How to Make Washing Soda from Baking Soda

How to make washing soda from baking soda

I’ve been using washing soda (also called sodium carbonate) in my natural cleaning for years. It is an ingredient in my homemade laundry soap and all-purpose cleaners and I’ve found dozens of other ways to use it around the house as well.

What is Washing Soda?

Sodium Carbonate, commonly called Washing Soda or Soda Ash, is a water-soluble sodium salt of carbonic acid. Its proportions of sodium, carbon and hydrogen make it effective as a natural cleaner and cleaning booster.

It can be obtained from natural sources like the ashes of plants that grew in certain types of soil or created synthetically. It has a fascinating history of use in glass making, film developing, taxidermy, cooking and chemistry but I am most fond of it for its simple household uses.

Where to Get Washing Soda?

Even in our relatively small town, washing soda is easy to find on the laundry aisle of the grocery store and it is also available in boxes and in bulk online. I’ve always just purchased it because it is so inexpensive and versatile and easy to find.

I’ve gotten many comments from readers who don’t live in the US or who live in very rural areas asking if there is a substitute if they can’t find it in their area and a few other readers chimed in that they’ve been able to make it at home from baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) which seems to be available practically everywhere.

The best part?

The process of turning sodium bicarbonate into sodium carbonate is a simple chemical reaction that can be easily accomplished in an oven!

In short, using enough heat for a long enough period of time will change the structure of sodium bicarbonate into sodium carbonate while releasing excess carbon dioxide and steam.Bonus points if you try this simple method and turn it into a science lesson for your kids at the same time!

How to Make Washing Soda

If you have an oven and are feeling crafty, try this simple method of making washing soda. Another bonus is that baking soda is typically even less expensive (especially at big box stores) and making this at home can help further reduce the cost of budget-friendly cleaning recipes.

Washing Soda Ingredients

Washing Soda Instructions

  1. Turn oven on 400 degrees F.
  2. Pour a thick (1/2 inch or so) layer of baking soda on the bottom of the baking dish.
  3. Bake for 1 hour, stirring 1-2 times in the middle,  or until it has changed in look and feel. Baking soda has a silky/powdery feel and washing soda is more grainy and not silky. The baking soda will need to reach the full 400 degrees for this reaction to take place, so give it time.
  4. Let cool and store in air-tight jar.

Use this homemade washing soda as you would store-bought in natural cleaning recipes, laundry soaps and more!

Ever tried to make Washing Soda at home? Many thanks to reader Erin for the email with the tip on how to make it!

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Reader Comments

  1. Thank you! I live in Canada in a rural setting and I wanted to try your scouring powder recipe but I wasn’t sure where I could possibly get washing soda locally. Your recipes are great and I look forward to your tips.

  2. Do you get better results if you wash clothes with washing soda rather than washing with just baking soda? I’ve never tried it but am curious to know if that chemical change makes a big difference in the end result.

  3. I too want to make washing soda and your scouring scrub. And I would like to make a laundry wash as well, can I make it Borax free? And do you know if I may add essential oils to it I use young living in some of my homemade natural cosmetics.
    H Bueltemann

  4. Thank you!
    I can get washing soda only in one store here, and they don’t always have it in stock. Now only thing left to figure out is where to get borax…

  5. Well that’s a good idea!
    I haven’t found the washing soda (ok, I never searched of… because I am way too lazy to search for the Portuguese name for it… bummer!). I’ll probably give it a try… or get more serious into finding it at the market.
    Although it is simple, I don’t think it is really helpful on cutting costs. You spend energy with the oven instead.
    But it is good to know that there is a way.
    Thank you!

    • Actually, if you look at the Consumer Guide to Home Energy Savings, it will only cost about 16 cents to run an electric oven for 1 hour. Less for a gas oven. So, yes, you will be saving a ton of money.

  6. How can I substitute for borax? I want to make laundry det. And scouring paste

  7. So simple! That is really cool.

  8. How long does the washing soda last? I want to make it while it is still winter. Thank you.

    • It is very shelf stable once it cools so you should be able to make it ahead of time

  9. Hello, one day I saw you have a cleaning checklist – something I can print out and hand the little mess-makers – but I got distracted before I clicked the link and now I can’t find it again. Obviously I should be able to now what needs cleaning but an already printed list would be wonderful 🙂

  10. Hi there and thanks for the great info (now I can stop ordering in bulk and just make it!!) – I have a question about the chemical reaction of sodium carbonate with water – wondering if the “cleaning” properties of washing soda change if I try to use it in a liquid laundry soap formula? I’ve been making powder for years – but with the breakdown of the old machine comes a need to try a liquid formula. I know sodium percarbonate cannot go into a liquid formula because the cleaning has to happen immediately when it chemical reacts with water, but not sure about sodium carbonate (aka washing soda)…. oh, and do either baking soda or washing soda truly dissolve in water? I know I’m a few months late to the conversation, but hoping!

  11. I have not noticed any benefit at all in using washing soda as opposed to plain baking soda in my DIY laundry detergent. The soda is a great water softener, cleaning booster and odor remover. Thank you for all that you share!

  12. Thank you for the info. Can you just use baking soda instead of the washing soda?

  13. Does anyone know if expired baking soda will still turn into washing soda? It still reacts with vinegar, just doesn’t seem to pass the test in hot water in small amounts…

  14. i’ve been making my own washing liquid for many years as i have eczema. !cup of washing soda melted in 1 litre of water. Grate 1 cake of pure soap and melt in 1 litre of hot water(usually in saucepan on stove. then combine both pour 1 3rd into bucket and make up with 9 litres of warm water. when the rest has set cut in two and store in fridge in bag or container.
    With made up one use 1-2 cups in each wash sometimes i dd eucalyptus oil. Nice to know i can make my own bking soda from baking powder. will try this thanks