How to use Zote and other bar soaps for laundry

parrot_phanJune 16, 2007

Enormous pink bars of Zote laundry soap suddenly showed up at my local market for the bargain price of 50 cents each. Although I have enough laundry suds to last another three years, one jumped in my cart and came home with me.

I know some of you use laundry soap in your FLs.

1. How do you use a laundry bar soap in a FL? What kind of water -- hard/soft -- do you have?

2. For hand washing, do you use the whole bar and rub it on your clothes or do you grate it into the sink to create a suds bath? I'm doing some lingerie by hand now and I grated a bit into the sink.

3. I know some of you use Fels Naptha bars too -- please chime in, along with anyone who might have used Kirk's Castile.

When I was a kid, my mom had a grater marked "Fels Naptha" in a kitchen drawer. I remarked to her that I found it odd that a *soap* company gave away a *cheese* grater.

That's when she educated me about life before packaged laundry detergents...

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I use a Microplane to grate up pure soap which I keep on hand for quelling the occasional oversuds in my FL.

I have no experience using Zote, but in some parts of the world where I have lived laundry soap was only sold in chunks whacked off a great blue-veined slab and then wrapped up in newspaper to carry home. I used it (grated up, or in thin shavings) in my FLs. You can also try liquifying the grated soap and dispensing it from a (well-shaken) bottle if that's more convenient.

But I can't give you more precise instructions, other than to do some experiments and see what happens. BTW, I have trouble with unfamiliar laundry products jumping into my shopping cart all the time, too. The only cure is to send my DH by himself with a list, but where's the fun of that?

I be interested to hear what you deduce from yur experiments.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2007 at 2:46PM
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Molly, how much of the microplaned soap have you used in your FL when it was all you had? And how much do you add nowadays when you have oversudsing?

I have two sudsy HE liquids I want to use up but am avoiding because I am out to protect the bearings on my FridGEmore. I would like to try a load with half a dose of the detergent and some measure of the grated soap -- maybe a tablespoon?


BTW, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who has trouble resisting unfamiliar laundry products.

    Bookmark   June 17, 2007 at 3:01AM
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For emergency anti-sudsing I use several pinches of Microplaned Ivory bath bars and a pint or so of hot water to wash it down the hatch. Remember, I'm talking about unplanned usage discovered during the wash cycle, for instance when I'm bringing vintage linens into my care and they have a particularly dense residue of detergent from previous launderings. Sometimes even if I don't add any detergent to their first washing I can get an oversudsing. That calls for some of my "magic" soap. I would use Ivory soap powder if it was still avail, but I haven't seen it in years.

For a planned usage I think you could start with a couple of teaspoons, or a tablespoon and see what happens. I think the risk is the build-up of biofilm from imperfectly rinsed-out(not only out of your clothes, but also out of the machine's innards) soap. Synthetic detergents were considered a boon for cleaner rinsing, back in the days when they were invented.

As to regular washing with ground or planed-up soap. Of course, that was with highly alkaline products overseas (Latin America and elswhere). IIRC, I would use about 2-3 tablespoons non-microplaned, just grated with a simple box grater, or shaved off the soap chunk.

I wouldn't hesitate to experiment and see what works for you. As long you are occasionally washing in quite hot water (even if you have to add some from a kettle) I think the biofilm and soap build-up shouldn't be a problem. And soap would generally be less sudsy than detergents. The key, as always is if you can concoct something that cleans your stuff well, with your water, in your machine.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 1:08AM
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Froth is an indication that one is using enough soap to properly clean as well as keep soils/hard water minerals and muck suspended. This is why most every soap product from laundry to bath advertises or advertised "mounds of rich creamy suds". Pure soaps by design will create suds, quite allot of them, while detergents can be either low or high sudsing. Anyone brought up to do laundry with soap will tell you that if one does not see suds, then more soap was needed. When Ivory Snow was powdered soap, directions on the box recommended a 1 to 2 inch layer of creamy suds throug out the wash cycle as an indication one had added enough product.

The problem with using soap in front loaders is even one inches of suds can cause problems, and you have very little control over how much soap to use. If you add too little in the drawer, you may not have a way to add more during the wash cycle. Add too much, then you have other problems. There is also the fact that even a one inch layer of froth may trigger a washing machine's internal "over sudsing" system to abort the wash cycle.

The tumbling action of front loaders will cause even more froth to form, which not only will decrease cleaning results, but can damage the washing machine as well.

Simply put soap softens water (by binding hard water minerals), and also cleans like all "detergents". Differnece is detergents are "built" with additives to soften water, while soap will do this by itself, but one must use much of the product depending upon water conditions. It is the binding of hard water minerals that causes soap crud which forms on everything washed in pure soap.

Besides creating froth, which is bad for front loading washing machines; the first several rinses after laundering with soap must be either hot or at least warm water temperature to prevent soap and the muck it has released from becoming trapped in textiles when coming in contact with cold water.

Soap is very difficult to rinse from laundry (just because the froth is gone, does not mean all soap has been rinsed from garments), indeed the fats and oils used to make soap will leave a residue on textiles that can build up over time, resulting in dingy, tattle-tale grey fabrics that can turn rancid smelling.

Zote, is still widely used in Mexico and other parts of South America as bar laundry soaps have been for ages; to do laundry by hand in either a river bank, wash tub/sink or semi or totally automatic top loading washing machine.

Personally wouldn't use soap in any of today's low water front loaders, with the exception of soap based products such as Persil's "Perwol". Do have bars of vintage Fel's soap, but use it more as a pre-treat than to do actual wash loads.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 8:07AM
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I use Zote (or Fels-Naptha, or Kirks Castile) for my powdered homemade laundry detergent concoction. I also use a microplane or food grater to grate it.

Powdered Homemade Laundry Detergent

1 c. grated Zote (or Fels-Naptha, or Kirks Castile)
1/2 c. washing soda
1/2 c. 20 Mule Team Borax
1 c. SUN Oxygen Cleaner (cheaper than Oxy-Clean)

Mix together and store in an air-tight container. Use 2 T. for light loads and 3 T. for heavy loads. Be sure to pre-treat any stains.

My mother used to grate homemade lye soap, or one of the store-bought brands of bar laundry soap mentioned above, and add it to a quart jar of hot water (not sure how much - maybe 1/2 inch of the bar). This quickly melted the soap and made it easier to use to pre-treat stains and then she added the remainder to the load of laundry. We had very hard well water, and pre-dissolving the soap seemed to make it work quickly.

Yet one more recipe: (You could easily use Zote for the Fels Naptha.)

Ma's Liquid Laundry Soap
2/3 bar Fels Naptha - grated
2/3 bar Kirks Castile Soap
2 c. washing soda
2 c. borax
1/4 c. glycerin
2 gallons hot water
20-30 drops essential oils (suggested: Rosemary, Lavender, Tea Tree Oil, or Grapefruit Seed Extract - or combination of)

1. Place 1 quart of water into a medium pot over medium heat. Add the soap and stir until melted.

2. Add the Soda and Borax and mix until the mixture thickens.

3. Place one 1/2-gallon of Hot water into a three or four gallon bucket and then pour in the soap mixture and stir well.

3. Add the glycerin and essential oils to the mixture and fill to the two gallon mark on your bucket or simply add another 5 quarts of hot water.

5. The glycerin acts as a stain remover and the essential oils suggested have anti-bacterial and/or antifungal properties.

6. Set in a safe place (out of reach of pets and kids) to cool.

7. Stir and use 1/2 c. to 1 cup per wash load depending on size and level of soiling.

8. Use directly to pretreat stains.


    Bookmark   June 18, 2007 at 5:09PM
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