What Is Washing Soda? Guide to Household Use

Published September 1, 2020
adding baking soda into washing machine

If you don't know what washing soda is, it's a natural cleaner used as a washing powder for laundry. You can use washing soda as a cleaner for several household purposes.

What Is Washing Soda?

Sodium carbonate is the scientific name for washing soda. Sodium carbonate is the alkaline disodium salt of carbonic acid. The chemical is naturally found in plant ash, and it's why washing soda is often called soda ash.

Take Precautions When Using Washing Soda

It's important to understand that sodium carbonate should be treated like any cleaning chemical. It can be dangerous if ingested. It can cause irritation to the lungs if inhaled, damage your eyes, and skin irritation. Certainly, this isn't a product you wish to leave where children or pets can reach. If you follow common sense and protective steps, you can safely use washing soda for an effective cleaning agent.

Main Purpose of Washing Soda

The main purpose of washing soda (sodium carbonate) is to wash laundry. Its properties soften the water to allow cleaning ingredients to work into fabrics and lift soils. The sodium carbonate keeps the dirt, grime, and soil in the water, so it can be carried out when the wash cycle water empties from the washing machine.

Heavily Soiled Laundry

Use washing soda for laundry that is heavily soiled. For a full load, add one cup of washing soda along with your regular amount of laundry detergent. The addition of the washing soda will boost the cleaning power of the detergent.

greasy stain on clothe

Pre-Treat Stubborn Stains

Create a paste using washing soda and water to pre-treat stubborn stains. Wear rubber gloves when rubbing the solution into the stain.

Make the paste by mixing:

  • 4 tablespoons of washing soda
  • ¼ cup of warm water

Pre-Soak Using Washing Machine Cycle

You can also add washing soda to your washing machine pre-soak cycle. This can give a jump start to loosening stubborn stains and dirt. Then, add more washing soda to the wash cycle.

  • Add ½ cup of washing soda to the pre-soak cycle.
  • Add another ½ cup of washing soda for the wash cycle.

Washing Soda Uses for Cleaning

In addition to using washing soda for laundry and tackling stubborn stains, you may find its high-alkaline, cleaning properties helpful for other cleaning chores around your house.

Clean Kitchen Stains With Washing Soda

You can use washing soda to remove various stains on countertops, such as coffee stains, tea stains, grease stains, and stubborn dried food spills. However, check with your manufacturer before using on more delicate countertops like granite.

Clean Greasy Kitchen Messes

You can use washing soda to remove various greasy areas in the kitchen. From a stove range and range hood to pots/pans and ceramic backsplashes, washing soda cuts through the grease. You should never use washing soda on aluminum pots, pans, or other kitchen tools.

Mix the following for a cleaning solution:

  • 8 tablespoons of washing soda
  • ½ cup of warm water

Washing Soda for Bathroom Cleanups

You can use washing soda for cleaning the bathroom. Mix the washing soda with warm water.

For best cleaning results add:

  • ½ cup of washing soda
  • 1 gallon warm water

Some uses for this solution include the following.

  • Use washing soda to remove stains.
  • Clean away soap scum buildup in a shower or bathtub.
  • Clean grout lines with a brush or old toothbrush in tile surrounds for showers and bathtubs as well as ceramic tile floors.
  • Clean non-aluminum bathroom sink faucets.
  • Use a washing soda solution to clean shower curtains and plastic trash cans.

Caution for Bathroom Use

You should never use washing soda on fiberglass tubs, showers, sink, or tile work. The chemical reaction can damage fiberglass.

Unclog Bathroom and Kitchen Sinks

Because washing soda is highly caustic, you can even use it to clear out a clogged sink drain. Put in the washing soda first and then add three cups of boiling water.

  1. First pour one cup of washing soda down the sink drain.
  2. Pour three cups of boiling water after it.
  3. Allow the washing soda to work for 30 to 35 minutes.
  4. Flush with warm water and repeat if necessary.
Baking soda poured to unclog drainage

Versatile Outdoor Cleaning With Washing Soda

You can use washing soda to clean outdoor furniture, the barbecue grill, and non-aluminum garden tools. Just mix a solution and rinse with clean water.

To make an outdoor cleaning solution, mix:

  • ½ cup of washing soda
  • 1 gallon warm water

Clean Patio, Garage Floor, and Driveway

If you have a concrete patio, garage floor, and/or driveway, washing soda is a great cleaner for removing oily stains. Just mix:

  • ½ cup of washing soda
  • 1 gallon warm water

Washing Soda vs. Baking Soda

Washing soda is sodium carbonate. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate. These are two different compounds. Unlike washing soda, baking soda is mild enough that you can eat it, but you can't eat washing soda.

  • Both should never be inhaled.
  • Both can cause eye irritation.
  • Both can be used for cleaning purposes.
  • Both are powders, but washing soda has larger granules.

Washing Soda vs. Borax

Washing soda (sodium carbonate) has a very high pH level, making it an extreme alkaline compound that is very effective as a cleaning agent. Borax (sodium tetraborate) pH levels aren't as high as washing soda, and it doesn't have the same cleaning power as washing soda.

Cleaning Differences

With a higher pH level and better cleaning properties, washing soda cleans in all water temperature ranges. The cleaning properties of borax work best in hot water wash cycles.

How to Make Washing Soda

It is possible to make washing soda out of baking soda. You will need to heat baking soda to cause a chemical release of water molecules and carbon dioxide. Make sure the kitchen and oven area is well-ventilated. Do not breathe in the fumes.

Supplies Needed

  • 2 cups baking soda
  • Baking dish (non-aluminum)
  • Oven


  1. Preheat the oven at 400°F.
  2. Spread baking soda evenly over the baking dish.
  3. Bake for one hour.
  4. Remove baking dish from oven
  5. Using a non-aluminum spoon, stir the baking soda.
  6. Once more, evenly spread out the baking soda in the baking dish.
  7. Return to oven to bake for another hour at 400°F.
  8. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool.
  9. You now have washing soda. The coloration will now have a yellowish cast to it and have a grainy texture.
  10. Wear rubber gloves when handling.
  11. Store in an airtight plastic, glass, or stainless steel container until needed.
  12. Clearly label the container and storage so children and pets cannot access.

What Is Washing Soda and How Can You Use It?

Washing soda is what you want to use when you need a cleaning boost for your laundry. It's also a great general cleaner that can remove stains and stubborn dirt and grime. However, if you still have reservations about using washing soda for your clothes, you might want to try a laundry detergent substitute.

What Is Washing Soda? Guide to Household Use