Make Your Own Washing Soda (For Homemade Laundry Detergent)

washing soda 4 copy

Washing Soda is an essential ingredient in making your own laundry detergent, and I have had many people from countries all over the world asking me about an alternative because they can’t buy it where they are.

Who knew it was so easy to make at home???

If you can get your hands on baking soda…you have the ingredients to make your own WASHING SODA.  All you need is an OVEN.

washing soda

Grab a cookie sheet, spread a box (or a thick layer) of baking soda on it and stick it in the oven at 400 degrees for 1 hour.

washing soda

When you are done you will have Washing Soda and will be ready to make your own Laundry Detergent!  Here are my favorite recipes:

Liquid Laundry Detergent

Powdered Laundry Detergent

Even though most of us can easily find washing soda on the shelves of our local grocery store…it occurred to me after making my own that as long as I have this great big bag of baking soda on hand why wouldn’t I just make my own washing soda as well?  I couldn’t come up with a reason. :-)

So hopefully this post will be helpful to those of you who can’t find washing soda where you live…AND to those who are looking to save $$!  (Which pretty much includes ALL of us! Right??)  :-)



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  1. Zoquara says

    So glad you shared this! I’ve seen it in the comments on a few blogs, but never as the focus. In my area, it’s not really any cheaper to make it, so we just buy it, but that may not be true everywhere, and like you said, not everyone can find it!

  2. Brenda says

    Actually, if you compare price, by weight, the cost of the baking soda, at or local Sam’s Club is extremely cheaper…Just pop the tray of soda in the oven with anything else you are baking, and it doesn’t even cost for the energy to bake it….Just my thoughts, and as usual, I LOVE YOUR IDEAS, JILL! Thank you.

      • jamie says

        Baking soda’s chemical makeup is NaHCO3 (1 sodium, 1 hydrogen, one carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules). Washing soda’s chemical makeup is Na2CO3 (2 sodium, 1 carbon, and 3 oxygen molecules). When baking soda is heated up to high temperatures, it breaks down to become washing soda, water steam, and carbon dioxide. By cooking your baking soda, you can easily and safely get washing soda without needing to travel to far flung places to buy it, and you can make as much as you need at a time and don’t need to lay out a lot of money on buying washing soda quoted from

    • Colleen says

      LISAMAE, Fels Naptha isn’t sold in Canada. I use Ivory bar soap, and you can also use Sunlight. Those, plus the other ingredients needed, can be found just about anywhere. I usually get all of them at London Drugs or Home Hardware. The liquid detergent recipes are messy and a hassle to make. It’s so easy to make Jillee’s “year’s worth” big batch of powdered detergent and it works well. I’ve been using it for quite a while now and it’s great!

    • Susan says

      I recently made the “Laundry Sauce” recipe for my first try at making homemade laundry soap, and it’s working out nicely for me so far. Be careful when you open the mason jar after it has been standing upside down for a few hours. At the top will be the thin watery layer, and it could splash when you remove the airtight lid. I also found that if you take a spoon and carefully press down on the solid layer, all of the content should settle down towards the bottom of the jar. This then gave me enough room to insert a stick blender to whip up the mixture instead of having to empty the soap into a bowl to mix. If you use a stick blender, take your time and start by gently pulsing it first before going full speed. Also observe the soap from the outside of the jar as you blend to make sure it is fully mixed. The finished consistency turned out to be more like soft margarine than whipped mayonnaise but it still works. For me it also works best to premix one tablespoon of soap to some warm water before adding it to the wash. There could be some small solid bits that don’t completely dissolve, but that will work itself out in the wash. Hope this helps!

  3. Tamara says

    I thought about doing this myself, but then wondered about the cost of electricity to bake something at 400 degrees for an hour. So it may be cheaper (and greener) just to purchase the washing soda. :\

    • CTY says

      You can bake it whilst the oven is on for something else at no extra cost. As for going green–Arm & Hammer makes it the same way so the carbon footprint would be the same.
      SOLAR–How about this: If chocolate chip cookies can be made on the dashboard of the car–why not washing soda?
      Department of energy also has instructions for a DIY solar oven.

    • Jenny says

      While it can be used in an HE washer because it is low sudsing – it does not lubricate the ball bearings in your motor, something that is part of the commercial HE detergents. I used homemade for 1 1/2 years but my washer developed a rather loud squeak and the repair man told me that info, and if it continued to get worse, the motor would seize. I went back to Tide HE (about 3 years ago) and saved myself from a $600-700 repair bill!!

