Can You Put Vinegar And Baking Soda In Washing Machine?

Can You Put Vinegar And Baking Soda In Washing Machine?

Vinegar and baking soda are convenient laundry aids found in most homes. Most people use them individually, so many may wonder if they can be combined in the washing machine.

So, can you put vinegar and baking soda in the washing machine? Yes, technically you can. However, putting them together at once won’t yield the cleaning benefits you’d expect when used individually. They react and cancel out each other’s cleaning properties, creating a product that offers no cleaning help. 

Instead, it might create deposits on your clothes. So, how do you put vinegar and baking soda in the washing machine to reap the full benefits? Everything is explained below. 

Can You Put Vinegar And Baking Soda In the Washing Machine?

Can You Put Vinegar And Baking Soda In Washing Machine

Yes, you can put vinegar and baking soda in a washing machine. But, it is not recommended nor necessary to use them together with laundry detergent. Below are some reasons why you shouldn’t use vinegar and baking soda together.

Neutralization Reaction Negates Cleaning Power

When vinegar (acetic acid) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) are combined in the washing machine, they undergo a neutralization reaction. The acetic acid donates protons to the bicarbonate ions, forming sodium acetate, carbon dioxide gas, and water. 

While the effervescent carbon dioxide bubbles can help lift dirt initially, once the reaction is complete, it leaves behind a solution of plain water. Both vinegar and baking soda can serve useful purposes when added separately to laundry loads. 

Vinegar functions as a gentle acid to remove hard water stains and odors. Its low pH helps dissolve and emulsify grease and oils. Baking soda acts as an alkaline booster when combined with laundry detergent to improve the removal of acidic soils like sweat and food residues.

When combined, the acidic and alkaline properties that give vinegar and baking soda individual cleaning abilities are neutralized. Without their distinguishing pH levels, they no longer offer supplementary cleaning benefits to break down stubborn soils and stains. 

By mixing the two, you are washing with just water rather than taking advantage of their unique cleaning potential. The sodium acetate might even reduce the detergent’s performance, leaving you with poorly cleaned laundry. 

Waste of Both Products

Waste of Both Products

By combining vinegar and baking soda, you consume both products without maximizing their cleaning power. Any leftovers remaining in the reaction mixture no longer have the same effective pH as when used solo. 

From an economic standpoint, it’s better to save vinegar and baking soda for separate loads. This will help you use less detergent, thus extending the lifespan of your cleaning supplies.

Potential Buildup of Residual Sodium Acetate

Sodium acetate, one of the byproducts of the vinegar and baking soda reaction, is highly water-soluble. However, over repeated washings where the two ingredients are mixed, a small amount of residual sodium acetate will accumulate.

As it builds up cycle after cycle, it may produce an undesirable residue layer on fabric fibers. That will hinder detergents or stain treatments from fully contacting surfaces.

Also, if the amounts are too high, the carbon monoxide produced could create pressure inside the drum, potentially causing damage.

How to Put Vinegar And Baking Soda In The Washing Machine? 

How to Put Vinegar And Baking Soda In The Washing Machine

If you want to leverage the benefits of vinegar or baking soda, you don’t need to add them together. You can do this individually and systematically.

Laundry Cleaning Benefits

During laundry cleaning, start the cleaning cycle with baking soda and detergent. The sodium carbonate will boost the detergent’s performance, especially if you use hard water.

Once the cleaning cycle is complete, rinse and add vinegar. This is if you want the vinegar whitening, brightening, and softening benefits. You can also add it at this stage if you’re looking to get rid of odors from the clothes.

When Cleaning the Washing Machine

When Cleaning the Washing Machine

Start the cleaning process by running an empty wash cycle with baking soda. It will help scour away any built-up residue, dirt, or minerals stuck inside surfaces. 

Once that cycle is complete, run a second empty wash cycle, but this time with white vinegar. The acetic acid in the vinegar helps dissolve any remaining films or sediments left behind from the baking soda scrub. It will also help neutralize odors throughout the machine.

Keep in mind it’s generally best not to use vinegar in the washing machine more than once every few weeks. This is because acetic acid can potentially damage rubber components and seals with frequent long-term use. Check your owner’s manual for guidelines specific to your machine. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

If you feel you still have some lingering questions, here are a couple of the most-asked questions related to putting vinegar and baking soda in the washing machine and their answers:

What Goes First – Detergent Or Vinegar?

It is best to start with detergent as it will help break down dirt and stain particles before vinegar softens and deodorizes the fabric. Adding them together might change the pH and cause poor cleaning.

Does Using Baking Soda And Vinegar Damage The Washing Machine?

No. Baking soda and vinegar are safe for use in washing machines, whether added individually or together. However, vinegar’s acidic properties, when used frequently,  can eat the rubber rings in the washing machine causing leaks.

Is The Reaction Between Baking Soda And Vinegar Dangerous?

No. The reaction between vinegar (acidic) and baking soda (basic) produces sodium acetate, carbon, and water. You might see some bubbling, which is safe and all the products are non-toxic.


While vinegar and baking soda can effectively clean when used individually in the washing machine, it is generally not recommended to combine them together. Their natural chemical reaction will cancel out their cleaning powers, leaving clothes essentially washed in just water. 

Instead, use each one separately and at different times for optimal results. Vinegar works well as a fabric softener or odor eliminator, while baking soda boosts detergent performance and helps remove stains and odors. Taking turns with these inexpensive ingredients can help maintain a clean washing machine and bright, fresh-smelling laundry loads.

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