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.
- Pour baking soda on to a large tray and spread it out evenly.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
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?