My Newfound Love Affair With Baking Soda and Vinegar

Vinegar 365.43

Image by loonyhiker via Flickr

You know me: I am Mme. Au Naturel, the one who finds it appalling to use pharmaceuticals to turn off the reproductive system when your body already tells you everything you need to know, the one who uses cloth diapers and makes compost. So maybe it was only a matter of time. In any case, ever since I’ve started talking about cleaning with vinegar, people have been contacting me privately to ask questions, wanting to try it themselves.

I’ve been looking for a better alternative for cleaning for several years, because nothing gets soap scum off. Regular cleaners and elbow grease weren’t doing the job, so we tried things like Kaboom foaming spray (“no scrubbing!”) and CLR. Guess what? They don’t work either.

Since nothing worked anyway, I figured I’d go to GreenWorks or the like—something environmentally friendly and less toxic. After all, I have small kids in the house, and I’m pregnant. The idea of all those fumes floating around, the residues coming in contact with our bodies, turns me off. We rinsed out an old Kaboom bottle and filled it with the concentrate mixture.

And then a blogger mentioned cleaning with vinegar. The next time the bottle ran empty, I decided to give it a try. I poured a quarter cup or so of plain old white vinegar in and filled the bottle with water. It cleaned as well as any of the other cleaners I’d found, and was both exponentially cheaper (a gallon jug costs only $2-3; when you use ¼ cup at a time, you do the math!) and so non-toxic that we cook with it. I was convinced. But still that soap scum bugged me.

Then someone mentioned baking soda. So this weekend, I sprinkled baking soda on the shower and tub walls and then hit it with my spray bottle of vinegar solution. It foamed and hissed. I took a retired cloth diaper to it and started scrubbing.

And the soap scum came off.

Did you get that? Ring the bells! Call the news stations!

*****THE SOAP SCUM CAME OFF!!!!*****

I took it to the nastiest sink in our house, the one that gets the most use, and when I was done, the surface of the sink was shiny and smooth, almost like new.

I am totally hooked. My only problem is delivery method on the baking soda; it’s hard to sprinkle from a box onto a vertical surface. Currently taking suggestions!

Here are some further links if you’re interested in exploring:


16 thoughts on “My Newfound Love Affair With Baking Soda and Vinegar

  1. I haven’t tried it but what about a canning jar with holes punched in the top so it sprinkles better?? Also, a wet dryer sheet cleans a glass shower door excellently! I have been using baking soda and vinegar as cleaner for years and I will never use anything else. I even found a recipe for mirror cleaner that costs pennies and cleans better than any store bought formula….1 cup rubbing alcohol, 1 cup water, 1 TB vinegar. Granted its a little less kid friendly bc of the rubbing alcohol but its still less likely to harm than the other stuff.

      • Shelley wrote on FB, in reply: “I can’t get my reply to post on your blog. Dryer sheet fresh from the box, wet. James found it online and was so proud of himself :)”

    • when it comes to mirror cleaners, they have specialized fabric wipes that you can get and use without cleaners! I bought a set that had ones for dusting and polishing metal and an all-purpose one. Sometimes you have to get them wet to get stuff off, but they sure beat using any chemicals.

  2. Ah, yes, I love cleaning with vinegar and baking soda!!! I typically dump baking soda on the sponge ten wet with vinegar and apply to the walls of the tub/shower.

  3. I happened to sprinkle some baking soda on a really gummed-up nonstick pan we were ready to throw out because we couldn’t get it clean and voila — some minor scrubbing & the pan was like new. Magic! I use vinegar on the floors & glass, too.

  4. Jenny Keely

    We use baking soda and vinegar to clean out mildly sluggish drains (doesn’t work for real clogs, though). We also like a product called Simple Green. It smells minty and nice and is non-toxic. I usually find it with the car washing supplies but you can use it all over the house. It is also inexpensive but not as much so as vinegar.
    Regarding sprinkling the baking soda…could you just poke holes with an ice pick in the top of a new box so you could sprinkle it?

  5. Vinegar is great for cleaning out the microwave, too. Just mix a half-and-half solution of vinegar and water (I usually do one cup of each) in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for 5 minutes on full power. When it’s done, don’t open the door or take it out; let it sit for five more minutes to let the steam work. Once that’s done, you can pretty much easily wipe away any gunk in the microwave like it’s nothing at all.

    Baking soda is great for cleaning jewelry too, especially silver jewelry — just make a paste of baking soda and water and rub it over the jewelry, or make a slightly more liquid solution and soak the jewelry for a little while. Works wonders.

  6. dottie Sowash

    I am so excited to try your method! I know it seems odd to some people to get excited about cleaning but I do. I should say I get excited about cleaning that doesn’t entail a lot of work.

    • Dottie, I got so excited the other day I actually didn’t mind cleaning. 🙂 Housecleaning hangs over my head all the time like this ginormous rock about to crush me, and to feel that sense of excitement–even if it only lasts a week or two–is really nice.

  7. I think Michelle wins the prize for the easiest, least wasteful way to apply the baking soda. 🙂

    I can tell I’ll be referring back to this post for months to come for tips.

  8. I get the funniest looks from people when I tell them I rinse my hair with vinegar. But you can’t smell it after it dries! LOL

    I’ve been purchasing handmade shampoo bars for over 2 years (which last waaaay longer than bottled liquid shampoo)… and the vinegar is a cheap, effective “conditioner” to keep hair shiny and soft. 🙂

    You can also massage a tiny bit of baking soda to your wet hair while shampooing, for fullness and added volume… but I wouldn’t use it every time you wash, as it can dry out your scalp with constant use, as it is abrasive. (I use a small bit, like 1/2 teaspoon, once per week).

    Same reason dentists suggest NOT brushing with homemade baking soda recipes, because of the enamel wear from twice-daily brushing.

    It’s the perfect all-natural cleanser for most surfaces, though!! 😀

  9. Marcia Kantola

    I use vinegar and orginal dawn soap together (1 to 1 concentration) for a cleaning solution. This combination with baking soda sprinkled is great on the tough soap scum areas. The vinegar and dawn soap combination are great for hard water buildup. I get the shower heads cleaned by letting it set a morning or so to loosen the hard water deposits. I love how the vinegar and dawn makes the metal surfaces shine:)

  10. evanscove

    LOL! Thanks for all the tips. You and my dad now have something in common, as he’s a diehard vinegar fan too! Except he thinks more in terms of medicinal uses…

    Anyway, I’ll have to try vinegar and baking soda to get rid of the stubborn soap scum (or perhaps its redundant to call soap scum ‘stubborn’?) in my bathroom. I’ve found that other cleaners just won’t get rid of it!


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