As the DIY movement gets more popular, it can be cumbersome to go through all the recipes for cleaning solutions. However, it’s necessary make sure they are safe and actually work. DIY cleaning recipe hacks get pushed out constantly without research. As result, there can be disastrous consequences for readers who casually try them out.
WARNING: This information might really surprise you, but it’s for your own good!
The (in)famous baking soda and vinegar DIY cleaning recipe has been going around the internet for some time. What is it though, that makes this solution so terrible for cleaning? At first glance, it seems like a brilliant way to clean because these are two effective ingredients. Baking soda and vinegar are fantastic ways of eliminating odor and killing bacteria on their own. So, why not combine them and get even better results?
In retrospect, watching the chemical reaction take place in middle school science lab made it seem to have a similar effect to what we see happening when we spray commercial bathroom cleaners in the shower. In reality though, the chemical reaction we are witnessing is quite different. So, what is really happening when we watch vinegar and baking soda foam up in our DIY volcanoes and our bath tubs as a DIY cleaning recipe?
To simplify, baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is a base. On the opposite end of the spectrum is vinegar, also known as acetic acid, which is as you guessed, an acid. When these two substances combine, they break up the solution into water and carbon dioxide at a fast rate. This leads to impressive volcano project eruptions. However, for us the result is a neutral liquid. The dynamic combo does nothing for cleaning.
When you combine something alkaline (baking soda) with something acidic (vinegar), you get a neutral substance. In terms of a cleaning solution, it’s a wash-out. Your DIY cleaner doesn’t clean very well at all.
The Good News About this DIY Cleaning Recipe
On a positive note, it is true that each of these ingredients are pretty powerful when mixed with water. Many consider water alone a “universal solvent.” It is able to dissolve more substances than any other liquid. Not only that, it is vital for all living things on earth. Pretty cool, right? Is there anything water can’t do? While not as powerful as commercial products, vinegar and baking soda each mixed with water really do get the job done. So, they are justifiably recommended by many experts.
If you don’t like the smell of vinegar and water, a useful tip I have learned is to add a few drops of essential oil to your mix. This will help get rid of the vinegar smell and as a bonus, help get rid of more bacteria if you use the right essential oils. My personal favorite essential oils to add are lavender and lemon. They add a fresh scent to my home without irritation to skin and lungs. Read more about essential oils and their uses here.