A super simple way to make your money go farther that only takes SECONDS to do, and actually doubles or triples how long bar soap will last, is to go Back to Basics: Unwrap the bar of soap as soon as you get home from purchasing it and store it unwrapped.
That is it! That is all there is to it!
During the Great Depression, everyone had to use a plethora of tricks to make everything last longer and this was one trick my Mother and her parents used.
Now, let me explain why it works.
- Initially soap was made at farms around slaughtering time. They poured the liquid soap into large frames, added a little salt (to help it to harden) and allowed to dry. Then, as they needed soap, they broke off a piece of the slab of soap.
- In the early 1800s, general stores began to pop up and purveyors bought bar soap for both laundry and also bathing. Bars were simply stacked on shelves and the store clerk would take a customer’s shopping list and fill it. Bar soap stuck together when bars were stacked on each other.
- In 1851, the B. A. Babbitt Company offered one of the very first marketing techniques in the USA to encourage women (who did not live on farms or make their own soap) to buy their soap. They created a marketing tactic to sell the soap with wrappers by creating a slogan: “a bouquet that wouldn’t wilt” and included a picture of flowers with the soap. The company would send a free picture of flowers to anyone who mailed three Sweet Home Laundry Soap wrappers to them. Women began buying large quantities of soap so they could mail the wrappers and get free pictures of flowers. Thus began Premium Marketing.
- Montgomery Ward, initially a dry goods mail order store, was founded by Aaron Montgomery Ward, a traveling salesman in 1872, based on what he learned from his years of experience as a salesman. By eliminating the middle man, he was able to make quality goods available to the country folks, who did not have retailers available to them that were held accountable for the quality of their products. He began his promotion by offering 10 free bars of White Naptha soap when customers purchased a wash boiler.
But back to the topic of this mighty Minnie: the trick to make a bar of soap last longer is to go Back to Basics; back to when soap was initially made and sold in general stores, it was sold by the bar – with no wrapping or boxes.
When you get home from purchasing bars of soap, immediately take the soap out of the wrapper and store it in a container (NOT air tight). The longer the soap is open to air to cure, the more it dries out and the longer the bar of soap lasts.
It still lathers as much as when you first purchase it. The only thing that does is to dry the moisture from bars of soap. It does nothing to the cleaning properties of the soap. When you use the soap, keep it in some sort of container that allows the water to drain off the soap, whether it’s into the bottom of a container or just drains the water into the sink or shower. There are two reasons for this: prevent germs from forming if the soap remains wet, and if you let the soap remain wet where it rests the bottom of a container or shower shelf, it will wash off faster with each use.
Seamstresses have 3 other innovative ways to recycle soap.
- I use small pieces of leftover soap on zippers that are sticking. Just rub the dry piece of soap on the teeth of the zipper and then hold the zipper pull to open and close the zipper several times. You may need to make a 2nd application to get more soap between the teeth of the zipper. However, that has worked for every single time. This works better on metal zippers; however, it also works on plastic zippers.
- When you make a garment from scratch, use a piece of bar soap to mark the fabric. The soap washes easily and completely out of the finished garment.
- When I use needles to hem slacks, sew on buttons, etc., I rub the needle on a piece of bar soap before putting it way. I do the same thing with the pins I use to pin pieces of garments together. When I remove the pins, once every 3 or 4 times (more often if you live in a humid climate), I rub the pins on a piece of bar soap. This prevents the needles and pins from getting rusty
Final tip: You can make bars of soap go even farther yet: make a new bar of soap from the pieces of soap when to bars of soap have been worn down to tiny pieces. WikiHow has an excellent article, complete with pictures that show you how to do this.