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Seven Handy Uses for Washing Soda

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by Dave Walsh (subscribe)
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Published August 16th 2012
washing soda, cleaning, handy tips, exhaust fan, BBQ
A Common Brand of Washing Soda

Washing soda?? I hear you exclaim! The last anyone heard of washing soda was when your grandmother used a washboard to do the laundry right? Not true! Read on to find out why.

Cleaning exhaust fan covers.

washing soda, cleaning, handy tips, exhaust fan, BBQ
My Exhaust Fan After Cleaning

I love the airy, clean and spacious feel of a white kitchen. But mine had not been pristine for quite a while in the corner above the cooker. After carefully removing the plastic cover from the fan assembly, I wondered how to clean the yellow sticky grille.

Neither concentrated liquid detergent, boiling hot water or vinegar worked at all, they only caused the fat to smear when I wiped it with a paper towel. In desperation I searched in the kitchen sink cupboard and discovered an old packet of washing soda.

A cup of washing soda powder dissolved in a litre or two of hot water made an amazing transformation to the sticky fan cover. After about 15 minutes the grease softened to the point where it was easily wiped off, leaving the plastic looking white and new. Magic!

Cleaning stove grills and BBQ's

washing soda, cleaning, handy tips, exhaust fan, BBQ
Dirty Barbeques Don't Need Expensive Cleaners

You can spend lots of money on cleaning agents for BBQ's and stoves. And the products come with an alarming list of warnings in print that's even finer than a telco contract.

Or you can use washing soda and hot water. The mix will depend on how much grease and rubbish is caked on, but a guide is 1 cup soda to 2 litres of water. Use a stronger solution or soak longer for persistent stains.

Don't use on aluminium products though.

Greening citrus leaves

washing soda, cleaning, handy tips, exhaust fan, BBQ
Sickly Yellow Leaves on Orange Tree

If your citrus tree has leaves that are a sickly yellow colour, a presenter on Gardening Australia recommends the use of washing soda to fix it.

Simply measure out about 50 grams of washing soda per metre of tree height, and place in 3-4 shallow holes around the tree's drip line. Too easy.

Washing clothes
Add about 50g of washing soda to 45 litres of water in your washing machine to help soften the water and improve the cleanliness of your wash.

It's not toxic like other detergents and far less damaging to the environment. For even better cleaning, leave clothes soaking for a while, but don't use with wool or silk.

Removing coffee and red wine stains
If your coffee mugs and wine glasses are discoloured try soaking them in a solution of washing soda and water overnight, then rub gently to remove stains.

Follow with a good rinse under hot water.

Balancing swimming pool pH

washing soda, cleaning, handy tips, exhaust fan, BBQ
Balance the pH in Your Pool

Is your pool too acidic? Dissolve washing soda in water and add progressively, testing as you go.

Once your pH is how you want it, jump in and enjoy yourself.

Cleaning oil stains from concrete

washing soda, cleaning, handy tips, exhaust fan, BBQ
Stains on Concrete


If your visitors leave an oily calling card in your driveway like my pizza guy does, there is an easy answer.

Again, no specially designed expensive products are required. Pour a generous amount of washing soda powder over the stain, sprinkle with a little water until you have a paste, then leave overnight. Scrub with a stiff brush while wearing eye protection, and rinse away your problems.

Where to get washing soda?
You can still find it at some supermarkets such as Woolworths, and some hardware stores.

Cautions:
1. Washing soda is alkaline, and can cause irritation to skin. It's rather less dangerous than many other household products, but handle with care.
2. Use rubber gloves and appropriate protective gear. If you brush a surface after applying washing soda, use safety glasses to protect your eyes.
3. Washing soda and baking soda are completely different chemicals. They are NOT interchangeable
4. Do not use washing soda on aluminium or fibreglass products, or waxed/varnished surfaces.
5. Need I say this? Do not inhale, swallow or apply to your body parts. Or anyone else's!

