Washing Soda vs. Baking Soda: What’s the Difference and Which Is Better for Laundry?

Washing soda (sodium carbonate) and baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) are inexpensive and environmentally beneficial ways to maintain a clean home and laundry. However, don’t be fooled into thinking the two popular household products are identical only because their names differ by ‘bi’. They differ in various respects, including appearance, chemical qualities, and, to some extent, their final functions.

While both are useful cleaning agents, their efficacy varies substantially. Alkaline washing soda effectively removes acidic and oily stains from filthy goods, particularly clothes. In contrast, sodium bicarbonate is more suited to gentle cleaning, and baking soda has a variety of surprising applications. Although both powders are white or similar in color, washing soda has larger granules, making it more abrasive and needing more protection than baking soda’s small particles, which are milder and edible.

Difference between Washing Soda and Baking Soda

Baking soda (Sodium bicarbonate) has the chemical formula NaHCO3, which is made up of sodium, hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen, but washing soda (Sodium carbonate) has the chemical formula Na2CO3, which contains sodium, carbon, and oxygen, as well as two sodium atoms. Keep reading to understand more about their alkalinity, uses, and what works best for your laundry.


Baking soda has a pH of around 8.3. It is considered a weak foundation. However, washing soda has a high alkaline pH of around 11.4. It is a strong base, much more alkaline than baking soda.


Furthermore, baking soda is largely utilized in cooking as a leavening agent. It is also used for cleaning and deodorizing and as a gentle scrubbing abrasive. Meanwhile, washing soda is used in laundry detergents to remove stains and as a water softener. It is also used for cleaning, particularly to remove difficult grease and mineral deposits.


Baking soda is safe to consume and is commonly used in cooking and baking, however, washing soda is hazardous and should be handled with caution.

Washing Soda Works Best on Tough Stains

Washing soda, also known as ‘ soda ash’, is a highly alkaline (11.4 pH) white powder derived from sodium soil-grown plant cinders. It is widely used in industrial applications such as glass making. However, it has recently gained a reputation as a ‘laundry booster’ in households, capable of removing even the most persistent stains and odors. This simple solution quickly breaks down the fatty oils and acids included in filthy markings, making them extremely effective on your garments. It enhances detergent effectiveness in hard water by fusing with minerals that may hinder cleaning.

However, soda ash’s powerful cleaning abilities are not limited to laundry. It is equally effective on upholstery, carpets, furniture, household utensils, and metal things such as grills and ovens, sometimes even eliminating accumulated rust. However, its huge, white crystals are extremely corrosive and can injure both your hands and metal surfaces. So, handle washing soda with gloves and avoid using it on things that you don’t want to be scratched, like fiberglass and aluminum. 

Baking Soda is more Versatile

Baking soda, the commonly used leavening chemical that is safe to inhale after baking but not before, has expanded its use beyond cooking. Derived by processing the highly mined Trona deposits, sodium bicarbonate is a fine, solid white powder with an 8.4 pH level. While still alkaline, it is closer to neutral than washing soda, which means it is less effective and should only be used for mild cleaning. So, while it will clean and deodorize your clothing, it will perform a poor job of removing tenacious dirt.

Its softness makes it ideal for washing soft, scratch-sensitive surfaces. It also increases the versatility of baking soda, allowing it to be used to polish cutlery, clean bathroom tiles, and ceilings, and wipe down beds. The powder is non-toxic to humans and pets, making it safe to sprinkle about the kitchen, including the refrigerator, cutting boards, and worktops.


The primary difference between baking soda and washing soda is that washing soda is much more alkaline and strong than baking soda.
This makes  Washing Soda work best for washing clothes with tough stains like turmeric or sauce and Baking Soda is best suited for cleaning mild stains like dust and hence not very useful for laundry

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