      • Ana says

        I’m not a certified mechanic and I haven’t had the need to open up my HE machine (yet).
        With that said, I have a hard time picturing the normal soapy water from the drum actually wetting the ball bearings or anything else in or around the motor. The warning about the suds is because “excessive” foam will overflow finding its way into places that normally there would be no access.
        It is easy to be concerned about ruining such a huge investment, specially at the beginning when this fancy machines were so expensive, but the truth is that excessive suds are just as bad for the normal garden variety cheap old style machines. Again the keyword is EXCESSIVE….. for the record, before using the homemade version I found here I was using the generic non HE approved just half or less than the suggested amount, still have the same HE front load without any issues, not once have I pour an ounce of the “approved HE soap”

        • Karina says

          I’m not a mechanic or engineer but it seems detergent or water should never be anywhere near a washer motor. Wouldn’t that mean your washer leaked or overflowed? If there is water and detergent in your electric motor lubricating bearings wouldn’t it also cause a fire or short?

        • Cricket says

          I have an He washing machine used only He Tide forever and it didn’t stop my machine from having a bad ball bearing. I think he was full of hewy. The soap doesn’t lubricate the ball bearings, that is what oil is for and if it is factory sealed then it is supposed to be handled in the factory. By the way the bearing in my machine has been loud for about 3 years now, the machine is still running fine just loud. (knock on wood) I just made my first batch of the liquid laundry detergent and hope to never have to go back to Tide or any other brand again.

      • Charles Giltner says

        The use of soda and other strong chems in a HE or front loader is not recommended as the seals will break down faster. The manufacturing is getting better at prevention, but the way the washers are designed there is much more sealing surface to protect. Newer machines shouldn’t be so problematic, but older ones have a tendency to need seals because they are more efficient in operation washing, the soap doesn’t need to be so strong or abundant. Spot treatment for stains and such will reduce your use and prevent excessive chemical use. Many older machines also leaked around the soap tray causing motor and body damage, some are still prone, so be cautious when pouring in your soap and bleaches.
        I prefer the older style top loaders still, but I don’t buy new. Used machines are cheap and last a long time if used properly. Remember clean soft water, only use hot when necessary, run fewer loads and each one as full as possible/recommended. USE soap sparingly and fill with water then add your clothing to get the most water in to lubricate the movement. Balance the load at the spin cycle and remove clothing promptly. don’t store clothing in the washer before starting as this allows oils and moisture to cause rust and mildew to form.
        Leave the lid open between to dry the tub and when you travel away, always shut off the water in case the hose bursts and floods your house and costs an arm in water bills and repairs.

  4. Roxie Moreland says

    Thanks Jillee I live in a very small town… sometimes they don’t have the basics like milk and eggs at the store so you can imagine trying to find things like this! Thank you again. Love your blog it is always chock full of good stuff

  5. Roxanne says

    I’ve made the year’s worth of laundry detergent in September and I’m just now needing more because it works great on everything… and of course I had to share some with family and friends ;). Works very nice in my carpet cleaner as well. Thank you for the tip on washing soda… it will definitely save me some $$$. Oh, also I put a fan behind me when mixing all the powders together to prevent being “smothered” by the kick back.

  6. Sandra says

    Hahah, actually, washing soda is a LOT easier to find here in Germany (and cheaper than the same amount of) baking soda. Though I’ll often get the “Bwuh? o.0″ face whenever I mention either to my generation. It’s something our grandmothers used, and washing soda has only recently slowly started to regain popularity.

  7. Carmen says

    Hi, I just went back to your recipe for a year and it calls for (1) 55 oz. box of washing soda. This is roughly 3 1/2 lbs. Does the baking soda reduce quantity in the oven? How much would it take to equal the 3 1/2 lb. soda? Thank you.

  8. Stephanie A. says

    Last year I had a spill over in my oven so I doused it with baking soda. All over the oven floor. Well, I just never got around to cleaning it out of there. Yes, I’ve been cooking in it all this time. Please don’t judge me. I’d rather clean other parts of my house than the oven……….oh, and knit.

    So a couple weekends ago I vacuumed it up, scrapped up what I could then I got a scrubber sponge with dish soap and water and started scrubbing. I swear I had put ammonia in there! I was smelling and feeling mild fumes! I forgot that actually BAKING baking soda will turn it to washing soda. SO maybe washing soda doesn’t mix well with dishsoap?

    Just thought this was an interesting accidental “experiment”. :)

    Carmen, the amount of soda did NOT decrease after baking in my oven all year.

