It looks and feels for all the world like laundry detergent. White. Coarse. Powdery.

A mineral mined from vegetation in dry lake bottoms in 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.

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. 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.

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.

Stovetop, oven

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. 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.

Shaker on table with super washing soda

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 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, cup, 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.


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.


Flush a cup of washing soda 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.

MORE: Quick ‘n Easy Homemade Laundry Detergent: Update with Tutorial


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 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 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. 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. 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.  ALWAYS test in an inconspicuous place first.

Shaker filled with super washing soda

Updated 4-8-19

PREVIOUSLY: How to Get Your Windows Sparkling Clean—Cheaper, Better, Faster!

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