Use Of Soap As A Natural Cleaner | Anyclean

updated: 15/10/2023

 OK, so we’ve had our White Christmas and now we’re fed up with the snow. By now, if you can’t go to work and/or school, you’ve probably given your house a good cleaning and are ready to climb the walls… or clean the walls.

Maybe it’s now time to try making the ultimate in natural home cleaning products… soap. Ordinary soap has been used to keep everything spotless for centuries, and it still does just as good a job today as it always has. Soap, being gentler than most commercial detergents, can be used for cleaning a very wide range of things around your house, ranging from carpet cleaning and tiles cleaning to washing woollens – and even washing your hair. It’s easier to say what you can’t clean with soap: you shouldn’t try cleaning glass and windows with soap… use vinegar for that.

You will need:

500 g caustic soda

1 ½ litres of soft water (add washing soda to chlorinated tap water to soften it)

1 ½ litres vegetable oil

additions such as sand, essential oils, oat bran, dried flowers or food colouring

rubber gloves

moulds for the soap – for ordinary bars, a shallow dish will work well.

(Variation for hard soap: use 2 litres of water and 3 kg of clarified fat (clarify fat by melting down any animal fat and scooping off any scum from the top or jelly from the bottom – a good use for fat you trim off meat BEFORE cooking.))

Put on your rubber gloves and remove any toddlers from your immediate environment. Put the water in a large, non-corrosive container. Add the caustic soda slowly and carefully to the water (never the other way around) and stand back as the reaction happens to make lye. The mixture will heat up, so wait until it cools down before proceeding any further. If you are making hard soap, this is the time you can spend melting the clarified animal fat down. You can also prepare the moulds you are going to use by lining them with damp calico or muslin (if you have any lying around – otherwise, use tinfoil, clin film or an old tea towel or pillowcase). Add the caustic soda and water mixture (the lye) very slowly and carefully to the melted fat or oil. Stir for 5 minutes. If you’re adding any extras, add them now and stir again. Pour the mixture into moulds and put them away for 24 hours. Cut into bars (a wire garrotte thing works best, but you can get away with using a knife heated by dipping into boiling water). Then stick the bars away in a dark cupboard to cure for about a month.

If you really have a lot of time on your hands, then you can even try making your own lye, especially if you have your home heated with a log fire and have plenty of wood ash. Get a large bucket and bore holes in the bottom. Stand this inside a big non-reactive collection dish (another, larger bucket, maybe) on top of some straw or twigs. Fill the inner bin with wood ash to the top after sifting larger bits of charcoal out (put the charcoal back into the fire or add it to the garden). Pour water onto the ashes (not too much) every 3–4 hours for three alternate days (e.g. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday). The water that drips through into the collection dish will be very caustic lye for soap making. Handle with care.

About the author 

Nick Vassilev

Nick blogs about cleaning. He is a cleaning expert with more than 25 years of experience. He is also an NCCA-certified carpet cleaner. Founder and CEO of Anyclean.