soaking clothes in baking soda

Soaking Clothes in Baking Soda Overnight – Why and How to Do It

Baking soda (aka bicarbonate of soda) is more than just a cake raiser used during cooking sessions. 

It actually has wonderful cleaning abilities and can remove some of the grottiest grime, from some of the smallest crevices in our homes. And in addition to this, it’s also an excellent clothes cleaner.

So, why are people soaking their clothes overnight in baking soda and how do you do it? Find out below what submerging laundry in baking soda overnight can do!  


Can You Leave Clothes to Soak in Baking Soda Overnight?

You can leave most kinds of laundry to soak in a tub/bucket of baking soda and water overnight. And in a lot of cases, cleaning methods encourage this. 

However, if you are working with delicate materials, like cashmere and wool, you should avoid using baking soda. In this case the baking soda could affect the fibres in the material and could weaken and/or discolour the delicate fabric.

If you have doubts about leaving your clothes submerged in water and baking soda overnight, you should perform a patch test on the fabric to see what happens. 


Why Leave Clothes to Soak in Baking Soda Overnight?

baking soda and laundry

There are several reasons why you should leave your clothes to soak in a tub of baking soda and water overnight. And you might be surprised to hear what this little exercise can do for your laundry! Here are some reasons to soak your clothes in baking soda overnight.

1. To refresh items of clothing 

Some people like to leave their clothes to soak in baking soda overnight, so that their clothes are refreshed the next morning. It’s like doing a mini laundry wash! 

If you’ve got clean clothes that need a little spruce up, but you don’t want to use the washing machine or waste detergent, you could pop the items in a tub overnight to clean them. 

This simple cleaning exercise can remove day-to-day odours from your clothes, sanitise your items, and can leave garments feeling like new. All you need to do is dry the items and they’re good to go again. 

2. To treat stains on clothes 

One of the main reasons why people leave their laundry in baking soda overnight is because they need the natural chemical to break down bad stains, like those found on heavily stained clothes. 

If you pop some extra dirty items into a bucket/tub of baking soda and water, the baking soda which is an alkali, will start to neutralise and remove the marks from the fibres of the material. 

By the morning the stain should either be gone, or should be loose enough to treat further. 

For example, the mark might be reduced enough the next day, so all the item needs is a quick wash in the washing machine, and the stain will be removed completely from the garment.

3. To remove pungent odours from clothes

Another popular reason why people leave their clothes to soak in baking soda overnight is because baking soda is an odour neutraliser. 

By allowing the laundry to rest in the water overnight, the baking soda starts to work the stinky odours out of the clothing’s fibres. So, by the morning the clothes smell fresh once again. 

And it also means that the items of clothing are free of horrid stenches before they go into the washing machine to be cleaned officially. This makes the work a little easier for the detergent then! 

This works particularly well for clothes that are caked in a smoky smell or a pungent, musty and stale odour on them. 

4. To whiten greying clothes 

White clothes seem to get dirty extremely quickly, and they also lose their colour at lightning speed! Items typically end up looking more grey than white, and clothes suffering this fate either find their way to the bottom of the wash basket, or are thrown out!

However, if you leave your discoloured white clothes in a tub filled with baking soda overnight, by morning these items will look white again! All you need to do then is wash the items as you would normally the next day. 

This is a really inexpensive way of bringing white clothes back to life, and it’s super easy to do. Plus, you don’t need to invest in harsh chemicals to complete the job either! 

As an added bonus: Once you’ve carried out the overnight treatment and you’re ready to wash your laundry, if you add some extra baking soda to your washing machine during the wash cycle, your clothes will come out even whiter.  


What Type of Laundry Can Be Left to Soak in Baking Soda Overnight?

Here are some examples of clothes that could be left to soak in a baking soda and water mix overnight. The list of laundry that baking soda can be treat is, of course, endless. So, adjust the examples below to suit your home. 

In addition to this, you should always do a patch test before you submerge your dirty laundry in baking soda and water overnight. 

Why? Although baking soda is generally harmless, it doesn’t always agree with protein-based materials (silk/wool). It can sometimes affect the fibres in these delicate fabrics. So, it would be better to leave these fabrics out of this exercise. 

As a reminder: It’s always worth double checking the effects ingredients will have on your clothes, just in case they cause irreparable damage to your laundry. 

Here are some examples of clothes you could soak overnight: 

  • Clothes that have underarm sweat patches on them.
  • Sweat-ridden laundry, like gymwear.
  • Items that have been covered in sick and wee.
  • Old and musty smelling bath robes.
  • Dulling white clothes that need to be revived.
  • Items of clothing that have not been worn and smell stale. 


How to Soak Clothes in Baking Soda Overnight

soaking clothes in baking soda

To soak clothes in baking soda (bicarbonate of soda) overnight, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Clean out your bathtub/large bucket.
  2. Fill the tub/bucket with around five litres of warm water. 
  3. Add a cup of baking soda to the water. 
  4. Use a long spoon to swish the mixture around. 
  5. Add the laundry you wish to clean to the water.
  6. Submerge the items. 
  7. Leave them to rest in the water overnight. 
  8. In the morning, remove the garments and drain the water.
  9. Rinse the items under a tap. 
  10. If clothes aren’t up to scratch by the end of this exercise, repeat the procedure above.
  11. Once you’re done, hang the laundry up to dry or wash them as normal, if need be. 

If you’re only soaking a few items, and you’re using a small bucket instead of a large tub/bucket, half the measurements above to save on baking soda and water. 

Note: Always separate white clothes from coloured clothes. And only submerge clothes of similar colour together. 

It’s also worth cleaning out the bath/bucket before you wash another load of laundry in baking soda – this’ll remove any potential dye from the tub. 


Does Baking Soda Ruin Clothes?

Most materials can be cleaned and treated with baking soda. However, in some cases protein-based fabrics like wool, silk and cashmere, don’t always react well with baking soda. 

So, if you do need to clean any of these materials, you should use a specialised cleaner that is designed to treat delicate materials like the ones listed above. It’s safer than ruining your precious garments. 


Is it Safe to Mix Laundry Detergent with Baking Soda?

laundry detergent and baking soda

Yes, it is safe to mix baking soda with laundry detergent. But if you have any doubts, do a patch test on the material you intend on cleaning first! 


Is Baking Powder the Same Thing as Baking Soda?

baking soda not same as baking powder

No, baking powder and baking soda are not the same thing and they should not be confused together. 

Both products are chemically different, and baking powder isn’t very good at cleaning in comparison to baking soda. 

So, stick to baking soda for the cleaning and washing. Leave the baking powder for the cooking!