    • Ruthie in TN says

      Stephanie, you sound a lot like me….the things that have gone undone vs. the amount of knitting that’s been done around here would make any born-neat-and-organized person (aka “my sister”) break out in a cold sweat!

      Out of curiosity, when you got to the bottom of all that washing soda/dish soap, did you have the cleanest oven floor in town? ;-)

      • Charles Giltner says

        WAshing soda is great for cleaning the grime off cooking surfaces like baked on cookie sheets and pyrex dishes as well as the appliances. Try it with a spray of water on your toaster oven rack and bottom. It reacts with the carbon in the grime and breaks it up good.
        Washing soda is Sodium Carbonate used in pool pH control. Can be found at pool supplies. I live in Florida and you can’t throw a cat without hitting a pool store (or a pharmacy for that matter) Anyway, don’t know how the price compares since they mark up everything, if you can afford a pool…
        Anyway baking soda is always available at the grocery and a little time in the oven isn’t bad. Great tips Jill, keep us going.
        Thanks Christi for the science lesson. BTW, dish soap neutralizes the reaction, may cause fumes. Doesn’t work as well with soap, just wet the grime and sprinkle the washing soda on your surface, let sit or scrub away.

    • Bec says

      I believe that there is an interaction between the dishsoap and washing soda – Last year I made my own dishwasher detergent, and read a tip to add about a teaspoon of regular dishsoap to the wash compartment to reduce filming… So I thought ‘Why not just add the soap and a little bit of water, then press it in to a mold and make my own tabs?’ Sor of along the same lines of the bakind soda tablets I’ve been seeing lately. It worked, but the smell & heat that came when I mixed the dish soap in definitely cautioned me against doing it again.

      • kel says

        Nope, I’m with you too. The title doesn’t go with the colorfulness of the site. But now that I look at this post again, it’s not as colorful as the past posts. I liked the old style a lot better. Just my .02. The content still rocks and that’s why we’re here, of course :) but of the blogs I read, this was one of a kind.

    • Kate says

      I don’t like the new circle-shaped swirly logo only because it feels so cluttered and hard to find the OGT in the center. Since your motto is “Sorting through the clutter of my life”, it kind of clashes with it. JMHO. Love all your suggestions! Thanks for all your info.

    • Nadine says

      I preferred the old look as well. This new version is way too simple of a graphic look- it’s boring. Please, please, please don’t use this new look as the covers for your new book. Unless I already knew how good the inside was, I would pass right by it in a store.

  9. Jamie says

    I’m just curious, when the powdered detergent is used in an HE washer do you put it in the drum when you put the clothes in? I don’t think powder would be good to put in the drawer for detergent! How much is used for an HE washer?

    • meJulie says

      My HE washing machine has the option for liquid or powder in the drawer dispenser. I simply slid the tab to powder and have had no trouble using the homemade powdered detergent recipe. – Side note, I made sure the Fels Naptha is ground to as fine as a powder as possible and also wash with warm water.

    • Becky says

      I really don’t know. I personally use my MIL’s washer and dryer which are HE and I don’t use her little drawer slot. I just pour the detergent powder over my clothes and wash… maybe I should be using the drawer!! lol

  10. CTY says

    Great entry–who knew?? One more reason to love baking soda.
    This is the first time I ever had a laundry room (26 years of in the basement by the heater). Just wanted to say–I never thought of decorating it. Then of course Jillee’s cute washing code & recipe PDFs–inspired me to print frame & hang them. Also in the process of making a sign that says:
    NO DIRTY LAUNDRY HERE; JUST CLOTHES WAITING TO BE WASHED. DH didn’t get it–is it just me or is it an isolated joke??

  11. Nancy says

    Jillee – I’ve been wanting to ask this for awhile because I’m interested in making your homemade laundry detergent. I’ve seen complaints in the www from people who have tried making their own detergent that it makes their whites dingy. Do you find that to be true at all with your recipe? Do you do something to keep the problem from occurring?

    • Mary Alice says

      I think that those who are complaining about the homemade detergent making their whites dingy are those who have hard water. From what I have read, the homemade detergent does not work quite as well in hard water.
      This is why I have not yet made laundry detergent. It seems to work best in soft water.

      • Laura says

        I have hard water & my whites are not dingy. I don’t have a water softener either. So I’m not quite sure what to say. I do LOVE this laundry soap recipe. Granted, it’s yet to last me longer than 6 months, but I have 2 teenage girls who do their own laundry. We have an HE washer, put the detergent into the drum before loading the clothes in. If you find yourself with dingy whites, I would suggest bleach. I know there’s OxyClean in this, but why not add bleach to the load via the dispenser.

