Introduction: 2 Ingrediants, Water, Laundry Soap in 1 Hour or Less

Picture of 2 Ingrediants, Water,  Laundry Soap in 1 Hour or Less
Several years ago I began making my own laundry soap.  My sister shared her experience with me while I was visiting her.  She has always been a loyal customer of Tide products.  She told me this was comparable to Tide.  I was sold on it after seeing for myself how simple it was to make and how well it cleaned the laundry.  The laundry smelled nice also.  After I returned home I began making it for myself.  I experienced the same results having hard water in my area.  I have limited the impact on the environment as well as the resources by making my own.  Here is the method and recipe that we have been using with great success.   The really good news about this soap is it cost just pennies to make.  Zote soap comes in different scents as well as unscented for those of you who have allergies.  This recipe can be used in front load washers by reading my instructions in the tutorial.  

  • 1 Box of Super Washing Soda approximately $5.00.
  •  Consider you only need 1 cup to make 3 gallons of soap.
  • 2 Bars of Zote soap approximately $1.00 each.
  • These figures are based on calculations I did a couple of years ago.  
  • Prices have really gone up,  so I don't know how much it would cost on today's market.  
  •  I bought mine online and bought a lot that I am still using up because I live in a small town and stores here  don't have the Washing Soda. 

Step 1: Ingredients and Tools

Picture of Ingredients and Tools
  • 1 Box Super Washing Soda.
  • 2 Bars of grated Zote bar soap.
  • 3 Gallons hot water.
  • 1 Plastic milk jug.
  • 1 Five  Gallon bucket with lid.
  • 1 Cheese grater.
  • 1 ladle.
  • 1 Slotted long handled spoon.
  • 1 Long handled whisk.
  • 1 Cup measuring cup.
  • 1 large pan.
  • 1 Plate.
Please Note:  Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda is not baking soda.  It is a washing soda.  There is a difference.  This product can be difficult to find in certain rural areas. 

If you go to the Arm & Hammer website they have a zip code search  where you can buy the Washing Soda.  Here is the link:

I have found Super Washing Soda at:
Albertsons, Hardware stores, Brookshire's, and in some Walmart stores.  

Zote soap I have found at Big lots, Lawrence Brother's Market, Walmart, and Farmer's Market in my area.  

A product search online will prove beneficial.  

Step 2: Grate Zote Soap

Picture of Grate Zote Soap
Using the cheese grater:

  • Place a plate on the table or counter.
  • Place the cheese grater on the plate.
  • Grate 2 bars of Zote soap into shredded pieces.
  • Set aside until later.
Please note:  Sometimes when you buy the Zote it is dry and powdery when you grate it.  This is OK.  If it is fresh it looks more like carrots that have been grated.   

Step 3: Pour Water Into Bucket

Picture of Pour Water Into Bucket
Pour water into bucket:

  • Pour 2 1/2 Gallons of hot water into the bucket, reserving 1/2 gallon to heat on the stove top.
  • Add 1 cup of the Super Washing Soda into the hot water and sir until dissolved.

Step 4: Heat Water

Picture of Heat Water
Heat Water:
  • Heat about 1/2 gallon of the reserved hot water on the stove until steamy.  Not boiling! 
  • Turn off the heat.
  • Slowly pour and stir with the whisk (or slotted spoon) the shredded soap until completely dissolved.
  • Using the ladle, or slotted spoon "scoop up the liquid to see if it has dissolved completely." 
  • After the Zote soap has dissolved completely pour the contents into the bucket of water/soda mixture and stir thoroughly.

It is important to slowly add the soap and stir because if you don't you will get clumps that are difficult to dissolve.  

Step 5: Stir Occasionally

Picture of Stir Occasionally

For the first 15 minutes stir occasionally, doing this makes a smoother batch.  

The soap gels up like a very soft jello.  

Sometimes it takes several hours to set and then sometimes within an hour.  I have no idea why.  If by chance it does not set up,  don't worry  you may still use it.  It will just be a little watery and maybe a little messy to put in the washer.  I usually use a long handled ladle.


Step 6: Washing With Soap

Picture of Washing With Soap
Here are the instructions for washing in a front load washer with this laundry soap:
  • Place dirty laundry into the washer tub.
  • Add a few tablespoons of the soap in with the clothes.  This part you will need to experiment with.  It is best to start with a small amount because these washers use much less soap.  
  • I live in an area with extremely hard water so I have to use 1/2 cup to get my clothes clean.  
  • This soap has low suds so you should not have an issue with it unless you use a whole lot of soap.  
  • If the clothes don't seem to come clean add more soap to the next load until you can figure out how much is needed.  
  • For top load washers use 1 cup as you would use regular laundry soap.  

