Cleaning With Sodium Citrate: The Ingredient You Need to Know About

By Marilee Nelson |

Cleaning With Sodium Citrate: The Ingredient You Need to Know About

Sodium citrate is a common ingredient in many natural and non-toxic cleaning products, including Branch Basics.  

But what exactly is sodium citrate, what makes it non-toxic, and why do we use it in Branch Basics?

Read on to learn all about the uses and benefits of sodium citrate.

What is Sodium Citrate?

Sodium Citrate is a plant-derived, biodegradable sodium salt of citric acid that acts as a water softener, cleaning agent, descaling agent, pH regulator, and preservative. 

It typically comes from citrus fruits, molasses, or corn and is manufactured as a powder.

Sodium citrate is used in various products, including:

  • In food and drinks as an emulsifier and acidity regulator.
  • In skin care, oral care, cosmetic, baby care, hair care, and medical products, as an acidity regulator, emulsifier, and preservative. It is also used in medications to treat certain conditions, such as kidney stones.
  • In cleaning products, asa descaling agent, chelator and mild alkali, which prevent ions from clinging to surfaces and breaks down dirt, grime, and grease.

What Makes Sodium Citrate Non-Toxic and Safe?

This is the question we should be asking about every ingredient in every product that comes into our home!

So, what makes sodium citrate non-toxic and safe?

  • It is rated a “1” by the Environmental Working Groupa non-profit industry watchdog group which rates ingredients on a scale of “1” being least toxic to “10” being most toxic.
  • The FDA has given sodium citrate Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status 
    • Note: As mentioned in previous articles, many questionable products have been granted GRAS status, so never use this as your sole measure of safety.
  • Sodium citrate has been deemed safe for use in cosmetic products by the The Cosmetics Ingredient Review, an independent group of responsible for evaluating the safety of cosmetic products.
  • Sodium citrate is allowed as an ingredient in MadeSafe Certified products (like Branch Basics). MadeSafe certifies products based on strict human health and eco-health standards.
  • Studies have shown sodium citrate is not an irritant and is safe to use in designated products.
  • Sodium citrate is not toxic to the environment

All this makes sense given sodium citrate comes from plants. 

However, this is not true of every plant-based product, so it pays to do your due diligence as a product advocate.

Sodium Citrate in Branch Basics

You’ll find sodium citrate in Branch Basics Concentrate and Dishwasher Tablets.

Its purpose in Concentrate is to help break up grease, dirt, and grime and act as a water softener and laundry sequestrant in our Laundry dilution.

Laundry sequestrates improve the power of laundry soaps and detergents by reducing ion levels in the water.

We chose sodium citrate for our Dishwasher Tablets to help dissolve grease and stuck-on food while aiding dishwashers as a water softener.

It also acts as a non-toxic preservative in both products.

How to Use Sodium Citrate at Home

As previously mentioned, sodium citrate is tough on dirt, grease, and grime, acts as a water softener, and helps improve the performance of laundry soap or detergent.

Here are some ways to use it around the house.


Sodium-citrate-containing products are excellent for use in bathroom sinks, toilets, showers, bathtubs, floors, and surfaces.

Branch Basics Bathroom, for example, is safe to use on all surfaces while being tough on dirt, soap scum, mildew, and germs.

For more tips, check out: How To Clean Your Shower Naturally. 


Since sodium citrate is food-grade, it is wonderful to use around food and other edibles.

Branch Basics All-Purpose, for example, can be used to clean countertops, ovens, stovetops, stainless steel, sinks, dishwashers, produce, and as a dish soap.

Our plastic-free Dishwasher Tablets are also an excellent eco- and human-friendly choice for non-toxic dishwashing.

Why does non-toxic dishwashing matter? 

For starters, dish detergents are some of the most toxic and caustic products on the market and are the leading cause of childhood poisoning in the United States.

Plus many “sustainable” brands still contain harmful VOCs, fragrances, formaldehyde-releasing agents, and other chemicals.

Learn more in: Why Non-Toxic Dishwashing Is So Important.


Sodium citrate is, in our opinion, a must-have builder  in our non-toxic laundry soap. 

It works wonders on cleaning clothes and lifting away stains. 

And it takes away the challenges of using natural soaps or detergents in hard water, an issue that often deters people from using natural laundry products.

Branch Basics Laundry dilution was designed to replace laundry detergents for machine and hand-washing and is an excellent stain remover.

We also offer Oxygen Boost, a mineral-based laundry booster and bleach alternative that takes non-toxic laundering to a new level of clean.

Check out: How To Toss Your Toxic Laundry Detergent to learn more.

Sodium Citrate FAQ’s 

Now that you’re familiar with what sodium citrate is, its purpose in Branch Basics products, and how to use it around the house, let’s answer some frequently asked questions.

What is the difference between sodium citrate and baking soda?

Sodium citrate and baking soda are two different things.

Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, a food-grade leavening agent that also can be used to deodorize, clean, and scour naturally and as a non-toxic bleach alternative.

You’ll find sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) in Branch Basics Oxygen Boost.

What should I not clean with sodium citrate? 

In general, sodium citrate in cleaning products is gentle enough to be used on all surfaces. You can even use powdered sodium citrate in your washing machine as a water softener.

However, check with the manufacturer before using a concentrated form of sodium citrate on surfaces, floors, etc.

Get Started With Branch Basics

Branch Basics was created as a minimalist solution to replace every toxic cleaner and laundry product in the home.

Our flagship product, Branch Basics Concentrate, can be diluted to create All-Purpose, Bathroom, Streak-Free, Laundry, and Foaming Wash cleaners; or customized for various cleaning purposes, including floors, carpet cleaning, pet washing, stain removal, and more.

We also offer Dishwasher Tablets with sodium citrate and Oxygen Boost—just three products to take care of every cleaning need in your home!

If this sounds like what you’re looking for, head on over to our store to check out our Premium Starter Kits (available in sustainable glass or recycled plastic) and our low-risk $5.00 trial kit
Marilee Nelson

Marilee Nelson

Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.