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Can’t Find Washing Soda? Ask Annie

Can’t Find Washing Soda? Ask Annie

Hello Annie,
I am a recent convert to green cleaning. I have a 2-year-old daughter with health problems and I want to make my home as non-toxic as possible for her. The problem I have run into is that most of the recipes for cleaning provided on this site require washing soda, which is not available where I live. I am also concerned with the caustic nature of washing soda. Is there something else that can be used in its place that will work as well?
Very Respectfully,

Dear Jessica,
Sadly, you aren’t alone in not being able to find washing soda and that is unfortunate! Getting it online through a source such as Arm & Hammer would be expensive for the shipping because it is heavy. It is also called soda ash and sodium carbonate and you might find a local chemical supply company who could buy it in bulk for you.

I do have an idea for you, however. Years ago I was talking with a chemist about the difference between baking soda and washing soda and was told that washing soda is in the same family as baking soda it is just processed differently. He told me that if you combine baking soda with boiling water it is turned into sodium carbonate. I would try this, stirring 2 cups of boiling water to 1 cup of baking soda in a pan, allowing the mixture to cool, and using the resulting baking soda in the formulas.

Otherwise, an alternative solvent for hard cleaning jobs is one of the citrus solvents on the market. While made of an extract of citrus peels it still gives off volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) and shouldn’t be used by asthmatics. That said, for most people it is healthier than petroleum-based solvents.

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Annie B. Bond

Annie is a renowned expert in non-toxic and green living. She was named one of the top 20 environmental leaders by Body and Soul Magazine and "the foremost expert on green living." - Body & Soul Magazine, 2009. Learn Annie's latest eco-friendly news on, a website dedicated to healthy and green living.


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9:13AM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

Also, don't forget that there is petroleum in your carpeting! I have all tile floors in the downstairs of my house. Throw rugs or area rugs are all natural products.

9:10AM PDT on Oct 29, 2012

Baking soda is a great substitute and less expensive. And, it is a great item to add to water or juice and drink!
Sad to read that Jessica's daughter has health problems as young as 2 years old. That is a heartbreak. However, one thing we all have to remember is to read labels and be aware of GMOs ie corn, wheat and soy which have been already altered for years altho the ban is now just firing up.
I am chronically ill and I truly strive to remain cognizant of what I am putting in my own body. My son is in his 20's now and I lecture him about fast food as it's pure crap. No matter the spin that fast food chains put on their "new" products.
While going holistic on cleaning products, look at going more holistic on products that you feed your family and I strongly suggest moving away from cow's milk unless organic. I took my son and myself off of milk when we both began having chronic upper respiratory system infections. We want the best for our children than we have to sacrifice while feeding them the best in food choices!
And, wow Jamie F. for the info on Church & Dwight. I'm going to order some cleaning soda for that price too!

11:09AM PDT on May 31, 2012

Thanks Annie for the tip.

11:14AM PST on Feb 24, 2012

Murphy's Oil Soap is great too and is very economical. It cleans many things and even removes tar from clothes if you use it undiluted on the dry fabric. It is vegetable oil based. Vinegar and water cleans things to a shine, as does ordinary toothpaste.

4:11PM PST on Dec 8, 2011

Thanks for this article.

8:18AM PDT on Nov 1, 2011


8:18AM PDT on Nov 1, 2011


9:01AM PDT on Jul 15, 2011

Thank you, great suggestions... I can't seem to locate any either..

4:57PM PDT on Jun 19, 2011

This was extraordinarily helpful as I could not find "washing soda" in my area either. Thanks so much for helping us with this!!!

10:28AM PDT on Apr 12, 2010

Jamie F, thanks for the info. I called Church & Dwight, free shipping with min. 3 box order; total $14.40 for 3 boxes. :)

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