The Power of Sodium Percarbonate for Cleaning
By Marilee Nelson |
Sodium percarbonate may sound like a toxic cleaning ingredient to be avoided.
So, what exactly is sodium percarbonate, how does it work, and what makes it a safe, non-toxic, and eco-friendly cleaning agent?
In this article, you’ll learn all about sodium percarbonate and how to use it to create a cleaner and healthier home.
What is Sodium Percarbonate?
Sodium percarbonate is a white powder made from sodium carbonate—also known as washing soda or soda ash and hydrogen peroxide—a natural bleaching agent.
Also known as “oxygen bleach” or “powdered peroxide,” sodium percarbonate releases a mixture of oxygen, water, and washing soda when added to water, making it an excellent cleaning and laundry agent.
It has antibacterial, antifungal, anti-algae, anti-mold, and deodorizing properties and is rated 1-2 for “low toxicity” on the Environmental Working Group database.
Sodium percarbonate is considered very safe for humans and the environment because it decomposes into biodegradable:
- Sodium (Na+),
- Carbonate—a type of salt (CO32-),
- And peroxide—which is water with an extra oxygen atom (H2O2).
It is so safe; it’s one of the only disinfectants approved for use in organic aquaculture production.
How Does Sodium Percarbonate Work?
Sodium percarbonate is activated by warm or hot water.
When it hits the water, it releases trapped oxygen from the peroxide. This creates a bubbling effect that lifts away stains, dirt, grime, and germs.
Sodium Percarbonate In Branch Basics
Oxygen Boost is a favorite for:
- Cleaning grout
- As a soaking agent for stains
- Cleaning toilets, showers, and bathrooms
- Removing stains
- Cleaning ovens, stovetops, and burnt pots and pans
- Combined with Branch Basics Concentrate to clean cloth diapers
- As a natural scouring agent
- And for numerous other tough cleaning jobs
Oxygen Boost is a fantastic non-toxic alternative to other oxygen bleach products that contain harmful ingredients, such as fragrance, synthetic detergents, or surfactants.
In Dishwasher Tablets, it helps power through stuck-on food while cleaning and disinfecting dishes without harmful residue.
Sodium Percarbonate Vs. Chlorine Bleach
Sodium percarbonate is very different from chlorine bleach, which, as discussed in Is Sodium Hypochlorite (Bleach) Toxic? The Dangers & Alternatives (and many other articles), we recommend avoiding altogether.
Chlorine bleach, also known as sodium hypochlorite, chlorine, or simply “bleach,” is a combination of sodium chloride and sodium hydroxide
It is commonly used as a disinfectant, stain-remover, weed, and pest killer, and whitening chemical in the cleaning, laundry, pesticide/herbicide, paper, textile, and pool industries.
It’s available as a liquid or a powder and is a classified pesticide under the Federal Hazardous Substances Act.
Chlorine bleach may be effective, but it is also highly toxic, with even passive exposure linked to a laundry list of health issues.
It’s also an EPA-registered “hazardous substance” and is “extremely toxic to aquatic life with long-lasting effects.”
Bleach also reacts with organic matter in streams, rivers, lakes, oceans, etc., to form chloroform gas and other toxins that should not be polluting our environment.
Compare this to the safety and environmental profile of sodium percarbonate, and you can see there’s not much to compare.
That said, like many other powders that are mineral- and peroxide-based substances, sodium percarbonate may cause irritation to skin, eyes, and lungs, and should never be ingested.It is also important to avoid inhaling any powdered product when applied or used to prevent breathing in the particulates.
We recommend using gloves and wetting any sodium percarbonate-based product during use.
How To Use Sodium Percarbonate For Cleaning
As previously mentioned, sodium percarbonate is an excellent natural bleaching agent, sanitizer, laundry booster, stain remover, and scouring agent.
Here are some of the many ways to use it around the home.
Sodium percarbonate can be used for various laundry tasks.
Since it is a natural bleaching agent, always use sodium percarbonate dissolved in water to soak colored clothing. Never apply directly to colored clothing unless you first do a patch test. Never use it on silk, wool, or leather.
Here are some ways to use sodium percarbonate/Oxygen Boost for clothing:
- Stain removal: Oxygen Boost can be used with All-Purpose or Bathroom to spot-treat various stains naturally. Don’t forget to do a patch test in an inconspicuous area.
- Whitening and brightening clothes: Add a scoop of Oxygen Boost to your washing machine to boost the power of your natural laundry detergent.
- Pre-soaking fabrics: Oxygen Boost works wonderfully as a soaking agent for pre-treating stains. Just dissolve a scoop in a basin of water and soak the garments for up to an hour or more if needed (parents swear by this as a no-fuss solution for blowouts, spit-up stains, etc.).
- Whitening tennis shoes: Soak tennis shoes in a mixture of 1 scoop Oxygen Boost and a basin of warm water. Let soak for 15-30 minutes and scrub clean.
- Removing armpit stains: Spray armpit area with All-Purpose and soak armpit stains in a basin of warm water with one scoop Oxygen Boost overnight to remove stains. For light versus dark clothing instructions, see How To Remove Armpit Stains.
Get more tips in: 7 Non-Toxic Laundry Bleach Alternatives.
It’s amazing to think we are taught to use poisonous, spray-based cleaners in the same spaces we store, prepare, and consume food.
Yet, most kitchens harbor a toxic soup of chemical-based cleaners for countertops, ovens, washing dishes, and more.
Yes, we want clean kitchens that do not harbor harmful germs. However, we do not want cleaning products landing in or on our food either!
Fortunately, there are many non-toxic kitchen cleaners to tackle any job, including sodium percarbonate.