    • Kate says

      I haven’t noticed this problem because I add Mrs. Stewart’s Liquid Bluing to my load of whites. Why something blue makes things white, I don’t know, but you need to make sure you dilute the few drops in water before adding to the washer or you will have blue spotted clothes. Seriously, never add it without diluting and don’t take a shortcut thinking you can squirt it into the water as it’s filling the machine. My friend will attest to that. :^/ My grocery store carries this in the laundry aisle so that’s the best place to check. Hope this helps.

    • Rachel says

      I wonder if it’s a consequence of the soap they’re using in their homemade detergent. Being that Fels-Naptha is designated a “laundry stick,” I’ve never found that it dingy-fied my whites. But I’ve seen people online say, “Oh, you can use whatever soap you want. I use Irish Spring/Coast/Zest/etc. in mine!” and I’ve always been concerned that using regular bar soap that has dyes and such in it might color whites over time. If those people are using a bar soap rather than a laundry stick or a white bar soap (like Ivory) in their recipe, the dingy whites may be a result of that. If not, well then I’m stumped!

      • Trena says

        I have been using homemade detergent for about 4 yrs & my whites always turn dingy & yellow eventually. I have tried EVERYTHING-except the bluing-will have to pick some up on my next shopping trip! I have hard well water with lots of iron and had the same problem with commercial detergents. I just use the savings from making my own to justify the occasional dry cleaning of a few favorite white pieces & the rest make great rags after about a year, lol!

    • Betsy Ferrell says

      I use Jillee homemade Laundry soap for my family as well as my daughter and their family next door. I do not have a problem with the white’s being dingy. Some people who have dingy white need to check into the quality of their water.

  12. CTY says

    Sorry- I have to have so much to say/ask today.
    Off topic laundry question. My older bottle of Purex Crystals says Softener on the front of the bottle. The new bottles do not say that– in fact the product doesn’t claim to be a fabric softener at all. It just says “laundry enhancer”. Is it a fabric softener or not? was not help.

    Also does anyone know how can I access the archives for the early posts?

  13. sarah says

    thank you once more for sharing this with us. I had read vaguely about this, but now with your specific information I will definitely try it. We are going through a difficult finacial time now at home and this just helps save more money. I already do the liquid laundry soap and I love it ! and I also have done some other home made stuff and so far everything works well and sometimes even better and definitely cheaper than store bought stuff. And also there is something special about doing your “own” products. It makes house work more fun, and I have learned so much and just to think there is so much I will learn in the future. I don’t know you but I love you!!! :) Thank you and all the people that share their knowledge about house keeping, cleaning and cooking.

  14. Jmsiers says

    I’ve made washing soda several times, but need to let you know that if you do not keep it COMPLETELY airtight, it reverts back to baking soda. Drying it sucks moisture out, which creates the chemical change. Let air at it and moisture is absorbed again.
    You can take this a step further and use it with hydrogen peroxide and that’s Oxi-Clean.
    I love this website

    • Susan says

      That’s interesting and also a bummer–we might be using up energy baking the soda in the oven for nothing. I wonder what Arm & Hammer adds to their washing soda to keep it from reverting back to baking soda. Is there a link that talks more about this?

  15. says

    A few years ago, I read that washing soda is the same as baking soda on some high-tech science website. It explained that washing soda was more concentrated, as it was heated @ a higher temperature…but I never thought of actually making my own in my own oven! Good Job, Jilliee!

  16. Renea says

    I would like to know more about how to use my homemade laundry detergent in my carpet cleaner. Any suggestions or has anyone actually done this? Thanks for all the tips and recipes. I have made many of your homemade cleaners and love them all.

  17. Comet says

    Re: Hard water making whites “dingy”–it is not simply a matter of how “hard” the water is —it is the CONTENT of the water as far as minerals and salts dissolved in it that also has a BIG deal to do with how “clean” we perceive these clothes to be! If you have an electric hot water heater and have ever looked at the old heating element when it is changed out then you will understand the amount and kind of stuff that is floating around in our water. Not bad for us–altho heavily mineralized water CAN irritate gallstones–ask me HOW I and my daughter and most of our friends family and neighbors KNOW this!!!!

    That said some soft water also has minerals dissolved in it and can ALSO change the colors.

    The reason the “Bluing” works is that the “blue” color enhances the “white” in the fabric and reflects back more light (or so I have been told). You can ALSO use the bluing for your hair if it is white; for pet hair–this is an old tried and true dog show “trick”; and I think this is the same stuff you use to grow old fashioned but VERY cool “dish gardens”. For those who don’t have a supply nearby–and ask at your pharmacy (the home town kind is probably better for this!) or look in the hair dye or pet wash sections—the Vermont Country Store sells it.

