When I made The Miracle Cleaner a couple of weeks ago, one of the ingredients in it was washing soda. I have never really bothered to look into what it is. And I must confess that I was a bit confused about it being in an eco-friendly cleaner. For some reason I had the impression it was toxic. Turns out I was wrong. It is caustic with a pH of 11. That translates to ‘handle with care’, wear gloves, and do not use on fibreglass or aluminum surfaces. It is a cousin of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) and is also known as sodium carbonate, SAL soda, or 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.
The sodium carbonate “softens” water helping other cleaning ingredients lift soil from the fabrics and suspend the soil in the wash water. The washing soda binds to the minerals which make water hard and allows the detergent to be absorbed into fibers properly to clean clothes.
Here’s some things it is useful for:
Presoak stain removal from clothes – think grease, blood, tea, coffee.
Other stain removal – from pots, pans, oven racks, ceramic and plastic containers, soap scum. Wash and rinse. For hard stains use hot water.
General household cleaning for hard surfaces and outdoor furniture – 1/2 cup washing soda : 3.8 litres. Wash and rinse.
Garden pest spray (aphids, white fly, black spot on roses) – 1/2 cup to 7.5 litres of water
Water softener – Add half a cup of washing soda to your wash load then use the amount of the detergent you would use for “soft water.” It also improves the efficiency of your machine and reduces the risk of expensive repair bills resulting from lime scale build-up. OR you could simply add it to your stock of laundry powder.
Washing soda can also be used to keep drains clear. Pour 1/4 cup down the drain and flush with water. If drains are blocked use 1 cup of washing soda followed by 3 cups of boiling water. Repeat two or three times.
And guess what? If you can’t find washing soda in the supermarket, you can make your own. Spread soda on a baking tray. Bake at 400 deg F for an hour. Stir. Bake an additional hour. It will be yellow and more coarse than baking soda. Store in airtight container.
© Raili Tanska
First, do no harm