Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Story of Don Maximo

It's been twelve years since I studied in Mexico but I'm often randomly reminded of my time there.  You may remember that when I'm not teaching, I'm helping run the office for my parents' construction company.  I spend most of my day in the office portion but often find myself in the shop doing odds and ends, including getting my grub together for breakfast and lunch by the sink.  When I stand at there to do dishes or fill up my water bottle, I always see this bar of Don Maximo soap and it always takes me back...
In 2000, when I was down south, I had limited communication with my family and friends back home.  I wasn't a cell phone user, it was expensive to call home and our little town only had one small 'internet cafe' that had sporadic hours plus the internet was often down when they were open or was incredibly slow.  I tried to contact home at least once a week to let everyone know that I was alive and every time contact was made, my dad would ask me if I had found Don Maximo yet.  He even emailed me a photo of the packaging once at the end of my emailing back then for my dad was a BIG deal.  He meant business and he wanted me to buy as much as I could.  Seriously.

Somewhere through his years, he had heard that this soap was THE soap for cleaning up yucky, oily messes (and after searching online, I've found that it's supposedly great for laundry too!) but isn't sold in the United States.  I've yet to check any mercados around here though as they might carry it and negate my previous statement.  

Like I mentioned before, my Mexican town was SMALL with very few stores.  I had casually looked around at the little shops that I passed on my daily walks but never found any of this soap.  Then suddenly one day, I realized I'd be going home in less than three days.  My dad's soapy insistence was at an all time high.  I had to get down to sudsy business.

I got word that there was one more store on the outskirts of my town that I hadn't checked yet.  So the day before I was scheduled to leave, I took the walk to this mysterious store and found the soap.  I bought every bar they had.  All thirty of them.  For pennies.  Yes, I bought thirty bars of Mexican soap to bring home with me.  I carried a trash sack FULL of this soap over my shoulder throughout the town; I was quite the sight.

The majority of my carry-on luggage was filled with soap and I honestly doubt that nowadays, they would have let me pass through security with the load I was hauling!  I remember my bag being SO heavy and awkward to carry that when I boarded my flight to Dallas, for the life of me I could not get my bag in the overhead storage bin.  A kind man next to me jumped to my rescue and got the bag placed for me but not without asking, "What have you got in there?  Bricks?!"  I think he thought I was crazy when I awkwardly laughed and replied with, "No, just bars of soap."  
So twelve years later, I'm constantly reminded of lugging that huge trash bag over my shoulder throughout the town of Tepotzlan to bring my dad back his requested souvenir.  And twelve years later, he's still singing the praises of that soap.  I wonder how many bars are left now...


  1. That's HILARIOUS! And I love the name! I wonder if I could turn that into laundry soap?? I totally agree you would have been quarantined as a terrorist or locked up in a padded room if you flew with that much soap now.... no one would have believed it was for your Dad! ;)

  2. Okay, because I am my mother's daughter, I scoured the Internet to find an answer to your problem. I love a good product that is highly recommended too! So, apparently it contains phosphates and is banned in the US, so that's why you can't find it here. Or at least that's the answer I got when I looked at a million sites. There was one person in Canada selling a box of it for $1 per bar back in Jan. 2011 if you want to see if they are still selling it.

    Other than that, I think you're going to have to plan another trip to Mexico! Also, while researching I found this site that has a good recipe for making your own laundry soap and they compared it to Don Maximo. I've been wanting to go very green and make my own laundry soap but have yet to do it. Maybe I will try to track all this stuff down and give it a try. I know you can add essential oils to the powder to make it smell good.

  3. Oh, here is the site with the recipe:

  4. Thanks! Your post gave us a good laugh! My grandparents used to bring it back from their winters in Mexico. We called it "Magic Soap." It would get out even the toughest stains.

  5. Found a unused still in wrap bar at a garage sale yesterday for 25 cents and bought it for the graphics...different from the picture above it is old, 60s maybe 70s. Thought I would look it up and this is the first site I came to...Perfect!
    All in Spanish except for Proctor & Gamble and even has their old moon and star symbol on it. Feels like a brick. I am in Spokane so the stuff does travel around. I will have to find a new bar because I don't want to open this one. I am close to Canada!


  6. a guy in canada is selling whole cases of Don Maximo, 32 bars. That's the only place I could find it. But he only has a few cases left. I stopped finding Don Maximo in Mexico. They only sell Zote now, and I wasn't very impressed with Zote.

  7. My dad passed away 1½ years ago. I have been taking care of my 83 year old mother with alzheimers and in a wheel chair. I came across a Don Maximo225 g. It also says maximo poder limpiador en cada tallada. AND nuevo aroma frescoon it. It is sealed in a zip lock baggie.It is 4½" long by 2½" tall and 1" DEEP. IT IS HARD AS A ROCK. It does mention Procter & Gamble Co. on back...right before that it has Marca Registrada por.

  8. Had a laundry disaster today. My son's white high school basketball jersey and shorts came out with brown stains because of water treatment issues we are having in our city. I was livid! I initialy tried bleaching the uniform, to no avail. Then as a last resort I remember I had bar soap I purchased in Mexico about 15 years ago. It was Don Maximo. It took over an hour, but I scrubbed every inch of the jersey and shorts and the stains came out with this soap. Now that I know the soap is so hard to find, I will definitely be hanging on to it for another 15 years.

  9. About 24 years ago I was given a bar of Don Maximo soap by my mother-in-love. I knew she was excited about the stuff, but I really didn't know how I was going to use it. Then the day came when we were fixing up our family's first minivan. I was excited about it and disgusted at the same time. We had put a bid on (and won) a filthy, abused van that had been abandoned on the side of the road. My husband took the seatbelts out and gave them to me to clean. They were black with grease, and I worked and worked to get them clean. Nothing was working at all. ...that is until Don Maximo came to my rescue. It worked beautifully!! I would get my scrub brush wet with water, then rub the brush on the bar. Next I would scrub away on the seatbelts, and rinse under water. Those gold-colored seatbelts looked like new. Truly. It was one of my most satisfying cleaning jobs ever. If I could get my hands on a bar today, I'd buy it. And, if anyone knows of a recipe to make some at home, I'd love to have it.


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