I’m a big fan of using baking soda around the house as a natural and versatile cleaner. Baking soda is often recommended as an all-natural carpet deodorizer to remove bad smells like pet odors from carpet fibers and area rugs. But while baking soda may be an effective deodorizer with smelly carpets, many people want to know if baking soda will ruin your vacuum. And the short answer is “it depends!”
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Can Baking Soda Ruin a Vacuum?
Baking soda (also known as bicarbonate of soda) is one of the best options for cleaning. It’s natural, affordable, scent-free and very versatile.
As a favorite natural cleaner, I’ve previously shared about some of the surprising household uses of baking soda.
It’s a popular ingredient in many cleaning recipes and and used in home remedies.
But when it comes to using baking soda for carpet odor and carpet cleaning, this may or may not be a great idea.
Since professional carpet cleaners can charge a lot for their services, it makes sense to look for lower cost DIY carpet cleaning options.
Some people get excited after hearing about baking soda’s odor-fighting properties.
And since baking soda is so inexpensive, they then proceed to dump a generous amount all over their living room carpet. As explained below, this is not a good idea!
Before using baking soda as a carpet deodorizer powder, you’ll want to consider several things to help you decide if this is the best option for your vacuum and carpet.
Specifically, you’ll need to know whether baking soda can damage the filters or electric motor on your vacuum cleaner, how much baking soda to use for best results, and how long it can be left on your carpet.
Finally, I’ll also give you a special bonus recipe for making your very own DIY carpet powder freshener!
Can Baking Soda Clog Your Vacuum’s HEPA Filter?
You may want to get rid of smells or carpet stains from pet accidents, old pet hair, or just musty aromas.
Baking soda particles are good at fighting bad smells, and are a cheap and effective way to clean carpets.
Because of this, it didn’t take long for people to start sprinkling baking soda on a particularly smelly affected area of carpet.
But then we started hearing some reports about baking soda causing permanent damage to vacuums.
Baking soda or similar carpet freshener products have very small particles. Because of this, some vacuum repairmen suggest these products can cause damage to your vacuum’s bag or post-motor HEPA filter due to their tendency to clog.
It’s always a good idea to regularly clean your vacuum tank and filters.
Particularly after using any white powder carpet cleaners such as baking soda, cleaning filters is a must. This will go a long way in preserving your vacuum’s cleaning power.
There are isolated reports of baking soda ruining a vacuum. However, many people regularly and successfully use it on their carpets without obvious damage to their vacuums.
There are two main things that influence whether baking soda will clog filters or ruin a vacuum motor.
First is the specific type of vacuum, and next is the amount of baking soda used.
Can Baking Soda Destroy Your Vacuum’s Electric Motor?
No one wants to see their cleaning appliances damaged, particularly if it’s an expensive vacuum cleaner!
In particular with the Dyson bagless vacuum cleaner line, there are reports by Dyson users of vacuum motors being harmed by fine white powders such as tiny particles of baking soda.
According to an official Dyson customer support statement, “We do not recommend sucking up anything as small as fine dust / flour / etc. They can indeed clog the cyclone on your Dyson.”
In a Dyson vacuum or other similar vacuum, cyclones are the parts that spin air to filter out dust and other particles.
The danger of using a fine powder such as baking soda with this type of vacuum is that small particles could cause blockages and clogs.
These clogs would then ultimately reduce the vacuum’s effectiveness and possibly even damage the vacuum’s motor. Damaged motors can result in costly repairs or vacuum replacement.
But with non-cyclone vacuums, it isn’t as clear that using baking soda can cause damage to the motor.
In fact, thousands of people use baking soda as part of their regular vacuuming routine.
I read through customer reviews on the most popular brand of baking soda to see what users said about vacuums.
Interestingly, there are dozens of reports of using baking soda on carpets with no reports of damaged vacuums.
