Can Baking Soda Ruin Your Vacuum Cleaner
Baking soda is a cheap and efficient deodorizer and cleaning aid, often used to clean carpets and other floors and elevated surfaces.
When rubbed into the carpet, it helps remove rather stubborn types of dirt and helps fight odors and smells. And the easiest method of removing the baking soda from the carpets is vacuuming. But can baking soda ruin the vacuum cleaner?
Published: December 30, 2022.
Little Bit About Baking Soda
The baking soda chemical formula is NaHCO3 (Sodium Hydrogen Carbonate), it is a slightly alkaline substance that can be found in the form of a very fine, dry powder.
It has numerous uses, one of which is cleaning, since it is a very good deodorizer and helps clean various types of dirt, especially from carpets and similar surfaces.
As said before, the best way of removing baking soda is by using a strong vacuum cleaner. But, is it safe?
Can I Vacuum Baking Soda?
Due to its very nature, very fine powder, people wonder if they can safely vacuum baking soda.
Well, generally, yes, baking soda is relatively safe for your vacuum cleaner, especially if you have one with very good air filtration.
However, due to the very small dimensions of the baking soda particles, these particles can clog air filters and can easily get into the motor.
Thus, when needing to vacuum baking soda, do the following:
- Use a vacuum with strong suction and a brushroll: strong suction and a brushroll will clean the carpet thoroughly, removing baking soda and other deeply embedded dirt,
- a vacuum cleaner with a vacuum bag: after vacuuming baking soda, consider replacing a disposable vacuum bag or clean/wash a reusable vacuum bag. Tiny baking soda particles can clog the vacuuming bag, creating larger than normal pressure drop, decreasing the suction and airflow, and also decreasing the motor cooling.
- a bagless vacuum cleaner: after vacuuming baking soda, empty the dirt bin and wash it with water and some cleaning detergent. Also, wash cyclonic air filtration system, if present.
Note: for the maintenance procedures, check the Owner's Guide of your vacuum cleaner.
- Bagged or bagless vacuum: clean pre-motor and post-motor air filters, especially HEPA air filter. If the filters can be washed, wash them and let them dry completely. If the filters can't be washed, take them out and tapped them a few times onto the hard inner surface of the trashcan - this will help remove tiny dirt particles, baking soda included, from the air filter.
- Replace air filters: if the air filters are not washable, or it is time for them to be replaced, replace them. Clean air filters are a must-have for any vacuum cleaner to have at least a decent suction - clogged air filters can cause a serious pressure drop in the unit, causing weak suction and motor overheating.
Note: If your vacuum stops working soon after starting, and the control electronics, if present, signalize that the motor is too hot, consider cleaning, washing, or replacing air filters and checking the rest of the vacuum for clogs and blockages.
- Suction motor: Although baking soda particles can enter the suction motor, there isn't much a user can do about it. First of all, soda particles that enter the suction motor will also easily exit the motor. Second, tampering with the suction motor also renders the warranty void, so if your vacuum cleaner is under warranty, don't disassemble it or do anything similar...
So, if you are not regularly vacuuming larger amounts of baking soda, feel free to use your standard vacuum cleaner, but be aware of the dangers.
However, what to do if there is a need to clean carpets with baking soda regularly
Vacuum Cleaner With Water Air Filter
If you are worried that the baking soda will ruin your main vacuum cleaner, consider using a vacuum cleaner with a water air filter.
As the air with baking soda particles passes through the water in the form of bubbles, baking soda dissolves in the water
Most water vacuum cleaners are drum-shaped and relatively bulky, but not all. For example, Quantum X Upright Water Filter Vacuum (Amazon link, link opens in the new window) has the shape of a standard upright vacuum, but it uses a multilayered air filtration system, including the water air filtration.
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Clean Your Carpet With Carpet Cleaner/Washer
If you have tried to remove a stain off your carpet using baking soda and now don't want to vacuum the remaining powder, but you have a carpet cleaner/washer, go for it - it will not only remove the baking soda, but it will deeply clean any remaining dirt.
However, don't forget that after using carpet cleaner with both cleaning/rinsing and drying modes, the carpet cleaner remains slightly wet.
The workaround is to use only drying mode - carpet cleaner sucks any remaining dirt and liquids into the dirty water tank that acts like an air filter, but the suction is not as strong as the suction of the full-size vacuums. So, some baking soda may still be left on the carpet.
Thus, if you are going to use carpet cleaners to pick up the remaining baking soda, use it as you usually do, and your carpet cleaner will be slightly wet but practically spotless.
Clean Your Carpet With Carpet Spot Cleaner
Carpet spot cleaners are small carpet cleaners/washers designed for cleaning carpet spots and smaller areas.
If you have a carpet spot that you cleaned using baking soda and you don't want to vacuum it using your home vacuum cleaner, but you have a carpet spot cleaner, feel free to use it.
Just like carpet cleaners, carpet spot cleaners have two tanks, one for dirty liquids and another one for clean water/cleaning solution, but they allow their users to clean just one relatively small spot/area.
Thus, even if that spot is left slightly moist, it will dry rather quickly, and the spot will be completely cleaned of baking soda or any remaining dirt.
For more about this topic, feel free to check our Best Spot Cleaners for Stairs, Carpets, and Area Rugs article.
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Long Story Short: Generally, vacuuming baking soda should not ruin or damage your vacuum cleaner, but after vacuuming baking soda or any similar dry, cold, very fine powder, consider replacing the vacuum bag (if present) and cleaning/washing air filters.
If there is any issue with the air filters, the suction motor is overheating, or anything similar, replace the air filters immediately.
If you have to vacuum larger amounts of baking soda or any similar fine powder, consider using vacuum cleaners with water air filters or clean carpets using carpet cleaners or carpet spot cleaners.