the carbon dioxide gas.
The carbon dioxide escapes the solution as bubbles. The bubbles are heavier than air, so the carbon dioxide collects at the surface of the container or overflows it… A dilute sodium acetate solution remains after the reaction. Source
So, if you’re looking to clean your sink, toilet, tub, counters, or stovetop with more than just salt water, then I would not recommend mixing the baking soda and vinegar, letting it sit for a minute while it fizzes, and then doing your cleaning. At that point you’ll basically be cleaning with diluted salt water.
Instead of using baking soda and vinegar, the best cleaner for all around your house is still soap.
I love my homemade multipurpose cleaner made with castile soap, tea tree oil, and water! Sometimes I’ll sprinkle a really soiled surface with baking soda or cream of tartar first and then spray on the multipurpose cleaner. The baking soda or cream of tartar is great for scrubbing and whitening and the soap and tea tree oil add cleaning and disinfecting power!
Now, I don’t think this means there is absolutely no cleaning value in the bubbling action of the baking soda and vinegar. If you sprinkle baking soda on a surface, and then spray or pour vinegar over it and scrub right away – it will probably do an okay job. Baking soda is still a great non-abrasive scrubbing agent and vinegar still has disinfecting qualities.
I think I’ll keep admiring the baking soda and vinegar bubble dome while cleaning out my drains rather than cleaning my dirty kitchen and bathroom!
Are you tired of using toxic chemical cleaners around your home? Do you wish you could replace your conventional cleaners with natural and effective cleaners that are truly safe to use around your family?
My eBook, Green Your Life, will walk you step-by-step through replacing all of the conventional chemicals cleaners in your home with homemade, non-toxic cleaning solutions. You will save money by using inexpensive, natural ingredients to make multipurpose cleaning products that can replace the many different cleaning products you have in your cabinets right now. Begin your green cleaning journey today!
Would you like to get started using homemade, non-toxic and green cleaners all around your house? Get my Free Guide to 5 Surprising Non-Toxic Cleaners you already have at home when you sign up for the Live Renewed Community newsletter. (And here’s a hint: Baking Soda and Vinegar aren’t even on the list!)
Then hop over to my 31 Days to Green Clean series where you’ll find tons of recipes, tips and tricks for homemade and natural cleaners that will help you get your whole house clean without the use of toxic chemical cleaners!