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Making laundry soap is a fun project that provides a valued necessity & saves folks money that can be spent on housing & food.  We currently distribute liquid laundry soap to various agencies, including women's shelters & Ronald McDonald House, to home-bound social service clients, & to families with children in need.  We welcome new volunteer soapmakers so we can achieve greater distribution.

Please join us by developing  your own laundry soap project to distribute in your local area.  Here's how to make our money-saving brew:

Operation Suds for Duds Laundry Soap Recipe
(Makes 10 gallons for c. $2.50)

1 bar Zote brand laundry soap (14.1 oz.), grated
1/2 cup Borax
1 Cup Arm & Hammer washing soda (not baking soda)


Mix all ingredients with 3-4 cups hot water, & heat on stove, in microwave or (our preference) a medium sized slow cooker.  ( Watch mixture closely so it doesn't boil over, stirring frequently.  When all soap is melted & mixture is smooth, pour into 5 gallon bucket.

While stirring (a long paddle works, but a paint stirring attachment on a variable speed battery-operated drill works much better), add hot water almost to the top of the bucket.  Cover & let sit several hours or overnight.

Ladle 1/2 the liquid into another 5 gallon bucket, & fill each bucket by adding hot water, mixing all the while.  Using a 2-cup measuring cup (we use one with a handle that hooks on the side of the bucket), pour into clean empty plastic juice jugs.  If there is a lot of foam in the jug, let sit a while until the foam settles & add more liquid as necessary to fill.

Make sure the lid is on tight, punch a hole in the top of a laminated label & attach with a rubber band.

Helpful Tips:

Other brands of laundry soap, such as Fels Naptha, can be used, but if the bar is smaller than 14 oz. it will be necessary to either add more soap or decrease the amount of water.
Although a hand grater can be used for the soap, we find a food processor is easiest.  Do not let the bowl of the food processor get too full, or the flakes will stick together in a glob.  Empty the bowl often.
Zote comes in two colors, pink & white.  We have found that although there is no difference in efficiency, recipients prefer the pink.  Zote is usually available in small Mexican markets.
Recently our local Walmart has started carrying all of the ingredients in our laundry soap recipe, including Zote, in the laundry aisle.  If you have difficulty finding ingredients, ask your store manager to carry them.
We bought our slow cooker for $4 at a thrift shop & use it only for making soap.  Often folks are willing to donate cookers they no longer use.  If you don't find a ready donation, try requesting one in your newsletter or online <www.freecycle.org>.
Even a slow cooker can boil over when making soap, so use the low setting.
Encourage recipients to save their empty soap jugs so they can be refilled.
All jugs recycled for laundry soap should have good screw-type lids, & the original jug contents should not have contained any dangerous chemicals (e.g., ammonia or bleach).
Be sure to gather enough jugs ahead of time for your project.  Ask friends & family to save their empty jugs for your project.
Consider safety carefully no matter the ages of your volunteer soapmakers.  However, our experience is that even relatively young children can learn to operate a battery-operated variable speed drill, with close adult supervision at all times.
Amazon.com sells a Scotch-brand laminating machine for (usually) about $25.  This item is frequently offered as low as $17 on  their daily Lightning Deals.  Schools & churches usually have laminating machines that can be accessed for your project.
Homemade laundry soap can be a good fund-raising project.  Consider offering buyers two jugs for $5.00, with one jug for them, & a 2nd jug as a donation.  Tell the buyer that in addition to his/her purchase providing a donated jug, the purchase will allow the group to make another 10 gallons of laundry soap.
Encourage your volunteers, even & especially the youngsters, to make creative suggestions for distributing your products in the community.  This will teach them to be observant about community needs, & the project leaders will get some great ideas.
Making laundry soap can be so much fun that your group will probably want to do it again.  Consider holding regular soap-making parties throughout the year.
Recognition for your volunteers is important.  Handing out Certificates of Community Service will cost only pennies, but encourage participants to continue their work.
Although your project may be for community service, we encourage you to send one jug of laundry soap home, along with a laminated recipe card, home with each participant.  Often those who volunteer, especially children, come from families that are also in need.