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Baking Soda Vs Vinegar For Odor Removal

If you’re looking for a natural, affordable way to remove unpleasant odors in your home, you may have come across a debate about the effectiveness of baking soda versus vinegar.

Both are incredibly handy household ingredients and can be used to combat smells, and I’m going to share a baking soda vs vinegar for odor removal comparison.

To help you see which is better for helping you to remove odors. Keep on reading to find out more…

Baking Soda Vs Vinegar For Odor Removal

Understanding Odor and Its Causes

You’ve got to understand that odor isn’t just some annoying smell; it’s a tangible sign of bacteria and other microbes doing their dirty work in your surroundings.

When understanding odor and its causes, it’s essential to know that these smells are often the byproduct of organic material breaking down. This decomposition process can be initiated by various factors such as food spoilage, pet waste, or even sweat on your gym clothes.

The severity of these odors is largely dependent on the type of bacteria involved and the environment they’re thriving in.

For instance, damp conditions tend to breed mildew which releases a musty smell, while high temperatures speed up bacterial growth, resulting in stronger odors.

However, not all strong odors are signs of harmful bacteria at work. For example, onions or garlic release sulfur compounds upon cutting which can linger long after you’ve finished cooking.

Similarly, certain harmless mold species have a characteristic earthy smell often associated with basements or attics.

Baking Soda: The Natural Odor Absorber

When it comes to naturally absorbing unpleasant smells, nothing beats the tried and true prowess of our humble kitchen ally – baking soda: the natural odor absorber.

The magic behind its effectiveness lies in its chemical composition. Baking soda, known scientifically as sodium bicarbonate, has a basic pH that reacts with acidic substances – including many odors – to neutralize them.

Let’s look at a practical example; suppose you have a stinky trash bin or refrigerator.

Sprinkling just half a cup of baking soda can do wonders in absorbing those strong odors, leaving your spaces smelling fresher. But how does this happen?

Baking soda absorbs smells by attracting odor molecules and trapping them within its crystalline structure.

This process is called adsorption (not to be confused with absorption). It’s like providing an unexpected ‘pit stop’ for these malodorous particles where they get stuck and are effectively neutralized.

Now let’s break down some common scenarios where baking soda can come handy:

Pros of Vinegar for Odor Removal Cons of Vinegar for Odor Removal
Effective against various types of odors. It has its own potent smell.
Cheap and readily available. The smell may not be immediate to dissipate.
Non-toxic alternative to chemical cleaners. Not as effective on all materials or surfaces.
Can be used in combination with other substances (like baking soda). May discolor certain fabrics or surfaces if used undiluted.

How Baking Soda Works for Odor Removal

Vinegar: The Powerful Odor Neutralizer

Vinegar: the powerful odor neutralizer, is an acidic substance with a pH level between 2 and 3. This makes it extremely effective at breaking down the alkaline molecules that cause bad smells.

Vinegar works by actively changing the chemical composition of offending scents, effectively neutralizing them.

Science supports this claim too. A study published in the Journal of Environmental Health found that vinegar showed higher efficacy in reducing volatile organic compounds (VOCs) compared to other household substances like baking soda or activated charcoal.

For instance, consider those stubborn sweat odors on your gym clothes or pet smells on your upholstery.

Simply adding half a cup of white distilled vinegar to your laundry cycle can tackle these stenches head-on by breaking down bacteria responsible for causing such unpleasant odors.

How Baking Soda Works for Odor Removal

Baking soda for odor removal isn’t just an old wives’ tale; there’s solid science behind it. It neutralizes odors quite effectively because it interacts with acidic molecules and changes their chemical composition.

When baking soda encounters something acidic, it seeks out hydrogen ions from the acid to form water and a new compound.

This reaction effectively eliminates many common household smells at their source rather than simply covering them up.

