Sodium – A Vital Element Of Cleaning | Anyclean

updated: 19/10/2023


Sodium is the eleventh element in the periodic table we all had a look at when we were at school. If we were really paying attention in class instead of doodling on the desk and causing a headache for the janitor, you may remember that it is the first of the alkaline metals. However, chemistry aside (or, better speaking, because of the complex chemistry of this element), sodium in various compounds is a very, very handy domestic cleaning product. Nearly anything with the word “soda” in its name is good for cleaning something somehow.

Soda water: The first thing that springs to mind when anyone says “soda” (often in conjunction with “whisky” – which can also be used for cleaning around the house). Soda water is often hailed as the best method for cleaning up stains, especially red wine stains on carpets, tablecloths or clothes. This is probably because soda water is usually available and with all red wine stains, the important thing is to act swiftly, either to absorb the wine or dilute it to prevent it from setting in the fabric. The bubbles in the soda water probably help, too. Just pour the soda water onto the red wine stain as soon as possible, followed by blotting up the lot.

Sodium chloride: Commonly known as table salt, this is excellent as a natural cleaner for metal, especially for brass, copper and bronze. Mix the salt to a paste with vinegar and apply it to the metal. Leave it to sit, then scrub off as much as possible with a damp cloth. Rinse off the rest with another cloth. Salt is also a germ-killer, so salt or salty water can be used to scrub out something foul. Don’t mix salty water with soap – the soap won’t lather and work properly.

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate): This powder is a real grease-buster and is perfect for cleaning bathrooms. Few things shift the grey ring of dead skin and grease off the side of the bath like baking soda. Baking soda is also excellent for cleaning the refrigerator. Another beauty of baking soda is its ability to absorb odours, making it essential for cleaning pet urine or poop off the carpet. And, in a pinch, baking soda can be used to clean your teeth.

Washing soda (sodium carbonate): You don’t have to be a genius to realise that this is good for washing and cleaning. Washing soda is a grease-buster and increases the cleaning power of soap. Mix washing soda with any natural cleaning recipe that calls for soap or soap gel – it’s great for doing the laundry.

Caustic soda: Caustic soda or lye is a natural cleaning product – the enthusiastic can make their own lye at home from wood ash and water – but is not exactly gentle or safe. It’s downright ferocious. Thankfully, it will break down and neutralise fairly swiftly in the presence of fats, so you can use it with a clear conscience about the environment – with rubber gloves! Caustic soda by itself is used for unblocking drains – most commercial products for cleaning drains have this as their active ingredient – but it is essential for manufacturing soap. Caustic soda plus fat or oil in the right amounts equal soap, the oldest and best natural cleaner that increases the wetting power of water by breaking its surface tension so dirt and grease can be floated away from where you don’t want it.

About the author 

Nick Vassilev

Nick blogs about cleaning. He is a cleaning expert with more than 25 years of experience. He is also an NCCA-certified carpet cleaner. Founder and CEO of Anyclean.