Jump to content
MrsSurvival Discussion Forums

I tried the homemade Laundry Soap.....

Recommended Posts

They are bar soaps, found in the laundry section of my grocery store, sometimes in hardware stores, too. You should be able to find them at a Walmart if you shop there. I found Zote at my 99cent store (west coast).


Fels is short for Fels Naptha - See the picture.



It is the recommended stain remover (for oils and such) in my sewing class at the college. The Dept. Chair is our instructor and she has very clear ideas about what to use and how to use on our fabrics.



Zote site



I found this about Zote



"Devoted m4dbl0g readers may remember my Zote vignette from a few months back. Both my neighbor and I were sort of mystified by the Mexican laundry soap, which had no directions in either English or Spanish.


Yesterday, a mysterious Mr. Zote added a comment to the entry, explaining the uses of Zote. I sent him an email thanking him for making him the premier English-language Zote resource online. He emailed me back to day, giving even more info:


Hi Chris!


I actually work at the factory where the Zote soap is manufactured. (www.lacorona.com.mx)

To understand the existance of this soap, we need to understand it origin. This soap was used in the past (no washing machines yet) in México, when people used to go to the river and wash their clothes. They simple rub the clothes on a rugged surface (like a rock), and hand wash the clothes. Then consumers started to use a machine called "palangana" that is like the Belly of a turtle (rugged) to wash in home. That´s why no instructions are needed (at least in Mexico) Nowadays, with more washing machines around this technique trends to desapear, but consumers are still finding a way to keep using the Zote soap. We are developing a new Liquid Zote (like a liquid detergent) that you can pour directly to the machine.

Since there are a lot of Mexicans in the USA (Texas), they are demanding this product and that´s the reason you can find it on the shelves in Wal-Mart and other stores.

It is funny, but there are some many alternate uses for this bar, like Mosquito repelent, hair treatment,fishing bite, fabric softener, YOU NAME IT!!

With a 36,000,000 million bars sold last year you can bet we´ll have Zote bar soap for a while.

If you need more information, I´ll be glad to help you!






And not to leave out Ivory bar soap



Not sure if it really clarifies why they are recommended in the homemade versions of laundry soap, but if it works best, don't change the recipe. At least now you will know what label to look for.





Link to comment
  • Replies 107
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

I have used Fels, Ivory and Zote in my laundry soap recipe. I have found that all three clean well and Fels and Ivory are the easiest to grate. My children LOVE to do the grating, so that's not as much of an issue for me smile . I think ZOTE smelles a little too strong, but wouldn't hesitate to get it if I found a bunch on clearance. Ivory seems to cause one of my sons to itch. We don't use Ivory on him for baths, either. Fels is the one I will stock up on when I go to the store next.

Link to comment

I have found that after a while, using the homemade soap, my whites started to look "dingy". Don't know what I need to change in the recipe...

So what I have started doing, is to use the homemade soap on all towels, under things... and use the "other" soap on our clothes. It still saves us money because half our laundry is towel, etc.

Link to comment

Thank you, ladies. Mommaofmany, that's why I'm not too hot on Ivory. It makes my skin dry and feel itchy.


Stacey's comment has me thinking...have any of the rest of you run into this? Why would this be so? Soap is soap. Would it be a water or washing machine issue? Or is it definitely a detergent issue?

Link to comment

To Stacey & Shurleen,


It's not the soap - it's the fact that as soap cleans, it does take away the dirt. With wear, clothes do fade with time. Minerals in water do build up on clothing and can add a 'dingy' or dull look. Ladies over a hundred years ago noticed this and used Clorox or Bluing to keep things 'nice and bright'. (I remember my gramma using both!)


Today's soaps and detergents have whiteners & brighteners in them to reflect UV light and make clothes to appear whiter. Homemade soaps don't have any added chemicals or sudsing agents. It's a classic case of homemade versus store-bought. Literally, you are paying to make your clothes 'appear' clean when it is an expensive optical illusion. You also see this in toothpastes, window cleaner, etc.


There you have it, your science lesson for the day. smile



Link to comment

Well, I'm still playing with the chemistry of different soaps (Ivory, Zote, etc.) and if this can be used in dishwashers or in a hand pump for liquid soap...


