When the price of something goes up, I’m always looking for ways to stretch it just a bit further.
Wen we switched to organic chicken, we figured out a way to make it last for seven meals.
When we couldn’t squeeze another drop out of our all-natural toothpaste, we cut off the ends of the tube to make it last three more weeks.
And then we started making our own to save another 40%.
Other toiletries, like soap, are a different matter though. Thanks to my over-obsessive couponing days, I’ve had enough soap on hand to last over two years. Back then it cost me 25-50¢ per container and I never thought twice about what was inside.
Nowadays, I’m re-evaluating our skincare products and switching to healthier items one at a time. When we make “the switch,” I’m looking at both the price tag AND the ingredients… and it’s not always easy to reconcile the two.
Perfect example: My new favorite bar of soap costs $4.95. It’s 100% natural, made with nothing other than goat milk, nourishing oils and some essential oils. It’s the most natural bar of soap I’ve ever used, and it has been pivotal to improving the health of my skin.
It’s also the most affordable soap in it’s class.
But as the checkout page reminds me, it costs $4.95. Each.
I blew the budget last month and went over by $60+. If history repeats itself, the Crumbs family is going to be dirty and smelly because I won’t have an extra $5 on soap.
So I’m thinking outside the box and trying to come up with ways to make what I have last longer – without sacrificing quality. I’m hoping that these eight tips for stretching a bar of soap will be helpful beyond my own bathroom and budget, perhaps inspiring you to think outside the box too so we can all enjoy – and afford – higher quality items without going broke.
8 Tips for Stretching a Bar of Soap
1. Let it “cure.”
If your soap comes in a wrapper, unwrap it an allow it to sit to cure for 6-8 weeks. I know, tough you need a shower STAT, but buy an extra bar and think ahead for next time.
The extra time you give for a bar to cure means it’ll be less likely to turn to mush when it hits running water. This isn’t much of an issue if you’re using handcrafted soap (like this goat milk soap) that has already cured before you got your hands on it, but still. A little bit of patience never hurt a bar of soap and could possibly help your budget.
2. Use a washcloth, or a loofah, instead of your hands.
Your hands have this amazing inability to produce and retain lather. It’s the nature of the beast. So then, why do we keep trying to use them, over and over, to make lather?
Wash smarter by using a washcloth or loofah. Get it soapy once with a couple good rubs of the bar, and then put the bar away. The washcloth or loofah will absorb the lather and keep it going for you, so you can keep on washing. All while using less soap.
That little bag in the picture above? I gave it a few good rubs of soap and it lasted me three showers worth of lather. Genius!
3. Keep it out of water.
When you’re done smothering your washcloth or loofah, that is.
Storing soap in the stream of water and/or steam, or on a solid ledge built into the shower, will make the soap break down quicker. Have you ever opened a bar of soap, and then mysteriously just a few weeks later it’s suddenly melted into nothing? Blame the water.
Use something that encourages air flow like a soap dish so the water can drain off and the soap can dry. Then, keep that ledge at the opposite end of the shower so it dries faster. The key is air circulation, so skip the fancy dishes that don’t have holes. You want holes, and the more the better.
By the way, I tested this method when I was giving my new favorite goat milk soap a thorough trial run. The above pictures are comparing three soaps: one that I used for one week on vacation (far left), one that I used for one month in the shower at home (center) and one new bar of soap (right).
I employed tactics #3 and #4 for the bar at home (center) while the bar on vacation sat on the built-in ledge in the shower. You can SEE the huge difference it makes! There’s more bar left after using it for four weeks at home than compared to the bar used for just one week on vacation!!
4. Let it air dry, completely.
If multiple people are using the same bar of soap each morning, one person right after another, the bar will always be wet and never fully dry… and therefore, continuously in the process of melting. However, if the bar is allowed to dry completely before being used again, it’ll last much longer.
Give each person their own bar of soap – and each their own ledge – allowing the bars to dry completely before using again, and your toiletry budget (what? You have one?) will thank you.
5. Cut the bar into pieces.
There’s a thought that bigger bars of soap last longer. However, there is scientific evidence to the idea that a smaller surface area of soap means less soap hits the water, meaning the soap will last longer.
My own, non-scientific explanation is this: When you start with less, there’s less to waste and less to use. That works for me.
Take your bar of soap to the kitchen and cut it in half, or thirds if you can. Swap a smaller bar for a bigger bar and you’re done. Keep applying principles #3 and #4 above.
6. Turn it into liquid soap.
Those teeny tiny pieces get annoying, but don’t let them go to waste. Don’t let any miscellaneous shavings from cutting your bar in half go to waste either. Make your own liquid soap with this simple tutorial. That method alone saves TONS of money on soap. The batch you see above is still going strong!!
7. Turn liquid soap into foaming soap.
Do you know the secret to making a foamy soap? It’s the pump. Re-use an old foaming hand soap bottle and you’ll turn any liquid soap into a foaming soap. If you’re making your own liquid soap, you might have to adjust the water ratio. Just tinker with it until it’s the right consistency.
8. Buy scraps.
So this tip doesn’t exactly stretch what you already have, but rather makes for a better deal when you’re buying it in the first place. Bulk soap scraps cost up to 65% less than the pretty bars, but they do the same thing. Plus I hear that bulk scraps are full-sized bars anyway! Reduce the price from the get go and you’re automatically off to a great start.
I know you guys are full of great ideas. How do you save on bars of soap? What secret methods are you willing to share with the rest of us?
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