If you’ve been reading our other articles on homemade cleaning products, you’ve probably come across Washing Soda a few times by now, but what is washing soda?
It is one of the staple ingredients that we think you should keep in your repertoire of homemade cleaning products.
Whether you’ve never heard of it before, or it brings back fond memories of your grandmother’s cleaning cupboard; it’s time to get to know what Washing Soda is, how easy it is to make (only one ingredient!), and its multitude of uses around the home.
Most people seem to think that washing soda is suitable for only laundry duty, however, that is selling it unfairly short.
Washing Soda can be helpful with so many other household chores!
It’s a safe, non-toxic carpet cleaner. It’s a perfect natural cleaner for tiled areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. It can even clean outdoor furniture!
What Is Washing Soda
Put most simply (from a high school chemistry point of view) washing soda, also called soda ash, is what you get when you heat sodium bicarbonate (bicarb soda or baking powder).
It is a white powder that is highly alkaline which makes it a perfect solvent for many different stains.
Soda Ash was originally made from burning seaweed or kelp, though most commercial sodium carbonate is now sourced from limestone deposits.
Don’t worry, you won’t need to rush out to buy a shovel and head off in search of the nearest limestone quarry, our recipe calls for sodium bicarbonate in the form of regular old Baking Soda.
Most people will find this staple tucked away in the back of their pantry. If not, it’s cheap and readily available at most supermarkets.
How Does Washing Soda Work?
To keep this brief and simple – washing soda (sodium carbonate) binds with the particular minerals (predominately Calcium and Magnesium) which cause your water to harden.
By softening your water it liberates stains and odors, as well as helps other cleaning ingredients to lift the stain from the fabric and suspend it in the water.
This makes it easier for detergents and other cleaning products to effectively clean the stain.
Washing Soda VS Baking Soda
Washing Soda and Baking Soda are very closely related but very different at the same time. Baking Soda (Sodium Bicarbonate) is safe to eat, while Washing Soda (Sodium Carbonate) is caustic and can burn your skin if handled incorrectly.
Definitely not for eating.
When To Use Washing Soda & When To Use Baking Soda
Both Washing Soda and Baking Soda have their place in natural cleaning products, as long as they are used for the right purpose.
Choose Washing Soda when cleaning solid surfaces that are easily rinsed such as bathtubs and shower screens. It will clean without damage and can be washed away easily to avoid any nasty accidents if there is leftover residue.
Choose Baking Soda when cleaning surfaces that are harder to rinse off, like the insides of the oven, food preparation areas, and chopping boards where the residue won’t be an issue, and any delicate surfaces such as stone benchtops. Baking Soda is finer and won’t scratch the finish as Washing Soda will.
How To Make Homemade Washing Soda (Using Just 1 Common Household Ingredient)
While you can buy Washing Soda online, or find it in the laundry aisle of most grocery stores, it is one of the simplest cleaning products to make yourself.
By doing so you avoid any toxic additives that many commercial forms of washing soda contain to enhance its cleaning power.
All it takes to make your own all-natural homemade washing soda is slowly heating baking soda in your oven.
Remember, washing soda can irritate the skin if it’s undiluted so it’s a good idea to wear gloves when making it, or using it around the home.
Ingredients You Need To Make Washing Soda:
- Regular Baking Soda
- Shallow Baking Dish Or Cookie Sheet
- Spatula (Silicone is preferable if you have one)
What To Do:
- Spread 2-3 cups of baking soda evenly over your baking sheet. A layer about half an inch thick is perfect.
- Place in your preheated oven at 200°C and bake for 30 minutes to one hour. The time isn’t critical, you can’t ‘overcook it’, you just want to make sure you’ve driven out all of the moisture.
- You’ll know when it’s ready as it will appear more rough and granular, rather than light and fluffy. All the baking soda needs to reach 200 degrees C before it undergoes the reaction to become sodium carbonate so don’t be afraid to leave it another half hour if it needs it.
- Remove from the oven, let cool completely and store in an airtight container or jar.
- Make sure to label the jar and store it away from children and pets. Washing Soda is very safe but may cause slight skin irritation, so it’s best to wear gloves when using it.
Congratulations! You just did Science!
Now that you’ve made your own washing soda, read on below for the myriad of ways it can help you around the house!
To make the most of washing soda’s cleaning properties, we recommend you keep some plastic storage containers of your washing soda solution in the laundry room, kitchen and bathroom so it’s always close to hand when you need it.
12 Of Our Favourite Uses For Washing Powder
Since washing soda is such an effective cleaning solution, it was tricky narrowing down our shortlist of its uses, but we managed to put our heads together and come up with a shortlist of our 12 favorite ways to use washing soda around the house:
NOTE: As with all cleaning solutions, always check for any relevant cleaning codes (e.g. code S, X, W, WS etc.) and spot test a small area of whatever you are cleaning to be certain it won’t cause damage
1 – Booster For Your Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner
For extra cleaning power, simply add a teaspoon to your homemade all-purpose cleaner.
