Back to high school chemistry: vinegar is an acid, soap is a base. What happens when you mix an acid with a base? They neutralize each other! Lots of home cleaning remedies involve a squirt of castile soap and a splash of vinegar, but when combined, these two ingredients cancel one another out. On most surfaces, use soapy water first, rinse, and only then do a quick vinegar spritz and wipe-down for maximum shine. This also goes for the laundry: putting vinegar in with detergent in your wash cycle weakens the cleaning power of both. Use vinegar in the rinse cycle instead; it’ll soften your fabrics and also remove unpleasant odors. (Note: don’t use vinegar to soak things in the washing machine since it can rust metal components.)
Baking soda is another hero of the green cleaning movement, and when mixed with vinegar, the result is a great fizzy reaction that works well for both science-project volcanoes and mild drain clogs. But if your home-cleaner recipe has you mixing the two, note that once the initial fizzing has died down, all that’s left is a close-to-neutral solution with little cleaning power. Use one or the other, or use them in sequence, but don’t waste your time mixing baking soda and vinegar together.
Related: 9 Surprising Uses For Baking Soda