SOS Mom Saver: Washing Soda Substitutes? Making Your Own?

On Tuesday, I talked about how to make homemade laundry detergent.  Only 3 ingredients were required for that.  One of them, is washing soda.

Washing soda is carried at many different stores.  Unfortunately, finding it at one store in one area of the country doesn't guarantee that you'll find it at that same store in a different area of the country.  Stores that are known to carry it nationwide are Meijer and Ace Hardware. It is carried at many Kroger stores but not all of their other chain names.  It has been found at Wal-mart and Target in some areas.

So far, I've not personally found any here.  I'm told that an Ace Hardware on the other side of town carries it, but I'm not willing to drive that far for washing soda...especially not when there's an alternative.  Washing soda is also carried in many pool stores under the name Soda Ash as well as several brand names.  However, it's much more expensive in pool stores and often contains another chemical or two...both of which I'm trying to avoid by making my own detergent.

So what is washing soda?  Is there an alternative?  Can you make your own?  Washing soda is sodium carbonate or soda ash.  Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate.  Washing soda is actually a very caustic (I didn't know this until I started doing this research.  They say you should use gloves when you handle it.  Hello!  Would have been nice to know!)  You can make your own washing soda by cooking baking soda.  Cooking baking soda changes some of its chemical properties making it more alkaline (and thus caustic).  Those chemical changes while it's cooking turn it into soda ash or washing soda.

If you want to make your own, you simply cook baking soda in an oven-safe container at 300 degrees for 2 hours.  The result is washing soda.  Washing soda is more alkaline and thus better for getting out really tough stains.  Knowing what I know now, I might make a batch and keep it only for the toughest of tough in the ones that won't come out with regular laundry soap made with regular baking soda.

You can safely use baking soda instead of washing soda in your laundry recipe.  Some people will double the amount of baking soda used since it isn't as potent at getting stains out.  (In other words, if you made a batch requiring 1/2 cup of baking soda you would instead use a full cup.)  I would say this would be more necessary if you have hard water like we do.  If you have a water softener or don't have hard water at all, I'd probably just try to substitute baking soda for washing soda in the current proportions first.

I'm actually really excited about learning what I've learned.  It means that there's one less ingredient I have to worry about buying.  And if I DO want that ingredient; I can make my own!  I would give you pictures, but I haven't made it yet!  I'm excited to try it soon!  Baking soda is much cheaper than washing soda...and as I've learned, much better for you as well!

If you make your own laundry soap, have you made any substitutions?  Have you made any additions?  Do you wash in cold water or hot water?  (I always use cold.)

As always, if you have any questions be sure to let me know!  You can comment here, e-mail me, or contact me on Facebook or Twitter.


Melissa said...

I have considered making my own laundry detergent but have had free store bought detergent for months now due to deals. So - I do not want to spend any money when I already have it. Do you ever consider this or do you just prefer the most natural soap possible?

all in the family said...

You can find baking soda in bulk @ Sam's/Costco in the 5lb bags (or something like that). Last I bought it...the price was about $12.

NJF said...

I find washing soda at Smith's, all over town. It works great in all kinds of cleaning solutions, but yes, you do need to wear gloves!! Mixed with vinegar it makes a terrific tile and grout cleaner.Best wishes and God Bless.:)

Thoughts of THAT mom said...

@Melissa I prefer the most natural soap possible, but will use regular detergent if I get it free or get paid for it. We've been using Sun detergent that we got free for a couple of months now.

Thoughts of THAT mom said...

@Southern Belle We do get our baking soda at Costco. They have the best regular price on it!

Thoughts of THAT mom said...

@NJF Thanks for the heads up! I'll check the one by our house. When we first moved here, I checked the one by my husband's work as we were staying in a hotel near there when we first moved here. They didn't have it & I never bothered to check the Smith's by our house after we moved. (Even though we've been there several times.)

Are you in Vegas too?

Savannah said...

Thanks for the tip! I haven't seen washing soda around here (though haven't looked really hard since I'm waiting for our current jug of laundry detergent to run out) but we get our baking soda at the bulk store very cheap so knowing this is great!

Kayla said...


On May 10th, I bought Arm & Hammer Washing Soda (55oz.) box at the Walmart on Eastern between Patrick & Russel, for $2.77. I've also seen it at the Smith's on Sunset & Sunset/Mnt. Vista. (Don't know the price there). Don't know what part of town you guys live in, but I'd imagine most Walmarts around here carry it. I'm so glad I finally looked up your blog, my toddler always talks through your radio spot & when I tell her be quiet then she asks why and by that time it's over. Thanks for sharing! :D