It wasn’t until I discovered washing soda that I felt I could clean everything in the house using less toxic ingredients. Alongside Vinegar and Bicarbonate of Soda, this natural chemical is the perfect addition to my natural cleaners. I have memories of my grandmother having a little container of washing soda next to her dish washing liquid. She would always add a little scoop of this white powder to her dishwater in order to soften it. Besides being a natural water softener, this white powder has some wonderful uses in cleaning. I’ve done some research and tested out a variety of different ways washing soda can be used. Read on for a printable list of recipes.
What is Washing Soda?
Washing soda—sodium carbonate—is in the same family as baking soda. It has just been processed differently. It is much more caustic/alkaline, with a pH of 11. Although it doesn’t give off harmful fumes, you do need to wear gloves as it may irritate your skin. It is found in the laundry section of most supermarkets. Its highly alkaline properties make it ideal for de-greasing, brightening and removing stubborn spills.
Washing soda cuts grease, cleans petroleum oil, removes wax or lipstick, and neutralizes odors in the same way that baking soda does. A cup of washing soda powder dissolved in a liter or two of hot water works wonders on a greasy grill or oven. But don’t use it on fiberglass, aluminum or waxed floors—unless you intend to remove the wax.
If your citrus tree has leaves that are a sickly yellow color, a presenter on Gardening Australia recommends the use of washing soda to fix it. Simply measure out about 50 grams of washing soda per metre of tree height, and place in 3-4 shallow holes around the tree’s drip line. Too easy.
How to Convert Baking Soda into Washing Soda
Are you unable to source washing soda at your local pharmacy? Baking soda is washing soda's close cousin and with some small tweaks you can change the chemical makeup of baking soda to turn it into washing soda.
You can make your own by slowly heating baking soda.
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate NaHCO3) is plentiful and inexpensive. By heating baking soda you will release the carbon dioxide and water molecules, leaving you with dry sodium carbonate or washing soda.
Place about 2 cups of baking soda in a shallow baking dish or on a shallow baking sheet. Working in smaller quantities is easier to monitor and control.
Heat your oven to 200 C and place your dish inside
Stir the baking soda and smooth back out to an even layer.
Bake an additional hour at 200 degrees
Allow the baking soda (now washing soda) to cool completely. It will look more yellow and be much more coarse in texture.
Store in an airtight container.
Easy Ways to Use Washing Soda
The easiest, most straight forward way to use Sodium Carbonate. Add 1/2 a cup to a load of washing, especially whites, to brighten and whiten. Washing soda is excellent at deodorizing as well (think bedding for pets).
Stove Burner Grime Cleaner
Fill a sink or pail with 1 cup of soda and enough hot water to cover the pans. Soak the pans overnight.
Heavy Duty Cleaner
Make a thick paste of washing soda and water. Smear it on the problem area; let dry and then rinse. Note that washing soda can peel wax off a floor, and is often used as a paint stripper, so make sure the place being cleaned is inert.
1.5 C Bicarbonate of Soda, 1.5 C Washing Soda, 1/2 C Epsom Salts, 2 TBSP sea salt. Mix well and use one two tablespoons in your washing machine.
Combine 1 teaspoon of washing soda with 2 cups of hot water in a spray bottle. Spray and wipe as you go, using as you would any commercial all-purpose cleaner.
Who needs commercial detergents with all their chemicals when you can make your own at a fraction of the cost?!?! 1 C Washing soda, 1/4 C Citric Acid, 1/4 C Coarse Salt. Make a bucket full of dishwasher detergent using these increments and use a heaped TBSP. Put the powder where you would normally put the dishwasher tablet. Use vinegar in place of its commercial alternative, in the rinse aid compartment
I would normally give my carpets a good brush and hoover but for really bad stains, washing soda is king! The other day my daughter spilled melted butter on the carpet and I sprinkled on some washing soda. After letting it absorb for a few minutes, I hovered it up and it worked amazingly. Please check the manufacturer instructions on your carpet or ask an expert before you attempt this. Wouldn’t want to be held responsible!
Want a fast way to clean all the blinds in your house? Fill the bathtub with warm water. Add 1 cup washing soda. Remove all blinds and soak for 30 minutes. Spray or wipe down and re-hang. (From experience, make a note of where they all go before doing this!).
Alternately, dissolve 1/4 cup in 2 quarts of warm water and use to wipe down blinds while they are still hanging
Download the pdf of these recipes
So there, you have it. Washing soda is a valuable additive to your green cleaning artillery that you can use in a multitude of ways! Please leave a comment if you've found another way to use it that I didn't cover.