Can you boil soap and water?

Soap and water are two household items that have become ingrained in our daily routines. We often use them to clean dishes, wash laundry, and sanitize surfaces. However, there may come a time when we need to take disinfecting to the next level by adding heat to the mix. This begs the question – can you boil soap and water? While boiling water is not only safe but also common, boiling soap and water may not provide the desired results.


Before we dive into whether or not you can boil soap and water, it’s essential to understand what they are and their typical uses. Soap is a chemical compound that removes dirt and oils from surfaces through a process called emulsification. Water acts as a solvent that dilutes soap particles for better cleaning efficacy.

People typically use soap and water for various purposes like laundry, dishwashing, mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms, removing stains on clothing or carpets, washing fruits or vegetables before eating them, among others.

The Boiling Process

Boiling occurs when a liquid reaches its boiling point temperature under normal atmospheric pressure. At this temperature point, molecules transition from liquid state to vapor phase forming bubbles at the base of the container where heating occurs.

The boiling points for liquids vary based on atmospheric pressure; hence altitude affects how long it takes for water to boil at different locations worldwide. For example,

  • Under normal pressure sea level 760 millimeters of mercury (mmHg), pure distilled water boils at 100℃ (212 °F)
  • But at an elevation of say 4,000 feet above sea level where there’s low-pressure average air pressure reducing mmHg to roughly 630mmHg causing the boiling point of Distilled Water Reduced by almost 5 degrees celsius.

While boiling soapy solution seems like an excellent idea in theory, it isn’t advisable due to the nature of soaps. Soaps are solid fats that dissolve in water only after adding other chemical compounds.

When subjected to boiling temperatures, soap’s chemical properties can get altered leading to less effective cleaning and other negative effects covered below.

The Negative Effects of Boiling Soap

  • Reduction in lather production- Boiling soapy solution forms bubbles at the surface due to increased energy levels, but the resulting disintegrating foam has no cleansing power.
  • Less effective cleaning- As mentioned before, most household soaps contain surfactants that work by emulsification when mixed with water. When boiled, the temperature may destroy these active ingredients rendering soap ineffective in breaking down dirt or oils.
  • Rough texture on dishes and fabric surfaces- In contrast, boiling soap for handwashing can irritate hands’ skin or damage delicate fabrics.

Alternative Methods for Disinfecting with Soap and Water

Sanitizing with Heat

Heat exposure provides a quicker way to kill bacteria or viruses present on surfaces as it takes lesser contact time compared to using chemicals alone. By raising soapy solution temperatures above 60 ℃ (140℉), harmful germs that cause illnesses die off faster.

Setting Temps for Sanitation through Heat

The key point while disinfecting dishware or laundry is ensuring adequate contact time between heat and residues since not all bacteria are killed instantly. Below are some recommended temperature guidelines:

  • Clothes: Either soaking in hot water over 60℃(140 ℉)for at least thirty minutes then washing or running your clothes dryer on high heat for minimum half an hour helps eliminate any germs concealed inside fabric layers.
  • Dishes: Scrubbing with warm/hot dishwashing water around 77℃(170 ℉)or higher followed by air-drying them for a while assures you no bacteria left behind.
A How-to guide to using different heating methods

Depending on the cleaning or disinfecting needs, various heating methods are recommended. The common ones include:

  • Microwave steaming – For sanitizing dishware, as it takes about 2-3 minutes to reach optimal temperatures.
  • Boiling water in a kettle – For small items exposed to direct contact like water bottles, scrub brushes, or combs.
  • Using the dishwasher’s heat option – To clean silverware or eating utensils to appropriate meal handling standards.
Pros/Cons to each method to reach proper sanitation

Although heat can kill most pathogens and is used for sterilization in hospitals, one limitation is the risk of burns when handling hot surfaces/objects containing liquids.

Adding Strong Natural Disinfectants

When seeking additional cleaning power beyond soap and water alone, some natural ingredients boost antibacterial properties. These ingredients include essential oils like Eucalyptus Oil, Thyme Oil, Lemongrass Oil, Lavender Oil, or Peppermint.

