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Does Baking Soda Ruin Your Vacuum Cleaner?

Written by James Hall |

does baking soda ruin your vacuum

Did you know that baking soda can damage a vacuum cleaner? Here’s why you should be very careful about vacuuming baking soda from carpets or hard floors.

Baking soda is often recommended for cleaning carpets – and there’s no doubt that it can be effective at removing stains and absorbing odours.

Unfortunately, it’s picking up baking soda after you’ve used it for cleaning that’s the issue. Here’s why baking soda can damage a vacuum cleaner, along with some alternative cleaning tips for your floors.

Does Baking Soda Damage a Vacuum Cleaner?

Example of a clogged vacuum filter

Yes, baking soda can damage a vacuum cleaner in several different ways. The small, sharp soda particles can clog filters, act like sandpaper on carpet fibres, and even break your vacuum if they make it into the motor.

While most vacuums can handle a small amount of baking soda, we don’t recommend making a habit of using your vac to remove baking soda from carpets. If you do decide to vacuum up baking soda, be aware of the risks associated with doing so.

Instead of baking soda, the best way to remove stains is with a carpet cleaner machine. Nothing beats giving carpet fibres a deep clean with a combination of cleaning solution and water.

While a carpet cleaner is more expensive, using one won’t damage either your carpet or vacuum cleaner, which saves money in the long-run.

Why Can Baking Soda Damage a Vacuum Cleaner?

There are three main issues with baking soda when it comes to cleaning carpets and vacuuming it up. These are:

  1. The most common issue with vacuuming up baking soda is that it can clog the filters. Tiny baking soda particles can be difficult to remove from even washable filters, meaning you’ll need to buy replacements more frequently. If your vacuum doesn’t have washable filters, then you’ll certainly reduce their lifespan by vacuuming baking soda.
  2. If there is a leak or damaged component in your vacuum’s filtration system, then small particles of baking soda could reach the electric motor. These coarse particles can damage the gears, bearings, and other vital parts, which could cause permanent damage.
  3. Vacuums often aren’t capable of picking up all baking soda particles that are caught in carpet fibres. This means that the particles could remain stuck in the carpet, making them act like small bits of sandpaper. Over time, this causes noticeable wear and damage to the carpet.

In other words, baking soda can be bad for your carpet and your vacuum!

Warning: We’ve seen several websites recommend removing filters before vacuuming baking soda to avoid clogging. This is a terrible idea, as the filters are vital for protecting the motor from small particles. Never use your vacuum without the filters.

What About Other Types of Carpet Cleaning Powder?

There are many commercial cleaning products that have a similar consistency to baking soda, such as scented carpet powder.

These powders often carry the same risks as baking soda to your vacuum cleaner. If you want your vacuum to last, then we don’t recommend vacuuming any type of carpet cleaning powder.

Did You Know…

Vacuum cleaner manuals often used to explicitly mention that the machine shouldn’t be used to vacuum fine carpet powders. These warnings are less common today (we’re not sure why,) but it’s still best to avoid vacuuming cleaning powders.

What Else Can You Use to Clean Carpets?

As baking soda can damage your vacuum and even cause your carpets to look worn, we don’t recommend using it for cleaning carpets. Here are some alternative tips for keeping your carpets and floors clean:

  • Make sure that you regularly vacuum your home. Carpet odours start to form when dirt or grime sits in carpets for long periods, which allows bacteria to multiply. Vacuuming regularly prevents this. If you have pets, children, or a busy household, you’ll need to vacuum more frequently.
  • It’s vital to clean any spills as soon as they happen. The longer that a stain has to set into the carpet fibres, the more difficult it’ll be to remove. For liquid stains, blot up as much of the fluid as possible straight away. Don’t rub though, as this can cause discolouration.
  • Mud stains should be allowed to dry before they are removed. Trying to clean wet mud will just make the stain worse!
  • You can remove chewing gum from carpets by using ice cubes. Put the cubes in a sealed sandwich bag, then leave it on the gum for around 30-60 seconds. You should then be able to use a knife to gently remove the gum.
  • Some people recommend using white shaving cream for removing carpet stains. Spray the cream onto the stain, then leave it for around 30 minutes before blotting up with a soft cloth. Only use white shaving cream for this – not dyed cream or gel.
  • For heavily stained carpets or severe odours, we recommend hiring a professional carpet cleaner. It’s also a good idea to give your carpets a deep clean at least once per year, as this removes stains, grime, and other materials that could cause damage to your carpets.

Summary

Despite many online guides recommending baking soda for cleaning carpets, there are dangers to using this homemade cleaning product.

Baking soda can clog your vacuum’s filters when it’s vacuumed up from the carpet. Even worse, if your vacuum’s filters have a leak, then the baking soda particles could ruin the motor.

Aside from potentially damaging your vacuum, baking soda also acts like mini particles of sandpaper in carpet fibres. As it’s virtually impossible to remove all baking soda from carpets, the particles can cause your carpet to look worn and tired.

Do you have any questions about whether baking soda can damage your vacuum cleaner? Or do you want to share other carpet cleaning tips? Let us know in the comments section below.

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