How to use baking soda in laundry – tips and tricks from the experts

More commonly used as a baking ingredient, baking soda can actually be invaluable when it comes to laundry

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When doing our laundry, most of us use things like detergent, laundry powder and stain removers to assist us in our quest to get our clothes, underwear, bedding and towels sparkling clean and like new again.

But what you may not have considered using before is baking soda. Thought this unassuming kitchen essential was just for baking and cooking? In actual fact, baking soda can be an incredibly helpful and versatile tool for assisting with many laundry tasks, largely thanks to its slight abrasiveness, and its ability to render certain items more hygienic.

‘Baking soda is a mild alkali, capable of neutralizing acids and breaking down grease and grime,’ cleaning expert and owner of Green Terra Cleaning Vanessa Terra Bossart points out. ‘Also, its fine, powdery texture acts as a gentle abrasive, making it useful for scrubbing without causing damage.’

How to use baking soda in laundry

And that’s not all; baking soda is also a brilliantly natural and eco-friendly alternative cleaning agent too, compared to so many of the store-bought products out there, ensuring it is safe to use on clothes and around little ones without needing to worry about the normal chemicals involved in your laundry routine. But how exactly can you use baking soda in your laundry?

laundry room with storage baskets and dog bed

(Image credit: Stephen Karlisch / Kathleen Walsh)

1. As a natural stain remover

According to the experts, one of the best uses of baking soda in laundry is that it can act as an uber-natural stain remover before you actually pop your clothes into the wash.

‘Baking soda works particularly well on sweat stains, by neutralizing the acids and breaking down the proteins in the stains,’ cleaning expert Eliana Coca, Owner of E.C. House Cleaning, explains. This is largely due to the fact that it is an alkali, which is why it can break down even the most stubborn stains. Plus, its abrasive texture provides an excellent way to lift stains out.

To use it effectively, cleaning expert Yessica Bello, Manager of Bello’s Cleaning, simply suggests, ‘sprinkle baking soda directly on the stain before washing. This method effectively breaks down the stain particles, making it easier to wash them away.’

There is another option, however, as Vanessa suggests that you can also create a paste out of baking soda, too. ‘Mix baking soda with water to form a paste and apply it directly to stubborn stains like grease, oil, or wine,’ she advises. ‘Allow it to sit for 15-30 minutes before washing. The slight abrasiveness of baking soda helps lift stains without damaging the fabric,’ she says.

2. To neutralize odors

Baking soda can also truly come into its own if used to neutralize common dirty laundry odors – so if you’ve got an especially stinky gym outfit or a towel that doesn’t smell as fresh as it used to, it’s well worth giving it a try.

To use baking soda to get rid of pesky, lingering smells, laundry expert Hyacinth Tucker, Founder of The Laundry Basket, advises, ‘Add 1/2 cup of baking soda directly to the wash load. This is especially effective for removing sweat smells from clothes.’

Similarly, if you notice smells coming from your washing machine generally, Will Cotter, a professional cleaner and COO of FreshSpace Cleaning, points out that baking soda can be used inside the appliance too, without any laundry inside.

He suggests, ‘if you have a front-loading washing machine, run an empty cycle with baking soda to freshen it up, removing any lingering odors and detergent build-up.’

3. To naturally brighten whites

Small laundry room with built-in cabinetry for washer dryer and decorative rug on the floor beneath woven basket

(Image credit: Janis Nicoly for Ami McKay PURE Design)

Many of our white items of clothing, bedding or towels can become dull and gray over time, but using baking soda in your laundry can be an excellent way to restore whites to their natural, gleaming state.

When combined with laundry detergent, baking soda helps remove built-up grime and can restore the brightness of your whites without using harsh chemical bleaches,’ cleaning expert Yessica points out.

So how should it be used to achieve this? ‘Simply mix it with your laundry detergent to effectively remove dirt and grime buildup without resorting to harsh bleaches, which can actually damage your clothes in the long run,’ Eliana says.

Hyacinth expands, sharing, ‘you should add 1/2 cup in to help brighten whites without bleach.’

4. To improve the effectiveness of your detergent

Using baking soda is also a harmless and cost-effective way to bolster the cleaning power of the laundry detergent you use in your washing machine.

‘Using baking soda in your laundry load enhances the detergent’s cleaning ability by balancing the pH levels, making it easier to break down any smaller stains that may have appeared,’ Vanessa explains.

‘I recommend using about half a cup of baking soda per load to help improve the cleaning power of your machine,’ Eliana tells us. ‘This not only helps to keep your laundry smelling fresh but also softens the water, which increases the efficiency of your detergent.’

5. As a natural fabric softener

Many of us use fabric softeners in our laundry to ensure our clothes, towels and other items feel silky smooth to wear and use. But if you don’t want to purchase a new fabric softener every few weeks or months, or want to use something a little more natural, baking soda can also work a treat to do the very same thing.

Hyacinth explains, ‘Baking soda is fantastic for freshening and softening laundry. I love using 1/2 cup of baking soda in the washing machine to occasionally freshen and soften towels.’

Vanessa points out that baking soda can also help to reduce static during washing, which can improve the quality and longevity of your clothes, towels and bedding, too.

Want to know how to wash bed sheets or make towels soft again? Our essential guides to washing machine settings and laundry symbols will help prepare you for a successful laundry session.

Contributing Editor

Amy Hunt is a freelance lifestyle writer and editor primarily covering homes and interiors, wellness, travel and careers. She was previously Lifestyle Editor at woman&home, commissioning and editing the homes, books and features sections of the website,

In 2019, she won the AOP Digital Journalist of the Year Award, for her work on Having worked in the industry for over eight years, she has contributed to a range of publications including Ideal Home, Livingetc, T3,Goodto, Woman, Woman’s Own, and Red magazine.