Its chemical formula and ph level of between 11 and 12, makes it a perfect addition for dealing with stubborn stains, including removing coffee and tea stains.
2 – Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner
Washing Soda is perfect for spot cleaning stubborn stains on carpets and rugs (even wine stains!).
Just mix a small amount of washing soda with water and dab the stain gently. Don’t forget to spot test for colorfastness first!
3 – Soak Away Your Clothes Stains (And Your Worries!)
If you find yourself with heavy stains on your fabric, you can soak them in a mixture of washing soda and warm water.
Use about half a cup in a bucket of warm water, making sure to stir the water until the powder is fully dissolved.
Add your clothes and let them soak for a few hours, or even overnight if you have the time. The longer the better when it comes to soaking.
4 – Laundry Booster & Water Softener
The original use for washing soda was as a laundry booster to increase the efficacy of your regular laundry detergent.
Simply add half a cup to your wash load and use the usual amount of laundry detergent.
Washing Soda also helps to prevent limescale buildup in your washing machine. Two wins for the price of one!
5 – Multipurpose Scouring Powder
Sprinkle some Washing Soda directly onto sinks, showers, or on dirty dishes to get rid of gunky build-up.
It’s perfect for cleaning hard surfaces in kitchens and bathrooms.
6 – Cleaning Pots And Pans
Since Washing Soda is all-natural, you can use it safely to clean tough food messes in your pots and pans.
Just add a couple of tablespoons of washing soda and a small squirt of dish soap (hopefully your homemade liquid dish soap) to the dishes and let soak for a while.
If the grime is particularly tough and they need a little more help, place the pot on the stove and gently bring to a simmer before scrubbing.
A word of warning though, don’t heat washing soda in aluminum cookware, as it will undergo a chemical reaction that may damage the metal.
Once you’ve tackled the tough grime, use your natural homemade dishwasher detergent to get everything nice and clean!
7 – Oven, Stovetop And Range Hood Cleaner
If you’re like us (and we suspect that you are), cleaning the oven and stovetop is down near the bottom of your favorite things to do.
The good news is washing soda makes this task simple and means you have less exposure to the harsh chemicals that most commercial oven cleaners contain.
You can clean the surfaces of your oven and cooktop with a cloth and a regular solution of washing soda and water.
Remove any small items for the stovetop and soak in the regular solution for at least half an hour.
8 – Trash Can Deodorizer
You should definitely be using washing soda to clean out your indoor and outdoor trash cans.
Use a regular solution (one cup of washing soda mixed with one gallon of water) with a sponge or scrub brush to give the inside of your garbage cans a good cleaning and remove dirt, grime, unpleasant smells, and anything else that’s lurking at the bottom.
When you’re done, sprinkle some dry washing soda at the bottom of your trash can to get rid of foul odors.
9 – Remove Greasy Buildup From Your BBQ Grill
Make your BBQ grill look all shiny and new by soaking it in a 1 to 1 mixture of washing soda and plain water for an hour (or more if needed).
If your grill is particularly grimy, you can soak over night, or assist the washing soda with some elbow grease 😉
10 – Unclog Bathroom and Kitchen Sinks
Since washing soda is highly caustic, it can even be used to unclog sink drains.
All you need to do is pour one cup of washing soda down the clogged drain and then follow it with three or four cups of boiling water.
Wait 30 minutes for the washing soda to do its magic and repeat the process if needed.
11 – Cleaning Your Toilet
Anything that makes the process of cleaning your toilet easier is a winner in our books!
Sprinkle a small handful of washing soda into your toilet bowl and flush. It’s as easy as that.
12 – Remove Residue From Cutting Boards
Use washing soda to keep your cutting boards fresh and clean. It’s quick and easy, and doesn’t leave residues behind so it won’t affect the taste of your food.
Use a damp sponge and a regular solution of washing soda to scrub the cutting board clean, then rinse thoroughly.
Remember, a regular solution is one cup of washing soda mixed into one gallon of water.
Where do I buy Washing Soda?
You can buy Washing Soda from most grocery stores, or online.
How do I make Washing Soda?
Washing Soda is made by simply heating Baking Soda. Scroll back up for the full walk-through.
Is Washing Soda The Same As Baking Soda?
No. They are closely related but very different and cannot be interchanged for one another.
Is Washing Soda Edible?
Is Baking Soda Edible?
Yes. Baking Soda is safe to eat.
What Is Sodium Carbonate?
Sodium carbonate is the chemical name for Washing Soda.
What Is Sodium BiCarbonate?
Sodium bicarbonate is the chemical name for Baking Soda.
That’s A Wrap!
There you have it, our complete guide to washing soda, how to make it, and its multitude of uses around your home.
It’s one of the best natural cleaners you can have on hand and is incredibly cheap – and simple to make!
What are your favorite tips and tricks for washing soda?
If you want someone else’s opinion on how to make washing soda, have a look at this video from Prepsteaders.