Not only that, several reviewers of one popular upright bagless vacuum talk about using baking soda for vacuuming with very good results.
It’s impossible to speak to the use of baking soda with every brand of vacuum.
To be on the safe side, you should read your vacuum’s manual or contact the manufacturer for questions about baking soda and your particular vacuum filters and motors.
I actually have two vacuums to use in my house. A lower-cost vacuum stays downstairs to suction up dirt from our basement carpet while my nicer vacuum is only used upstairs.
If you have an expensive vacuum and are worried about possible damage using baking soda, you could buy a cheaper vacuum to use for deodorizing. This would protect your expensive appliance and also allow you to use baking soda to help conquer bad carpet odors.
How Much Baking Soda to Use for Carpet Cleaning
Everyone agrees that baking soda is very effective at absorbing odors.
However, to maximize its odor-neutralizing effects, baking soda needs to be applied in a thin layer.
A popular practice is leaving an open box of baking soda in the refrigerator in hopes of trapping stray fridge smells. However, this is unlikely to do much because the powder needs a larger area to effectively absorb bad odors.
After considering the above precautions, you may decide to go ahead and use baking soda on your carpets to help with odors and stubborn stains.
The question then would be, “How much baking soda should I use on my carpet?”
The guiding principle is to use as little baking soda as possible. The more baking soda you use, the more likely that a clogged filter may occur, damaging your vacuum.
In this case, more is not better!
With baking soda, applying a small amount in a thin layer to a small area is a much better option than using a huge quantity all over the carpet.
Can Baking Soda Ruin Carpet?
But not only can large amounts of baking soda possibly harm your vacuum.
Lingering particles of baking soda residue can also build up in your carpet with repeated application.
Over time, the sharp, fine particles of accumulated baking soda can actually weaken and damage carpet fibers.
This can be avoided by using only small amounts of baking soda on specific problem areas rather than generously pouring it all over your entire carpet.
If you have trouble controlling how much baking soda gets dispensed when shaking it out of a box or bag, use a grated cheese dispenser to provide more even distribution of the powder.
How Long to Leave Baking Soda in Carpet
After applying baking soda sparingly to your carpet, you’ll then want to know how long to leave it before vacuuming.
There is no hard and fast answer to this question. In general, the older and stronger the odor, the longer you’ll need to let the baking soda work.
For most areas of smelly carpet, allow at least one hour before vacuuming. For really smelly carpet, let it work overnight.
Be sure to thoroughly vacuum up all the baking soda to avoid leaving residue in the carpet, which could eventually damage the carpet over time.
Some people have success using white vinegar with baking soda for carpet stains.
However, for really stubborn stains, you’ll probably need to use a steam cleaner or hire professional cleaning to remove tough stains.
Make Your own DIY Carpet Powder Freshener
For many uses, plain baking soda is a good option and one of the most effect carpet deodorizers.
Some people also like to add a few drops of their favorite essential oil to the baking soda before use.
You can also buy a premade baking-soda-based carpet freshener with essential oils.
Many people enjoy making their own all-natural cleaning products. That’s why I’m sharing this recipe for making your own DIY carpet powder freshener.
This recipe does include baking soda but also includes other natural ingredients that boost the deodorizing and cleaning properties.
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1 cup borax powder
- 15 drops essential oil (lemon, lavender or orange are all good choices–or use a blend like this!)
First, thoroughly mix the baking soda and borax powder in a bowl, then add the essential oil.
Finally, shake the freshener onto your carpet, let sit for 30 minutes (or longer for deep-seated odors), and thoroughly vacuum.
Closing thoughts on whether baking soda can ruin a vacuum
Using the all natural powder of baking soda can be one of the most effective methods of deodorizing and cleaning carpets.
Many people have found that using baking soda is a most effective method for removing a musty or foul odor from carpets and rugs.
As long as some basic precautions are followed, the good news is that baking soda is safe to use for most vacuums, and will not ruin your appliance.