Don't Use Vinegar and Baking Soda on Slow-Moving Drains

Baking Soda and Vinegar: Get the True Science Behind them Both

Today, let’s delve into the efficacy of using baking soda and vinegar for drain and household cleaning purposes. This combination is often touted as a staple in homemade cleaning solutions, commonly found in various online DIY cleaning guides. Let’s address the widespread belief surrounding the efficacy of using vinegar and baking soda to clear clogged drains. Initially, I, like many others, embraced this homemade solution until putting it to the test. Upon experimentation, it became evident that, similar to numerous viral trends, the notion of vinegar and baking soda as a drain cleaner is largely unfounded.

Despite endorsements from prominent figures like Martha Stewart and numerous plumbing companies advocating its use, vinegar and baking soda are ineffective in clearing clogged drains. Even for slow-moving bathroom drains, this method proves to be largely ineffective and time-consuming.

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Let’s Discover the Truth about Utilizing Baking Soda and Vinegar for Drain Cleaning 

Again, despite its widespread recommendation, I caution against mixing these two ingredients for drain cleaning, as it may lead to clogging. This discrepancy has sparked considerable discussion, as thousands of websites advocate for this mixture as a homemade drain cleaner. So, let’s uncover the truth about the effectiveness of utilizing baking soda and vinegar in cleaning routines.

I’d like to address the common belief surrounding using baking soda and vinegar for cleaning purposes. It’s a topic that has garnered significant attention and debate within DIY cleaning solutions. If you’ve explored any online resources on homemade cleaners, chances are you’ve encountered discussions about the combined use of baking soda and vinegar. This combination is often heralded as a versatile solution for various cleaning tasks. 

We Need to Understand the Science Behind Concocting Remedies like Baking Soda and Vinegar

Let’s delve into the chemistry behind creating homemade cleaners or solutions. Understanding the chemical processes involved is crucial when concocting these DIY remedies. Here is an ebook by Alexis Rochester, B.S Professional Chemistry. It’s a comprehensive chemical reference guide providing background information on the various components, including baking soda and vinegar.

These same principles apply to baking soda and vinegar. When these two substances are combined, they don’t merely mix—they undergo a chemical reaction. This reaction is pivotal when considering the effectiveness of baking soda and vinegar in cleaning applications.

Let’s Delve into the Chemistry behind Baking Soda and Vinegar 

Baking soda, scientifically known as sodium bicarbonate with the chemical formula NaHCO3, functions as a base due to its alkaline nature. Conversely, vinegar, or acetic acid, bears the chemical formula CH3COOH and exhibits highly acidic properties, signified by its low pH level. This acidity renders vinegar effective in removing debris and stains.

When these two substances are combined, a chemical reaction ensues:

NaHCO3 + CH3COOH → NaC2H3O2 (sodium acetate) + H2O (water) + CO2 (carbon dioxide) This reaction is often observed as bubbling and effervescence, a phenomenon commonly experienced when mixing baking soda and vinegar. For many, witnessing this reaction serves as an early introduction to chemical reactions and scientific principles.

Understanding the Particular Cleaning Application

When vinegar and baking soda are combined, they indeed undergo a chemical reaction. This reaction yields water and carbon dioxide, resulting in gas bubbles. Additionally, a salt known as sodium acetate is formed, which registers as basic on the pH scale. While the reaction approaches neutralization on the pH scale, it doesn’t fully neutralize.

It’s important to note that once the reaction occurs, it is complete. After combining vinegar and baking soda, the reaction proceeds with bubbling, fizzing, and eventual completion. However, this reaction does not recur, which is crucial to understanding, particularly in cleaning applications.

For instance, baking soda and vinegar are applied separately in a homemade carpet cleaner recipe. When used in tandem, the reaction between the two aids in breaking up stains effectively. Once this initial reaction occurs, they do not react again. Understanding the reaction’s one-time occurrence is pivotal to optimizing cleaning effectiveness.

What Happens When Combined in a Bottle?

Yes, when vinegar and baking soda are combined in a bottle, they undergo a chemical reaction. However, once this reaction is complete, there is no further action. Essentially, you’re left with a salt solution, which doesn’t offer any significant cleaning benefits. Therefore, combining vinegar and baking soda in a bottle for cleaning purposes may not provide the desired cleaning efficacy.

