How can I reuse or recycle bits of old soap?

SoapWe’ve had an email from Chris Slowe about soap:

It’s unwieldy at the best of times but when you get near the end of a bar of soap it starts falling to pieces and is practically unusable. Even worse a friend of our bought us a cake made out of soap! It’s finally being used for its inherent properties but is falling to pieces. Now if there was only some way of reconstituting all those bits into a new bar… Can it be squashed, melted back together again? Any ideas?

We had some soapy suggestions back on the old tights post which made me think we’d covered this already – so good call Chris for noticing we hadn’t.

I know it can be melted back into a single bar or made into liquid soap/laundry soap but I’ve never done that myself – any soapmakers got any advice?

Or anyone got any other reusing or recycling ideas for the slithers?

Best Suggestions

  • Reuse: Soap is a useful addition to tool boxes, sewing kits and bike repair kits as it’s a good lubricant. Keep an end of soap in each in case you need it.
  • Recycle – in the home: Collect the ends of several bars of soap and grate them up (or break them into small pieces) then gently heat them until they’re malleable. Finally squish them into a mould (see our page on mould ideas!) and leave them to resolidify and there you go, new soap. You can also grate them up to make laundry soap – a frugal alternative to washing powder.
  • Recycle – in the garden or garage: Place the stubs of several soap bars into the foot of an old pair of tights/stocking/thin sock or a fine net bag (such as an onion or garlic bag), then hang them near an outdoor tap for when you. The fabric/net will keep much of the dirt/grim away from the soap itself and help increase lather too.
  • See the comments below for more suggestions and ideas

(Photo by mfrietsch)

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45 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle bits of old soap?”

  1. Anonymous says:

    You can make “clean mud” for kids. Make sure the soap is rather dried. Crunch or cut it up into little pieces. unravel a roll of TP (kids love to do this) We made Mummies. Gather the toilet paper together, add the soap (1 cup maybe?) and some watter.. mush it up with you hands and you have some CLEAN mud to play with. You can store it in a Zip locl bag and play with again (add more water if it dries up)

    • Anonymous says:

      Clean mud? That makes no sense for two reasons:
      A) That takes half the fun out of playing with mud.
      B) If its diseases you’re worried about having the kids play with soap won’t help their immune systems. Immune systems get stronger through use (although not overuse). Forcing kids into unnatural cleanliness habits is unlikely to be healthy in the long run (Ever wonder why teens develop allergies, could it perhaps be because they spend increased amounts of time inside and begin actually caring about cleanliness?). Granted, with a population of six billion it’s probably for the best to breed long-term unhealthiness.

      • Anonymous says:

        Acutally, the point for clean mud *technically* is to have inside your house and is something you can do when your not outside/ season permitting (because personally, I’m not going to send my kids out into the snow to collect frozen dirt to make mud.

        Being that I’ve done this as a lesson for younger children (Preschool age), I’m aware of how this can be affective for understanding the scientific method (creating a basic hypothesis and experimenting with amounts of ingredients) as well as just something with a unique texture to play with (winds up feeling like a really thick whipped cream).

  2. Jason says:

    we used to do something with our old soap, it basically boils down to getting the old bits wet in a large bowl and let them sit until they get that soft film on them, and then you take a mold of some sort (shape is up to you) and you cram it in there as tightly as possible! and let it sit out until it dries – If all went well you should have a funky fresh bar of soap!

  3. Emms says:

    If you haven’t got enough to make a bar of solid soap, you can melt them down and add water or something to make liquid soap – especially handy if you’ve alreayd got an old pump soap bottle to reuse too. I’m not sure of an exact recipe but I’ve done it before and it was pretty easy. I’m sure if you search online you’ll find something.

  4. Anonymous says:

    If you have another bar of soap just paste the bits on the bar of soap.

  5. Iota says:

    Well, if you’re the gardening type you can just dissolve the soap in water and use a water mister to apply the soapy water to plants and vegtables as an insect deterrant.

    Or if you commonly dig holes in the ground without checking for natural gas lines, soapy water does a great job finding leaks in the line, the gas causes it to bubble don’t you know..

  6. Redhen says:

    For the garden or shop: recycle an old sock (bonus)and place the small bits of soap inside. Knot the top of the sock and hang where you’d like to wash your hands. Just wet the sock and use it to wash up. We use these on outdoor hydrants on our farm and inside barns where we have a water source.

  7. Josh says:

    If it’s not a wet slimy bit but still dry solid piece then cut into a small piece of, say, bigger than a dice and keep it inside your bicycle saddle bag where you keep a spare inner tube or puncture repair kit. You can detect the leak on the roadside when use a small amount of water or even your own saliva then rub soap onto suspected area. You see the bubbles when tyre/tube is squeezed. You can use on tyre directly or better on inner tube. Then you can use repair kit to patch up the hole… Bring it with you when you use inflatable beach toys or inflatable boat, too.

  8. Beverly says:

    I put my little bits of soap into a loofah scrubber that I keep in the shower. It’s constructed like an envelope with a velcro enclosure at one end. It’s made of loofah on one side and fabric on the other. It creates a soapy scrubbing experience. I believe the loofah scrubbers are generally available in beauty or bath departments at a good number of stores.

  9. Dave says:

    My dad used to do this all the time when I was a kid – somewhat obsessively in fact, used to wind my mum up a bit!

    Just keep the bits until you have quite a few (so maybe 20 or so). When you have enough, soak them for a little while until they’re soft, then cram them into a mould (a small aluminium sweet tin or similar) and let it dry.

    That’s it!

