How to Clean Your Soap-Making Tools

Lye and Raw Soap Can Harm Your Skin

Pouring melted soap mixture into square container

William Reavel, Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

So you have made your own perfect batch of soap. It has been measured and heated and blended and swirled and finally poured into the mold. You cover the mold gently with a towel and set it aside to do its magic. You beam with pride for creating a batch of soap.

Then you turn around and see the mess you've just left: a big pot with a bunch of raw soap in it. What do you do?

Lye Containers

Your first cleaning concern should be to deal with the components that held lye. This soap ingredient is caustic, it can cause severe burns if it touches your skin.

You will need to wash the pitcher and measuring cup that you used to mix the lye into the solution. There is likely to be several drops left behind. Be sure to rinse it out well. Plain water works fine.

Rinse off the spoon that you used to stir in the lye. Also, wash off anything that might have come in contact with the lye such as your gloves and a thermometer. Look carefully around your soap-making station for lye drops or granules that might have fallen when making your soap mixture.

Raw Soap Tools and Vessels

Once you have dealt with the pure undiluted lye, then you also have the raw soap to deal with. It's really not quite soap just yet. There is still a lot of lye and oils wrestling with each other. It may be starting to saponify, but it is still somewhat caustic. While it will not burn you as badly as pure lye, it will cause some irritation on your skin and can burn your eyes.

First and foremost, be sure to scrape every last drop of the soap from the pot and into your molds with a rubber spatula. With less waste, there is less to clean up.

Then, you can wipe the pot out with paper towels and throw them away. This will get the pot clean enough to wash out with water, put in the dishwasher, or just leave it until your next batch.

If you do not want to deal with paper towels and wiping, you can use a lot of hot water and soap and wash it down the drain. The slight risk there is that the oils and lye are not soap yet, so it is possible that some of it could stick in your drain.

Leave It for the Next Day

If you can tolerate leaving some mess until later, you can set aside the items with raw soap on them like your stick blender, your spoons, and your soap pot. Cover those items with a cotton towel or lid, and just leave it until the next day. By the next morning, the oils and lye will be soap and you can clean it up in the sink easily with no risk to the drain or your skin.

If you do this, make sure you clearly label these items as "hazardous" or "dangerous" as they sit overnight during the saponification process. Notify other unsuspecting family members and carefully tuck these items well out of reach. You do not want to risk anyone from getting burned from your soap-making tools.