February 14, 2012

Washing Soda FAQs

Posted by Laura

After our last feature on Mass Appeal (and my post about the lamp redo), I got a lot of questions from readers about washing soda. I did a little tender loving research to figure out what makes it so magical.

Here are some of the FAQs I got from people:

What is washing soda?
It is not baking soda, but very close. Super Washing Soda is made from calcium carbonate. It is a powdered substance that can be used as an additive to household cleaners to boost laundry and create DIY cleaners. For the nerdy answer to "what is calcium carbonate", I turned to our friend Jim who makes a living out of being a scientific smarty pants. He broke it down like this: Hard water has metals in it (like calcium, magnesium, and iron) that prevent soap from clinging to grease and disposing of it. Washing soda/calcium carbonate soaks up those metals, softens the water and allows the detergent to do it's job. In other words, the metals in hard water are like an army of bad guys that surround an evil dictator (grease). When the army of good guys (soap) come to take down the evil dictator (grease), they are diluted down by the army of bad guys (metals in hard water) who fight against them and make them less effective.  It seems hopeless for soap, but wait! All of the sudden, washing soda appears. Washing soda is Aragon. William Wallace. Hawkeye. Washing soda swoops in and slaughters the army of bad guys (metals), and steps to the side while the valiant army of good guys (soap) march in and thoroughly destroy the evil dictator, grease. No joke, that's basically how Jim explained it to me. He spoke directly to the right side of my brain. Bingo! I got it.

Where can I buy Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda?
In the laundry detergent section at most stores. I purchase my supply from Stop & Shop on Lincoln St. in Holyoke. If you find yourself in a pinch and can't find it, you can order it from www.soap.com and get free shipping.

What exactly do you use it for?
Soooo many amazing things. Here are some examples of what I use washing soda for:
  • Laundry Booster: Add 1/2 cup to the detergent section on front-loaders. I've replaced Oxiclean with Super Washing Soda
  • Stain Remover: soak stains out of clothes by adding 1/2 cup to the washer and putting it on a "soak" cycle
  • Boost up my vinegar spray
  • Floor Cleaner: mop the floors with 1/2 cup washing soda dissolved in a bucket of warm water
  • Drain Cleaner: Dissolve 1/2 cup per gallon of warm water and pour down the drain as a drain cleaner (not as a de-clogger, but as a cleaner/deodorizer), then flush drain with hot water
  • Household Cleaner: Dissolve 1/2 per gallon of warm water and wipe down surfaces

Is it a safe?
Is it replacing my commercial cleaners that are made with nasty chemicals? Absolutely! Am I going to eat it or treat it carelessly? No. Calcium Carbonate is not something that should be ingested or splashed into an eye. Arm & Hammer advertises their Washing Soda as being "all natural" and "phosphate free", which is true, but in it's powdered form should still be kept out of reach from small children and animals.

Have you had any experiences with Super Washing Soda? Any tips of tricks you care to share? Weird explanations of how it works? We'd love to hear it!

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