jar with closed shaker top sitting on a table with a box of washing soda

10 Brilliant Ways to Use Washing Soda That Will Make Your Life Easier

It looks and feels for all the world like laundry detergent. White. Coarse. Powdery. Its real name is sodium carbonate, but this stuff also goes by soda ash, Na2CO3, and good old Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda.

A mineral mined from the vegetation in dry lake bottoms in the Middle East, kelp from Scotland and seaweed from Spain, this all-natural miracle-in-a-box is used to make glass, bricks, paper, rayon, and toothpaste. It cleans silver and softens water.

 

Yellow Arm & Hammer box of super washing soda

Washing soda and I go way back. For years, I have added washing soda to the washer for cleaner, whiter, brighter laundry. It’s one of the key ingredients in our homemade laundry detergent.

More recently, 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. Best of all, depending on the source, sodium carbonate is cheap.

Stovetop, oven

First, remove the burners. Sprinkle dry washing soda dry on a damp sponge and scrub that stovetop, broiler pan and oven making sure to avoid the heating element.

In the meantime, 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 the greasy gunk and grime. Finally, scrub as needed, rinse well and dry.

Cookware, pots, pans

To remove greasy, burned-on stains from cookware, fill the pot with hot water. Add a spoonful washing soda and a splash of dishwashing liquid. Bring to the boil over high heat then simmer for 15 minutes. Caution: 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 an hour or even overnight. Stains will easily rinse 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

Measure out a cup and flush it down the toilet to clean and freshen, and to help prevent blockages.

Tile, grout

Clean ceramic tile and grout with a regular solution (1/2 cup washing soda to 1-gallon warm water). 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 whitefly and mites by spraying plants and trees with a mild solution of 1/2 cup washing soda to two gallons of 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 and 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 remove 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. Next, add the tarnished silver pieces and allow to soak for 15 minutes. The tarnish will simply disappear. Then, rinse well then buff the silver pieces until they sparkle.

Washing soda will also remove tarnish from silver plate, jewelry, gold, copper, bronze, stainless steel, and most brass following manufacturer’s guidelines.

Resources

Look for Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda in the laundry aisle of some supermarkets, discount stores, and online. Generally, it comes in a 55-ounce box. Because it has become increasingly difficult to find, I now 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. ALWAYS test in an inconspicuous place first.

First published: 3-03-17; Updated & Republished with new information 10-9-19


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9 replies
  1. Stephanie Lebron
    Stephanie Lebron says:

    Helped our daughter move to an older upstairs apartment near downtown Hannibal. I used washing soda in water to clean greasy/grungy walls and stove (learned the hard way after 1st day of cleaning one MUST use gloves) which truly cut through probably years of buildup.

    Reply
  2. Cheryl Sims
    Cheryl Sims says:

    I wonder if dissolving a cup or two of this in a bathtub with about 4-5 inches depth of hot water and letting it sit for several hours would loosen up or dissolve gunky soap scum that I cannot seem to get off the tub. It’s an old 1960 cast iron tub, not fiberglass. Any thoughts on the subject?

    Reply
    • AP TCW
      AP TCW says:

      After soaking, I would probaby (with gloves) sprinkle some straight into the tub with very little water just enough to get it to stick together to make a dry paste, and rub it in circles all over the surface of the tub. Regular Borax also works very well for getting soap scum off a tub in the same manner. Before doing this, I might even try some Kaboom trigger spray, as that is the BEST shower soap scum cleaner I’ve ever used and use nothing else for the past 10 years (Scrubbing Bubbles didn’t even make a DENT in my soap scum, night and day!). After that softens it, it would be easier to rub in the Borax and/or Washing soda, rubbing in circles, until the film comes off. You might need to repeat it in certain stubborn areas. Maybe even carefully using a razor blade utility scraper carefully would help you dig into the old layer of scum to get a lot of it off during this process while it’s warm and soft. Borax is fantastic for getting soap scum that’s old off the bottom of tub, even if’s it’s textured, using the rubbing in circles method. You can soak to soften, not necessarily overnight, by it’s going to be that very dry sandy paste that’s going to make the dent.

      Reply
    • Jan New
      Jan New says:

      Have you tried 1 cup of white vinegar mixed with 1 cup of Blue Dawn? Spray it on and let it work it’s magic. If you heat the vinegar first, it works even faster.

      Reply
    • Mary Hunt
      Mary Hunt says:

      Cheryl, that would probably work well but not nearly as well or as quickly as our Soap and Scum recipe, which is quite magical! I suggest you try THIS first … !

      Reply
  3. Ernestine Summer Bonicelli
    Ernestine Summer Bonicelli says:

    Does washing soda dissolve in cold water? I have done my laundry in cold water since the “energy crisis” in the 70’s. I don’t want to change because I was told warm or hot water sets stains and because it is cheaper.

    Reply

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