Bars of soap always look so attractive when they’re new – pleasantly scented fat ovals or rectangles (or other shapes!) just begging to be turned into lather. But after a few weeks, they look decidedly gritty – thin little slivers that get stuck to the soap dish, smell of nothing and fall to bits almost as soon as you look at them. All most of us can think about is throwing them away as soon as possible and replacing them with a nice new bar of soap. However, some of us might try to keep using these mingy little bits to wash our hands as long as possible.
But you don’t need to do either. Don’t keep trying to get a good lather out of those sleazy little slivers, but don’t throw them away, either. Keep them – otherwise you’ll end up throwing out a lot of soap that you don’t have to, adding this to the water system and costing you.
The first thing you can do with old soap scraps is to break them up – which won’t take long. When you have quite a few scraps collected, melt them in the microwave until liquid, stir them together and pour them into a mould to make a whole new bar of soap. You can add colouring (normal food colouring will do) or scent or oatmeal into this mixture if you like.
However, that can be a bit too fiddly for most of us. A better and more versatile use for soap scraps is to turn them into liquid goo. Slip the soap scraps into a string bag (the sort you get around oranges or onions) and put this into a container of water. This will need to be stored out of sight, as it can look a bit grey and grim at times. Don’t tie the bag closed – you will always have more soap scraps to put in. The water will dissolve the soap into a grayish white jelly or liquid that has quite a few uses around the home and garden.
What can you use the soap goo for?
1. Decant it into a pump-top bottle and add a little coloring and/or scent, then use it as liquid soap. You can leave out the scent and the color if you prefer.
2. Mix the goo with water and spray it over roses to get rid of aphids. This is an effective organic spray (well, mostly organic, anyway). Make sure that you don’t use water that is too hot for your spray – this will kill the plants as well as the aphids.
3. Use it for hand washing smalls or woollens– it’s much gentler than regular laundry powder for the garment in question and for your hands.
4. Use it as shampoo. Surprisingly, it’s not as harsh as you might expect – it’s very mild, in fact – and it cleans hair very efficiently. It stings if you get it into your eyes, though, as it hasn’t had any this-and-that added to treat the sting. It is a bit too runny to pour into your hand in the normal way, so you will need to apply it directly to wet hair. You can add scent – essential oils are lovely – to improve this. Follow with a vinegar rinse, especially if your water is hard or chlorinated.
5. You can use it around your domestic cleaning duties. For washing the floor for example pour the goo into a bucket and add some hot water.
6. The goo can be used as a general purpose house cleaning product for nearly any purpose (not for glass) in a soft water area. In chlorinated or hard water, soap goo can leave a white scum as it reacts with the minerals in the water.