Here’s a quick table illustrating some key points about using baking soda for odor removal:

Scenario How Baking Soda Helps
Smelly Shoes Sprinkle baking soda inside overnight; shake out before wearing
Pet Odors Rinse pet bedding with a solution of 1 cup of baking soda to one gallon of water
Stinky Fridge Place an open box or small bowl filled with baking soda inside

How Vinegar Works for Odor Removal

While baking soda neutralizes odors by reacting with acidic compounds, vinegar, particularly white distilled or apple cider variations, tackles odors from a different angle. Its powerful odor counteractive properties lie in its chemical makeup.

Vinegar is primarily composed of acetic acid and water, which are key to understanding how vinegar works for odor removal.

Acetic acid can kill bacteria and fungi that often cause bad smells.

When used correctly, these microorganisms can’t survive in environments where vinegar’s pH level is present; this makes vinegar an effective deodorizer against moldy or musty smells.

Now you may be wondering about the strong smell of vinegar itself; doesn’t that contradict its use as a deodorizing agent? Well, no.

Undiluted vinegar does have a pungent smell, but don’t let that deter you! The strength of the vinegar smell dissipates over time and takes lingering offensive odors along with it.

Evidence-based research suggests using diluted solutions of vinegar for odor removal because it reduces the intensity of its own scent while retaining its antimicrobial properties.

To apply this method effectively on fabrics or surfaces without causing damage or discoloration due to acidity levels, always remember to dilute your solution appropriately.

Pros and Cons of Baking Soda As An Odor Eliminator

Pros and Cons of Baking Soda As An Odor Eliminator

While it’s true that sodium bicarbonate is a household staple for eliminating stinks, let’s delve deeper into its pros and cons to fully appreciate its roles and limitations.

The pros and cons of baking soda as an odor eliminator are numerous, so let’s break them down.


  1. Unlike harsh chemical deodorizers, baking soda is non-toxic and safe to use around pets and children.
  2. It’s inexpensive. A box of baking soda costs just a fraction of specialized cleaning products.
  3. Baking soda is versatile. Besides neutralizing odors, you can also use it for cleaning various surfaces.
  4. It works by directly reacting with odor particles in the air, on fabrics, or on surfaces to eliminate them.


  1. While effective against some smells, it may not be able to tackle all types of odors equally well.
  2. If not cleaned up properly after use, it can leave behind a gritty residue.
  3. Its deodorizing effect isn’t immediate; it needs time to absorb the odors.
  4. For larger areas or stronger smells, you might need substantial quantities.

Pros and Cons of Vinegar To Eliminate Odors

Vinegar is highly acidic, which makes it great at breaking down the compounds that cause bad smells.

It’s effective against a range of odors including smoke, pet urine, mildew, and more. Plus, it’s cheap and readily available—a plus for anyone on a budget!

However, there are drawbacks too. Vinegar has its own strong smell which some people find off-putting. This scent does dissipate over time but isn’t instant like some commercial products might be.

Here is a table summarizing the key points:

Pros of Vinegar for Odor Removal Cons of Vinegar for Odor Removal
Effective against various types of odors. It has its own potent smell.
Cheap and readily available. The smell may not be immediate to dissipate.
Non-toxic alternative to chemical cleaners. Not as effective on all materials or surfaces.
Can be used in combination with other substances (like baking soda). May discolor certain fabrics or surfaces if used undiluted.

So while vinegar definitely has its merits as an odor neutralizer, it isn’t without downsides either—mainly its pungent aroma and potential discoloration issues when used undiluted on particular materials or surfaces.

Baking Soda Vs Vinegar For Odor Removal – Which Is Best?

When you compare baking soda vs vinegar for odor removal, each has its own strengths. Here are four key points to consider:

  • Effectiveness: Baking soda tends to be more effective at removing deeper, tougher odors. It neutralizes both acids and bases in the air and on surfaces.
  • Versatility: Vinegar is a multi-purpose solution that can clean various surfaces as well as eliminate odors. However, its strong smell often lingers after use.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Both baking soda and vinegar are cost-effective solutions for odor removal, but considering effectiveness and lingering smell, baking soda may give you more bang for your buck.
  • Ease of Use: Baking soda requires no dilution or mixing – simply sprinkle or place in an open container.

