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natural cleaning

Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

Can You Use Baking Powder For Cleaning The Green Way?

Bicarbonate of soda and baking powder are both widely used in baking. Bicarbonate of soda is a key ingredient in green cleaning recipes. It would stand to reason that you can use baking powder for cleaning. But can you actually use baking powder for cleaning? Let’s take a look at if you can or can’t, and what you might want to use instead.

Peek into the cupboard of any home baker and you’ll find a tub of bicarbonate of soda and a tub of baking powder. Both are key ingredients when it comes to baking. Then peek into the cupboard of any green cleaner, and in amongst their eco-friendly cleaning essentials, you’ll find a tub of bicarbonate of soda, but no baking powder. Aren’t the two things interchangeable? Can’t you clean with both?

The truth is you shouldn’t use baking powder for cleaning with, because it has a different chemical composition that’s better suited to baking rather than cleaning. Want to know more? Let’s take a deep dive into why you can’t and what you might want to use instead.

Here’s Why You Shouldn’t Use Baking Powder For Green Cleaning

A bowl of baking powder, with a spoon on a pink background with a blue text box that reads here's why you shouldn't use baking powder for cleaning.

Baking powder isn’t suitable for cleaning because it’s a mix of different ingredients that are less effective when it comes to cleaning. Baking powder is in fact a mix of bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar and cornflour.

Understanding why baking powder is a mix of different ingredients requires a little knowledge of basic chemistry. I promise to keep this as simple as I can! Ready for the science? Let’s go!

In chemistry terms, bicarbonate of soda is a base, and cream of tartar is an acid. Bases are substances that can react with acids and neutralise them, often causing them to release gases.

In the case of baking powder, when added to a liquid, the bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar react to form carbon dioxide bubbles and a tiny bit of salt. As such, baking powder is used to lighten the texture and increase the volume of baked goods, without making the baked goods dense.

What about the role of cornflour? Well, the cornflour is added to baking powder to prevent the bicarbonate of soda and cream of tartar from reacting too soon. Cornflour has great moisture absorption properties, so it helps to keep the other two chemicals dry. By acting as a buffer in this way, this means you get the benefits of the bicarb and cream of tartar chemical reaction in your baking, and not in the tub!

So Why Doesn’t Baking Powder Clean Well?

I mean, you technically can use baking powder to clean. It certainly won’t cause any harm to your surfaces or your health. The problem is its delicate chemical makeup. It’s this makeup that makes it a completely ineffective cleaner.

Why is this? Well, from what we’ve just learned about baking powder, you’ll know that as soon as the powder comes into contact with water, it’s going to react. This means it will immediately break down into carbon dioxide and salt. What this means in terms of cleaning, is that as soon as it’s added to water, you will end up with slightly bubbly and slightly salty water.

Salty bubbly water does not make for an effective cleaning solution. It leaves smear marks. It takes a whole lot more elbow grease to get sub-standard results. Plus it’s a pretty costly way of cleaning your home.

What Should You Use Instead of Baking Powder For Cleaning?

flat lay of natural cleaning products

There are tons of different natural ways to clean your home that are much cheaper and much more effective. So keep the baking powder for baking, not cleaning. Instead, try one of these ways to clean your home the non-toxic way:

Bicarbonate of Soda

Bicarbonate of soda on its own is fantastic at cleaning. Unlike baking powder, bicarbonate of soda is comprised of just one chemical – sodium bicarbonate.  Sodium bicarbonate reacts with oils and fats and dissolves them. This means that bicarbonate of soda will tickle dirt, grease, oil, and fats around the home with ease. What’s more, it does not react with water, so can act as a great mild abrasive.

Check out my full guide to cleaning with bicarbonate of soda to see just why it’s such a great cleaner, and what you can clean with it. Bicarbonate of soda is also cheap to buy in bulk.

Soda Crystals

Soda crystals are again an incredibly simple, one ingredient product – sodium carbonate. Simply speaking, this is a salt that contains no other additives.

Soda crystals have great oil, grease, and dirt cleaning properties.  This makes it great for cleaning things like your drains, and your washing machine, as well as greasy surfaces in your kitchen. And crucially, unlike baking powder, soda crystals don’t react with water when you clean with it!

See my guide to soda crystals uses around the home for ideas on how to effectively clean with this super cheap ingredient.

Borax

Borax is a key ingredient in many natural cleaning product recipes, particularly when it comes to laundry products. This is because it’s gentler than soda crystals yet stronger than bicarbonate of soda.  It’s also cold-water-soluble, unlike soda crystals, which cakes with cold water. See these uses for borax around the home for tips on where to start.

Castile Soap

Castile soap is a concentrated vegetable-based soap, that makes for an amazing non-toxic natural cleaning product. You can use it diluted in a variety of different applications, from making cleaning sprays to cleaning pastes. See my full guide to cleaning with castile soap to help get you started.

Vinegar

Vinegar is a key staple when it comes to green cleaning. And for good reason. It is incredibly cheap. It is incredibly effective. And it cleans almost anything with ease. See my full guide to cleaning with white vinegar for everything you need to know about cleaning with this eco-friendly powerhouse.

I hope this has helped answer the cleaning with baking powder question. If you are looking for more green cleaning assistance, then do check out my guide to natural cleaning product recipes. Here I talk you through my best recipes to make a wide range of effective non-toxic cleaning solutions for your whole home.

Home and Garden, Natural Cleaning

8 Easy Green Cleaning Tips And Tricks For Beginners

Make your home naturally sparkle, with my top green cleaning tips and tricks for beginners. From how to get started, to the safety considerations you need to make, consider this the essential green cleaning guide you need to read.

With increasing awareness that conventional cleaning products are bad for our health, as well as the environment, it’s no surprise that more and more people are looking to start making green cleaning products.