About the itchiness of soap - it is the soap itself. Soap is primarily made up of fatty acid chains (the slippery part) and a strong base like sodium carbonate (washing soda), sodium tetraborate (borax) and a myriad of other things like: fragrance, glycerine, EDTA, titanium, turpinol, sodium chloride, tinopal, etc. These are things to make the soap 'like' dirt. They are what give soap a texture, suds well, rinse well, etc. Certain combinations can also make some people itch.


If Ivory makes you itch, it makes me wonder if Castille soaps made from olive oil, coconut oil, or jojoba oil like Dr. Bronner's might be good for hand/body washing. My husband has really sensitive skin and he loves the peppermint soap.


About the 'dingies in the laundry', I talked with my gramma - she said that sometimes she added bluing or all-fabric bleach to brighten things from time to time. She would also add extra borax or washing soda to her load.


Maybe if you doubled the soda and borax?


I've used oxy-clean with great results in regular laundry.


Lemme use the soap for a while and I'll probably come up with *something* out of necessity. smile

Link to comment
So...if I like the optical illusion of "clean" clothes, what should I do if I switch over to homemade detergents? Is there something I can add every couple washings?

Interesting question.
I use vinegar to get rid of mineral deposits in my tea kettle (water boiling only).
I use vinegar to help set fabric dyes.

Now I am wondering if a dose of vinegar in the rinse water would help flush mineral build-up?

Anyone have an idea? Or a truth?
Who has that list of a million things to do with vinegar? Is the answer in there?


Link to comment

I've used vinegar and baking soda to help clean a slow kitchen and bath drain.


My auntie used CLR regularly in her washer due to minerals. She lived at the beach and really had trouble keeping minerals deposits from clogging up her pipes.


Vinegar usually helps with 'musty' or 'sour' smells...I don't know if it is strong enough by itself to remove mineral deposits. My husband said that his mom had mineral deposits in the washer and dishwasher for years until they got a water filter/softener for their well water. I think the pellets they use in the softener are straight sodium hydroxide...very toxic, but effective.

Link to comment

If you are making the liquid version...don't double the borax. Trust me, you won't like it. Just add extra powdered borax to your wash.


I've also read some where that any type of castile soap could be used to make the laundry soap.


Would someone post their dry version recipe? Thanks.

Link to comment

I like the liquid because I use cold water, and powders don't always dissolve properly. The idea of using 1/2 the water would work but you'd probably have to "slice" out your portions! I think it would turn into the consistancy of finger jello, and then again, you'd have to wash in warm water to get the soap properly dissolved and dispersed.

Link to comment

another old trick for the dingy whites...rinse water with bluing or lemon juice (mild bleach) then hang IN SUN outdoors to dry. You get a mild bleach job and a wonderful smell!

Link to comment

I also have a problem with dingy whites! We have very hard water which is the reason why! I often will soak my whites in a little oxi-clean and then run as normal.


I have used Fels Nephel soap and Zote. I am finding I like the Zote better...the scent is better.


As far as adding extra Borax to the mix, I have not had a problem at all. Like I said in an earlier post, our water is so hard and just the normal recipe didn't work as well, so I doubled the ingredients (except the water) and it works great for me. So......feel free to adjust the ingredients and experiment until you get the right mixture for your water type.


I once tried to add oxi-clean to the mix too and didn't like that at all! It didn't mix well!

Link to comment

I haven't had a problem with the soap not dissolving - and I use the dry version. But here's why I think that is - I used to grate (old cheese grater) the Fels and it didn't dissolve well. But Fels is so hard and dry that I now use the lemon zester on the old grater, which makes it more like a powder. This time it dissolves well. One word of warning, though, this will produce LOTS of FINE powder - I have to use a face mask to do it!

Link to comment

I make my own soap and love it. I use vinegar instead of fabric softener. I line dry all of my clothes and have no stiffness issues since changing over to the vinegar. The vinegar takes out all the excess soap from your clothes. I have not in any way noticed a dinginess with my clothes.



I take 2 cups of washing soda and "mix" in 2 cups of 20 mule team. I use a tablespoon or there abouts (one of those measuring things for coffee.)I will use two if my dishes are really dirty and have dried food on them. My dishes come out just as clean as before.

Link to comment

Here's a few recipes from my 'laundry' notebooks:


I found them here: http://www.soapsgonebuy.com



Liquid Laundry Detergent:




First Recipe:


3 Pints Water


1/3 bar Fels Naptha Soap, grated


1/2 cup Washing Soda (Arm and Hammer, NOT baking soda though!!)