These oils have shown antimicrobial effectiveness experimentally against specific pathogens. However,some types of plants contain allergens that may cause respiratory issues or trigger anaphylactic reactions in some people. Seek medical advice if you’ve never used any of these products before.

How much disinfectant should be added?

The amount of added essential oil depends on the soap and water solution’s original proportions: As general guidance under acceptable use: We recommend adding around five drops of essential oil to each cup (8 fl oz) soapy solution using 1/4 teaspoon of concentrated liquid laundry soap diluted with enough distilled water prior.

#######Notes on Overuse or Over Dilution

Overusing essential oils may trigger allergies or skin irritation due to prolonged exposure high doses components during daily use. Alternatively,

Diluting concentrates too much might lead to inefficiencies ineffective results where bacterial load remains above safe handled level concentration is key here, balancing concentration to disinfect and effectively use without underutilizing.

Other Natural Cleaning Methods

The following combinations make an excellent cleaning agent when mixed with soap and water:

Vinegar Solution,

Vinegar is Arguably a Popular household staple in most people’s kitchens with similar acidic properties useful beyond cooking. It’s known for its antimicrobial and antiviral effects against pathogens, making it an excellent addition to your cleaning solution.

  1. Mix one-three parts of white or apple cider vinegar equally in place of regular soapy solution covering hard, non-porous surfaces like kitchen cabinets and countertops to sanitize.
  2. Rinsing laundry with vinegar instead of fabric softeners helps eliminate mustiness odors left behind
  3. Can be mixed with baking soda or borax acting as a deodorizer for less stiff fabric materials.
Concentration & Types of Vinegar (Apple Cider vs White Distilled)

Typically the three main types are distilled white vinegar, apple cider vinegar and rice vinegar, each enriched in varying concentrations depending on their intended use.

Baking Soda Mixes,

Although commonly known only for cooking, besides other functional uses such as providing abrasiveness in some toothpaste recipes could also perfect as a cleaning agent without using soap by:

  • Sprinkling baking powder over surfaces that require deeper scrubbing acts as a mild abrasive on since it’s alkaline.
  • Adding half-a-cup part to 14 litres of water makes an excellent multi surface cleaner that does not require rinsing – like wooden floors, walls or grease build up surfaces.
Ratio/Mixture formulas depending on cleaning situation

When baking soda mixes are involved,a generally acceptable rule of thumb is adding two tablespoons into each cup (8floz), followed by enough distilled water as necessary until bubbles form all around solution; always proceed slowly while mixing since You may pour too much water accidentally leading to underpowered potency on initial use.


In summary, boiling soap and water isn’t recommended since it can alter soap’s chemical composition, leading to less-effective cleaning or skin irritation. However, alternative methods like adding heat or natural disinfectants make excellent replacements for specific situations that require enhanced sanitizing power.

Some natural cleaning agents worth exploring include vinegar solutions and baking soda mixes. Keep in mind that proper concentrations are key when substituting additives during cleaning since over dilution leads to ineffective cleaning formula’s too much concentrated could bring adverse side effects like allergies from essential oils.


  1. Q: Can soap and water be boiled together?

A: Yes, it is possible to boil soap and water together. Boiling soap can help in breaking down the soap molecules faster, making it easier to mix with other ingredients.

  1. Q: What happens when you boil soap and water?

A: Boiling soap and water together can result in the formation of a lather which could overflow if not monitored carefully. This is because boiling causes the water to evaporate, leaving behind concentrated soap molecules.

  1. Q: Is it safe to boil soap and water?

A: Yes, boiling soap and water is safe as long as you don’t inhale any fumes or directly touch the hot mixture with your skin. It’s always advisable to use protective gloves while handling hot liquid mixtures.

  1. Q: Why would someone want to boil soap and water anyway?

A: There are several reasons why one might want to boil soap and water, such as preparing homemade laundry detergent or dishwashing liquid. Boiling helps dissolve all the ingredients evenly, resulting in a more effective cleaning solution.

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