Can’t find plastic free washing soda? Me neither; I can only find it marketed as Lectric soda in plastic bags. A friend of mine even rang the company to ask for it in bulk. They said “yeah sure” and sent her 20 small plastic bags of washing soda! This annoyed me when I looked into making my own laundry powder because I must have looked at one hundred recipes and they all contained washing soda! It got me thinking about what washing soda actually is and what else it can be used for. That’s when I discovered that washing soda is super easy to make from baking soda.

What is washing soda (otherwise known as soda ash)?

Washing soda is the compound sodium carbonate (Na2CO3). It’s a natural substance usually made from limestone and salt. It’s very alkaline (pH11) so avoid contact with skin and eyes. Do not inhale or ingest. Baking soda is only pH 8.1.

How to make washing soda from baking soda

As mentioned sodium carbonate is Na2CO3. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, NaCHO3. Simply heat the baking soda so that water (H2O) and carbon dioxide (CO2) are driven off, leaving you with sodium carbonate (washing soda). To save energy, it’s a good idea to make this when you are already using the oven for other baked goods.

Turning baking soda into washing soda on a tray in the oven.


  1. Pour baking soda on to a large tray and spread it out evenly.
  2. Bake at 200°C (400°F) for 30 minutes to 1 hour. You can’t overcook the soda, but you want to make sure all the water has gone. I give mine a stir once or twice if the layer is thick.
  3. Remove the tray from the oven, allow the washing soda to cool. You’ll know when it’s done because baking soda is glittery and clumps together (picture on the left), whereas washing soda will look duller, and more powdery (picture on the right).
  4. Store in a tightly sealed container to keep it from picking up moisture again from the air. Leave in a cool area.

What is washing soda used for?

Apart from being a key ingredient in homemade laundry powder, it has other household uses as a water softener, degreaser and stain remover.

How To Make Washing Soda From Baking Soda and Why You Would Want To

I’ve used washing soda:

  • For oven cleaning
  • Cleaning garage floors
  • As a dishwasher powder
  • To pre-soak tough stains out of fabrics (but be careful because it can damage soft fabrics)
  • On our cream coloured carpet to remove stains (sprinkle, leave to absorb, vacuum up)
  • To descale the toilets
  • To descale the kettle
  • To clean burnt pots (don’t use on aluminium)
  • For cleaning grout.

Now that I can make as much washing soda as I’d like, I’d love to know what things you have found it useful for?

40 thoughts

  1. Love how re-skilling is like going to school all over again and learning science, economics etc! You can learn so much when you go back to basics! Thanks for this great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Tammy. I love reading your blog. It is very inspirational and I always learn a lot. Apologies in advance if you already know about this but I’ve recently come across Redcycle ( who recycle plastics that aren’t categorized from 1 to 7. They don’t do pick ups in Gippsland yet (closest is Pakenham) but I give my plastics to friends and family when they visit our drop it off when I go to Melbourne. While it is not actually reducing the plastics I consume as such, it does prevent them from going to landfill, which is certainly a step in the right direction. Thanks again and I look forward to the next post. Cheers. Simone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Simone, thank you for your kind words as I do try to be as helpful as possible. Yes, I know about REDCycle and the lack of it in Gippsland 🙂 I appreciate you taking the time to share the info with me though, that’s what this is all about.
      My kids won’t give up cereal so I’ll be doing something similar to you with the plastic inner bags, or dropping it off myself next time I go into Pakenham.
      You’ve got me thinking about doing a post on REDCycle. Do you think a lot of people still don’t know about this option?


      1. Thanks for your reply, Tammy. I don’t really know if the REDcycle name is out there or not. But I don’t think there’s any harm in blogging about it. I might go onto the REDcycle Facebook page and see if they have any plans to expand down our way. They just rolled out their services to central Victoria. Hopefully we are next! Cheers. 😊

        Liked by 1 person

      2. i live in Gippsland never heard of this redcycle also with the inserts with cereal packets I use them over and over again to freeze food just a suggestion

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Speaking of cereals, have a look at Gemma Stafford’s Bigger Bolder Bolder Baking for home made cereal recipe


  3. Thanks so much for posting this. I am trying to really hard to reduce plastics but they are absolutely everywhere! I thing at a time. I am going to try this as I use washing soda a lot in my cleaning recipes.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Also in Gippsland and just read about REDcycle the other day on the back of the EarthChoice toilet packaging. Didn’t even think about saving it up and dropping to Pakenham on a Melbourne trip so thanks for that idea Simone above. I do have contacts with our local recycler company though so I am keen to talk with them next time we catch up to see if there can be better options for ungraded plastics in our area.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. So where can I get bulk baking soda? Apart from the small containers at the supermarket. When saying baking soda you don’t mean Bicarbonate soda do you?


    1. Yep, I’m talking about sodium bicarbonate, NaCHO3, or bi-carb soda. I got mine from stores (Freedom Organics, San Remo and Wholesome Wholefoods, Tooradin) which sell ingredients from bulk bins so I can fill my own bag out of the bin. If you don’t have a bulk store near you, I have found health food stores to be the next most likely option.


  6. Thanks for this. Just curious, once you’ve made the washing soda, can it reabsorb moisture and return it to its original state. I use washing soda/soda ash for dyeing cellulose fibers and am wondering if these may not have the shelf life I thought?


  7. Hey this is awesome and you can use soda ash for dyeing fabrics it helps set the stain! That’s how I found ur article thanks !have a wonderful one!

    Liked by 1 person

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