The Simple Method to Make Your Own Washing Soda

Washing soda is great for DIY cleaners, but it’s hard to find locally. Did you know you can make your own washing soda with one ingredient?

A bowl and wooden spoon with washing soda in them.

I was all ready to make my homemade cleaners for the month, and I realized I was out of washing soda. I drove out to Wal-Mart, where I am usually lucky enough to find it, and the shelves were empty where the washing soda usually sits. I went back the next week, and they were still out. I tracked down a friendly Wal-Mart associate, and he informed me that they would no longer be carrying the washing soda, but hey, they had plenty of baking soda. Does he realize these two things are not the same?

After checking out stores throughout the county, I realized I may no longer be able to purchase my washing soda locally. Amazon is great, but I hate the wait. Bummer…

To say I was discouraged would be to put it mildly. As a last resort, I checked out this little podunk hardware store near my house. She told me that they didn’t have any, but she remembers her nephew making some as part of a science project for school. She couldn’t remember the details, but she was pretty sure it was just heated-up baking soda. It can’t be that easy. They aren’t the same thing, remember?

Is washing soda baking soda?

I rushed home and hopped on my trusty Google search. Lo and behold, all you have to do is heat up baking soda in the oven. It really is the same thing, sort of. I made it, and it actually works. I’ve cleaned with it, and it actually cleans. Color me surprised! Today, I’m sharing the pearls of wisdom with you:

Heat your oven to 400ºF.

Put baking soda on a cookie sheet or glass pan in a thin layer, no more than 1/4″ deep. Make sure the baking soda is spread out evenly in a thin layer on the baking sheet. If the layer is too thick, it may not heat uniformly, affecting the conversion process.

Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon; rubber spatulas will melt. Ask me how I know. Stirring helps expose all of the baking soda to consistent heat, ensuring a more complete conversion.

Remove it when it’s finished. Washing soda appears duller and grainier compared to baking soda. If you’re unsure about the conversion, compare a fresh sample of baking soda to your final product to spot the differences.

A comparison of baking soda and washing soda.
Baking Soda (left) and Washing Soda (right)

If you have pH test strips available, you can test the pH level of a solution made with your product. Washing soda will have a higher pH level than baking soda, typically around 11, whereas baking soda is closer to a neutral pH of 8.

The Science-y Stuff

For those of you who care about the chemistry, this is for you. For the rest of you, feel free to scroll down and pin the image below to save for later or share with your friends.

NaHCO₃ (1 sodium, 1 hydrogen, 1 carbon, 3 oxygen) + Heat (-1 hydrogen, + 1 sodium) = Na₂CO₃ (2 sodium, 1 carbon, 3 oxygen)

Comparison with Commercial Washing Soda

Finding washing soda can be hard in some places, but this do-it-yourself method works great for those who want to live a more environmentally friendly life or cut down on plastic waste.

When it comes to price, baking soda is usually less expensive and easier to find than washing soda. If you change baking soda into washing soda at home, you can avoid paying more for ready-made washing soda.

There are more reasons to be happy about making washing soda at home than just saving money. Getting rid of store-bought chemicals and becoming self-sufficient makes you feel good. 

Storage and Shelf Life

Properly storing homemade washing soda is important to keep it working well for cleaning. Remember to let it cool all the way down before storing it. The best way to store homemade washing soda is in an airtight container. This keeps it from absorbing water from the air, which, because it is hygroscopic, can make it stick together or turn back into baking soda over time.

To protect the container even more from humidity and water, put it somewhere cool and dry. The best place for storage is a dry, out of direct sunlight pantry, cupboard, or room.

When stored properly in an airtight container and under the right conditions, homemade washing soda can last forever. Though, after a very long time, it might not clean as well as it used to. If its appearance changes a lot or starts to clump together too much, it may be absorbing water and needs to be replaced.

What is washing soda used for?

Also known as soda ash or soda crystals, it’s a solvent used for removing stains. As the name suggests, it’s most commonly used for washing laundry. That’s not the only use. Here is my laundry soap recipe and a few other ideas.