Step 7: Final Results

Picture of Final Results

The results are very good.  I can't actually show you but this is a very good soap.  In my opinion it is comparable to Tide and waaaay better than the cheap stuff, which have fillers that appear like your getting value.  

I had recently purchased some laundry soap at Sam's because I had not been feeling well.  After using the off brand because I did not like the Tide they offer at Sam's, my husband noticed the difference in his clothes and asked me not to buy that again.  I asked him why and he said it did not make his clothes feel soft.  So what does that say about this recipe?  

Step 8: Laundry Tips

Picture of Laundry Tips

If you have a front loader washer and are unhappy with wrinkled jeans change the rinse cycle to medium spin and it should make a difference.

Add vinegar to the rinse cycle for a fabric softener.

Peroxide is a good alternative to spot remover, it also removes blood.

Another way to help reduce resources is to line dry your clothes.  I am very excited because as soon as we get our lawn in I will have a clothes line.  I remember the days when my job was to hang up the laundry.  This was a pleasant chore for me because I loved the fresh smell of the laundry, especially the sheets when I carried them in.  I also appreciated the fresh outdoor smell of the sheets when I crawled into bed.

Did you know that by line drying your laundry it saves the wear on your clothes?  Yes, it is true.  It is not the washer that breaks down the fibers, it is drying them in the dryer.  


Step 9: Sunshiine's Final Thoughts

Picture of Sunshiine's Final Thoughts

America has changed its buying habits.  People are concerned about our environment and they should be.  They are educated about the impact that chemicals have on the environment and our bodies.  This recipe offers a solution to some of these concerns.  

My husband is a cowboy at heart.  He was raised on a ranch and is a tough kind of guy.  I had to chuckle because over the years I have tried to sneak buying a less expensive  brand of laundry soap instead of Tide.  He itches every time I changed.  I was so delighted that this recipe did not make him itch.  

This recipe also offers a great value!  Just think 3 gallons of laundry soap for about $3.00!  That is value when you consider it cleans well.

Here is some additional information I found about these products for those who do not live in the US or who wish to know the contents of these products:

If you have any questions I am happy to answer them for you.  Meanwhile you have a splendorous day!  


GingerSnapsAM (author)2016-06-13

I'm going to share this Laundry Soap recipe to my mom.She tried making her own soap but it didn't turn out well.Thanks Sunshiine!

sunshiine (author)GingerSnapsAM2016-06-13

This is a good recipe. If she has trouble, I am happy to answer questions. If she does not want to post them, send me a PM. Thanks for stopping bya nd sharing!


babydawl43 (author)2016-04-19

sunshine you stated you live rual and have hard time finding the super washing soda well i hve a recipe for it homemade if you want it plse email me

sunshiine (author)babydawl432016-04-20

Thanks so much for sharing and do have a great week.

babydawl43 (author)sunshiine2016-04-20

thank you so much and you do the same preheat oven to 400degrees bake for 1hour line cookie sheet with parchment paper sprinkle baking soda on sheet and put in oven enjoy

babydawl43 (author)2016-04-19

sunshine you stated you live rual and have hard time finding the super washing soda well i hve a recipe for it homemade if you want it plse email me

rimar2000 (author)2011-09-03

Thanks for sharing this, sunshiine!

Here in Argentina these brands there are not, but surely I can found some equivalent.

sunshiine (author)rimar20002011-09-03

Thanks for commenting! You might try a Google search on how to make laundry soap. I would try and find one that is a gel. I think the performance would be better. It seems to me that some recipes use borax along with Washing Soda.
Washing Soda is a laundry soap booster. I will see if I can find something and reply to this late tonight. Have a splendorous day!

rimar2000 (author)sunshiine2011-09-04

Thanks, sunshiine. I will try to do this. I am thinking to get a "very dirty hands" soap too, because when I do mechanic works my hands leave difficult of clean. Maybe using a mix of sawdust and detergent... But I would add a skin protector, because detergent hurts my fingers at the side of the nails. Maybe glycerine, I don't know that.

lpdunwell (author)rimar20002012-08-11

Try this: butter and sugar. Then use some mild soap to wash off the butter from your hands. Not kidding.

rimar2000 (author)lpdunwell2012-08-12

I will try your recipe, but the butter leaves bad odor in the hand, I think.

sunshiine (author)rimar20002011-09-04


I used to spend a lot of time cleaning grease off of stove tops and it just takes forever. Then I learned this:

