Baking soda works wonders for many household clean-up jobs, and tough laundry stains are no exception. It is a basic substance (the opposite of acidic), so it performs best when tackling acidic stains like coffee, wine, fruit juices, tomato sauce, and various bodily fluids—in other words, the kinds of stains that are common in the average household.
Learn how to use ordinary, inexpensive baking soda to get rid of stains that seem like they will never go away. For the best results, tackle tough stains as quickly as possible after they happen. If you don't have access to baking soda right away, then blot the stain and rinse with cold water, keeping it moist until you're ready to proceed with the steps below.
|Stain Type||Acidic- and tannin-based|
|Detergent Type||Baking soda, laundry detergent|
Before You Begin
Baking soda is most effective as a stain remover when mixed with water and used as a paste. The paste helps draw a stain out of fabric and essentially "traps" pigment and odor in the baking soda. As the paste dries, it pulls more and more of the stain from the fabric.
- To make a paste, simply mix 1 tablespoon of water with 2 tablespoons of baking soda.
The following stain removal steps will work on machine-washable fabrics that have encountered common household spills, smears, and splatters.
Equipment / Tools
- Butter knife or spoon
- Soft-bristled scrub brush or toothbrush
- Paper towels
- Baking soda
- Dishwashing liquid
Removing Smelly Stains With Baking Soda
Sprinkle Baking Soda and Wait
Sprinkle baking soda on a wet stain and allow it to sit overnight to help remove both the stain and the odor.
The exception to the paste "rule" is odor by itself (no pigmentation), which can often be removed just as well with dry baking soda and patience.
Wash as Usual
Brush the baking soda into the sink or the trash before washing your garment according to the care label instructions.
Check For Odors
Before tossing your garment in the dryer, where heat can set a stain, check for lingering traces of odor. If you smell anything unpleasant, apply a baking soda paste, allow the fabric and paste to air dry, then launder again.
Repeat this step until no smell remains, then proceed to machine washing and drying.
Removing Blood Stains With Baking Soda
Rub Baking Soda Paste on Stain
Rub a baking soda paste onto a damp blood stain with your fingers or an old toothbrush.
Wait and Wash as Usual
Allow the paste to sit for up to an hour to help lift the stain from the fabric.
Wash per the care label instructions.
Removing Sweat Stains With Baking Soda
Apply Paste To the Stain
Rub a baking soda paste onto the stained area and let the paste sit until the paste is dry.
Brush Off Excess Baking Soda and Wash
Brush the dried baking soda into a sink or trashcan before washing the garment per the care label instructions.
Check For Remaining Stains
Before tossing your garment in the dryer (again, heat can set a stain), check for lingering traces of discoloration or odor.
If the stain remains, repeat the above steps until no trace remains, then proceed to machine washing and drying.
Removing Fruit and Wine Stains With Baking Soda
Pre-treat With Dry Baking Soda
Sprinkle dry baking soda on the stain immediately, and let it sit for 15 minutes or until you can deal with the stain (early treatment is best).
The baking soda will soak up liquid and pigment as it dries.
Dust Off Excess and Follow Steps to Remove Juice or Wine
Removing Vomit Stains With Baking Soda
Rub Paste Onto the Stain
Rub a baking soda paste onto the stain and let it sit until the paste dries.
Dust Off Excess Baking Soda and Wash
Dust away the excess baking soda and wash the garment per the care label instructions.
After washing, check for remaining traces of the stain-including odors. If stains remain, follow the specific steps for tough vomit stain removal.
Additional Tips for Handling Stains
- If you're too busy to prepare a paste and deal with the stain when it happens, don't worry. You can sprinkle dry baking soda on the stained area and then return to it later when you have the time to work on it. The baking soda will absorb liquid and odors as it sits on the wet stain.
- When you return to the job, dust off the loose baking soda and begin the stain removal process, starting with a fresh paste.
- For stubborn stains and greasier (non-acidic) household stains, you can use white vinegar instead of water to create a baking soda paste. Because vinegar is acidic, it will cause the paste to bubble and fizz. This reaction is harmless and will help break down oils and grime.
- You can also mix hydrogen peroxide with baking soda for pigmented stains on white fabrics. The peroxide will also trigger a bubbly reaction with the baking soda, and this mixture will help bleach away stains on colorfast clothing. Always remember to first try this mixture first on an inconspicuous area of the clothing in case it lightens the material.