Learn the difference between washing soda vs baking soda and which to use for different cleaning recipes.
Find out if you can substitute baking soda for washing soda and what other homemade ingredients you can mix them with.
Can’t find washing soda in the supermarket? You can make your own washing soda from baking soda with my easy recipe.
Washing Soda vs Baking Soda
When you start making your own cleaning products you will find a lot of the same ingredients are listed over and over again.
These are the following most common ingredients in homemade cleaning products:
- Washing soda
- Baking soda
- Hydrogen peroxide
- Castile soap
- Lemon juice/ citric acid
- Essential oils
- Epsom salt
Most of these ingredients are pretty straightforward, but some are a little more confusing. Washing soda and baking soda are particularly troublesome for some people.
Let’s take a deeper look into baking soda vs washing soda. What’s the difference, which one should you use and how to make your own washing soda from baking soda if you can’t find it at the stores.
What is the Difference Between Washing Soda and Baking Soda?
What is washing soda used for?
Washing soda is a chemical compound that can be used to remove stubborn stains from laundry and is an essential component in most homemade laundry detergent for powder, liquid, or single pod formulas. It is often used in commercial detergent mixtures as well to treat hard water.
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What is another name for washing soda?
Soda ash! The chemical formula for washing soda is Na2CO3 or sodium carbonate. It is a salt of carbonic acid, a chemical which produces a wide range of salts collectively known as carbonates. One common source of washing soda is the ashes of burned plants; for this reason, it is sometimes called soda ash.
Where do you buy washing soda?
You can purchase washing soda at most grocery stores or places like Target or Walmart. Look in the laundry aisle for the big yellow box near the detergent. It's usually next to the borax.
Washing soda can be difficult to find but it is becoming available at more and more grocery stores. If you can't find it you can always buy it on Amazon.
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What exactly is baking soda?
Baking soda's chemical makeup is NaHCO3 (1 sodium, 1 hydrogen, 1 carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules).
It comes out of the ground in the form of minerals nahcolite and trona, which are refined into soda ash (a.k.a. calcium carbonate), then turned into baking soda (a.k.a. sodium bicarbonate), among other things.
Baking soda is often used in cooking. This is because it has leavening properties, meaning it causes dough to rise by producing carbon dioxide. Aside from cooking, baking soda has a variety of additional household uses and health benefits.
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Is bicarbonate of soda the same as baking soda?
Yes! Baking soda and bicarbonate of soda are the same thing, just with different names.Baking soda tends to be the American name, while in the UK and in Australia it is usually called bicarbonate of soda. Whether a cleaning or cooking recipe calls for baking soda or bicarbonate of soda you can use either because they are the same thing.
So, what is the difference between baking soda and washing soda?
The difference between baking soda and washing soda is water and carbon dioxide. That’s it!
When baking soda is heated up to high temperatures, it breaks down to become washing soda, water steam, and carbon dioxide.
Both products can be used to improve liquid laundry performance for cleaner, fresher clothes. Baking soda can be used in baking, as a dentifrice and as an antacid, washing soda cannot be used in baking, on or in the body.
Never, ever ingest washing soda!
I’ll show you how to turn baking soda into washing soda at the end of this post. This is a really great trick to know if you can’t find washing soda at the supermarket.
Can I substitute baking soda for washing soda?
It depends on the recipe but probably not. Since they aren’t the same thing you aren’t going to get the same results by substituting one for the other. Washing soda is better for cleaning and removing stains from laundry and baking soda is better for removing odors and neutralizing acids (see also 'Does Dry Cleaning Remove Stains?').
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Is borax the same as washing soda?
No, borax is made from boric acid (this is a whole different post for a different day)
Can I use borax instead of washing soda?
Though washing soda and borax are often used in household purposes (mainly for cleaning), they are not the same. Both of them are used as laundry boosters. Many households uses borax as a catalyst while washing soda as the main cleaning agent.
How do you transform baking soda into washing soda?
If a cleaning recipe calls for washing soda and you don't have any on hand or can't find it at the grocery store, no fear!
It is actually really simple to make your own. You probably already have a box or two of baking soda in your pantry or fridge. You can use your oven to heat the baking soda and create the chemical reaction needed to turn it into washing soda.
When you heat the baking soda long enough the carbon dioxide and hydrogen are released transforming it back into washing soda.
You can buy boxes of baking soda for a dollar or less, so this is a really great way have a cheap supply of washing soda on hand for household use.
Simply pour the baking soda into a shallow oven-safe dish and heat it at 400 degrees for 40 minutes and it will become soda ash.
How do you know when the washing soda is fully cooked?
The texture is slightly different. Baking soda looks like a smooth powder and washing soda is more grainy.
You can remove the dish from the oven and check it every now and then. When the texture has changed you will know it's ready.
- 1 cup of baking soda
- glass oven safe dish
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees
- Sprinkle baking soda into a shallow pan about a half inch deep
- Bake for 40 minutes or until the composition of the baking soda changes
You can make as much or as little of the washing soda as you like. Just use a large enough baking dish so that the soda is no thicker than a half inch deep.
Stir occasionally to make sure the baking soda cooks evenly.