Soda lye: How to use it?

How to use washing soda? Caustic soda is one of the common names for sodium hydroxide, also called washing soda.

Heard of it before, but not sure what to do with washing soda? As this product can be dangerous if used incorrectly, you must be well informed before using washing soda.

Follow these tips and advice to discover the uses of washing soda.

1. What is washing soda used for?

Its common name comes from its chemical identity of sodium hydrate and because it is corrosive. But there are many possible uses for washing soda at home.

So what are the multiple uses possible with this washing soda:

  • Strip the wood.
  • Easily peel off wallpaper.
  • Unclog drains and pipes.
  • Clean the tiles.
  • Degreases and cleans surfaces.

Continue reading the other tips to discover in detail all the uses of washing soda.

2. Soda lye, a product that can be dangerous

Soda lye being very corrosive, it will be important to follow the recommendations to use it safely. Make sure:

  • to ventilate the room well
  • wear gloves to protect your hands
  • to wear protective glasses
  • protect your clothes from washing soda

If it should come into contact with your skin or eyes, rinse thoroughly and contact your doctor. If swallowed, contact a poison control center immediately and do not attempt to induce vomiting.

Of course, you can buy ready-made washing soda in supermarkets. But it is much more economical to do it yourself. Here’s how to make your own washing soda:

Necessary material:

  • Special gloves for chemical products, in neoprene
  • A breathing mask (to protect against chemical fumes)
  • Protective glasses
  • Long clothes, to cover as much skin as possible
  • Vinegar to neutralize the soda in case of a splash
  • A heat resistant worktop
  • A container resistant to heat and soda: stainless steel or pyrex. No glass or aluminum!
  • A spoon for stirring: wood, stainless steel, plastic or silicone. No aluminum!
  • A scale accurate to the gram


  • Caustic soda granules
  • Demineralized Water

Weigh your ingredients to get a mixture of 70% water and 30% caustic soda.

As a safety measure and to avoid splashing, always pour the soda into the water and not the other way around. In addition, the soda is poured along the container, not in the middle.

Pour the soda into the water, gradually, while mixing gently. Mixture will be very hot, normal chemical reaction, be careful not to burn yourself. Your homemade soda lye will be ready to use when it has cooled down.

Are you looking for an effective furniture stripper? Try washing soda. To strip paint from furniture,

  • Coat the furniture to be stripped with washing soda using a brush.
  • Leave to act for a few minutes, then scrape with a scraper designed for this purpose.

According to some sources, it would be more effective to combine wallpaper paste and 20% washing soda as a dosage.

Why add wallpaper paste?

Indeed, the wallpaper glue allows the washing soda to better adhere to the support to be stripped. This trick will be especially useful for stripping vertical surfaces, and may not be necessary for stripping horizontal surfaces.

5. Unclog pipes with washing soda

Soda lye is used in the composition of the majority of drain and pipe unclogging products on the market. To use it at home,

  • Combine washing soda with sufficient amount of water
  • Pour the solution down the clogged drain
  • Leave on overnight, then rinse with plenty of water.

Watch out for splashes!

Come and discover our practical tips and products for unclogging pipes in this other article: How to unclog a drain?

6. Laundry detergent as a degreaser

Is your oven very dirty and encrusted with grease residue? Use washing soda as a homemade degreaser.

  • Mix washing soda with a good amount of water
  • Wash the inside of your oven with this solution
  • Rinse thoroughly with clear water and dry the inside of the oven

In addition to washing soda, other tricks and products can be used. Come read our other tips right here: How to clean a very dirty oven?

7. Deodorize a trash can with washing soda

A bad smell permeates your trash can? Deodorize it with washing soda! Indeed, washing soda is very effective in eliminating bad odors. To do this,

  • Mix washing soda with a good amount of water and wash the trash
  • Rinse well to remove any chemical residue from the bin

This tip can be used to clean and deodorize indoor trash cans as well as outdoor trash bins.

8. Clean the bathroom with washing soda

Because washing soda is effective in removing limescale and tartar stains, it will be very useful for cleaning the bathroom.

  • Mix enough water with a small amount of caustic soda
  • Rub limescale and tartar stains with this mixture

This cleaning mixture can be used on faucets, tiles, porcelain, and more.

Warning, never use on aluminum! In addition, do not forget to ventilate the room well and remember to protect yourself from head to toe.

In addition to washing soda, several other things can remove limescale: Trick to remove limescale.

9. Remove upholstery with washing soda

To take off wallpaper, just moisten it with a mixture of wallpaper glue to which 20% of warm soda lye has been added.

Although it may seem counter-intuitive, the use of wallpaper paste ensures perfect adhesion, allowing the washing soda to act.

Leave on for a few minutes, and scrape off. The wallpaper will peel off easily. Remember to rinse well to remove any chemical residue.

To properly clean walls, woodwork and other painted surfaces in the home:

  • Dilute 5% washing soda in 95% water
  • Rub the surface to be cleaned with a cloth or sponge
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water before drying

It is important not to exceed 5% of washing soda because you risk damaging the surfaces to be cleaned, so be careful.

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