What Is The Difference Between Washing Soda and Oxygen Bleach (Sodium Percarbonate)?

what is the difference between washing soda and oxygen bleach


When it comes to household cleaning, washing soda and oxygen bleach (sodium percarbonate) are effective, minimal impact tools to have in your repertoire. While they may seem similar at first glance, each has unique properties and uses. Let's dive into what sets these two compounds apart and how you can effectively use them in your home.


The Basics: Washing Soda vs. Sodium Percarbonate (Oxygen Bleach)

Washing Soda:

  • Chemical name: Sodium carbonate (Na2CO3)
  • Commonly known as: Soda ash.
  • Appearance: White, crystalline powder.
  • How it is made: Washing soda can be derived from the mineral trona or synthetically produced from table salt (sodium chloride) and limestone (calcium carbonate).  It can also be made at home using bicarb soda (more on that below).
  • Properties:
    • Acts as a water softener and cleaning agent in laundry detergents.
    • Highly alkaline and non-toxic.
    • Used in glass manufacturing, water treatment, and as a buffering agent in pools.

Sodium Percarbonate - also known as Oxygen Bleach:

  • Chemical formula: 2Na2CO3·3H2O2
  • Composition: A compound of sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide.
  • Appearance: White, granular powder.
  • How it is made: Sodium percarbonate is synthetically produced by combining sodium carbonate with hydrogen peroxide.
  • Properties:
    • Serves as an effective bleaching agent in many cleaning products.
    • Releases hydrogen peroxide when dissolved in water, providing bleaching, disinfecting, and stain remover properties.
    • Environmentally friendly, breaking down into water, oxygen, and sodium carbonate.


How to Use Washing Soda in Your Home

Washing soda is a versatile and powerful cleaner. Here are a couple of ways to incorporate it into your cleaning routine:

Laundry Booster

  • How to use: Add 1/2 cup of washing soda to your regular laundry detergent.
  • Benefits: Helps to soften water, enhancing the effectiveness of your detergent. It also helps to remove stains, particularly greasy ones, and leaves your clothes cleaner and fresher.

Surface Cleaner

  • How to use: Dissolve 1/4 cup of washing soda in a gallon of warm water.
  • Benefits: Use this solution to for kitchen cleaning, countertops, sinks, and stovetops. Its alkaline nature makes it excellent for cutting through grease and grime, leaving surfaces sparkling clean.


How to Use Oxygen Bleach in Your Home

Sodium percarbonate or Oxygen Bleach is known for its bleaching and disinfecting properties. Here’s how you can use it effectively:

Laundry Whitener

  • How to use: Add 1/2 cup of sodium percarbonate to your laundry load along with your regular detergent.  Find our other laundry products here.
  • Benefits: It releases hydrogen peroxide, which helps to bleach and brighten whites and remove stains. It’s especially useful for keeping white linens and clothes looking fresh and new.

Carpet Cleaner

  • How to use: Mix 1 tablespoon of sodium percarbonate with 1 cup of hot water. Apply the solution to carpet stains, let it sit for 5-10 minutes, then blot and rinse with water.
  • Benefits: The oxygen bubbles help lift stains and dirt from carpet fibres, making it an effective spot cleaner that also disinfects.



How to Make Your Own Washing Soda

  • Method: Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate or bicarb soda) can be converted into washing soda through a simple heating process. Spread baking soda on a baking sheet and bake at 200°C (400°F) for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  • Note: This method only works for washing soda. Sodium percarbonate cannot be made at home as it requires a chemical process involving hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate.

Why Is Oxygen Bleach More Expensive Than Washing Soda?

  • Reason: Sodium percarbonate is more expensive due to the additional manufacturing processes required to combine sodium carbonate with hydrogen peroxide. The production, storage, and handling of these chemicals add to the cost.

Can I Use Both Washing Soda and Oxygen Bleach Together?

  • Answer: Yes, you can use both together for enhanced cleaning power. Combining them can provide the water-softening benefits of washing soda with the bleaching and disinfecting properties of sodium percarbonate, making your cleaning routine more effective.

Which Is More Effective at Removing Grease: Washing Soda or Sodium Percarbonate?

  • Answer: Washing soda is more effective at removing grease. This is due to its highly alkaline nature, which makes it excellent for breaking down and dissolving greasy residues. While sodium percarbonate is a strong cleaner and disinfectant, its primary strength lies in bleaching and stain removal rather than grease cutting.

Wrap up

While both washing soda and sodium percarbonate are invaluable in household cleaning, they serve different purposes. Washing soda excels at softening water and enhancing detergent efficiency, while sodium percarbonate stands out for its bleaching and disinfecting capabilities. By understanding their unique properties and uses, you can choose the right one for each cleaning task, ensuring your home stays spotless and fresh.



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