Can you clean with baking powder? (3 Useful Facts)

In this brief guide, we will answer the question, can you clean with baking powder? We will discuss if and how to clean using baking powder and compare the attributes of baking powder with baking soda. 

Can you clean with baking powder?

According to the annual report of the Swiss Toxicological Information Center, a total of 29,435 cases of poisoning were registered in Switzerland in 2013, with the largest shares triggered by medicine (36%) and household products (27%). In 2013, roughly 3,000 adults and over 5,000 children suffered from accidental or deliberate poisoning with household cleaning or washing products (3).

You can clean with baking powder, however, it will not be as effective as cleaning with baking soda. Baking powder is chemically different from baking soda and they both have different properties in cooking and other uses.

Baking powder consists of a mix generally combining sodium bicarbonate (NaHCO3, an alkaline substance) and an acid component (sodium pyrophosphate is the most commonly used acid in baking powder) to allow the neutralization of sodium bicarbonate (1).

It is simple to clean using either baking soda or baking powder.

 First, you need to make a thick paste by mixing 5 tablespoons of baking soda and a few spoons of water. Coat it generously and let it sit for a few hours. Make more paste if you need to. Clean the paste with a cloth and wipe using a sponge to get rid of all the residues.

Baking powder and baking soda may be different from each other but both work as leavening agents in cooking and baking. As baking powder has both acid and alkali, it is used in recipes where an acidic ingredient does not form part of the recipe.

The presence of an acid is necessary because heat degradation of sodium bicarbonate does not lead to the total CO2 release: only 25% according to studies. Moreover, an alkaline residue producing a bitter aftertaste is generated towards 100°C. Besides, acid compounds control the CO2 release kinetics (1).

However, if there is already an acid involved, then the recipe needs baking soda only to allow the neutralization reaction to occur. Baking soda is used in recipes that call for acidic ingredients such as buttermilk, lemon juice, or vinegar.

Why should you choose baking soda over baking powder for cleaning?

Being a pure chemical with a basic pH level, baking soda makes a terrific cleaning agent. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate and has a high pH of 8.5

Baking powder, on the other hand, is not alkaline. Baking powder contains both an acid and an alkali, causing a neutralization reaction. A neutralization reaction occurs when the bicarbonate of soda reacts with the cream of tarter. As water initiates the reaction the acid and alkali react with each other and cause a cleaning effect. 

The neutralization reaction means that the chemical has a pH of around 7, which is the same as that of water. 

Baking powder can clean to some extent, however, it is not as effective as baking soda. 

Why does baking soda make a better cleaner?

Baking soda has cleaning properties and is cheap and easy to use. 

Baking soda is a mild alkali and an abrasive chemical. A high pH level means that it interacts closely with the surface it comes with and makes it pure. Baking soda dissolves the substance and impurities it reaches. Baking soda is effective at removing old grime and dirt that has been caked up for years. However, you will need more time, quantity, and patience to get rid of old dirt. 

As mentioned above, baking soda is a mild alkali. An alkali is a substance that releases hydroxyl or hydroxide ions when dissolved in water and will react with acids to form salts. Alkaline chemicals can emulsify grease and oil, neutralize acids, suspend soil and help remove microorganisms. Alkaline chemicals are used to improve the cleaning performance of many household cleaning and laundry products (2).

Even if you don’t make the soda wet, it alone also works as a dirt remover. Baking soda is abrasive enough to clean any surface it comes in contact with yet mild enough to be applied to any surface. Baking soda is safe for chrome, steel, enamel, glass, and plastic. Cleaning with wet baking soda is effective, because its particles are not hard enough to scratch the surface, but are still abrasive enough to remove the softened impurities. Mild alkalinity of dissolved sodium bicarbonate also favors the cleaning process (4).

 A high pH is associated with the caustic effect, which dissolves and hardens the gunk found on any greasy surface. Caustic soda or lye is a highly alkaline product used in drain cleaners and oven cleaners to dissolve grease and fats (2). It reacts chemically and disintegrates the compounds that are possibly found in the kitchen; fats, oils, and proteins.

It is proved that the local application of various mixtures of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and warm water provides a safe urgent dissolution and discoloration of the dense biological masses. It is established that purification, bleaching and removal of organic pollutants is achieved due to their hyperthermal softening, cavitation loosening, alkaline saponification and dissolution, as well as due to oxidative discoloration of pigments (5).

Hence, baking soda is used to clean the kitchen, bathroom, floors, tiles, and cooking utensils. Baking soda is even used as an exfoliant for the face and body. 

For dental cleaning applications, sodium bicarbonate crystals have abrasive, frictional, adhesive, erasing, absorption and adhesive activity against the rough and soft surface of the “tooth” dirt, but not against the smooth and hard surface of the tooth enamel and the smooth surface of the gum mucosa (5).

Not only at home but even at the industrial level, baking soda is used as a cleaner. 

How to use baking soda to clean?

To clean any surface, first, make a baking soda paste. If you cannot use water or any degree of moisture to clean a surface, then use the dry powder only. To use the dry baking soda, simply use a washcloth and gently scrub on the surface that you want to clean.

Mix the desired quantity of baking soda with a few spoons of water, and spread the paste all over the surface that needs to be cleaned. 

Smear it generously and let it sit for a few hours. Wipe it clean to get rid of the paste.

Baking soda can clean superficial dirt and grime and as well as old gunk that has been caked on for years. However, the harder and older the gunk is, the harder it would be to remove. 

If you have a lot to work with, then you may need to repeat the process, scrub and scour the dirt until it loosens. 

Other FAQs about Baking powder that you may be interested in.

Can you get sick from eating expired baking powder?

How long does baking powder last?

Does baking powder get rid of smells?

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question, can you clean with baking powder? We discussed if and how to clean using baking powder and compare the attributes of baking powder with baking soda. 

Citations

  1. Palier, Juliette, et al. Substitution of baking powders in a pound cake by an overpressure mixing process; impact on cake properties. J Food Eng, 2022, 316, 110824.
  2. Parrott, Kathleen, Shirley Niemeyer, and Rose Marie Tondl. EC88-422 Household Cleaning and Laundry Products: Which One for the Job?. 1988.  University of Nebraska,Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.
  3. Bearth, Angela, Linda Miesler, and Michael Siegrist. Consumers’ risk perception of household cleaning and washing products. Risk anal, 2017, 37, 647-660.
  4. Viljus A, Viljus M. The Conservation of Early Post-Medieval Period Coins Found in Estonia. Journal of Conservation and Museum Studies. 2013, 10, 30–44.
  5. Urakov, Aleksandr. Creation of” necessary” mixtures of baking soda, hydrogen peroxide and warm water as a strategy for modernization bleaching cleaners of ceramic. Epitoanyag-J Silic Bas Compos Mat, 2020, 72.