Vinegar and Baking Soda

Vinegar and Baking Soda for Your Drains: Get the Facts First!

Today, let’s explore the potential of vinegar and baking soda for drain and household cleaning tasks. This dynamic duo is frequently praised as a go-to in do-it-yourself (DIY) cleaning recipes shared across the internet. We’ll examine the popular belief that vinegar and baking soda can effectively unclog drains. Initially, like many, I was enthusiastic about this natural solution until I tried it myself. Through experimentation, it became clear that, while this method is widely discussed, its effectiveness as a drain cleaner is not as significant as claimed.

Despite being promoted by notable figures such as Martha Stewart and various plumbing companies, vinegar, and baking soda don’t quite live up to the hype when it comes to clearing clogged drains. This approach often falls short even for sluggish bathroom drains, requiring more time and effort than anticipated.

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Should We Utilize Vinegar and Baking Soda for Drain Cleaning?

Let’s embark on a journey to uncover the real story behind the use of vinegar and baking soda for drain cleaning. While discussed widely across the internet, I want to offer a word of caution against combining these ingredients, as it could potentially lead to clogs.

The debate surrounding this issue is lively, with numerous websites advocating for the mixture as a DIY drain cleaner. However, delve deeper and discover the truth about how effective vinegar and baking soda truly are in our cleaning routines.

I’d like to shed some light on the common belief regarding using vinegar and baking soda for cleaning purposes. It’s a topic that has captured the interest of many within the realm of DIY cleaning solutions. As you explore various online resources for homemade cleaners, you’re bound to come across discussions about the versatility of combining vinegar and baking soda for cleaning tasks.

Understanding this Chemical Reaction is Key to Unlocking the Full Potential 

Let’s explore the fascinating science behind crafting our own remedies and cleaners. Having a grasp of the chemical reactions at play is important for successfully creating DIY solutions. Alexis Rochester, B.S Professional Chemistry, has authored an insightful e-book that serves as a comprehensive chemical reference guide. It offers valuable background information on the components commonly used in homemade cleaners, including vinegar and baking soda.

The same principles govern the interaction between vinegar and baking soda. When these two substances come together, they undergo a transformative chemical reaction. Understanding this reaction is key to unlocking the full potential of vinegar and baking soda in various cleaning tasks.

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

Let’s explore the fascinating chemistry behind baking soda and vinegar. Baking soda, scientifically known as sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3), acts as a base due to its alkaline nature. On the other hand, vinegar, or acetic acid (CH3COOH), is highly acidic, as indicated by its low pH level. This acidity makes vinegar a powerful agent for removing debris and stains.

When these two substances are combined, they undergo a remarkable chemical reaction:

NaHCO3 + CH3COOH → NaC2H3O2 (sodium acetate) + H2O (water) + CO2 (carbon dioxide)

This reaction often manifests as bubbling and effervescence, a captivating phenomenon many of us have witnessed when mixing vinegar and baking soda. For some, observing this reaction sparks an early interest in chemical reactions and scientific principles.

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Understanding the Particular Cleaning Application

When vinegar and baking soda combine, they create a fascinating chemical reaction. This reaction produces water and carbon dioxide, resulting in the formation of gas bubbles. Additionally, a salt called sodium acetate is generated, which tilts towards the basic end of the pH scale. Although the reaction tends towards neutralization on the pH scale, it doesn’t reach complete neutralization.

Understand that it is finished once the reaction takes place. Upon combining vinegar and baking soda, the reaction proceeds with bubbling, fizzing, and eventually concludes. However, it’s important to note that this reaction doesn’t repeat, especially in cleaning applications.

For example, vinegar and baking soda are used separately in a homemade carpet cleaner recipe. When applied together, the reaction assists in effectively breaking up stains. However, once this initial reaction occurs, they do not react again. Recognizing that the reaction happens only once is key to understanding cleaning efficiency.

What Happens When Combined in a Bottle

Absolutely! It’s true when you mix vinegar and baking soda in a bottle, they create an interesting chemical reaction. However, it’s important to note that there’s no ongoing activity once this reaction finishes. Essentially, what remains is a salt solution, which doesn’t offer substantial cleaning benefits. Using a mixture of vinegar and baking soda in a bottle for cleaning purposes will not deliver the desired cleaning effectiveness.

Ineffective at Addressing Grease Buildup

As mentioned earlier, avoid the use of baking soda along with vinegar for drain cleaning. Why? Well, because this combination works less effectively in tackling grease buildup. Although they might initially team up to break down surface particles in the drain, the reaction has already finished by the time they reach deeper areas.

This Combination is Better Suited to Tackle Tough Grease

This method might not completely clear a drain, especially when tackling tough grease. It’s better suited for bathroom drains, where it can assist in reducing soap scum buildup, mainly because of vinegar’s acidic properties, which excel at combating soap scum and water deposits. For stubborn clogs in kitchen drains, a more effective approach involves using a surfactant, like dishwashing liquid, along with boiling water. This combination is more capable of handling difficult grease clogs, providing a more comprehensive solution for maintaining kitchen drains.

I Highly Recommend Experimenting with a Homemade Carpet Cleaner

When utilizing vinegar and baking soda for cleaning purposes, it’s vital to recognize that their effectiveness relies on the chemical reaction they undergo. While they do offer advantages, it’s important to understand that their cleaning properties are predominantly activated during this reaction. Once the reaction is complete, their cleaning prowess diminishes. 

This is why there’s no need to mix vinegar and baking soda in a bottle or container, as the reaction occurs upon combining and doesn’t provide prolonged cleaning benefits. Instead, I highly recommend this e-book on homemade cleaning recipes called CHEMISTRY HACKS FOR HOME AND OUTDOORS by Alexis Rochester, BS in Professional Chemistry. The book is ten bucks and well worth the investment. BTW, we don’t make a dime from the book. 

Their stain-fighting recipe has proven to be exceptionally effective in eliminating both old and new stains, making it an outstanding solution for maintaining the cleanliness of your carpets, although not intended for drain cleaning.

This Comprehensive Resource is an Excellent Starting Point

If you’re keen on crafting your own homemade cleaners, I highly suggest taking a look at our science-based DIY cleaning guide. This thorough resource serves as an excellent starting point and ensures that you’re using ingredients correctly and most effectively. Despite the simplicity and safety of homemade cleaners, it’s surprisingly easy to misuse them.

For instance, there’s a prevalent misconception circulating online about vinegar being the ultimate all-purpose cleaner. However, as discussed in this post, vinegar is highly acidic and can potentially damage surfaces, especially those crafted from natural stone, commonly found in many modern homes. Continued use of vinegar can lead to gradual surface deterioration.

It’s unclear whether these plumbing companies are attempting to satisfy their customers or if they simply lack an understanding of the science behind baking soda and vinegar. Even brands like Liquid Plumr® feature promotions for this mixture on their websites. However, they also state, “Liquid-Plumr is your best bet for tackling tough clogs.” So, what exactly constitutes a “tough clog”? It typically refers to a clogged shower or sink. In other words, they’re catering to their customers’ preferences. Indeed, drain cleaners are designed for minor clogs, whereas challenging clogs necessitate the expertise of a plumbing professional.

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

While homemade cleaners present a safe and budget-friendly option compared to commercial products, it’s crucial to approach them with knowledge and care. Armed with the right information, whether you’re dealing with everyday messes or diving into a deep cleaning endeavor, 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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