Adding baking soda to laundry front loader

Depending on your needs, there are many ways to use baking soda in the laundry. You can use it to break down stains, remove odors, and balance the PH level in hard water. 

How to Use Baking Soda in Laundry

Break out your box of baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and try one of these hacks to boost laundry performance.

Use Baking Soda as a Fabric Softener

Use baking soda if you’re not a fan of chemical-laden fabric softeners. Baking soda prevents water from being too acidic or alkaline, keeping minerals and detergents from settling in on clothes during the rinse cycle.

To use baking soda as a fabric softener, add ½ cup to the rinse cycle. 

Boost Your Detergent’s Cleaning Ability

If your clothes don’t feel clean after washing, adding baking soda to the wash cycle can help. Use this trick if you use a laundry detergent without stain-cleaning enzymes or if you have hard water.

  • Add ½ cup of baking soda to the wash with your regular detergent

The baking soda will balance the water’s PH level, giving your detergent a better chance at cleaning your clothes.

Soak Clothes in Baking Soda Water to Remove Stubborn Odors

Baking soda is best known for its ability to absorb and neutralize odors. And just like a box of baking soda can remove bad smells from the fridge, it also works on your clothes.

If you have clothes that smell like sweat or smoke, soak them in baking soda water before washing them.

  • Fill a sink or bucket with warm water.
  • Add 2 cups of baking soda and allow it to dissolve
  • Put your clothes in the baking soda water and let them soak overnight
  • Launder as usual

As a Stain Pretreatment

Because of baking soda’s mild abrasiveness, you can use it to scrub stains from clothes. It can remove blood, sweat, grease, and coffee stains.

You’ll need to create a paste to use it as a stain treater. Place a small amount of baking soda in a bowl (about ½ cup) and add water until you make a thick paste. Rub the paste on the stain and allow it to dry. When dry, wipe the baking soda off before washing.

If the stain persists, try an alternate stain removal method. (Never wash blood stains in hot water, it will set them in.)

Remove Musty Smells from Your Front Load Washing Machine

Since moisture gets trapped in the drum and seal of front load washers, musty smells are common. You can eliminate the odors by cleaning your front-load washing machine with baking soda and vinegar once per month. 

To use baking soda in your front load washer, add ½ cup to the drum. Then fill the detergent cup with ½ cup of vinegar and run the washer with hot water.

Make Bleach Work Better

Bleach works best in balanced water. If you have hard water, adding baking soda to the washing machine will help create that balance.

To make bleach work better, add ½ cup of baking soda for every ½ cup of bleach.

Whiten Dirty Socks

If your kids are anything like mine, they walk outside in white socks, leaving them covered in dirt. You can use this baking soda hack to remove the stuck-on dirt and brighten your whites. (As a bonus, it eliminates stinky odors too.)

  • Fill a sink or bucket with warm water
  • Add 2 cups of baking soda and let it dissolve
  • Add the socks and let them soak overnight
  • Wring out the socks and launder as usual

Refresh Smelly Towels

For towels that have been wet too long and developed a musty smell, refresh them with baking soda and vinegar.

First, wash the towels with hot water and one cup of vinegar. (Don’t add detergent or fabric softener to the load.) When finished, wash the towels with hot water and ½ cup baking soda. (Again, don’t add anything else to the washer.)

When finished, dry the towels on high heat.

Using Baking Soda in a Front Load Washer

Never add baking soda to the detergent or fabric softener cups in a front-load washer. Instead, add it to the drum before you start the washing machine. Doing so can help boost your laundry detergent’s cleaning power.

Since you can’t add baking soda to the dispensers, you can’t use it as a fabric softener in your front-load washing machine. You can use vinegar, though – just add it to your fabric softener dispenser.

Washing Clothes with Baking Soda Only

Using only baking soda to wash your clothes will be similar to washing them in water. While baking soda can boost a detergent’s cleaning ability and remove odors, it won’t break down dirt like a detergent.

But if you’re out of detergent, have sensitive skin, and your clothes aren’t too dirty, you can use baking soda in a pinch.

Tips for Washing Clothes with Baking Soda

  • Vinegar and baking soda deodorize, remove stains and act as natural fabric softeners. So, if you don’t have baking soda, add white distilled vinegar to the rinse cycle of your washing machine.
  • Baking soda doesn’t disinfect laundry, but washing in hot water and drying on high heat will.
  • Unless you use bleach, ½ cup of baking soda added to the wash or rinse cycle is all you need.
  • You can use baking soda to remove excess suds from the washer – turn off the washing machine and sprinkle baking soda over the suds to absorb the excess moisture.

About the author

Adding baking soda to laundry front loader

Katie Barton

Katie Barton is a home improvement freelance writer. For as long as she can remember, she's had a passion for making homes beautiful. She specializes in cleaning, organizing, and home improvement projects.

Is it OK to put baking soda in washing machine?

Baking soda in the laundry can be a great addition for a natural fabric softener or controlling excess suds, while vinegar in laundry can be an amazing agent for getting those whites extra sparkling and banishing mildew odor. They help even the best laundry detergents to be more effective.

How much baking soda do you put in a front load washer?

Add ½ cup of baking soda to your washer. Add detergent, like ARM & HAMMER™ Plus OxiClean™ Odor Blasters. Run the wash cycle. Add another ½ cup of baking soda in the rinse cycle.

Where do you put baking soda in washing machine?

For Extra-Clean Clothes “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.