If you’re thinking about using baking soda to clean carpet in your home, it might be time for a new approach. Although baking soda may seem like the easiest option because it works at cleaning other surfaces and it’s already in your pantry, the carpet in your home deserves the best possible care.
There are many cleaning tricks and solutions baking soda can help with around the house, so let’s first explore those options before ditching the idea of using baking soda to clean carpet and hiring a professional.
To know if you can use baking soda to clean your carpet you’ll need to know about:
- Baking Soda Facts
- Popular Uses
- Mixing Vinegar
- Carpet Stains
Baking Soda FAQs
What is in baking soda?
To find alternative options for using baking soda to clean your carpet, you first need to understand what it is. Baking soda, also known as sodium bicarbonate, is salt. If you’d like to confirm this fact, feel free to give it a little taste next time you go rummaging through the pantry – It’s perfectly safe! But unlike traditional table salt, baking soda is an abrasive powder that you should only use on specific surfaces.
Why is baking soda used to clean?
What makes baking soda an effective cleaning agent is its basic qualities. Basic as in going back to your high school science class and reading the pH level charts on bases and acids. As a base substance, baking soda performs well at absorbing acidic things.
Part of the absorption process also makes it good at masking odors and keeping the air quality fresh. For instance, you might have noticed growing up that your mom always kept a box of baking soda in the back of the refrigerator. Maybe you thought that was weird, but your mom was trying to keep the groceries fresh.
What mixes with baking soda?
Mixing baking soda with other liquids to create a homemade cleansing paste is an acceptable method. There are a few DIY pastes that work get around the house when you need a fast clean-up:
- Warm Water
- Dish Soap
- Hydrogen Peroxide
- Lemon Juice
Popular baking soda uses
Baking soda can be used on several surfaces and in many different ways, but because it’s abrasive, you need to be careful where and what you use it on. Taking from the list of DIY cleaning pastes, you can use these baking soda mixtures around the house (Hint: Doesn’t include baking soda to clean your carpet):
1. Warm Water & Baking Soda is great for removing stains on clothes, and adding a few cups to a large load of laundry will help get rid of grime build-up. This process is called “stripping” your laundry.
- For Clothes: Mix 1/2 cup of baking soda with a couple teaspoons of warm water and gently apply to the stain.
- For Laundry: Add a couple cups of baking soda to your normal load of laundry, avoiding the need to soak clothes in a tub.
2. Dish Soap & Baking Soda mixed creates a powerful cleaning scrub by combining the abrasive properties of the baking soda with the soap’s ability to cut through grease and grime. Apply the paste on surfaces in your kitchen and bathroom, but remember to avoid surfaces that scratch easily. The properties in this homemade paste are also ideal for cleaning and deodorizing smelly shoes.
- For Scratch-prone surfaces to avoid: Stainless steel, wood, marbles, and glass (windows, mirrors, tabletops, etc.)
- For Shoes: Pour baking soda directly into shoes and let stand for a couple of hours or even overnight before pouring remnants out. Mix with warm water and a few drops of dish soap to scrub the exterior of shoes (Hint: Great for whitening shoes!)
3. Hydrogen Peroxide & Baking Soda paired together produces a unique tool for cleaning your home’s kitchen and bathroom tile. This simple combination of household items helps attack and remove grout in some of the dirtiest cracks and crevices found in your sinks and shower tubs.
It’s important to note that while you will see results in removing grout and dirt, this solution is not a disinfectant for killing germs. You’ll have to use additional cleaning products afterward for disinfecting.
- For Tiles, Sinks & Tubs: Mix hydrogen peroxide and baking soda at a 1:2 ratio for the most effective grout cleaning. Let it sit for 30 minutes before scrubbing and washing away.
4. Lemon Juice & Baking Soda is another quick and easy concoction that helps knock out unpleasant odors, like that reusable water bottle you keep bringing back from the gym but forget to clean every day. Or maybe you just hosted a dinner party and left a bunch of dishes in the sink with food scraps, and you notice the garbage disposal has a pungent smell. Good thing you have lemon juice handy!
- For Reusable Water Bottles: Add a couple teaspoons of lemon juice and baking soda with warm water inside the bottle and let it sit overnight before scrubbing it out the next morning.
- For Garbage Disposals: Splash some lemon juice and baking soda down the drain and wait 30 minutes before rinsing.
Should I Mix Baking Soda With Vinegar to Clean?
For some of you, the last time you mixed baking soda and vinegar might’ve been for a grade school science fair project. The one where you built a paper mache volcano and poured vinegar and baking soda together into a funnel, and then watched in amazement as it erupted into a bubbly mess.