When cleaning greasy stuff, use an oil based product. Have you noticed how the top of refrigerators get really gooey and yucky? I use lemon oil, Murphy's Oil soap, or use cooking oil if I don't have any oil-based products. This loosens the hard grease and after you get it loosened you use regular soap to rinse out the oil. It It may take a few times but it sure is easier than using harsh products. It works for me! If you try this please let me know what you think. Have a good one.

kmatsumoto2 (author)sunshiine2011-11-23

I have found just recently that laundry soap works fantastic on the stove and fridge. Especially the plastic handles. I haven't tried Murphys soap but I definately will be trying out your laundry soap recipe for the laundry and everything else. I used laundry soap this weekend in the bathtub and tiles. To my surprise it was the quickest best clean! I was not overwhelmed by strong product smell. CHEERS!!!

rimar2000 (author)kmatsumoto22011-11-24

Thanks for the idea!

sunshiine (author)kmatsumoto22011-11-23

I will have to try that! I am always open for new ways to clean! Thanks for sharing! Have a great holiday!

rimar2000 (author)sunshiine2011-09-05

Thanks sunshiine, I will keep your advice.

sunshiine (author)rimar20002011-09-05

I hope you find the same stuff I use maybe in a different brand. This recipe does a good job. Hope the oil trick works for you! Have a pleasant day!

sunshiine (author)rimar20002011-09-05

Hello again rimar2000 more people have commented on the products and what is in them that may help you find them there. You might want to come take a peek! Have a super day!

rimar2000 (author)sunshiine2011-09-06

Yesterday I did a tentative mix: sunflower oil, detergent and sawdust. If it is aggressive to hands, I think add a bit of vinegar to low the PH.

sunshiine (author)rimar20002011-09-06

You could try sugar instead of saw dust if it is too harsh and the vinegar is a good idea!

rimar2000 (author)sunshiine2011-09-07

I think sugar will dissolve before I can use it. Sawdust medium size is not so abrassive, especially if it is from pine or other soft wood. I didn't used vinegar yet, and my hands are in place still...!

sunshiine (author)rimar20002011-09-07

They use sugar in a lot of body scrubs. They use brown sugar I think. But I really believe the oil will do the trick! Have a good one!

sunshiine (author)rimar20002011-09-03

Good day rimar2000! Here is a link I found that might explain what washing soda is. I will have to do another search for the bar soap but at least this might help you find the same stuff there. Here is the link.

zoebatty (author)2012-04-24

Just a note:
If you are having a hard time finding Washing Soda, it can be purchased online at for $3.90 a box. They also offer free shipping if you have an order over 6 items (it might a dollar amount now I haven't ordered in awhile). I usually order a few boxes at a time might be worth it.

Blainer (author)2011-09-04

Good one Sunshiine. I have made similar concoctions for doing my laundry, and had just a couple of comments\ observations:

1. You can use baking soda, for this rather than washing soda. You just have to use twice as much. Baking soda is sodium bicarbonate, washing soda is sodium carbonate. The baking soda starts as washing soda, and is then reacted with carbon dioxide to make it less caustic. I was unable to find washing soda in my area, and the baking soda option worked fine.

2. You can probably use Sunshiine's recipe as a powder. Just mix the ingredients together and store in a tightly lidded container. Give it a shake before using to make sue the soap hasn't settled out.

3. Personal observation : I used Zote once, and it did not work well in my homemade laundry soap powder (maybe its more effective in the cooked form recommended here)? I used Fels Naphtha soap, which worked beautifully.

4. I have always added borax laundry booster to my laundry soap and it really kicks up the cleaning power.

5. Before making this yourself, compare the price of making it yourself to the price of commercial laundry detergent. I found that making it myself, rather than buying it, didn't save much over buying the commercial laundry soaps. Your mileage may vary, and savings is highly dependent on what you buy and where you buy it.

Once again, thanks for the post, and I hope that these comments are useful.

jrossetti (author)Blainer2011-09-04


1 cup of Super Washing Soda ($3.56 per box, 6 cups per box) = $0.59
2 bars of Zote ($1.67 per bar) = $3.34
Total cost in materials = $3.93

Total number of 'servings' (assuming you get just about 3 gallons total, not including the addition of the dry ingredients) = approx 96
(this assumes you use 1/2 cup 'serving sizes')


Compared to the nearest equivalent in Tide:
Liquid, 150oz or 90 loads, $17.97 at walmart = $0.20 per serving
Powder, 169oz or 120 loads, $20.47 at walmart = $0.17 per serving

This will obviously be lower for other brands, but the cost comparison is important. 4 cents per load of laundry is a HUGE difference between 20 cents for the commercial stuff, which also may or may not have added ingredients you do not want; and we're not even mentioning any other pros and cons.

