How to Clean Everything Up After Making Soap

Pouring melted soap mixture into square container
William Reavell/Dorling Kindersley/Getty Images

So you've made your own perfect batch of soap. It's 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 in creating a marvelous batch of soap.

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

There are several things to be aware of when you start to clean up after making soap. First and foremost is to be aware of the lye solution - which has now been spread to several places:

  1. The pitcher you mixed it in - there is likely to be several drops left behind. Be sure to rinse it out well. Just plain water works fine.
  2. Same with the spoon you used to stir the lye - rinse it well.
  3. Anywhere else the lye may have trailed to. Your gloves? Your thermometer? Be careful that a little stray drop of lye or granule of powdered lye isn't "lye-ing" in wait for you.

Now...once you've dealt with the pure undiluted lye, you also have the raw soap to deal with. It's really not quite completely soap just yet...there's still a lot of lye and oils wrestling with each other - starting to saponify - and it's still somewhat caustic. While it won't burn you as badly as pure lye, it will cause some irritation on your skin and definitely burn your eyes.

There are a few traditional ways to deal with the raw leftover soap.

  1. First and foremost, be sure to scrape most all of the soap out of the pot and into your mold(s) with a rubber spatula. Less waste, less to clean up.
  2. Then, you can wipe the pot out with paper towels and throw them away. This will get the pot clean enough to wash with water, put in the dishwasher, or just leave it until your next batch.
  3. If you don't want to deal with the 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 quite soap just yet, so it's possible that some of it could stick in your drain. I've never had this happen, but it's possible.
  4. If you can tolerate leaving some mess until later, you can just put your stick blender and all your spoons and such that have the raw soap on them into the pot, or into a safe container, or on top of the counter, cover it up with a towel or lid, and just leave it all overnight. In the morning or next day, the oils and lye WILL be soap .and you can just clean it up in the sink super easily with no risk to the drain. I also know people who use cotton "shop" towels for cleanup and leave them overnight. The next day, they throw the towels, now with real soap on them, into the washing machine.

    Whichever method you use, just remember that the raw soap is still caustic and can burn you or any other unsuspecting family members that may come in contact with it. Be sure that the end of your soap making process is treated as safely as the start!