    But DO dissolve it first!!!!!! If you are rinsing a pet or your own hair mix it up in a pitcher or squirt bottle first—unless you LIKE the Punk Look that is!!!! LOL!!!!

    Maybe Jillee could come up with a recipe for those cool dish gardens? Kids love them and it teaches math and science and magic—what MORE could you want for a rainy day project????

  18. jenine says

    Anyone use the homemade detergent with an HE washer and cloth diapers?
    I am currently building my newborn stash (due in april) and am trying to figure out the best washing routine…

  19. Tammi says

    Interesting thread! It’s funny- I’ve been using about a 1/3 to 1/2 cup of washing soda added to whatever kind of liquid laundry detergent I happened to have to every load of wash for the past 30 years. I used to live in a place where we had rust in our well water, and a friend told me about using washing soda to prevent rusty-colored staining on our clothes. There used to be a ShopRite brand of washing soda, but they haven’t carried that for about 10 years, so A+H is the only commercial brand I use. I always transfer it from the box to an plastic canister just to make it easier to scoop. Going to try making my own washing soda today! Love your blog, Jillee!

  20. Susan McCulloch says

    I can’t figure out a way to use the powder laundry soap so that it doesn’t come out of the wash marking up my dark loads. So frustrating. I even run it thru the rinse cycle again and it doesn’t rinse it aaway.

  21. says

    hi, it’s a fantastic idea…. here in belgium i’ve never find wshing soda ( but in reading comment i’ve see that in germany we can find it^^) so i’ll try to do my own, and this summer i’ll go search in germany…. but i have a question, like jill some comments on the top i can’t find borax, and i don’t know what really it’s … can you explain me and maybe give me a trick to remplace it???? thanks a lot … and sorry for my english, i’m a frenchie^^

  22. alli says

    Hi ! I have been using homemade laundry detergent for a few months now and it seems to work great except for on my husbands t-shirts, they are developing “ring around the collar”. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated!

    • Donna Cranmore says

      I was told by a Sears repair person to run a cup of cooking oil in my washer without clothes of course every so often. I have never done this and it has been 10 years since hearing this and my washer is fine. But since all the comments about the soap getting into the working parts, just thought I would let you know what Sears repair recommends, suppose it was to oil the working parts. Make the enzyme cleaner out of citrus pealings and use it on ring around the color and under arms works great cost nothing to make. I have been using the liquid detergent now for a year and love it. No yellowing of whites. I also have a HE washer, no problems at all. Hope this will answer some of the questions. I also appreciate Jillee.

    • Heather says

      Jillee’s got it covered!

      Hydrogen peroxide doesn’t take out color to this method should be fine for colored shirts too, but as with any detergent/cleaner, test a small hidden area first.

      I spritzed this mix and used a small nail brush to work it into the collar and armpits on every one of my boyfriend’s stained, *formerly* white t-shirts. Now they look BRAND NEW. It took out EVERY spot–even an old, many-times washed ketchup stain.

  23. Kristina says

    I just used this today for dishwashing detergant. All I had was baking soda so I cooked it and added about a tablespoon to the prewash compartment, about two tablespoons to the wash cycle compartment and poured about a 1/4 cup maybe of distilled white vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher and voila! Cleanest dishes from a dishwasher I’ve ever seen. I had gotten desperate because I was out of dishwasher detergents and was too busy during the week and not even home to do dishes that sat for waaay to long. I know, gross! And the silverware and glasses still came out squeaky clean! Even with my hard water! Never buying the chemical filled stuff again! :) I love your blog! Just made your mommas English muffin bread for I think the third time now! Yummy!!!! :)

  24. Karen Krueger says

    A few months ago I was researching laundry detergent recipes and ran across a similar post in another website. I also found a more scientific site which said that cooking baking soda for an hour at 400 degrees was not sufficient to turn it into washing soda — the temp would have to be much higher. Since I have no way to tell in my kitchen, I have chosen to err on the side of caution and buy mine when I can find it.

    Sorry I don’t have links, I am doing this at work (!) and it was a few months ago. Search online if you are interested. Just want to make sure everyone is safe and really getting what they think they are.

  25. Denise says

    I love all the comments and ideas from everyone, but now I want to know if anyone knows how to make homemade fabric softner? If so that would make it all worth while to make laudry easy. Thanks


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