Make Your Own Washing Soda (For Homemade Laundry Detergent)

Homemade Washing Soda 1

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. 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

    • Hazel says

      Yes it is I’ve been using Jillee’s recipe of homemade laundry detergent for months now, both in liquid and powdered form, it works great

    • 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?

      • Rosewood says

        I agree, I cannot think how the detergent can possibly get intot he motor. It is in a water tight drum…sounds fishy to me.

      • 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.

      • Margaret says

        I am not a mechanic nor was your mechanic an engineer. Any laundry detergent that lubricates ANY part of your washer would also leave lubricant on your CLOTHES.

      • Cathy says

        That just doesn’t sound right. I’ve been making/using the home-made
        powder version for about 6 yrs. I have a front load HE and so far it’s
        been fine.

      • 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.

  2. Marcia K says

    It seems kind of funny that we are adding baking soda, and then..more baking soda, just in a different form. Is it really all necessary?

    • CTY says

      Yep! Redundant– however. keep in mind that baking soda also acts as a water softener–so if hard water is a problem you may still need/want the baking soda.

  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.

    • 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!

    • Cristi says

      The difference between baking soda and washing soda is water and carbon dioxide. Seriously. 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.

      • Allison Ashburn says

        Thanks, Cristi!

        That was a wonderful explanation, and incredibly interesting, too! =D

      • Megan says

        Her comment is word for word from pennilesparenting’s explanation. Please give credit where credit is due :)

      • Cristi says

        You are correct Megan….quickly copied and pasted and then ran off to do other things….my bad. My apologies to Pennilesparenting.

      • Janet Rodgers says

        I really appreciated your graceful response to comment from Megan. A little kindness in word or deed goes a long way. :)

      • Dee Vernille says

        People who are sarcastic are not happy with their own lives so they try to bring others down to their level.

      • Kamiko says

        when people are being sarcastic when they tell a joke, their intended audience will think it is funny, if they agree with the attitude of the joke. however, it wasn’t a joke, and the attitude that went with it was rude and degrading. since when is being rude and degrading anyone funny?

    • Julie Breecham says

      I was wondering the same thing. What does baking it do? Not questioning just curious.

      • 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

  4. Kristen says

    I actually just did this about a week ago. So easy to do nd a goid way to
    Utilize that huge bag of baking soda too.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!