Blainer (author)jrossetti2011-09-05

Thanks for crunching those numbers. I compared the above with the commercial product I am using now ( a liquid with no dyes or perfumes) and came up with a per load cost of about $0.058, if you use the recommended amount for each load. This was a large bottle of the liquid which I purchased at a discount store (for a price that I thought was amazingly low).

Keep in mind that for commercial products, you can almost always use less than the box/bottle states. This is because the "active" part of any laundry detergent is a surfactant. The purpose of the surfactant is to break down the viscosity of water. That is why soapy water feels slippery, it is less viscous than water without soap. With the viscosity broken down, it penetrates the clothing more effectively to remove any soil on the clothing. The rub here is that it doesn't take much to do this. Using the minimum amount of commercial detergent however does not benefit the manufacturers. Thus they give you a nice big cup with which to measure their product.

As I reflected further I also started to think about dyes and additives. Does anyone know of a bar laundry soap without dyes or perfumes?

jrossetti (author)Blainer2011-09-05

Kirk's Castile and Colgate Octagon are probably as close as you can get to no dye/perfumes. Kirk's Castile is about as available as Zote (I've seen it in Walgreens, and some other places). I love Kirk's Castile and it's relatively cheap (per bar).

I haven't seen Octagon sold in local stores in years, and it's pretty expensive online. It's normally $3+ per bar on amazon, though it can (rarely) drop to about $1. I used to be able to find it in the grocery stores here for 97 cents a bar, and it's such a useful soap that it's worth stocking up on if you find it for cheap. Sometimes you can find it on for 89 cents a bar, and if you're lucky, you can score free shipping or promotional discounts, so it's worth it to check often.

I HAVE used both the Kirk's and the Octagon for laundry, and they both do work well, and can personally recommend them. But, I'm a diehard (if hand-washing my laundry is any indication), I love the citronella scent of Zote on my clean clothes. :)

Oh, also, yes you're right, buying laundry detergent can be really really cheap when you buy it at the discount / dollar stores! I almost always buy bleach and pine oil cleaners at the discount shops, it's the best way to save!

kill-a-watt (author)jrossetti2011-11-19

A new local store "Shop Right" has Colgate Octagon bars for 69 cents each! Now I feel silly for stocking up on Fells-Naptha at $1.10 each a few years ago.

(naw. not really. $1.10 is a good price)

sunshiine (author)kill-a-watt2011-11-19

That is quite a bargain! Thanks for sharing your find here so others might benefit from it! Have a great day! Sunshiine

sunshiine (author)Blainer2011-09-05

Thanks for your participation in this conversation! Have a great day!

sunshiine (author)jrossetti2011-09-05

Thanks so much for adding this!

kill-a-watt (author)jrossetti2011-09-05

Typically I'll use one bar of fel-naphtha, and use 1.5 cups each of washing soda and borax and add water to make 3 gallons total. My cost per load was about the same, as I recall it rounded up to about 3 cents per load.

sunshiine (author)jrossetti2011-09-04

You are going to outdo yourself! Again thanks for making such nice comments and sharing your experience. This is sure to help my viewers! I am grateful for your contribution!

jrossetti (author)Blainer2011-09-04

One other note: in my experience the best reason to add borax is how it counteracts the effects of hard water, and if you do your laundry in hard water, I highly recommend adding borax - but I wouldn't add it to the soap mix, I'd keep it separate and add it as an additional step. Because, borax has many other uses than just laundry!

sunshiine (author)jrossetti2011-09-04

Thanks jjrosetti!,
For sharing your thoughts and experience on my page. I am sure they will benefit viewers as well as educate them in making their decision to make this.
Have a special day!

sunshiine (author)Blainer2011-09-04

Thanks so much for stopping by to make comments about your personal experience using homemade laundry soap. I find the gel is a little better at dissolving in the water. Zote does work very well in the liquid version. You have made some very good points. My sister shares many things with me and I post a lot of her ideas here because there are usually pretty good. She has given me tips I use a lot and is happy I share them on this site. Thanks again and you have a splendorous day!

ceesparks (author)2011-10-22

To add to everyone ele's comments--Baking Soda, washing soda etc come from Trona, mined in Green River, Wyoming and a place in Ohio I believe. I used to work for Church and Dwight in Green River many years ago. The trona comes out of the ground looking a lot like quartz. Its crushed, cleaned and then the various additives are added. It (trona) actually tastes salty if you put your tongue on it. I still have a sample from many years ago. I had no idea until I started working there. There aren't many places that trona can be mined.

