Baking Soda versus Washing Soda:
Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is perhaps the most common and useful ingredient in natural cleaning. It’s abrasive, making it a fantastic natural scouring agent. It also helps absorb moisture and neutralize odors and can last up to 6 months when stored in an airtight container. Never store baking soda and vinegar mixtures in a closed container. When these two ingredients are mixed together, they form an explosive reaction, which can prove dangerous in enclosed spaces.
Washing soda, also called sodium carbonate or soda ash, is a natural cleaner, water softener for hard water, and degreaser with loads of uses throughout the home. Its original use was as a laundry detergent booster. Hard water contains minerals that adhere to laundry, appliances, and other surfaces in your home, making cleaning more difficult. These minerals can clog pipes and stain clothes and surfaces, including bathtubs and showers, sinks, washing machines, and dishes. Washing soda softens water by forming a chemical reaction wherein the calcium ions in the washing soda bind to the minerals and wash them away instead of letting them stick to fabrics and surfaces. Softening hard water prevents stains, helps appliances run better, and allows cleaning products to work more effectively. Soft water is also more economical since you can use less soap and detergent to clean and your appliances will last longer when they aren’t clogged with mineral buildup. It is often likened to baking soda, but the two ingredients are actually different compounds that can be used in different ways. Perhaps even more confusing is the fact that you can make your own washing soda from baking soda. Here is some more information about washing soda:
- Washing soda is more abrasive than baking soda and, like baking soda, can scratch delicate surfaces, so it’s important to test a small area before using as a scrubbing agent.
- You can find washing soda in most grocery, big-box, and health food stores or online.
- Be sure to handle washing soda with care. As with any highly alkaline substance, undiluted washing soda can damage skin and eyes and is not safe to eat or inhale. Always wear gloves when cleaning with washing soda, and keep it away from kids and pets. However, washing soda is still considered a safe ingredient for natural cleaning and has an A rating for safety from the Environmental Working Group.
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