Sodium percarbonate/Oxygen Boost can be used in the kitchen for various purposes, including:
- As a dishwasher detergent: You can use Branch Basics Dishwasher Tablets to replace caustic dish detergent, which is one of the most toxic cleaning products in most homes.
- Cleaning cutting boards: Oxygen Boost is terrific for cleaning, de-staining, and sanitizing cutting boards.
- Surface cleaning: Oxygen boost is wonderful to combine with All-Purpose to deep clean surfaces and gently remove stains.
- Oven cleaning: Did you know you can clean your oven using Branch Basics All-Purpose + Oxygen Boost? Get the full tutorial in: How To Clean Ovens & Stovetops Naturally. Note: Self cleaning ovens may have special instructions - check with manufacturer to make sure the oven surface is compatible with Oxygen Boost - sodium percarbonate and baking soda)
- Stovetop cleaning: Oxygen Boost is incredible for scouring messy stovetops without scratching. See How To Clean Ovens & Stovetops Naturally for detailed instructions.
- Scouring and disinfecting sinks: Did you know the kitchen sink is often one of the germiest places in the home? To prevent this, clean your kitchen sink regularly using Branch Basics All-Purpose or vinegar and Oxygen Boost. You won’t believe the difference!
- Burnt pots and pans: Oxygen Boost + All-Purpose works wonders on burnt pots and pans or those with burnt-on food. Learn how in: How To Clean Pots And Pans With Branch Basics.
- To deep clean your dishwasher: Dishwashers need regular cleaning to function optimally and extend their lifespan. Learn how to use Oxygen Boost to deep clean your dishwasher here.
- To clean tile floors, countertops, and backsplashes: Sodium percarbonate is excellent for cleaning and whitening most types of tile and grout. Get the full tutorial in: How To Clean Tile Floor Naturally.
- To clean and deodorize your garbage disposal: Fill a sink with sodium percarbonate and water and let drain to disinfect, clean, and deodorize your garbage disposal.
- To clean your blender or coffee pot: Add about half a scoop of Oxygen Boost to your blender or coffee pot and fill with water. Let sit for 12-24 hours and scrub away stubborn stains.
Get more tips on non-toxic kitchen cleaning with sodium percarbonate and other natural and DIY products in: How To Clean Your Kitchen With Non-Toxic Products In 2023.
Sodium percarbonate’s sanitizer, brightening, whitening, and scouring power make it an ideal non-toxic cleaner for your bathroom.
Here’s how to use it:
- For toilet cleaning: Spray the bowl with Branch Basics Bathroom or one of the other bleach-free bathroom cleaners discussed in this article. Sprinkle Oxygen Boost on the bowl and scrub with a toilet brush. Let dwell a few minutes to sanitize and flush.
- Tile and grout cleaning: Oxygen Boost can be combined with Branch Basics Bathroom, All-Purpose, or vinegar to clean, whiten, and freshen tile and grout.
- Removing mold and mildew: Sodium percarbonate’s natural antifungal and anti-mold properties make it ideal for removing mold and mildew on hard non-porous materials like tile and grout. Learn how in: How To Remove Mold From Shower Grout Naturally.
- Scrubbing the bathtub and sink: Sprinkle Oxygen Boost onto Branch Basics Bathroom or another DIY shower cleaner to power through soap scum, bathtub, sink, or shower grime.
Get more non-toxic bathroom cleaning tips in: Non-Toxic Bathroom Cleaning With Branch Basics.
How To Store & Dispose Of Sodium Percarbonate
Sodium percarbonate should be stored in a sealed container, at room temperature, and out of the reach of children and pets.
Since it’s non-toxic and biodegradable, it can generally be disposed of in the trash, but check with local regulations to be sure.
Sodium Percarbonate FAQs
Now that you have the basics of cleaning with sodium percarbonate down, let’s answer some FAQs.
Can I Use Sodium Percarbonate On Colored Fabrics Without Causing Discoloration?
Yes and no.
Since sodium percarbonate is a natural bleaching agent, it may discolor your clothes if left too long or used undiluted or in high concentrations.
However, when diluted, such as in a pre-treatment bath, Oxygen Boost can safely be used on colored clothing with little (if any) discoloration. Even overnight.
You can also use Oxygen Boost as a laundry booster with colored or white clothing, so long as it’s used according to package directions.
We recommend doing a small patch test to see how your clothing reacts.
Also, never use sodium percarbonate on silks or wools.
Is Sodium Percarbonate Safe To Use Around Children And Pets?
Generally speaking, yes. It is okay to clean with sodium percarbonate if your pets or children are nearby.
However, since sodium percarbonate (like hydrogen peroxide) can cause skin, eye, or lung irritation and must not be ingested, we recommend keeping it out of reach of children. We also recommend using gloves if the cleaning application involves touching sodium percarbonate.
Are There Surfaces Or Materials That Should Not Be Cleaned With Sodium Percarbonate?
Since sodium percarbonate is non-corrosive, it can generally be used on nearly any type of indoor or outdoor surface except finished and unfinished wood surfaces. Do not use on hardwood floors.
Does Sodium Percarbonate Have A Shelf Life Or Expiration Date?
Sodium percarbonate will begin to decompose after one year. That doesn’t mean it won’t work or is dangerous to use; rather, it may lose some effectiveness after one year.
You can extend its life by keeping it at room temperature and away from direct heat and sunlight.
Level Up Your Non-Toxic Lifestyle With Branch Basics
You can buy sodium percarbonate online, or try it, combined with baking soda in our best-selling Oxygen Boost.For more non-toxic cleaning and lifestyle tips, check out our blog, podcast, and Toss The Toxins Online Course.
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.