In terms of odor absorption capacity, studies have shown that baking soda holds an edge over vinegar due to its chemical makeup, which allows it to absorb a wider range of odors.

How Do Baking Soda and Vinegar Help Get Rid of Bad Smells?

How Do Baking Soda and Vinegar Help Get Rid of Bad Smells?

Both baking soda and vinegar are great odor neutralizers. Baking soda absorbs bad odors, while white vinegar, with its acetic acid content, can neutralize the smell.

Whether it’s a musty closet, a stinky fridge, or an odorous car, either baking soda or vinegar can provide an efficient, “safe”, and cost-effective solution.

Can I Use Baking Soda and Vinegar to Deodorize My Garbage Disposal?

To deodorize your garbage disposal, pour half a cup of baking soda down the disposal followed by a cup of vinegar. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water while the disposal is on.

I Have a Bad Smell on My Carpet, how Can I Use Baking Soda to Get Rid of It?

Simply sprinkle a generous amount of baking soda over the stinky area and let it sit for a few hours or overnight to absorb the bad smell. Later, vacuum up the baking soda.

Your carpet should smell fresher. For tougher odors, a vinegar and baking soda treatment might be necessary.

Can Vinegar Help Me Get Rid of Bad Smells in My Dishwasher?

Absolutely! Fill a dishwasher-safe cup with white vinegar and place it on the upper rack of your empty dishwasher. Then run the dishwasher through a hot-water cycle.

This should neutralize any odors and help freshen up the machine.

How Can I Use Baking Soda and Vinegar to Deodorize My Rug?

If your rug has a bad smell, sprinkle baking soda over the surface and let it sit for a few hours to absorb the odors, and scrub into any noticeable stains.

Vacuum it up, then spray a vinegar solution (one part vinegar to three parts water) from a spray bottle onto the rug. Rinse well with warm water, and your rug should be odor-free!

Can I Use Baking Soda and Vinegar as A DIY Air Freshener?

Can I Use Baking Soda and Vinegar as A DIY Air Freshener?

Yes, you can! Combine one quart of water, one part vinegar, two tablespoons of baking soda, and your favorite essential oil in a spray bottle.

Shake it well, and you’ve got a DIY freshener that can help get rid of bad smells in the kitchen and other parts of your home.

How Can I Use Baking Soda to Get Rid of Bad Odors in The Laundry?

To freshen your laundry, add half a cup of baking soda to the rinse cycle of your washing machine. This should help neutralize the smell and act as a natural laundry softener.

For stronger smells, you can soak the clothes in a baking soda and water solution before washing.

Can Vinegar Help Remove Bad Smells from My Car?

To neutralize bad odors in your car, place a cup of vinegar in a container and leave it in the car overnight.

The vinegar will help neutralize and absorb the bad odors, leaving your car smelling fresh.


How Fast Can Vinegar Get Rid of Bad Smells?

Vinegar works effectively and quickly to combat odors. Once the vinegar dries, the smell will dissipate and so will the bad odor you’re trying to eliminate.

Depending on the severity of the smell, it may be gone in a few hours. However, for deeply set-in odors, several applications or a longer sit time may be required.


In the baking soda vs vinegar for odor removal debate, it’s clear that both have their own pros and cons.

For those who are looking for a more natural solution to tackle bad smells in their homes, baking soda can be a great option. It’s non-toxic, effective on various types of odors, and relatively cheap.

On the other hand, vinegar has its own merits, like being multipurpose and safe around pets and children. But if you want an immediate effect or don’t want to deal with its potent smell, baking soda may be preferable.

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