What you quickly discovered from your teachers and parents is that a simple, non-dangerous reaction occurred that produced water, salt, and carbon dioxide. Well it turns out, that combination also has some practical cleaning applications when it comes to whitening your laundry and cleaning the kitchen oven:
- For Whitening Laundry: Dump 1/2 cup of baking soda into your regular load of laundry and pour distilled white vinegar into the fabric softening dispenser. Start the wash cycle. (Hint: Keep baking soda and vinegar separate to avoid a volcano eruption in the middle of your laundry room)
- For Cleaning Oven: Mix 3/4 cup of baking soda with 1/4 cup of warm water. Remove oven racks and apply the paste to the entire interior of the oven. Let stand overnight before removing the next day with a plastic scraper and wet cloth. After the paste is completely removed, mix a 1:1 ratio of white vinegar and warm water to wipe down the oven. (Hint: Still keeping those volcanic ingredients from touching)
Notice how none of those options include using baking soda to clean carpet? That’s because there are more effective ways to treat those nasty carpet stains. Next, we’ll examine the most commonly found carpet stains in your house.
Most Common Carpet Stains
- Coffee stains
- Wine/Juice stains
- Pet stains
- Blood stains
- Mud/Dirt stains
You might be asking yourself, baking soda to clean my carpet should work on all of these, right? It works for so many other things around my house. A baking soda carpet cleaner recipe should be fast and easy!
Carpet stains cannot be eliminated with a one size fits all remedy because each stain carries its unique scientific properties that only certain cleaners or carpet cleaning methods will be successful on.
You wouldn’t want to use a single product, including baking soda to clean your carpet for all stains and spills. On a scientific level, stains can be bundled into three different categories: Water Soluble, Dry-Solvent Soluble, and Insoluble.
1. Water Soluble
Whatever definitions are floating around in your head from chemistry class, this type of stain is exactly what you think it is. Water-soluble stains simply dissolve in water. This includes most types of fluids as well as starches, salts, and sugars. Your coffee, wine, juice, and blood stains all fit under this category and therefore will be treated in similar ways when removed.
2. Dry-Solvent Soluble
This one probably doesn’t register in your memory right away, but it’s easy to learn again. Dry-solvent solubles are substances that water cannot remove, and neither can baking soda to clean your carpet most effectively.
Dry-solvent solubles include oil and grease stains that range everywhere from vegetable oils to animal fats used in your cooking. It also includes those grimey stains from tar and asphalt tracked in from the garage.
Through a simple dissection of the word, we know insoluble is the exact opposite of soluble. What that means is these stains cannot be removed with chemicals found in everyday cleaners because they don’t dissolve.
The insoluble category is where you find your mud and dirt stains and most pet stains, but also sand and dust. When left untreated over time, these stains become increasingly more difficult to remove on your own.
Removing Common Stains From Carpet
So as you just learned, or were maybe reminded of, each type of stain is different, which now leads to the method of removing those stains. If you’re keeping score in your head, that still means not using baking soda to clean your carpet.
Why? Because the scientific properties in each stain react differently with the color and type of carpet in your home, and knowing those differences is crucial.
The biggest mistake you could make is throwing together the wrong version of a baking soda carpet cleaner recipe that ends up destroying your carpet forever. Let’s take a closer look at how that happens on our common carpet stains:
1. Coffee, Wine, Juice & Blood Stains
These water-soluble stains share similar characteristics because they dissolve in water, but that doesn’t translate into removing them once they have already stained the carpet. We talked a little bit about acidity earlier, but a substance’s pH level matters.
Juice and wine are more acidic than traditional black coffee, which then changes pH levels again depending on if you like to add milk, cream, or foam.
Blood sits in a different pH level somewhere in the middle of acidic and basic because it’s 90% water. But as we all know, blood is red, and the different colors of stain matter on different carpets. Also, with any stain, especially blood, the amount of time it has to soak deeper into the carpet, the harder it becomes to remove.
2. Pets, Dirt & Mud Stains
We know from our chemistry class flashback that water will not work on these stains, and neither will baking soda to clean your carpet. The most common pet stain is urine from your dog or cat. And that can make things a little tricky.
According to the Carpet and Rug Institute, the age, sex, health and, type of medication your pet is on can make its urine more damaging to your carpet. And like blood, if it sits too long inside the carpet fibers, no amount of baking soda cocktail will clean it.
Mud and dirt are also enemies with your carpet over time, but the major difference between the two comes from wetness. The removal method for these stains depends greatly on moisture because it impacts how deep the stain travels into the carpet.
Applying heat to the stain could be a potential solution, and that’s why it helps to have someone with experience make that decision rather than throwing baking soda on wet carpet.
Hiring A Professional Carpet Cleaner
Cleaning your carpet with baking soda sounds fast and easy, but you shouldn’t have to be responsible for knowing the pH levels, dye characteristics, and moisture density of everything you accidentally spill on it. Trained carpet cleaning professionals with several decades worth of experience already know the answers and are available to help.
We learned that baking soda can be a versatile cleaning tool around your home, but there are better solutions you can utilize more than baking soda to clean carpet. It’s great for a quick solution to mask odors or to wipe down your bathroom and kitchen.
The carpet is a sacred space where friends and family come to gather, and using baking soda to clean the carpet doesn’t serve as the most successful option.