Washing Soda is a simple natural cleaner and booster that can be used on its own or in various DIY recipes for natural cleaning. It is available in many grocery stores (and online) but you can also make your own at home from making soda using this simple tutorial.
Why Washing Soda?
Sodium Carbonate (aka Washing Soda or Soda Ash) is a highly alkaline substance that’s unique chemical composition makes it excellent for household uses like degreasing, brightening and cleaning tough messes.
It scores an exceptional safety rating from the Environmental Working Group with the lowest level of concern about its use in household settings and the only warning being to use it safely as you would any highly alkaline substance (not undiluted on skin, not consuming large amounts, etc.).
It is often used alongside Borax in cleaning recipes, and I’ve seen a few websites that have tried to give washing soda a bad rap through guilt by association. Unlike Borax, which does have some potential controversy and safety concerns, washing soda can still be safely included in many natural recipes and, in fact, there are dozens of ways to use it in a natural home.
Uses for Washing Soda at Home
In many ways, washing soda can be used as a turbo-charged baking soda in many types of household uses (just not in baking unless you know what you are doing!). These are some of the ways I’ve personally used it. Grab a box of washing soda at your local store (it looks like this) or make some yourself and try these uses today:
It’s original purpose… Add about 1/2 cup to a load of laundry, especially whites, to brighten, deodorize and get super clean!
Homemade Laundry Soap
Speaking of laundry, (which we pretty much always are as moms-aren’t we?), washing soda is one of the main ingredients in my homemade liquid or powdered laundry soap that I’ve used for years and that is much more budget-friendly and natural than many store bought brands.
Grease Stains and Tough Stains
Its high alkaline properties make this simple white powder a dynamo at removing grease and other tough stains, especially when treated early. I sprinkle some directly on grease stains on clothes right before washing to pull out the stain.
Note: Don’t do this ahead of time and leave on the clothes too long as it can “eat” through the fabric because it is so alkaline.
Washing soda is also a core ingredient in my homemade all-purpose cleaner that naturally cleans almost anything!
We just *finally* removed the very old and very nasty carpet in our living room, but I cleaned that thing more than I’d like to admit. Usually, I’d just use this simple natural carpet cleaning method, but for really bad stains (like melted butter- don’t ask how I know), I sprinkled on some washing soda, let absorb and vacuumed up. Please note that this worked on my white (or formerly white) carpet but it was old and I hated it anyway. Check with the manufacturer instructions on your carpet or ask an expert before using any really strong substance like this on yours.
Really nasty clothes or bad stains? Use Washing Soda as a pre-soak. Fill and start laundry load as usual but before starting, add 1 cup washing soda and let soak about 20 minutes.
Another original purpose of washing soda because it is so alkaline. Add to laundry or other needs to help counteract hard water.
That whole grease-busting benefit makes washing soda wonderful at cleaning outdoor grills. Ours gets a burned on scummy mess after only a month or two. To get things shiny and like new, we remove and soak in a strong mixture of washing soda. Grease and burned on food comes right off!
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.
Cleaning Pots and Pans
Have any pots or pans with stuck on grease or burned on stains? Let washing soda work its magic! Sprinkle on some washing soda, spray with a fine mist sprayer until a paste forms and let sit for 20+ minutes and scrub off. Note: Do NOT do this with aluminum pans (and better yet, just use all stainless steel pans anyway!).
Just as with pots and pans, washing soda can take burned on and stuck on food off of the bottom of the oven. Use the same process and make a paste and let soak on stuck on stains. Just make sure not to get on the actual heating element as it can wear it down and wash all residue out thoroughly before using the oven.
I use washing soda in my homemade dishwasher soap (you can experiment with leaving out the borax if you want).
Nasty tubs or floors? This homemade scouring powder works really well and uses natural ingredients like sodium carbonate.
Tough Tile and Grout Cleaning
When we moved into our first real house, the 1960s tile needed some serious love and the grout was stained and gross. These natural tile and grout cleaners did the trick.
Hard Water Stains
As a natural water softener, washing soda also helps remove hard water stains on sinks, appliances, faucets or anywhere else they are. Just make a paste and scrub until the spots are gone.
Once a week or so, I dump 1/2 cup washing soda down my kitchen sink drain to keep it unclogged and smelling fresh. If I have one, I’ll also throw in a lemon rind and use the disposal to chop it up.
Range Hood Degreasing
A little washing soda sprinkled on a cloth or sponge takes off any grease stuck inside the range hood.
Sprinkle in Trash Cans
I keep trash cans fresh by sprinkling a little washing soda in them every couple of weeks.
Ever used washing soda? Any great uses I missed? Share below!
Discussion (43 Comments)
Are these products safe to be used in HE washer?
Washing Soda is toxic and you are morally obligated to tell your subscribers that — and not just delete my post because it doesn’t fit your agenda.
I’ve never deleted your comments and see that you have several approved. All comments go through moderation to cut down on spam. I would love for you to explain to me and justify scientifically how washing soda is “toxic” as every major regulatory organization disagrees with you. The EWG, EPA and others list washing soda as safe when used correctly and recommend it as a natural cleaner. I have no “agenda” and could probably actually make a lot of money telling people not to use DIY cleaners and to buy expensive pre-made “natural” ones. So please, provide some scientific backing to your assertion that it is “toxic” and justify your claim that I am morally obligated to share this (as every scientific source I’ve seen disagrees with you). While you are at it, please also elaborate on my washing soda agenda as this should be entertaining.
Washing Soda is toxic. I never use it anymore for anything.
Says who? You?
In an attempt to discredit the blogger you should really have proof Fran!
Borax is an F grade by the ewg. Any thing that we can use in place of that?
I wrote about that here: https://wellnessmama.com/26407/borax-safe/
DO NOT use washing soda to clean your cooking flue. I have a stainless steel one and just cleaned it, as instructed. It is now covered in horrible marks that won’t come off. I have wiped it over and dried it off a few times, to no avail.
Have you tried water and vinegar spray? My stainless was a mess (my husband had wiped with WD40) and after a couple of cleaning passes, they look fantastic.
Since washing soda is highly alkaline, you should protect your hands by wearing rubber gloves.
I love Washing Soda! Question for you, Katie: I have been making your laundry detergent, with Borax, for about 18 months and love it. But, since you mentioned a few weeks ago that Borax is controversial, I’d love to hear a new powdered laundry detergent recipe that doesn’t use Borax. When I saw you link to a detergent recipe above, I got excited, thinking maybe you posted a detergent recipe without Borax, but it was the old recipe 🙂
I love using washing soda in my mop bucket with a little eco hand washing up liquid (for crockery and pans) to get hard floors clean. This really works a treat on vinyl and especially quarry tiles (terracotta) as it really gets into the tile surface and strips out grime and dirt.
I’ve never seen washing soda in the store. (Staten Island). I would use baking soda everywhere washing soda is mentioned here. Why should I go out of my way to bake it?!
It changes the texture of the baking soda.
I makes it water soluble.
When scalding home-killed poultry, washing-soda added to the hot water lets it soak through the feathers for easier plucking.