The Homemade Washing Soda Experiment

Washing soda is an important ingredient for those of us making our own Homemade Laundry Soap. Some folks, however, have a hard time finding this ingredient. I’ve always been able to find the Arm & Hammer Washing Soda on the laundry aisle of my grocery store, but others who live in rural areas or overseas, say it can be hard to locate. The solution? Make Your Own!

Is it possible to make your own Washing Soda? I’ve come across instructions for doing just that and decided to try it out for myself. Homemade washing soda is created by heating ordinary baking soda, which changes its chemical make up. Let’s first take a quick look at the differences between those two substances.

Baking Soda and Washing Soda comparison

BAKING SODA vs WASHING SODA
Washing soda and baking soda are not the same thing, but they are close cousins. The difference between the two is water and carbon dioxide.  Here’s a quick comparison:

Washing Soda
Also known as Sodium Carbonate (or Soda Ash)
Chemical makeup: Na2CO3
ph level: 11
grainy texture

Baking Soda
Also known as Sodium Bicarbonate
Chemical makeup: NaHCO3
ph level: 8.1
powdery texture

The ph level is really where the difference lies in making washing soda a more effective ingredient for homemade laundry soaps.  The ph scale goes from 1 to 14, with 1 being very acidic and 14 being very alkaline. A ph level of 7 is considered neutral. (Water has a ph of 7).

So washing soda with its higher alkalinity of 11 makes it better for stain removal. This is why homemade laundry soaps call for washing soda, rather than just plain old baking soda.

Now that we know that washing soda is in fact the more desirable ingredient, let’s look at how to convert our baking soda into washing soda:

Homemade Washing Soda Recipe

Items needed:


Baking Soda
Flat baking sheet with sides

#1 – Heat oven to 400 degrees.

#2 – Spread out your baking soda on a baking sheet.

#3 – Heat the baking soda in the oven anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. At some point the texture should change and you then have washing soda.

DID IT WORK ?
Well, this didn’t seem to work like I had hoped it would. I expected the baking soda to turn sort of grainy like the store bought washing soda and it never did. I still looked the same to me. I couldn’t really see any visible difference in the texture.

I left my baking soda in the oven for almost 3 hours, checking on it every half hour or so. When I was nearing the 3 hour mark, I decided any money I was saving was getting chipped away by running my oven for so long so I ended my experiment.

Once the baking soda had cooled I did do a “feel” test and the texture had changed somewhat. Uncooked baking soda had a softer feel so I guess something did change.

I think the true test would be to see if the alkalinity changed. Perhaps this summer when our pool is open I’ll do another little experiment and dissolve some of both in water and put the pool test strips in there to see how the ph level compares.

If anyone else has tried converting baking soda to washing soda, I would love to hear about it.

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11 Comments

  1. I just made home made washing soda and used it in my first time of making home made laundry detergent, last night, and after baking the baking soda for one hour I did notice a slight change in the texture of it. So that’s what I used in my laundry detergent mixture. I did a load of laundry, and it turned out great ! I used a bar of Fels Naptha soap (ground up in my food processor) and mixed that with a cup of my home made washing soda, and one cup of Borax with some lavender fragrance that I had on hand. It worked great! My load of laundry came out very clean and fresh smelling. And I only had to use 2 tablespoons of the batch I made. Next time I will try using a bar of Zote laundry soap in place of the Fels Naptha. Thanks for your web page. ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. I to did not see much of a difference in my finished product. It felt slightly different, but a taste test settled my silent question quick!

  3. I to did not see much of a difference in my finished product. It felt slightly different, but a taste test settled my silent question quick!

  4. It is Baking SODA. Thank you so much for bringing that to my attention and I am fixing that up right now so as now to cause any future confusion.

  5. It is Baking SODA. Thank you so much for bringing that to my attention and I am fixing that up right now so as now to cause any future confusion.

  6. I notice in your directions you start out with baking soda and then in the recipe you say baking powder. Which is it? SODA OR POWDER

  7. thanks so much for posting this,I will definetly try it!!!I am able to find Arm & Hammer Washing Soda here,but want to use a different alternative for personal reasons.I had found Nellie's Laundry Soda,but is not sold in stores anywhere around me and ordering it online would be expensive so at that point making my own detergent to save money becomes out of the point! I also buy store brand Baking Soda(can get Dollar General brand real cheap)and this is so neat how you can make it,just by baking the baking soda!! =)

  8. thanks so much for posting this,I will definetly try it!!!I am able to find Arm & Hammer Washing Soda here,but want to use a different alternative for personal reasons.I had found Nellie's Laundry Soda,but is not sold in stores anywhere around me and ordering it online would be expensive so at that point making my own detergent to save money becomes out of the point! I also buy store brand Baking Soda(can get Dollar General brand real cheap)and this is so neat how you can make it,just by baking the baking soda!! =)

  9. Cool post Bev, you think outside of the box sometimes, and this case outside of the Baking Soda Box. Nice post, good experiment. I wish it would have worked better, because sometimes I can get Baking soda for free with coupons and I am one of the “lucky” ones that has a hard time finding my washing soda. ๐Ÿ™‚