  10. Thad says:

    I have seen it suggested at a frugal homemakers website about making liquid soap from leftover pieces. I don’t know the exact recipe but it was basically just put the soap pieces in a blender with some water. Then give it a whirl … I bet that you could get the right consistency with some trial-and-error.

  11. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve been saving my bits to make my own laundry soap. The recipe I have calls for 16 cups baking soda, 12 cups borax, 8 cups grated castile or glycerin soap flakes, 3 taplespoons essential oil. Use 1/8 cup per load. I thought I’d save my old bits of soap to make my own soap flakes–save up until I had enough to grate 8 cups in my food processer.

  12. MB says:

    Put bits of soap in the plastic mesh bag that onions come in. Use a twist-tie to fasten closed. It’s great if your hands are extra-dirty from gardening, also helps kids hold onto slippery soap.

  13. Helen says:

    My Granny sewed two small bits of thin foam together to make a kind of sponge envelope to keep old bits of soap in. I loved using it as a kid – very soft and made a great lather.You could probably make one out of those flat washing up sponges.

  14. biffadigital says:

    I never throw out old bits of soap. Soften down the very hard bits in a microwave. Use a very high sided container. Boil all of it down with some water in a pan on the hob. Cool down in an old margarine container.

  15. Lesley says:

    My gran always kept the end bits of bars of soap in a jam jar until she had enough to make a new bar of soap. Her method was to put a pan of water on the stove, and put the bits of soap in a bowl over the water so it was gently heated. Then it was left to set in the shape of the bottom of the bowl. Normally it would be half the hard Fairy soap for scrubbing floors and half coloured soaps from the bathroom, which made it pretty and mottled.

  16. pbs says:

    They’re usually just the right size to wash your mouth out when you’re naughty. Chase it with some Scotch.

  17. jimmysmits says:

    Napalm. Use the little bits of soap in Molotov cocktails. The napalm effect is devastating and powerful.

  18. David says:

    Take the scraps of bar soap and wet them. Then scrape the wood screws on the soap(make sure there is a thick coat). When you drill the screw in the wood, the soap acts as a lubricant and it won’t split the wood. I learned this when I was a young boy. Good luck.

  19. Elouise says:

    I put scraps of soap into boxes of books or papers that go into storage, or into the pockets of winter coats. They prevent fishmoths from eating paper and cloth and generally keep insects away. Likewise, I rub soap on the inside of cardboard boxes that are going to store things longterm.

    • Ellen says:

      I put a bar of Ivory soap into a container as you indicate above and now, years later, find that the soap is discolored, . . . . pretty much all the way through. Should it be used for soap, discarded, or are there other uses recommended?

  20. airfresh1 says:

    throw them in the trash

  21. Gulia says:

    Shred them, sprinkle with water a bit, squeeze or mold into some shape and you have new bar of soap.

  22. Mark says:

    Why don’t you just throw the soap in like a plastic cup and cover it with plastic sheet. Reuse it next time?

  23. Deedo says:

    I don’t have the patience to gather them for making a new soap, I usually just throw them in the washing mashine.

  24. kittykat says:

    Save your bits of soap (dry) in a glass jar until you have enough that equals about 1 new bar, then get 4 used dryer fabric softener sheets (or “rescue” some from the trash at the laundromatt). Make a little
    “soap pillow” with double walls (for strength) on both sides. The idea is to sew all the way around the dryer sheets, enclosing the soap inside. This solves several problems: The soap bits do not need to be melded back into a single bar, it does not matter if they don’t match in shape, size, color, scent, or consistency, and it also recycles 4 of those dryer sheets. A small piece of velcro strategically placed would make it possible to keep adding more bits of soap to the pillow as needed.

  25. Amelia says:

    See –
    It doesnt apply to home soap, but thought people might be interested.

  26. Cipollina says:

    I put several bits inside a washcloth (the kind you wear as a mitten), and use in the shower. This way I manage to use up every scrap.

  27. Polly says:

    My Grandmother would toss the small leftover soap pieces into the laundry to get the full bang for her buck!

  28. Pam says:

    My Mom used to have a gadget, a bit like a tea strainer with a lid. She put all the left-over bits of soap into it, and then she’d swish it around in hot water and use it for washing the dishes. No Fairy Liquid etc in those days – that was only for rich people!

  29. recycler says:

    grate them melt them down and pour them into cookie cutters
    they may be clumpy but worth it

  30. i think the best way would be to mash them together and or melt them as the other poster says and make more soap, i bet they look great with teh different colours

  31. Estelle says:

    I put slivers of almost-used-up soap in my cupboards amongst the clothes. I like to think this keeps fish moths away, as mentioned above, but it also makes the drawers and the clothes smell nice.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Grate the soap make sure u dont just thrrow them in and put them in a blender with some water and jobs done.

  33. SJ says:

    If it’s frugality you’re worried about just stick the sliver onto your next bar of soap.

  34. dannsheila says:

    I put mine in the garbage disposal. It cleans out all the yuck that builds up.

  35. OLia says:

    Place little bit of soap bits into a jar or container, add water, shake and use as hand soap. You can even add perfume.

  36. Constance Stachelek says:

    We recycle used soap pieces by first microwaving them to remove germs, and also make sure they are dry, and then when we have enough, we make a pouch to lay in the linen closet under and between the sheets and pillow slips. They smell heavenly.

  37. Maryag Rolph says:

    My grandmother used to put all her spare bits of soap in a jar and add water and leave for a few days. The resulting liquid can then be used for washing woollen or special garments or if you are a gardener, use this liquid to counteract black fly infestations.

  38. Gulia says:

    If soap has quite distinguishable scent, place the leftover into a mole hall. Moles can not stand strong smell and will leave your garden.

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