Cleaning Hacks

What is the difference between Bicarbonate of Soda and Soda Crystals?

I have had numerous messages on “Soda Crystals”, how and where to find them in South Africa and what to use them for. Stick around, this is truly one of the most versatile cleaning agents to have in your home.

In Europe, you will almost always find Soda Crystals aka “Washing Soda” in the laundry aisle at grocery stores, but this cleaning wonder doesn’t just belong next to your washing machine! Soda Crystals make a useful cleaner for bathrooms, kitchens, and more! Let’s talk a little bit about what washing soda actually is, and why is makes such a useful cleaning agent!

But what is Washing Soda (Soda Crystals)?

Washing soda is also known as sodium carbonate, soda ash, or soda crystals. They are related to baking soda, but are processed differently. Washing Soda is MUCH more alkaline in comparison to Baking Soda, it has a pH of 11, which is why it is so effective at breaking down stains. It is also a base component of many laundry powders, but can cause minor skin irritations, so wear those gloves.

Both Bicarbonate of Soda and Washing Soda can be used to clean laundry, both can be used for household cleaning, but one can be eaten and the other absolutely should not be. “Soda Crystals” have a caustic base and are NOT EDIBLE !

Baking soda is the name commonly used for Sodium Bicarbonate. Baking soda has a mild base that is often used as a leavening agent to raise baked goods. It is edible and is mild enough to be used as toothpaste or taken as an antacid. Baking soda is edible . It has a neutral pH of 8.

Soda Crystals are white-ish in colour with larger granules that can be seen and felt (a little like yeast).

Soda Crystals:

  • Dissolves slowly in water and will leave a white residue if not well rinsed.
  • It makes a more abrasive cleaner that can scratch delicate surfaces but cleans well.
  • Great for cleaning sturdy surfaces or fabrics that are easy to rise (bathtub, shower door).
  • The washing soda will clean without damaging the item and can be washed away easily.

Baking Soda:

  • Sturdy surfaces that are hard to rinse (oven floor or floor grout)
  • Delicate surfaces that can be scratched (natural stone counters)
  • Areas used by children and pets (carpet, pet beds)
  • Food preparation surfaces (kitchen sink, cutting board)
  • Easier to rinse and no residue worry

Brilliant Uses For Soda Crystals

1. Laundry Stains

To use on cottons or linens – soak heavier fabrics in a solution of warm water and washing soda. Just fill a bucket and add about 1/2 cup of Soda Crystals and give it a stir. Soak the stained clothes for an hour or two (or overnight). Remove the items from the washing soda solution and wash as usual.

2. Softening Your Water

One of the most popular ways to use washing soda is as a water softener in your laundry. Add 1/2 cup of soda crystals to your wash load, then add the amount of detergent recommended for soft water. (This can also help prevent limescale buildup on the inside of your machine). You can also use it in your swimming pool!

3. Outdoor cleaning

Washing Soda is very effective at removing moss or algae from patios and pathways. You can also use it to scrub down outdoor wooden furniture.

4. Ovens, & Gas Burner Pans

Dissolve about 1/2 cup to about 3 litres of warm water to clean your oven, grill pans and burner tops of gas stoves. Washing soda can help make some of your toughest cleaning tasks easier. Remove the burner pans and soak them for about 30 minutes. For your oven, dip a damp sponge into the solution and scrub the inside, if it’s really stubborn you can sprinkle it on directly.

5. Pots, Pans, & Cookware

Where are my VIM fans? I’ve used Soda Crystals to help dissolve tough food messes in my pots and pans, and it works like a charm! Just add a couple of tablespoons of washing soda and a small squirt of dish-washing liquid to the pot, pan, or dish, then fill it with hot water and let it soak. Don’t do this on aluminium though!

6. Bathroom Cleans

Use a regular solution of washing soda with a sponge or scrub brush to scrub your bathtub, sink, or shower clean. Washing soda will help to cut through soap scum, greasy residues, and limescale!

7. Your Car battery

Yep, by mixing up that 1/2 cup solution, Washing Soda is hugely effective at removing corrosion around your car battery.

In South Africa “Soda Crystals” are not as easy to purchase as oversea’s. I buy mine from Essentially Natural, but you can also pick them up sometimes at hardware stores, in the pool section!

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