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Baking Soda vs. Washing Soda: What's the Difference?

Edited by Aimie Carlson || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 21, 2024
Baking soda is a mild, edible alkaline powder for cooking and cleaning, while washing soda is a stronger, non-edible alkaline compound for heavy-duty cleaning.

Key Differences

Baking soda, chemically known as sodium bicarbonate, is a versatile substance used in baking to cause dough to rise. Washing soda, on the other hand, is sodium carbonate, a stronger alkaline compound primarily used for heavy-duty cleaning tasks.
In terms of chemical composition, baking soda contains a single sodium atom, a hydrogen atom, and a carbon dioxide molecule, making it milder. Washing soda consists of sodium, carbon, and oxygen, but lacks the hydrogen atom, contributing to its higher alkalinity and strength.
Baking soda finds its use in culinary applications, such as acting as a leavening agent in baked goods. Washing soda, due to its caustic nature, is unsuitable for cooking and is instead effective in removing grease and stains in laundry and cleaning tasks.
Baking soda can neutralize acids, making it useful for relieving heartburn or acid indigestion. Washing soda, with its higher pH level, is more caustic and can cause skin irritation, thus requiring careful handling during use.
Baking soda is also used as a gentle cleaning agent for household chores, including removing odors. Washing soda, with its stronger composition, is used for more challenging cleaning jobs, like unclogging drains and removing stubborn stains.

Comparison Chart

Chemical Name

Sodium Bicarbonate
Sodium Carbonate

PH Level

Lower, more neutral
Higher, more alkaline


Safe for consumption
Not safe for consumption

Primary Use

Cooking, mild cleaning
Heavy-duty cleaning

Effect on Skin

Generally safe
Can cause irritation

Baking Soda and Washing Soda Definitions

Baking Soda

An environmentally friendly cleaning agent.
I use baking soda to clean kitchen surfaces naturally.

Washing Soda

Effective in softening water in laundry.
Adding washing soda to laundry helps in removing tough stains.

Baking Soda

A white crystalline powder used as a leavening agent in baking.
I added baking soda to my cake recipe to make it rise.

Washing Soda

Can cause skin irritation due to its high pH.
Wear gloves when cleaning with washing soda to protect your skin.

Baking Soda

Baking soda is a mild alkali that can neutralize acids.
To alleviate heartburn, I drank water with a teaspoon of baking soda.

Washing Soda

Used to unclog drains and remove stubborn residue.
Washing soda can clear blocked kitchen drains effectively.

Baking Soda

A gentle abrasive used in toothpaste.
My toothpaste contains baking soda for gentle teeth cleaning.

Washing Soda

A strong alkaline chemical used in heavy-duty cleaning.
I used washing soda to remove grease stains from my garage floor.

Baking Soda

Used as a deodorizer for refrigerators and carpets.
Sprinkling baking soda in the refrigerator helps eliminate odors.

Washing Soda

Not suitable for consumption due to its caustic nature.
Washing soda is used for cleaning, not for cooking or eating.

Washing Soda

Alternative spelling of washing soda


Can I use washing soda for baking?

No, washing soda is not edible and should not be used in cooking.

Are baking soda and washing soda interchangeable for cleaning?

They have different strengths; baking soda is milder and safer for many surfaces.

Can washing soda remove laundry stains?

Yes, it's effective in removing tough stains in laundry.

Does washing soda soften water?

Yes, it's effective in softening hard water, especially in laundry.

Can baking soda relieve heartburn?

Yes, it can neutralize stomach acid and relieve heartburn.

Is baking soda environmentally friendly?

Yes, it's a natural, biodegradable cleaning agent.

Is washing soda safe for all surfaces?

No, its high alkalinity can damage certain surfaces.

Is baking soda used in toothpaste?

Yes, for its mild abrasive and whitening properties.

How does baking soda affect baking?

It acts as a leavening agent, causing dough to rise.

Is washing soda stronger than baking soda?

Yes, washing soda is more alkaline and stronger.

Is baking soda edible?

Yes, baking soda is safe for consumption in food.

Can washing soda cause skin irritation?

Yes, due to its caustic nature, it can irritate the skin.

Can I use baking soda to clean my fridge?

Yes, it's great for deodorizing and gentle cleaning.

Is washing soda eco-friendly?

It's more caustic, so caution is advised for environmental impact.

How should I handle washing soda safely?

Use gloves and avoid direct skin contact.

Does baking soda have a shelf life?

It can lose potency over time, especially if exposed to moisture.

Is washing soda effective in unclogging drains?

Yes, it can help clear clogged drains.

Are there any health risks with baking soda?

Overuse can disrupt pH balance, but it's generally safe.

Can I use baking soda for skin care?

Yes, but with caution, as it can be drying.

Can washing soda be used in dishwashers?

Yes, it can boost cleaning in dishwashers.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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