Many homemade stain remover recipes and cleaning recipes suggest using club soda to help clean and remove stains, but is it better than plain water for this purpose?
Believe it or not this is a debate that has been raging in both the scientific community and among homemakers for years with people firmly entrenched on both sides of the debate.
Some say it works wonders for cleaning and stain removal, and others say it works no better than plain water.
Club soda, also known as carbonated water, sparkling water, or seltzer water, is water which has carbon dioxide added to create the bubbles in it.
This carbonation process creates a small amount of carbonic acid in the water, making it slightly more acidic than plain water.
In addition, depending on what brand of carbonated water you purchase it may also contain some additional minerals or salt in it, in small quantities.
I've been researching stain removal methods and techniques thoroughly because of writing this website, and I have heard all kinds of claims of why club soda works well to remove stains.
These include that the acidity of the water or the minerals in the water help remove the stain, which is possibly true.
Weak acids, such as white vinegar, are often used to help remove stains. The reason they work is because of their low pH.
(You can learn more about how the pH of your cleaner affects what it can clean here in this article.)
In addition, I've heard it claimed that the bubbles in the water help manually "lift" the stain up and out of the fabric or fibers.
I'm not sure I buy that, although I cannot find any scientific evidence actually refuting (or supporting) this claim.
Some of the stain removal tips submitted to this site even suggest using carbonated water as a stain remover. These include:
Nothing I've experienced or read about suggests that using seltzer water as a stain remover will harm your stain removal efforts any more than using plain water, so it certainly is not harmful to try it.
Please make sure that the sparkling water, carbonated water, club soda or fizzy water you are using is plain though, and does not contain flavors.
Being clear is not a guarantee of no flavors, like lemon or lime. Those drinks which contain flavoring may also contain sugars or other ingredients which themselves could stain or soil fibers.
Please note this caveat though: Carbonated water, like any water based product, can set stains like oil and grease so in that instance it would do as much harm as plain water, but not more.
The main argument for why carbonated water doesn't clean or remove stains any better than plain water is that there is no clear cut scientific proof that it does -- only anecdotal evidence.
A short article in Scientific American actually tackled this exact subject a couple of years ago, entitled How Does Club Soda Remove Red Wine Stains?
Click the link to read the entire article. Here is a quote from it, though, which I think basically sums it all up.
There's no particularly good chemical reason why club soda should remove stains: it's essentially just water with carbon dioxide dissolved in it, along with some salts.
. . .
My conclusion is that if club soda works, plain water probably works as well. Either way, the stain is gone. If it doesn't work, then a commercial stain-removal product might save the day.
Based on this research and science my conclusion is you won't hurt anything if you use any type or brand of carbonated water as a stain remover anytime the instructions suggest using water.
In addition, anytime some stain removal instructions suggest using any type of seltzer or carbonated water to help remove the stain you can just use plain water instead if you don't have any of the carbonated stuff handy, or if you don't want to waste it on your stain removal efforts.
Hi, I'm Taylor, a busy mom with 3 kids, so I have lots of hands on experience with house cleaning, laundry and my fair share of spots, spills and other messy catastrophes. Thanks for visiting my site.
I update the website all the time with tips, tutorials, cleaning recipes, reviews of products from readers like you, and tests I've done on various cleaners, removers and laundry supplies.
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CAUTION: This website is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided as is, without warranties or guarantees. Some stains and messes just won't come out, and are permanent. Further, some cleaning methods can harm your item, so if what you want to clean or launder is sentimental or expensive call a professional. See disclaimer of liability for more information.
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