1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax


2 Gallon bucket to mix it in


1 Quart hot water Hot Water


Mix Fels Naptha soap in a saucepan with 3 pints hot water and heat on low until dissolved. Stir in Washing Soda and Borax. Stir until thickened, and remove from heat. Add 1 Quart Hot Water to 2 gallon Bucket. Add soap mixture, and mix well. Fill bucket with additional hot water, and mix well. Set aside for 24 hours, or until mixture thickens. Use 1/2 cup of mixture per load.




Second Recipe:


1 cup grated Fels Naptha Soap


1/2 cup Washing Soda (Arm and Hammer again)


1/2 cup Borax (20 mule team Borax)


2 Tablespoons Glycerin


2 cups water


Mix first three ingredients together, than add glycerin and water. Use 1/2 to 3/4 cup per load. This one works best in cold or warm water.




Third Recipe:




1 bar grated Fels Naptha soap


5 gallon bucket


1 cup washing soda (Again, Arm and Hammer)


4 1/2 gallons water


Put grated Fels Naptha in saucepan and cover with water. Heat on low until dissolved. Fill bucket with hot water and add soap. Stir to combine. Add 1 cup washing soda and mix well. As it cools, it will thicken. May be used immediately. Use 1- 2 cups per load.




Powdered Laundry Detergent (My favorite)


1 cup grated Fels Naptha Soap


1/2 cup washing soda


1/2 cup 20 mule team borax


Mix and store in airtight container or bag. For light loads, use 2 tablespoon. For heavy loads, use 3 tablespoons.


To make a large batch - grate 6 bars of Fels Naptha Soap and then add 3 cups of Washing Soda and 3 cups of 20 Mule Team Borax. Mix well and store in covered container.




TIP: The above recipes will NOT make suds in your washer so don't be alarmed. Fels Naptha Soap is a pure soap and typically makes little or no suds in the water. This makes it perfect for use in the new HE washers as well as tradional washers. You will also notice the need to either reduce your laundry softener or in most cases you can even eliminate the use of softener completely.



Here's a recipe from a WarRifles thread...Flight-ER-Doc's wife's laundry soap:


12 cups of Borax

8 cups of baking soda

8 cups of washing soda

8 cups of grated bar soap (actual soap, like ivory soap)


Mix it up together - it stores well. The harder (older) the bar soap is the easier it is to grate. She's tried both a hand grater and the food processor. The key is to let it age (air) a bit.


Use 1/8 cup of the mixed powder per load. For whites she sometimes will put in some oxyclean.





Also, here's a little tip gleaned from somewhere here at MrsSurvival:


From Andrea: "FYI - don't waste your time grating the bar soap. Just let it dissolve in a pan of warm water overnight.


HUGE labor saver!


(I used to absolutely dread running out of laundry soap because it meant I had to grate a blasted bar of soap. No Longer! I LOVE this method!)"




Here's another one of my favorites from Michelle @ MrsSurvival:


"I use powdered/dry detergent. Mine is:


1 cup borax

1 cup washing soda

1 bar grated Ivory soap


Add 1-2 T per load.


I also fill a downy ball with vinegar and toss in. For dryer sheets a couple drops of essential oils on a washcloth or cloth baby wipe."






Link to comment

So, I found out a few things:


1. My husband has NOT become a member of the itchy and scratchy show! This soap does a GREAT job on his yucky work jeans - even when he spills yuck all over them. So, I've had to add some extra borax from time to time, but that's okay! It beats spending $9 for soap every month!


2. I did some research into the chemistry of soap (and had a chemist friend of mine help so I would be sure to get the info straight) smile and here's the deal -


This type of soap will always be gelatinous and watery - it won't set up FIRM and will ALWAYS need to be shaken because the soap molecule chains are very short and the washing soda and the borax help keep them that way. This 'short' fatty acid chain (what soap is made of) allows for better bonding to the dirt and water, letting the dirt be lifted easier. The borax and soda help that ability. Water is the key to keeping it 'liquid', otherwise you would need to literally SLICE the soap....


