Monday, December 3, 2012

How to Make Your Own Washing Soda

Lots of DIY green cleaning solutions call for washing soda, but it can be hard to find. It's typically in the laundry and cleaning supplies aisle of supermarkets, drugstores, and hardware stores, but it's not in every shop. I was surprised and disappointed when I couldn't find it at my neighborhood Whole Foods.

I turned to the internet for help and discovered instructions for turning baking soda into washing soda at Nature's Nurture blog! I enthusiastically decided to give it a go. Here's what I did:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread out desired amount of baking soda on a baking dish. Sarah suggests using a shallow baking pan. I don't have one, so I made do with my casserole dish.

Heat for 30 minutes or longer. Stir often.

Keep checking on it until it transforms from baking soda, which is a powdery, crystallized, and clumpy substance, to washing soda, which is grainy, dull, and opaque. (Paraphrasing Penny, who also blogged about this.)

I had to heat my one cup of baking soda forever (about 75 minutes) because I didn't have a shallow pan or really bother to stir much. Two lessons learned: Borrow a cookie sheet from a neighbor. Don't be lazy.
This is what I ended up with:

Homemade Washing Soda
Honestly, it's kind of hard to look at it and tell the difference. It does feel a little grainer when I poke at it with a rubber spatula.

It's easier to see the difference when I look at baking soda and washing soda side by side.

Guess I'll really know once I use it. Heaven knows there are so many uses for it. And yes, it's caustic, so I'll be wearing gloves when I do!

While it's fun to know another MacGyver-ish baking soda move, I don't think this will become my preferred method of procuring washing soda. At 6 cents per ounce Whole Foods brand baking soda is cheaper than the 9 cents per ounce Ace Hardware website lists for Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, but I'm not sure the savings warrant the effort and gas I put into it. Maybe if I were making lots of it at once...

According to the Arm & Hammer product locator, their products are also sold at Walmart, Costco, Home Depot or Lowe’s. Another blogger says you can find it at Amazon, Kmart, Ace Hardware, Dollar General, and other big box stores.

You can also buy Nellie's All Natural Laundry Soda on Amazon. It's a superpricey 32 cents per ounce but it's nice to buy from a company like Nellie's that is certified cruelty-free and is committed to not testing any of it's products or ingredients on animals. Arm & Hammer can't say the same.

Olivia Lane is a Blogger, Green Living Educator, and Health Coach trained at The Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She's also author of Baking Soda & Bliss: The Healthy & Happy Guide to Green Cleaning 

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  1. Replies
    1. Hi Courtenay. Thanks for asking. I haven't had a need for it yet but I'll soon write a post about ways to use washing soda and I will be sure to include photos of this homemade batch in action.



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