Elevate your laundry routine with my homemade laundry detergent, featuring the powerful cleaning action of washing soda. Discover a natural, cost-effective solution that leaves your clothes fresh and impeccably clean, without the harsh chemicals found in store-bought detergents.

Prairie Homestead has a cheap and easy liquid dish soap recipe that I’ve fallen for. We use the dishwasher for most of our dishes, but if I forget to run it, I’m stuck hand washing. This comes together really quickly and only costs pennies.

Root Simple provides a detailed guide on preparing cotton for the dyeing process, demonstrating how soaking the fabric in a solution of washing soda can effectively scour it. This method removes natural oils and impurities, ensuring that the dye adheres evenly and produces vibrant, lasting colors on the cotton fabric.

One Good Thing by Jillee offers a treasure trove of ideas with 39 different uses for washing soda, ranging from household cleaning to laundry boosting. For those looking for more creative uses for washing soda than the basics, this guide is a great resource that gives you new ways to deal with everyday problems.

Frequently Asked Questions

It’s best to use a plain baking sheet or glass baking dish without any coverings. Aluminum foil or parchment paper might interfere with the heat distribution and the conversion process. Direct contact with the baking sheet ensures even heating and effective conversion of baking soda to washing soda.

Homemade washing soda can be safely disposed of down the drain with plenty of water, as it will not harm the plumbing or the environment. It can actually help clean and deodorize your drains in the process. However, if you have a large quantity, consider giving it away to friends or family who might use it to avoid waste.

I hope you found my guide on how to make your own washing soda useful. If you did, you will love reading about more easy ways to clean your home without using harsh chemicals. Learn how to keep those delicate, surface-clean-only items looking their best with a gentle, homemade solution

Learn how to make your stovetop and oven look brand new with natural ingredients that are safe for your family and the environment. This will save you time and effort when cleaning up your kitchen. 

Check out my comprehensive list of cleaning products from scratch, ensuring every corner of your home benefits from a thorough, toxin-free cleanse. 

And when it comes to having clear views out your windows, we have figured out how to make them ridiculously clean with almost no work. Adopt a greener, cleaner way to keep your home clean with me, one do-it-yourself project at a time.

If you’ve found value in this blog post and enjoyed reading it, why not share it with your Pinterest community? Pin the image below and spread the love!

A Pinterest-friendly graphic for my post on turning baking soda into washing soda.

Making your own washing soda not only shows that you care about the environment, but it also gives you an ingredient that you can use for a lot of different cleaning tasks. It is easy to make your home healthier and more eco-friendly.

Have you tried making your own washing soda or any other DIY cleaning solutions? Share your experiences and any additional tips you might have in the comments below!

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  1. Miss Anna says:

    I use washing soda to make my laundry soap along with two other ingredients and dishwasher soap too. I had been getting the washing soda from Amazon where 3 months ago I got it for $4.12 and also found it at the store later for around the same price. I went to Amazon a couple of days ago to order it again and they want almost $21.00 for the same amount of product as I got before! The store doesn’t have it and I don’t know when they will have it. I looked online and it’s either not available or the cost is way too much. Then during my online search, I found out I can make it! WoW, am I surprised as to how easy it is and I happen to have a huge bag of baking soda here now. Thank you so much for posting this info, you have saved me looking any further!

  2. Hello Jessica – I’ve been making washing soda for years, but when I read your blog a few years ago, I was elated. I had taught my youngest daughter Chemistry at home using the Dr. Jay Wile text, and we did a lot of chemical computations. Seeing the chemistry info on your article was encouraging because I could read and understand the sentence! Make me feel like a real mad scientist in the kitchen 😉 Thank you!

  3. I will make washing soda according to your tips .thanks for sharing,and keep sharing.

    1. Doris Theiss says:

      Thank you for sharing! Iam going to do this with my OVEN this week!

  4. Great article! I didn’t realize washing soda was so easy to make. Much more expensive to buy, so I’ll be making my own from now on!

    1. Jessica Lane says:

      I’m so glad to help Esther!

      1. Marty Agree’s!! I also subscribed…..Thank you…Martini

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