How to Remove Common Stains From Clothing With Baking Soda

How to Use Baking Soda for Stain Pretreating

The Spruce / Michela Buttignol

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 5 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 30 mins - 12 hrs
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $5

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
Water Temperature Cold
Cycle Type Normal

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.

Tip

Before using baking soda, be sure to check for colorfastness first. Baking soda isn't a bleaching agent, but it has the potential to pull pigment from non-colorfast fabrics the same way it absorbs stains.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Butter knife or spoon
  • Soft-bristled scrub brush or toothbrush
  • Paper towels

Materials

  • Baking soda
  • Water
  • Dishwashing liquid

Instructions

Using baking soda to treat odor
The Spruce / Danielle Holstein

Removing Smelly Stains With Baking Soda

  1. 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.

    Sprinkling baking soda onto a smelly garment

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

  2. Wash as Usual

    Brush the baking soda into the sink or the trash before washing your garment according to the care label instructions.

    Washing the garment as usual

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

  3. 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.

    Checking the garment for odor

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

Removing Blood Stains With Baking Soda

  1. Rub Baking Soda Paste on Stain

    Rub a baking soda paste onto a damp blood stain with your fingers or an old toothbrush.

    Using an old toothbrush to scrub a blood stain

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

  2. 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.

    Letting a baking soda paste sit on the stained area

    The Spruce / Ana Cadena

Removing Sweat Stains With Baking Soda

  1. Apply Paste To the Stain

    Rub a baking soda paste onto the stained area and let the paste sit until the paste is dry.

    Sprinkling and brushing in baking soda into a garment

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

  2. 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.

    Washing the garment as usual

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

  3. 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.

    Checking the garment to see if the odor remains

    The Spruce / Ana Maria Stanciu

Removing Fruit and Wine Stains With Baking Soda

  1. 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.

    baking soda used to treat red wine stains

    The Spruce / Danielle Holstein

  2. Dust Off Excess and Follow Steps to Remove Juice or Wine

    Dust off the excess baking soda, and then follow the steps for wine stain removal or juice stain removal.

    Sprinkling baking soda onto a wine stained napkin

    The Spruce / Leticia Almeida

Removing Vomit Stains With Baking Soda

  1. Rub Paste Onto the Stain

    Rub a baking soda paste onto the stain and let it sit until the paste dries.

    Sprinkling baking soda onto a vomit stain

    The Spruce / Danielle Holstein

  2. 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.

    Laundering vomit-stained garments as recommended

    The Spruce / Danielle Holstein

    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.
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  1. Cleaning for a Healthy Home. UMN extension.