I see so many DIY recipes where people mix baking soda and vinegar together. The main value of this is the immediate reaction. It lifts and breaks up dirt, but after that, what you have leftover is just salt water. That salt has no cleaning ability beyond the mild ability to suspend hard water deposits, which is only useful if you have hard water and then, only if you have another CLEANING agent in the mix. Just under 1/2T baking soda turns 1 quart of vinegar to salt water.
1. Vinegar solutions in no way benefit from the addition of baking soda
Vinegar is an acid cleaner. It suspends hard water particles without the soda. It just so happens that the salt soda and vinegar make together is also good for that. There’s no need to add soda to your vinegar bottle unless you just want to neutralize the cleaning power and make yourself work harder. If you want to clean with acid, do it. Don’t toss in the soda.
2. Soda solutions benefit from vinegar.
Soda cleaners are base cleaners. 1/2 T turns 1 quart of vinegar to salt water. This means if you do it on purpose, you can add 1 T baking soda per cup of fancy salt water and your cleaner has the cleaning power of baking soda with the suspension power of vinegar salt. If you have hard water and you want to make sure that any deposits you generate stay suspended while you clean, you can put that “power” of vinegar salt in a baking soda spray bottle or in your laundry or in your dishwasher. But, there’s no point unless you have hard water. The resulting chip flavoring doesn’t actually CLEAN anything. It just helps prevent redepositing. And don’t forget that you have a limited time to use the solution. Baking soda solutions lose power over time.
Baking Soda-Vinegar Cleaning Solution for Hard Water
1 cup store bought vinegar (%5 acetic acid)
1 T baking soda
Mix in a LARGE pot. After it finishes foaming, there will still be lots of unreacted baking soda in the bottom (takes a gallon of vinegar to neutralize all that baking soda, you just reacted about 1/8 T of it) Pour in bottle. Will lose power over time.
3. This Doesn’t Directly Translate to Laundry.
For each load of laundry (traditional machine) you need about 2 cups of vinegar per 10ppm of hardness to keep it all suspended in the wash water. (You can of course put it in the rinse compartment and that helps too. This is just if you don’t want it to deposit at all.) Our water is 17.9ppm. We would need almost four cups of vinegar per load. In contrast, 1tsp of dry citric acid also takes care of it. Since I get Lemi-Shine for $5 (~73 tsp/can). But don’t forget that you have to pump up your washing soda if you do this or it all got neutralized and there’s nothing in there to get things clean, just to suspend hard water. For each cup of vinegar or 1/4tsp of citric acid you add to the wash, toss in an extra 1 tsp of washing soda.