Learn the Best Places to Find and Buy Washing Soda

Look in grocery and home improvement stores

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••• Photo © Erin Huffstetler

Washing soda, also known as sodium carbonate, soda ash, and soda crystals, is a common ingredient in homemade laundry detergent recipes and other homemade cleaners, but it's not the easiest product to find. So where should you look for it?

The best places to look are in the laundry detergent aisle at the grocery store or in big-box stores, in hardware or home improvement stores, in international grocery stores, and in pool supply stores.

And if you still aren't able to find it locally, you can buy it from Amazon.

Washing soda is sold in a large, yellow box. Arm & Hammer is the most common brand, so look for its red logo. Arm & Hammer has started putting washing soda in an orange box that looks almost exactly like its baking soda box, so keep an eye out for either box design. It's hard to say which one you'll find in stores.  If you have baking soda in your pantry you can make your own washing soda. 

Naturally Occurring Substance

Washing soda is a naturally occurring substance derived from the ash of sodium-rich plants. Sometimes it's manufactured synthetically, but whether nature-made or man-made, it's just a chemical compound consisting of sodium, carbon, and oxygen. 

Washing soda is a white, odorless powder that looks very similar to baking soda, though the texture is slightly grittier. Take care to store washing soda in a dry area because it absorbs moisture readily and will turn brick-hard when it does.

Uses for Washing Soda

Washing soda is used in many commercial products that include detergents, toothpaste, and many foods. It has just as many household applications and is frequently used to soften water, make cleaners, remove laundry stains, and fix dyes to fabric. It shows up often as an ingredient in homemade laundry detergent and dishwasher detergent.

Check out ArmandHammer.com for lots of ideas on how to use washing soda to upgrade your laundry. Arm & Hammer suggests adding it straight into your washer at the beginning of the wash with your regular laundry detergent to enhance cleaning and freshen your clothes or linens, to do the hard work on heavily soiled clothes, or to soften the water if yours is hard. You can also put it to work on spots and stains with a pre-treat paste or as a pre-soak. In all uses, check the instructions for your washing machine before using washing soda and be especially careful with high-efficiency machines. 

It also works its magic on hard-to-clean items like ovens, stovetops, and stoves; outdoor furniture; window blinds; and silver, copper, and gold items. It will even clean up grease and oil stains in the garage. You just cover the stain with washing soda, sprinkle with water, and let stand overnight. The next day, scrub with a brush and hose off.