I’ve got tons of natural cleaning product recipes here on Moral Fibres. And I’ve even written a book on making your own natural cleaning products. But something I crucially haven’t addressed before is just how do you get started as a beginner?

I started making my own cleaning products over 14 years ago. I’ve pulled all of that knowledge and experience into this beginners guide to green cleaning, full of tips and tricks for getting started. It’s essentially the guide I wish I had when I first started out making my own cleaning products.

My Top Green Cleaning Tips and Tricks For Beginners

Eco cleaning products, with a blue text box that says green cleaning tips and tricks for a naturally clean home.

Take Time To Understand What Green Cleaning Products Should Never Be Mixed

Before you make any cleaning products, my number one green cleaning tip is to take time to understand what ingredients can and can’t be mixed with each other.

Most of the issues around mixing green cleaning products centre around vinegar. Vinegar may be a key ingredient in many green cleaning products, however, let’s just say vinegar is a little anti-social. It does not cope well with being mixed with other green cleaning staples. When it does mix, it causes BIG problems.

Mixing vinegar with bicarbonate of soda, soda crystals, borax or liquid castile soap is a no-no. Vinegar completely reduces the effectiveness of these products, so keep them far apart from each other.

Meanwhile, mixing vinegar with bleach or hydrogen peroxide is hazardous to your health. This is because mixing vinegar with either of these products can cause the release of noxious gas, which can cause severe respiratory distress and in severe cases, even death.

Read more in my guide to white vinegar for cleaning so that you are fully clued up on the potential hazards.

Take It Slow

It’s important to remember that cleaning your home the green way is not a race. With this in mind, I would recommend starting slowly. Use up the conventional cleaning products you already have – to reduce waste – and as they run out try making their natural replacements.

Not only does this approach reduce overwhelm – making one cleaning product at a time, rather than making ALL the cleaning products on one go – but it also gives you time to figure out what recipes work for you and your home. Part of the joy of making your own cleaning products is the tinkering in your kitchen and the feeling that you are a bit wizard-like as you make up beautifully smelling non-toxic potions. Taking it slow means you can experiment with scents to find out what you like best, or tweak recipes to your liking.

Reuse What You Can

To help minimise waste and keep costs down, my next green cleaning tip or trick is to make sure you keep any empty bottles and spray nozzles as you finish up your old cleaning products.

Give empty bottles a thorough clean in warm soapy water. Once dry, you can reuse these items for your own homemade products.

To clean spray nozzles, pop the end in a cup of warm water, and spray a good few times to remove any lingering cleaning product residue.

Old glass bottles can also be used to home your green cleaning products. Glass vinegar bottles make great spray bottles. Meanwhile, used gin bottles make for great homemade fabric conditioner storage bottles.

Gather The Green Cleaning Ingredients You Need

green cleaning tools

Most green cleaning products I make are made using a core of key natural cleaning ingredients. My top green cleaning tip is to keep a small supply of these so that you can quickly make up new cleaning products.

Bicarbonate of soda, soda crystals, borax substitute, citric acid and white vinegar all feature heavily in my repertoire. Liquid castile soap is another incredibly useful item to have to hand. Keep these to hand, and you should be able to whip up almost any product in seconds.

Not sure where to buy these products? I’ve got heaps of guides on where to buy these green cleaning essentials:

Acquaint Yourself With Essential Oils

I like to use a variety of essential oils to make my own green cleaning products. Whilst some essential oils, like geranium oil, are there for scent purposes – meaning you can omit them if you have sensitive skin or allergies – others provide vital functions. From the degreasing actions of citrus-based oils to the antifungal properties of lavender oil, these are key ingredients in some cleaning products.

Some essential oils come with specific warnings about usage. Tea tree essential oil, for example, can be toxic to cats. Meanwhile, eucalyptus and peppermint essential oils are not recommended for use around babies and children. Rosemary essential oil should also be avoided if you are pregnant.

I only use essential oils highly diluted, and only use them for cleaning surfaces – I don’t use oils in any other way. As such, I’m confident that are safe to use in cleaning products around my home. However, my top green cleaning tip would be to research each oil you intend to use in your home. Doing so means that you can make up your own mind about what is safe for you.

Get To Grips With Shelf Life

Shelf life is an important point to consider when making green cleaning products. Generally speaking, green cleaning products last as long as the shortest dated ingredient in them. So if you have made something using three ingredients, your product should be used by the expiry date of the ingredient that expires first.

If you’ve used water, then the shelf life is short – no more than 8 weeks. This is because water, even boiled water, harbour bacteria. I always use cooled boiled water in my homemade cleaning products, because this helps to minimise any bacteria in the water. Using water straight out of the tap shortens the shelf life further, so I would avoid this.

The shelf life is always an approximation. If anything that you have made smells or looks funny, then it’s probably time to discard it and remake it.

Gather The Green Cleaning Supplies You Need

eco cleaning tools on stripe dish towel

Another of my top tips and tricks is to gather the green cleaning supplies you need. If you have sensitive skin, you are going to want to wear rubber gloves. Natural cleaning products can still be irritating to your skin. Some cloths and a scrubbing brush are always handy tools to have.

Think About Storage

Finally, if you have pets and/or young children, then it’s important to remember that green cleaning products can still be hazardous to health. Store both the products and raw ingredients in a secure cupboard, or up out of reach of curious hands or paws.

Additionally, label your cleaning products, so that you know what each bottle is. This is crucial to make sure it isn’t confused for anything else.

I think I’ve covered everything you could need to know to get started! Hopefully, this guide will have given you all the knowledge you need to get started on your green cleaning journey. Is there anything more you need to know about green cleaning that I’ve missed? Do let me know in the comments below.