Baking Soda - Detail - ©

Myth? Baking Soda & Vinegar MAY Clean Your Toilet!

That was my fervent hope when I tried it. And tried it, and tried it and tried it… Anyway, the bottom line is, the all-time favourite ‘vintage’ toilet cleaning technique did no better than the social media darling – original Coke…

We previously tried a controversial tip for cleaning ‘trouble’ toilets which has swept the net. Who hasn’t seen the click-bait link about the woman who says she cleaned an impossibly dirty toilet simply by pouring 500 ml / 16 oz. of Original (sugar sweetened) Coke into the bowl, waiting a bit and swishing?

We proved conclusively it doesn’t work. Didn’t even scratch the surface of our worst-case stain, which had inadver-tently built up as a result of disuse during the COVID Crisis.

Promise kept

We promised to try other food-related toilet cleaning techniques and report back on their effectiveness – or lack thereof. So today, we bring you our detailed report on the classic baking soda and vinegar experience.

Before we get started, allow me to mention that this common, household food-based technique was recommended by none other than the ancient and venerable Good Housekeeping magazine…

Simple protocol

The process couldn’t be simpler. Just dump 1/2 cup / 125 ml of regular household baking soda into the toilet bowl directly over the sump – that is, the deepest part of the bowl. Let the soda sift down through the standing water to the very bottom of the appliance. Then pour in a cup of pure white vinegar, slowly, so it, too, falls through the water onto the soda. And get ready for a show!

Impressive show

When alkali and acid meet, there’s a fierce reaction (see photo, above left) that almost instantly creates a massive amount of churning white foam. You can actually hear the mixture hissing as it violently releases reaction byproduct gasses. Impressive, for sure… But neither the chemicals themselves, nor the violence of the reaction do anything significant vis à vis cleaning the toilet.

Please note that I ran the experiment a total of 4 times. Went through a total of 2 cups / 500 ml of baking soda and 4 cups / 1 L of vinegar. And still nothing. Proof positive the technique is a dud!

Now what?

There’s one more plausible-but-unlikely technique that folks have been advocazting on the net lately. They say all you need to do is throw a dishwasher pod into the bowl, let it sink to the bottom, ans wait for it to dissolve. Left overnight, it’s supposed to passively clean the dirtiest bowl. We’ll see…

My take

Vinegar and baking soda didn’t clean my hard-case toilet. But is might clean yours – if it’s not as badly soiled and crusted. After all, Good Housekeeping, says so…

I’m less and less convinced that there’s any ‘magic bullet’ for cleaning problem toilets. At least not one using organic, relatively harmless food-related ingredients.

Sister Erin did offer a suggestion – more out of frustration than practicality – to try dosing the toilet with oven cleaner. She reasoned, its safe for porcelain ceramic finishes inside the oven, so it should be safe – and effective – for the toilet. The only problem is, oven cleaner is full of powerful industrial chemicals that are unsafe for the environment, people and pets. And they can eat through today’s plastic drain pipes faster than a gerbil can chew through a telephone cord.

Sorry, kid sister… Nice try, though!

~ Maggie J.