Pretreating Stains with Baking Soda

Even the toughest stains can be cleaned. Read on to learn how to use baking soda for pretreating stains and what kind of stains it works best on.

pretreating stains with baking soda

Oh if only stains didn’t exist.

But they do happen sometimes and it seems like they happen most on our favorite outfits.

When stains do happen, you don’t have to grab a harsh chemical to pretreat it before washing. Other household items work just as good. Baking soda happens to be one of those common household items that work for great for most stains.

Read on to learn more about pretreating stains with baking soda.

Related: Baking Soda Benefits for Health and Household

Pretreating Stains with Baking Soda

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Pretreating stains with baking soda requires making a paste using a two to one ratio of baking soda and warm water. Mix 1 cup baking soda with 1/2 cup warm water in a small bowl; use more for a bigger stain.

The baking soda mixture helps to draw the stain out of the fabric. As the mixture dries, it removes the stain by drawing the stain out and trapping it in the baking soda.

Color test

If you’re worried about whether or not pretreating stains with baking soda will ruin the colors, do a small color test first. Put a small amount of the baking soda mixture on the inside of the clothing that can’t be seen, such as under the armpit of shirts. Use a light-colored cloth to dab the hidden area to see if any color comes off onto the cloth. If you see color on the cloth, don’t use this method to pretreat the stain. This color test will work for any pretreating product.

Wine and fruit stains

Wine and fruit stains need to be treated right away, but if you can’t get to it immediately then pour a little bit of baking soda on the stain and let it sit for a while. After it has had time to sit, pour hot water through the back of the stain and let it sit to dry. The baking soda will soak up any liquid as it dries.


Make the baking soda paste as mentioned above and rub it onto the sweat-stained area before washing. Really tough stains may need to sit for an hour or two. Before washing, brush the baking soda off into the trash or sink first. The baking soda also works to absorb any lingering odors.

Stinky stains

Baking soda is great for removing odors and pretreating stains that smell really bad. Wet the stain first, then sprinkle baking soda on it and let it sit for a while. This allows the baking soda to do its job of removing both the stain and the smell. Once again, brush off the baking soda before washing.


Baking soda helps to remove the color from a bloodstain because it also whitens. Get the bloodstain damp, then rub the baking soda paste onto it, allowing it to sit for up to an hour. Wash as normal.


The smell of vomit can linger even after clothes have been washed. Sprinkle baking soda on the stain and rub it in really well. This will help remove the odors and keep them from coming back even after washing. You don’t have to wash it right away, either, which is especially helpful when dealing with baby spit-up. Sprinkle baking soda on the stain and leave it until you have time to do the laundry. The baking soda will absorb both the liquid and the odors.

As you can see, pretreating stains with baking soda works really well for many different types of stains. Harsh chemical products aren’t necessarily better when it comes to removing stains.

Have you tried a baking soda paste for pretreating stains before? What’s your favorite method for pretreating stains?

Looking for more household cleaning tips? I recommend these:
Cleaning Your Mattress the Right Way
How to Clean Up Fast for Company
Natural Cleaning Supplies with Recipes
12 Ways to Use a Toothbrush for Cleaning
Natural Ways to Make Your Bedroom Smell Clean and Amazing

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pretreating stains with baking soda
pretreating stains with baking soda

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53 thoughts on “Pretreating Stains with Baking Soda”

  1. I’ve washed towels with baking soda before, but I think I’ll try wetting and letting the baking soda sit on it… thanks for the idea!

        1. Thank you for sharing that! I have a stoneware baker from Pampered Chef that you can only wash with a baking soda paste. It does work really well! Baking soda is amazing. πŸ™‚

  2. I’m known for getting olive oil stains on nearly every piece of clothing I own – it’s uncanny! I’ve never tried using baking soda to pretreat (not sure it will work), but I like using a little bit of Dawn. I rub it in and then let it sit for a little while before putting in the wash. Gone, like magic!

    1. Thanks for sharing that! I think Dawn is a little better at removing greasy and oily stains. I’ll keep that in mind because I do the same thing. I’m forever getting something on me while I’m cooking. πŸ˜€

  3. Amazing tips, Michelle! We have really hard water here and baking soda works brilliantly for scrubbing out those old, orange iron stains in the sink. It takes a little bit of elbow grease to use it as an abrasive but it sure does work!

    I agree with you about stinky stains too. It’s amazing how powerful baking soda is as a deodorizer! Best of all, it’s cheap! πŸ˜€

    Sharing as always my friend. Your tips are always the best! β™₯

    1. I had hard water where I used to live so I completely understand all that scrubbing. It actually turned my hair orangish, too! What a sight!
      I do love how cheap it is! It makes it a lot easier to stock up! πŸ˜€
      Thank you so much for always sharing and for your amazing support! Hugs and love!!

  4. I love that you like to use natural products too. I am staying away from harsh chemicals and baking soda is a go to for a lot of my cleaning. Thanks for sharing.

    1. That’s great! My daughter has asthma and going chemical free has really helped. I love how cheap baking soda is, too. It makes it easier to stock up. πŸ™‚

  5. I like using the washing soda (baking soda) when I accidently leave a load in the washer and it skunks. It really seems to get rid of unwanted smells. I have been using dawn or a stain stick to pre treat, but I am totally going to give this a try…it’s a very budget friendly idea! All of us are definitely hard on our clothes πŸ™‚

    1. I never thought of using the baking soda for forgotten laundry. I do that sometimes, too. I love how cheap baking soda is so it’s easy to stock up. πŸ™‚

      1. It works so nicely. I usually use 1/3 cup and it takes all “dank” smells away. Borax also works nicely for this and I keep both of them on hand. I think the water softening effect of both substances helps loosen up unwanted molds, bacteria, and fungi. I know both of those substances will clear up pool water and make it sparkle…it must do the same in the laundry!

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