Liquid soaps have MUCH LONGER fatty acid chains and are therefore more stable in a suspension/ emulsion as liquid soap. The professional liquid soaps like Dial or Softsoap are MADE to be chemically stable and not separate - hence why they BURN like crazy on broken skin or eyes. The phospates and other ingredients and additives are STRONGER to keep the fatty acid chains from breaking.


3. This soap in liquid form CAN be used in the dishwasher, however, the grated/ powdered version would be better. With some of the newer machines, the manufacturer's instructions state that the powder needs to stay in the soap container until a certain point in the wash. GELS do this (again, MORE toxic than regular dw soap), but liquids have a tough time.


Also, Fels Naptha, Borax & Washing Soda are BY FAR LESS toxic than Cascade or Dawn packets. MOST dishwasher MSDS (Material Safety & Data Sheets - a document that tells you what chemicals were in the soap and its toxicity level) were rated a 2 or even 3 and Fels Naptha, Borax, and Washing Soda were rated a 1 or barely 2.


It's a 'general knowledge' in the chemistry field that you SHOULD NEVER ingest ANYTHING beyond a rating of 1. The manufacturers of the professional dishwasher soap claim that because it's rinsed away, it's still safe. How are you guaranteed that ALL of the toxic residue is rinsed away? Ummm. . . folks . . . . that's what those little dots, deposits, and specks are on your dishes - not usually food particles, but also detergent and chemicals that didn't do its job or dissolve completely.


The main deal that the 'big name' dishwasher soaps have is that they have ENZYME ACTION, PHOSPHATES, and PERFUMES. I have never been able to touch the powdered or liquid dw soaps with my bare hands, because of the phosphates and enzymes that literally make my skin turn red and itch! If you rinse your dishes before using the dishwasher this shouldn't be a problem with the homemade soap.


4. I've tried the dried version of this soap and it works GREAT!




Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...

I am still new to the forum, what is Washing Soap and where do you purchase it from? I might try the baking soda idea, but this will be my first time experimenting so i'd rather use the washing soda first, just to see how it works out.



Link to comment

Washing soap (soda) is usually found in the laundry section of some stores. Hard to find, though...


Can't find WASHING SODA?


Check out pool supply stores. Washing soda is 100% sodium carbonate (also known as soda ash), which is also sold at pool supply stores in bulk as a PH increaser (PH+) which is 100% sodium carbonate. This is what I use, and it works great. Cheap, too. Walmart also sells PH + (98% sodium carbonate). I've used this as well.


I read somewhere (a thread here?) that if you'd like a list of stores near you that sell Arm and Hammer washing soda, call 1-800-524-1328 (Consumer Relations), and tell them what you are looking for and give them this UPC code: 3320003020 and your zip code. They will give you a list of places in your area that sell washing soda.


Some folks on other boards have reported that they have not bothered to do any of that, and just used plain baking soda straight out of the box, instead of the washing soda, and they say their homemade laundry soap still worked. I've tried that and I hafta say that without the washing soda, it works but not all that great. I ended up breaking down and buying a container of Oxyclean (contains sodium carbonate and sodium percarbonate) and adding a quantity of that to substitute for the washing soda.


Can't find Fels or Zote soap? Use Ivory soap! It works just as well, and is easier to grate. Octagon soap works too. I've heard that just about any true soap (not detergent) will work. My favorite bar soap to use in the laundry recipes is 'Ivory Simply Aloe'. Wow! I love the light and clean fragrance for the laundry! I use the finer 'parmesan cheese' side of a hand held grater to grate the soap (not the coarser 'cheddar cheese' side).


If you are making the liquid version of laundry soap, as someone has already suggested, don't bother grating the bar soap...put it in warm water, and let sit for a day or so. Ta-da!!! No more grating and getting powdered soap up the nose.





I remember reading somewhere about a kind of 'satisfaction survey' about homemade laundry detergents. There were lots of satisfied users, exept for comments about this one fault: after repeated washings with the homemade laundry soap, the clothes were reported to get dingy and yellowed looking over time.


I am guessing this may be caused by soap residue. Vinegar would help cure that problem!


You might try adding a bit of vinegar in the rinse water, to help remove more of the soap residue than just plain rinsing would accomplish. I love using a 'Downy Ball' for this. It dispenses the vinegar (or liquid fabric softener) just at the right time in the rinse cycle. The ball costs less than $1.50 and will last for years. Look in the laundry section of your favorite well stocked store.

Link to comment

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.