How long do you leave baking soda and vinegar?

Baking soda and vinegar are common household ingredients that are often used together for cleaning, deodorizing, and other purposes. When baking soda and vinegar are combined, a chemical reaction occurs that releases carbon dioxide gas. This fizzing reaction can be useful for lifting dirt, Removing odors, unclogging drains, and more. But how long should the baking soda and vinegar be left to react before using the mixture for cleaning or other applications? Here is a look at how long to let baking soda and vinegar sit before use.

The Reaction Time

When baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) and vinegar (acetic acid) are first combined, hydrogen ions from the vinegar react with the sodium and bicarbonate ions in the baking soda. This reaction happens immediately upon mixing the two ingredients and causes the release of carbon dioxide gas in the form of bubbles.

The reaction proceeds rapidly at first as the acid in the vinegar readily reacts with the baking soda. Within the first 5-10 minutes, a vigorous fizzing will occur. After about 10 minutes, the reaction will begin to slow down.

At around 20-30 minutes, the reaction starts tapering off and loses the vigorous fizzing. At this point, much of the potential for the chemical reaction has diminished as the vinegar is largely neutralized by the baking soda.

So in summary:

  • 0-5 minutes – Rapid fizzing reaction
  • 5-10 minutes – Vigorous bubbling and fizzing
  • 10-20 minutes – Fizzing starts slowing down
  • 20-30 minutes – Gentle fizzing and reaction tapering off

Based on these stages, the baking soda and vinegar reaction is essentially complete after about 30 minutes. Most of the active fizzing and bubbles are finished after half an hour.

When to Use the Mixture

The timing of when to use the baking soda and vinegar mixture depends on the purpose.


For cleaning applications, you’ll typically want to use the mixture during the active fizzing stage when the reaction is still progressing. This allows the release of carbon dioxide bubbles to help lift dirt and grease off surfaces.

For cleaning:

  • Floors – Apply baking soda then vinegar, let fizz for 5-10 minutes then scrub and mop up.
  • Sinks – Sprinkle baking soda down the drain, pour vinegar and let fizz for 10-15 minutes before rinsing.
  • Appliances – Spread baking soda paste, spray vinegar and let sit 5 minutes before wiping clean.
  • Tiles – Sprinkle baking soda on tiles, spray vinegar, let sit 10 minutes then wipe down.


When using baking soda and vinegar to deodorize, you want to allow the mixture to fully react and absorb odors. Let the baking soda and vinegar sit for at least 20-30 minutes before wiping or rinsing away.

For deodorizing:

  • Carpets – Sprinkle baking soda, spray vinegar over top. Let sit 1 hour before vacuuming.
  • Refrigerators – Place bowl of baking soda inside fridge for 24 hours. Then pour in vinegar, close door and let sit overnight before wiping clean.
  • Drains – Pour baking soda down drain, follow with vinegar. Let fizz 20 minutes then rinse with hot water.
  • Garbage cans – Sprinkle baking soda in bottom, spray vinegar on walls. Let sit 30 minutes to overnight before rinsing clean.


When adding baking soda and vinegar to recipes, you want the mixture to finish fully reacting so it doesn’t impact the taste. For cooking purposes, only add baking soda and vinegar together immediately before baking the dish.

Chemistry Experiments

For chemical reactions and science experiments, the most active fizzing occurs during the first 10 minutes after mixing. For the best reaction, use immediately or within 5-10 minutes.

Factors That Impact Reaction Time

Several factors affect the reaction rate between baking soda and vinegar and how long it will fizz and bubble.

Ratio of Baking Soda to Vinegar

The proportions of baking soda to vinegar impact how quickly the acid is neutralized. More baking soda compared to vinegar will cause a fast reaction that fizzes vigorously then slows down quickly.

More vinegar compared to baking soda provides excess acidity so the reaction takes longer to complete. This extends the active bubbling time.


Higher temperatures increase the energy level of molecules allowing them to react faster. Warm vinegar will react with baking soda quicker than cold vinegar.