Baking Soda and Vinegar is Ineffective at Addressing Grease Buildup

As previously mentioned, I advise against using baking soda in conjunction with vinegar for drain cleaning purposes. Why? Because this combination isn’t particularly effective at addressing grease buildup. While initially, they may combine to break down surface particles within the drain, once they reach deeper areas, the reaction has already concluded.

This Combination is Better Suited to Tackle Tough Grease

This method doesn’t thoroughly clear a drain, especially when dealing with stubborn grease stains. It’s more suitable for bathroom drains, where it can help mitigate water and soap buildup, primarily due to the acidic properties of vinegar, which are adept at combating soap scum and water deposits. A more effective approach for heavy clogs in kitchen drains involves using a surfactant, such as dishwashing liquid, combined with boiling water. This combination is better suited to tackle tough grease clogs, offering a more comprehensive solution for kitchen drain maintenance.

Experiment with Baking Soda and Vinegar as a Homemade Carpet Cleaner

When it comes to cleaning with baking soda and vinegar, it’s important to understand that their efficacy stems from the chemical reaction they undergo. While they do offer benefits, it’s crucial to note that their cleaning properties are primarily activated during this reaction. Once the reaction concludes, their cleaning effectiveness diminishes.

This is why combining baking soda and vinegar in a bottle or container isn’t necessary, as the reaction occurs upon mixing and doesn’t provide prolonged cleaning benefits. I highly recommend experimenting with our homemade carpet cleaner, which incorporates baking soda and vinegar. This method has proven to be highly effective in removing both old and new stains, making it an excellent solution for maintaining the cleanliness of your carpets, although not your drains.

This Comprehensive Resource is an Excellent Starting Point

If you’re interested in creating homemade cleaners, I highly recommend referring to our science-based DIY cleaning guide. This comprehensive resource is an excellent starting point and ensures that you’re utilizing ingredients correctly and effectively. Despite the ease and safety of homemade cleaners, it’s surprisingly easy to misuse them.

For example, there’s a prevalent misconception online regarding vinegar being the ultimate all-purpose cleaner. However, as we’ve outlined in this post, vinegar is highly acidic and can cause damage to surfaces, particularly those made of natural stone, which are common in many homes today. Regular use of vinegar can lead to surface deterioration over time. That’s why I prefer using rubbing alcohol for certain cleaning tasks. For more information on this alternative approach, I encourage you to explore the details provided in this post.

Either these plumbing companies want to appease their customers, or they just don’t understand the science behind baking soda and vinegar. Even Liquid Plumr® has a place on its website promoting the concoction. However, they say, “Liquid-Plumr is your best bet for tackling tough clogs.” So what’s a “tough clog”? It’s a clogged shower or sink. In other words, they are appeasing their customers. In fact, drain cleaners are designed for minor clogs, and tough clogs require a plumbing professional

Avoid Potential Pitfalls, Don’t Compromise on Your Drains and Surfaces

While homemade cleaners offer a safe and cost-effective alternative to commercial products, it’s essential to approach them with knowledge and caution. Our science-based DIY cleaning guide serves as a valuable resource to ensure you’re harnessing the full potential of these cleaners while avoiding potential pitfalls.

Remember, vinegar, often hailed as a universal cleaner, can have adverse effects, particularly on surfaces like natural stone. By being mindful of the ingredients you use and their properties, you can maintain a clean and healthy home environment without compromising the integrity of your surfaces.

So, armed with the right information, whether you’re tackling everyday messes or embarking on a deep cleaning project, you can confidently create effective homemade cleaners tailored to your specific needs. Here’s to cleaner homes and brighter days ahead!

Brandon and Family, Licensed plumbing contractor

Family Owned & Operated

My name is Brandon Mageno. I'm the founder, President, and CEO of Big B's Plumbing Company. As the founder, I never thought about being average or good. My passion for being the best plumbing company in Southern California has always been the same. Providing plumbing services to this great county is simply in my DNA. Nothing makes me happier than to see a satisfied customer. Learn More About Us

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