If your granny (or grandpa) had any other tips for using washing soda, let us know in the comments. Or check out the manufacturer's website for even more suggestions.
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Why? Because washing soda is a problem solver
Cost: A couple of dollars
Your Comment
Two tips I have used that work well: Use a dilute solution to clean the fridge, it leaves no smell behind, and you can also put a small dish of it in the fridge to absorb odours; It is the best way to remove stale or mouldy odours from clothes and fabrics, especially those that have been damp too long after washing and developed a 'sour' smell. Just put a handful in your washing mashine or handwash water and hey presto! By Elizabeth
by e.l.s (score: 1|14) 1670 days ago
yeah, been trying to get bexters soda crystals, for swelling in the usa, almost impossible, , I emailed , bexters, just waiting for reply.
by ruthd (score: 0|8) 279 days ago
I remember my dad wrapping some in a towel around his bad knee post football to reduce swelling as another person has posted here - also threw some in the bath for a good soak too
by THull (score: 1|19) 552 days ago
I see that one person adds it to bath water. WRONG!!!
Washing soda is not for skin - clearly there is dangerous confusion between the Washing Soda, Bicarbonate of Soda, Baking Soda, Soda Carbonate, indeed Soda Water are all vastly different..
PLEASE! Read your labels properly before purchase and use - unless you have a strong death wish.
by fluffynut (score: 2|799) 1013 days ago
Is Washing Soda the same as Bi-Carb Soda, please?
by fluffynut (score: 2|799) 1701 days ago
I have another unusual use for you. My mother was told to wrap some around a swollen joint, the crystals stuffed into a stocking and then tied around the swelling. I have tried this myself it works. You awake in a bit of a pool but it does draw out the swelling. It is an old-fashioned remedy but it does work.
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (score: 3|4916) 2101 days ago
So glad I found this because I almost used it as a soak. Thanks for your input!!
by Linds (score: 0|5) 622 days ago
My husband uses it in his car radiators to clean them out. But he drains the fluid out before filling it up again and driving his car. Doo Bee.
by willi (score: 0|5) 950 days ago
did you know? washing soda dissolved in high concentration in hot water will reverse tarnish on silver if you immerse the silver in the soda solution & use aluminium foil[scrunched into a ball]to rub the silver[whilst it is immersed]where ever tarnish effects the silver.this does NOT remove any silver from the object but chemicaly reverses the sulfation of the silver surface.
by jrwb1 (score: 0|5) 971 days ago
To make washing soda, heat a 1/2" layer of baking soda in a glass baking dish in a 400 degree F. oven for about 30 minutes. It changes NaHCO3 to Na2CO3. To test for change place a small amount of baking soda in a small bowl and a small amount of washing soda in a separate bowl. Put a few drops of lemon juice on each. The baking soda will fizz, but the washing soda will foam and turn bright yellow. Be careful handling the washing soda, and don't taste it!
by jltdu (score: 0|5) 1548 days ago
I always put a teaspoonful into my hot dishwashing water (by hand) with the detergent. Yes, I had previously found that the WS works really well in any cleaning jobs, such as toilet & floor tiles.
by yeeperth (score: 0|6) 2100 days ago
My grandmother would put a handful into a bath to soothe tired, aching muscles - cheaper then Radox! Add a few drops of favourite essential oils, light a soothing, scented candle, and voila, a relaxed mind, body, spirit!
by e_law (score: 2|368) 2090 days ago
Methylated spirits work a treat on organic matter. It works like magic on grease. Put abit on the surface and wipe off. I use it in the kitchen on stainless steel and plastic appliances. Good on kitchen tiles - careful not to get on wall or it will strip the paint off. Best of all no need to rinse off as it evaporates.
by Yin-Yin Ow (score: 3|1590) 2094 days ago
Wow, I haven't heard of that Linda and I'm glad it worked for you.
When trying out something new like that it's always a good idea to test a little bit first, but it sees you're one happy customer!
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|10812) 2102 days ago
Washing soda (1cup) and Epsom salts (1tab )in a large bucket/ bowl of hot water makes for a great foot soak. Add a few marbles for a massage too.
Also great for cleaning saucepans/ pots that are stained or have food burnt in them. Add a couple of spoonfuls washing soda, hot water & 1 squirt dishwashing liquid. Bring to the boil on the stove, then simmer for 15 minutes.
by angie (score: 0|6) 2098 days ago
I just bought a bag of washing soda from Woolworths - Now $4.59 I use it to clean my jewellery with a metal plate (Jewel Magic) - brings jewellery up like new! Linda W
by Linda (score: 0|4) 2102 days ago
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