8 Ways to Use Baking Soda in the Laundry Room

Updated: Feb. 19, 2024

Want a cheap ingredient for whitening and brightening laundry, and eliminating odors and stains? Turn to good old reliable baking soda.

There’s a secret weapon for your laundry room that you may have never thought of. Baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate, has a multitude of uses for baking, personal health and hygiene and household chores. When used as part of your laundry routine, it can help whiten and brighten clothes, eliminate stubborn odors and stamp out stains. Plus, it’s one of the cheapest ingredients you can find to up your laundry game.

As an Odor Fighter

Baking soda is alkaline, so it neutralizes acids — and many of the nastiest odors, such as sweat, urine and vomit, are acidic. If you’re wondering how to get cat pee out of clothes, try baking soda. Leslie Reichert, who runs the Green Cleaning Coach website, suggests adding a few tablespoons of baking soda to your regular laundry soap to help remove odors. For really tough odors, soak the smelly item overnight in a baking soda and water solution.

As a Stain Remover

According to baking soda manufacturer Arm & Hammer, baking soda and water are a potent duo for stain removal.

Make a paste with six tablespoons of baking soda and 1/3 cup of warm water, rub it into the stain and let it do its thing. The baking soda will lift the stain out of the fibers. Discard the baking soda before you put the item in the washer. For oily stains, Reichert recommends sprinkling baking soda directly on the stain and letting it sit overnight before washing.

For Extra-Clean Clothes

A half-cup of baking soda added to a load of laundry will create a cleaning boost. “It will help lift dirt and grime from clothing,” says Reichert. Don’t put baking soda in your washer’s detergent dispenser, however. Instead, sprinkle it into the empty drum of your washer, then add clothes and whatever detergent and fabric softeners you’d normally use.

As an Alternative to Bleach

For whites and colors, baking soda does double duty. When added to the washer, it makes whites whiter and brightens colored items. It’s a good substitute for people who prefer not to use bleach. Or, for loads of white clothing, give bleach a boost by adding a half-cup of baking soda. It helps the bleach work better, cuts some of the “bleachy” smell and whitens whites.

To Sanitize New Baby Clothes

Plenty of parents are concerned about chemical finishes, such as starches and sizing, with which baby clothes might be treated. They don’t want to take the chance that these will come into contact with their baby’s skin.

Remove these components from new baby clothes by washing them by hand or in the washer with a solution of a half-cup baking soda and a mild detergent, like ECOS Hypoallergenic Liquid Laundry Detergent. If you wash by hand, be sure to thoroughly rinse the items so that no traces of detergent or baking soda remain.

As an Unscented Fabric Softener

If you have a top-loading washer, you can use baking soda in place of fabric softener. It has the same softening effects without heavy perfumes or chemicals that might trigger allergies.

During the rinse cycle, when the washer is full of water, sprinkle a half-cup of baking soda into the water. Remember, it’s not recommended that you put baking soda in the detergent dispensers of front- or top-loading washers. The baking soda can clump up and block the dispensers.

To Save on Detergent

Because baking soda gives detergent a boost, you can get by with using less detergent. Or you can forego detergent altogether by adding a full cup of baking soda in its place. Not convinced? Try it on a load or two and see if you’re satisfied with the results. If it works well enough for you, you’ve found a simple, eco-minded alternative to conventional laundry detergent! Make sure you know how to get laundry detergent stains out of clothes.

To Clean Up a Laundry “Oops”

If you’ve had a laundry mishap, such as a stray red sock getting mixed in with your load of white underwear, or a crayon or other waxy item getting left in a pocket, baking soda just might be able to come to the rescue.

For a crayon or other item that has colored all the clothes, and possibly left marks on the inside of the drum, rewash everything in hot water with a cup of baking soda added. To get that pink tinge out of all that underwear, try soaking the clothing in a bath of warm water, baking soda and salt before washing.