sunshiine (author)ceesparks2011-10-22

Thanks so much for sharing this information! It is interesting. Have a great day!

lwallace3 (author)2011-10-04

Line drying is SOOO much easier on your clothes! Think about it...if you blow dry your hair every day, soon it is dried out and fly-away. Most clothing has at least some element of natural fibers...if you dry them in the dryer...same as blowing your hair dry. Also, most loads need only COLD water to get clean! Less energy than hot or warm washes, and easier on your clothes!

sunshiine (author)lwallace32011-10-04

Great points! Thanks so much for leaving a comment. Have a splendorous day!

sunshiine (author)2011-09-06

Here is another entry that I found very interesting. The more you know about the products the more you can make it to suit your needs. A comment was made on her soap about using distilled water. I though that was a great idea that I never considered! She did a great job! Here is the link:

jrossetti (author)2011-09-03

Zote is also sold at most Home Depot stores for $1.67 per bar.

sunshiine (author)jrossetti2011-09-03

Thanks so much for leaving this comment! It will help others find these products saving them money! Wow it has gone up unless Home Depot is just high. I have bought it in the past for $1.00 a bar. I have bought up a supply so I would not be without! I am going to see how much it is in my area the next time I go shopping. I don't use much soap anymore my family are all grown up. Everything has gone up the past year or two though, especially groceries. Do you make this laundry soap? If so where do you buy the Washing Soda?

jrossetti (author)sunshiine2011-09-03

The Arm & Hammer is in all of my local grocery stores including Walmart, and you know if it's in one Walmart it's probably in them all. I used to be able to find Zote in my local Mexican grocery for about 70 cents a bar, but they stopped stocking them a couple of years ago, and I haven't looked in any of the other Mexican groceries around here. $1.67 really isn't that bad, especially with as useful as it is.

I haven't made this laundry soap yet, but I was happy to see your instructable. I've been washing my clothes with a "Breathing" Mobile Washer for a few weeks now ( and it does a better job getting my clothes clean than an electric washer does! Now, I'm just looking for better soaps, and soaps that can store for longer amounts of time.

I'm hoping to try out your laundry soap recipe later today, though! Thanks for posting it!

kill-a-watt (author)jrossetti2011-09-05

Hah, I've heard people suggest using a toilet plunger (bought new, and used for nothing else) and a few buckets for laundry, but the plunger never worked that well. I was planning on making a hardwood replacement -- something like a butter churn -- but never got around to it. I never knew there was a commercial product.

sunshiine (author)kill-a-watt2011-09-05

Now that is a thought! I am going to publish a trick to wash delicate items and socks/underware. Maybe today. I need to get with it though. You might want to check my profile it will be amusing!

sunshiine (author)jrossetti2011-09-05

I have noticed that Zote will get dry over time (the bar) If I buy a large amount I will put them in a plastic bag or glass container to avoid that.

sunshiine (author)jrossetti2011-09-03

Thanks so much for your comment! I forgot about getting it at Mexican grocery stores. I will have to check out the Breathing machine???? never heard of it. I don't watch TV because I find better things to do that I enjoy, so I am not up on a lot of new stuff. Please do let me know how well it performs for you. I have not received any complaints from my husband and he always has something to say when he don't like something. I will have to check at Walmart and see if I can't get it there. I would rather buy it locally than order online anyway. When I move in a few months I will find it no problem! Have a splendid 3 day weekend!


kill-a-watt (author)2011-09-05

I too use borax, and I've found it at wal-mart stores nation-wide.

I've recently found the washing soda there too sometimes. I'd also check local smallish independent grocery stores. Look carefully in the laundry isle, double checking the entire lowest shelf for the stuff.

Another idea is going to the local bigbox and checking the pool chemicals. Sodium carbonate is the same stuff as washing soda (a/k/a soda ash). It's more expensive
as a pool chemical, but here it's called "pH UP". It might be cheaper here than mail order, especially if it goes on sale in the Fall after the swimming pool season ends.

You could also possibly make it yourself. One reason baking soda excels at putting out kitchen fires is because when heated it releases CO2. This reaction is suppose to convert baking soda to washing soda. I've never done it, but I have read about people heating up baking soda in the oven to make washing soda.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am married with two children. Spring, summer, and fall are my very favorite times of the year. I love the sunshine thus the reason ... More »
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