Heating the vinegar accelerates the reaction with baking soda for more rapid fizzing.

Concentration of Vinegar

Vinegar contains acetic acid which reacts with baking soda. Higher concentration vinegars like white distilled vinegar (4-7% acetic acid) create a faster reaction than milder vinegars like apple cider (5% acidity).

For a more vigorous baking soda and vinegar reaction, use distilled white vinegar.

Surface Area

Increasing the surface area exposed allows more contact between the baking soda and vinegar for a faster reaction.

Baking soda powder has more exposed surface area and will react quicker than baking soda crystals. Crushing baking soda crystals into a powder form speeds up the fizzing with vinegar.

Warm vinegar poured over baking soda powder creates rapid bubbling.


Stirring or agitating the baking soda and vinegar brings more contact between the chemicals for a faster reaction rate.

The fizzing reaction proceeds faster if the baking soda and vinegar mixture is stirred or swirled.

Carrying Out the Reaction

To allow the baking soda and vinegar reaction to proceed for an ideal duration before application:

  • Use a 1:1 ratio of baking soda to vinegar.
  • Use warm distilled white vinegar for a faster reaction.
  • Crush baking soda into a fine powder.
  • Quickly stir or agitate the mixture after combining.
  • Let sit for 5-10 minutes for cleaning uses.
  • Let sit for 20-30 minutes for deodorizing.

Safety Tips

When working with baking soda and vinegar use the following safety precautions:

  • Wear gloves and eye protection as vinegar can irritate skin and eyes.
  • Never mix vinegar and bleach – this produces hazardous chlorine gas.
  • Use only in well ventilated areas to prevent inhaling fumes.
  • Rinse surfaces and skin after use.
  • Store vinegar out of reach of children.

Other Reactions with Baking Soda

Vinegar isn’t the only household product that reacts with baking soda. For additional chemical reactions to try, mix baking soda with these liquids:

Lemon Juice

Citric acid in lemon juice reacts with baking soda to release carbon dioxide gas. The acidity of lemon juice will trigger fizzing and bubbles when combined with baking soda.

Cream of Tartar

Cream of tartar contains potassium hydrogen tartrate which reacts with sodium bicarbonate in baking soda for a fun chemical reaction.


Phosphoric acid gives coke an acidic pH allowing it to react with alkaline baking soda, resulting in fizzing. Mentos mints dropped into soda also create this rapid bubbling reaction.

Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide decomposes into oxygen and water which is accelerated in the presence of the sodium bicarbonate in baking soda.

Make Your Own Chemical Volcano

For an impressive baking soda science experiment, create a chemical volcano using common household ingredients:

What You’ll Need

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • Vinegar or lemon juice
  • Liquid dish soap
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Plastic bottle, bowl or volcano shaped mold

How to Make a Chemical Volcano

  1. Add 1 cup baking soda to the plastic bottle, bowl or volcano mold.
  2. Optional: Add a few drops of food coloring to vinegar or lemon juice.
  3. Pour a small amount of colored vinegar or lemon juice into the soda volcano.
  4. Watch the fizzing reaction overflow like lava.
  5. For more fizz, add a squirt of dish soap and then pour more vinegar/lemon juice.
  6. The acid and base reaction between the baking soda and vinegar/lemon juice generates carbon dioxide bubbles for a homemade explosive volcano!


    Knowing how long to let baking soda and vinegar react before using the fizzing mixture is important. Allowing enough time for the chemical reaction to progress provides cleaning power, odor removal, and fun experiments.

    For most uses, the ideal reaction time is 5-10 minutes for vigorous bubbling and cleaning properties. Deodorizing benefits are maximized after 20-30 minutes once the fizzing has stopped. Factor in the ratio of ingredients, temperature, acidity, surface area, and agitation to achieve your desired reaction duration.

    With some simple kitchen ingredients, you can harness the power of baking soda and vinegar chemistry to tackle cleaning, freshen up smelly odors, and even build your own fizzy chemical volcano!

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