It looks and feels for all the world like laundry detergent. White. Coarse. Powdery.
A mineral mined from dry lake bottoms and extracted from the ashes of vegetation from the Middle East, kelp from Scotland and seaweed from Spain, it’s used to make glass, bricks, paper, rayon and toothpaste. It cleans silver and softens water.
Its real name is sodium carbonate, but this stuff also goes by soda ash, Na2CO3 and good old Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda.
Washing soda and I go way back. Since first married (47 years, yay us) I have added washing soda to the wash for cleaner, whiter, brighter laundry. More recently it has become one of the ingredients in our homemade laundry detergent.
Best of all, washing soda (aka sodium carbonate) is cheap. Depending on the source, expect to pay around $.10 per ounce.
As of late, I am discovering that washing soda is much more than a laundry detergent booster. With a powerful pH of 11, washing soda acts as a solvent all around the house, garage. Sodium carbonate removes dirt, grime, greasy build-up and a range of stains.
STOVE TOP, OVEN. Remove the burners. Sprinkle dry washing soda dry on a damp sponge and scrub that stove top, broiler pan and oven making sure to avoid the heating element. Soak the burners in a solution of 1/2 cup washing soda dissolved in a gallon of warm water for at least an hour. This will soften and break down all of the greasy gunk and grime. Scrub as needed, rinse well and dry.
COOKWARE, POTS, PANS. To remove greasy, burned-on stains from cookware (do not use on aluminum cookware), fill the pot with hot water. Add a spoonful washing soda and a squirt of splash dishwashing liquid. Bring to the boil over high heat then simmer for 15 minutes. Do not use on aluminum cookware.
COFFEE POTS, CUPS, CARAFES. Coffee and tea often leave ugly brown stains in kettles, pots and cups. Fill the stained item with hot water and add some washing soda. Allow to sit for at least and hour or even overnight. Stains easily rinsed away in the morning.
PLASTIC. Clean and freshen garbage cans, tablecloths, shower curtains, patio furniture and anything plastic with 1/2 cup washing soda dissolved in 1 gallon warm water. Wash and rinse.
TOILETS. Use a cup of washing soda down the toilet to clean and freshen, and to help prevent blockages.
TILE, GROUT. Clean wall tiles with a regular solution (1/2 cup washing soda to 1 gallon warm water) clean tile and grout. You may need to scrub the grout with a stiff brush. You won’t believe the clean and sparkling results.
WINDSHIELD. A mild solution of washing soda will help remove dead flies, bugs and grime from windshields. Avoid splashing onto the car’s painted surface. Do not use on aluminum alloy wheels.
PEST CONTROL. Get rid of white fly and mites by spraying plants and trees with a mild solution of 1/2 cup washing soda to two gallons water.
STAINS ON CONCRETE, GARAGE FLOOR. Pour a generous amount of dry washing soda on spills and stains. Sprinkle lightly with water to create a thick paste. Allow to sit overnight. The following day, scrub with a stiff brush (re-wetting as needed). Hose down then wipe the surface clean.
TARNISHED SILVER. To removed tarnish from silver, line a non-reactive pan or bowl (glass, plastic) with aluminum foil. Fill with a solution of 1/2 cup washing soda to one gallon hot water. Add the tarnished silver pieces and allow to soak for 15 minutes. The tarnish will simply disappear. Rinse well then buff the silver pieces until they sparkle. Can also remove tarnish from silver plate, jewelry, gold, copper, bronze, stainless steel and most brass following manufacturer’s guidelines.
Look for Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda in the laundry aisle of some supermarkets, discount stores and online (about $.11 per ounce with prime shipping). Generally, a 55 ounce box runs about $5 in the store. When the price is right, I buy it online as soda ash. Remember that both Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda and soda ash are 100% sodium carbonate—exactly the same.
CAUTION: While washing soda doesn’t give off harmful fumes, you do need to wear gloves because it can cause skin irritation. DO NOT use sodium carbonate (aka washing soda, soda ash) on aluminum, fiberglass, leather, silk, wool, no-wax floors or treated wood surfaces.