Washing Soda! What is it? It goes by many names – soda ash, sodium carbonate, soda powder. In my quest for non toxic cleaning, I came across several recipes calling for washing soda. So I bought washing soda in the local supermarket. I was sorely disappointed as it didn’t do anything it claimed to do. I then learned to make my own. It’s as simple as using the oven.
So why buy 5-6 different chemical cleaners for your home when you can use just the one?! Make life simple and inexpensive.
How do you make it?
- preheated oven on 200ºC
- Spread a thick layer of baking soda or bicarbonate soda in a few different trays
- Put the trays in the oven for around an hour
You will find that washing soda is much finer than bicarb soda. You know you’ve got washing soda when it doesn’t clump together.
How to handle and store it?
Washing soda is caustic. The very first time I made it, I put it in a bottle with an upcycled plastic spoon. I soon learned not to do that again – the plastic spoon had distorted. So it melts plastic if it isn’t diluted. Store it in a metal tin or a glass bottle with a stainless steel spoon. Do not inhale it or use it on bare hands.
Also, the chemical reacts really well with hot water. It does work with cold water, but not as effectively. So, use water that is 50ºC or hotter while mixing a solution or using it on its own.
What is it meant to do?
- It acts like a bleach and whitens clothes
- Unblock drains
- Remove stubborn stains in dishes and clothes
- Wash laundry
- Clean the bath, toilet, shower and sink
- Disinfectant for cutting boards, knives, garbage bins, etc.
- Descale kettles
- Clean your paved backyard or drive
- Clean ovens
- Use it in the dishwasher
- Get rid of garden pests
- Clean jewelry (diamonds, platinum, gold and silver)!…and so much more
It acts like a bleach and whitens clothes – you can soak 1/2 cup of washing soda in a bucket of water or your laundry sink and soak your dirty white clothes overnight. Wash as usual the next day.
Unblock drains – Pour a kettleful of boiling water into the drain, then pour a cupful of washing soda and a cup of vinegar. Let it sit for around 15 minutes. Pour another kettleful of boiling water.
Remove stubborn stains in clothes and dishes – make a paste using 1 tbsp of washing soda with enough hot water to make a thick paste. It will begin bubbling, but once that settles down you can stir it. Spread the paste onto your stained clothes and leave for around 1 hour. It does bleach coloured clothes if you use this method (it doesn’t bleach coloured clothes if you use the soaking method).
You can clean your pots and pans by boiling water and adding 2 tbsps of washing soda to the water. Look here to learn how to do it.
Wash laundry – I add around 3 tbsps to my detergent dispenser in my washing machine for a large load of laundry. You can use this in conjunction with soap nuts and oxygen bleach or just on its own.
Clean the sink, bath, toilet and shower – This is what I use to clean my bathrooms. I sprinkle around a tsp in the sink and scrub it down with a scrubber and hot water. I do the same to the bath. For the toilet, I use a tbsp and sprinkle it in the bowl. I let it sit for a few minutes (don’t let it sit too long or it hardens), clean it with a brush and flush it. To clean the shower, I make a paste of 1/2 cup of washing soda with enough water to make a paste, then apply the paste to the tiles and let it sit a few minutes. I then brush the tiles with a hard bristled brush and finally hose it down with hot water.
Disinfectant for cutting boards, knives, garbage bins, etc. – Add a tsp or two to your cutting boards, knives and garbage bins and rinse with water. You can scrub before you rinse if you want to.
Descale kettles – I’ve used a tsp in the electric kettle (when I had one), filled the kettle up with water and boiled it. Drain the water and rinse. It’s amazing what a great job it does.
Clean your paved backyard or drive – Sprinkle enough washing soda to generally cover your drive or backyard and let it sit for a few minutes. You can then scrub it with a hard bristled brush and then hose it down. You could just hose it down without brushing, but it wouldn’t do fantastic job. Or you could use a jet washer without scrubbing. I haven’t done that, but I’m assuming it would clean it well.
Clean ovens – I used it the other day to clean my oven for the first time. I made a paste with around 1/4 cup of washing soda with some hot water and slathered it in my oven (take out the steel racks before you do this, or it will be hard to reach the back end of the oven). Put the oven on the lowest setting. I left it on for too long and it caked up. I think around 5 minutes should be enough. Soak a soft cloth in water, squeeze out excess water and wipe the oven. The cloth will get filthy – so to wash the cloth, you can soak it in hot water and some washing soda!
Use it in the dishwasher – Here’s something that is amazing! Use it to clean dishes in and out of the dishwasher. I’ve used it with varying degrees of success. But I finally stumbled upon a fail proof formula to help your dishes shine and remove dirt using only 2 ingredients with no chemicals whatsoever. Go here for the recipe.
Get rid of garden pests – Create a solution of 1/4 cup of washing soda with a cup of hot water in a spray bottle and spray away. Shake it to activate it everytime you spray.
Clean jewelry (diamonds, platinum, gold and silver)!…and so much more – Line a small bowl with aluminium foil (I’ve tried it without the foil and it doesn’t work). Add a tsp of washing soda and drop a few small pieces of jewelry in the bowl. Let it sit for around 30 minutes. Take out the jewelry and scrub it gently using an old toothbrush. Rinse and pat dry with a soft cotton towel or cloth. Be prepared to wear sunglasses.
There you go – a multitude of uses for the simple washing soda around your home.