One of the questions I get asked quite often either in classes or by email is how do you clean up after a soap making session.

There are two schools of thought.

  1. Clean up right away or
  2. Leave the dishes sitting around until the next day when they will have turned into soap.

I often do several batches in a row so I tend to clean up right after a batch.  I also don’t really like dirty dishes sitting around.  If you’re cleaning up right after a batch you want to wipe as much raw soap as you can from containers, utensils…mixing buckets…etc.  You really don’t want the raw soap to go down your drain.  At this point…it’s really oily and you know you’re not supposed to pour oil down the drains.  I simply use paper towels and wipe out/off as much as possible.

If I leave my dishes to sit overnight to turn to soap I still wipe out as much raw soap as possible so I’m not having to scrape off thick layers of soap the next day.

To help clean your stick blender fill up a container with hot water and run the blender in it.  Sometimes the blades can be a pain to clean so this helps with that.  This is also a good tip if your stick blending different colors of soap in a row for a multi-colored design.  Between each color, dip your stick blender into the hot water and blend for a couple of seconds and move on to the next color.

I tend to use plastic cups when doing multi-colored swirls so I can just throw them away instead of having to wash.  Although I guess that could be a bit wasteful.  It does cut down on the cleaning.

Here are some more tips for cleaning up right after you make soap.

  • Lye solution: This can be poured down the drain, as it is used as a drain cleaner. However, you should never put raw soap down the drain, as it can clog very easily.
  • Dry lye container and lye solution container: Rinse with water and wash with soap.
  • Batch and mixing containers: Anything with raw soap should be wiped down before washing. Use paper towels to wipe the raw soap out of containers and discard. Then rinse and wash as usual. Some soapmakers recommend wiping with cloth towels, allowing the towels to sit overnight to saponify, and then laundering. But the superfat (excess oil) in soap can clog your washing machine and leave a gunky residue, so I don’t recommend this.
  • Stick blender and utensils: Wipe down with paper towels and then wash with soap and water. Make sure your stick blender is turned off before cleaning!
  • Molds: If you’re using silicone molds, simply rinse the soap off. No need to wash. If you’re using wooden molds and some soap escaped your liner, just use a knife or scraper to scrape off the hardened soap; no need to wash.
  • Some soapmakers leave all their soapmaking dishes until the next day, when everything has turned to soap and can be rinsed and put away. If you’re not in a hurry, there’s no harm in letting things sit overnight.
  • A vinegar solution can be used to spray down your workspace to neutralize any lye that might have gotten onto the surface. I also keep a spray bottle of alcohol to clean up oily residue from my scale, stick blender base, and bottles of oils that might dribble as I pour.
  • Wear gloves as you’re wiping containers and your stick blender, as traced soap is still caustic and can burn.

Do you have any tips for easier cleanup?  Please leave a comment!

Happy Cleaning!