It’s the most tedious and one of the most necessary parts of soapmaking, especially if you’re the average soaper with only a kitchen to work in, one that needs to be free of lye when your done with it. So here are a few tricks and tips to make things go a little smoother:
A few handy tools. A roll of paper towels and a spray bottle of water and vinegar are your friends. I also like to keep my recipes in plastic sleeves in a binder. It means I can not only check of oils and ingredients with a dry erase pen as I collect them, but I can wipe off any soap goo I might accidentally get on them.
Mise en place. Everything in it’s place. Have everything read to go, before you start soaping, and try to always keep your methods generally the same. Knowing where everything is makes putting it away easier.
Divide and conquer. Split up your sink. I keep a bucket of suds and vinegar in one half. Anything that touches the lye solution goes in the bucket. However, containers and utensils that just touched oils go in the other half. Those get a quick rinse and go straight in the dishwasher (the little bits of fats still clinging to them will actually help your dish detergent work better, as it needs grime to cling to in order to clean).
Wipedown time. Post-pour, wipe as much soap residue as you can off your mixing bucket and utensils. You can use paper towels, but I like to use cloth baby wipes and toss them in a bucket in the garage when I’m done. In a few days, when the soap has saponified, you can either throw a few at a time in with loads of laundry or wash them all at once, by themselves. Much easier than trying to rinse or scrape all that hardening soap off.
Wash twice, dry once. Anything that touched lye or had soap reside on it should be washed twice and set in a specific area to dry. This will keep you or your family from getting confused and grabbing the measuring cup you use for soaping to measure out food stuffs. I use a metal basket that hangs over my sink, but a towel laid on the counter will work just as well. This will also make putting all your stuff away, afterward, easy-peasy.
Spray it down. After everything is washed up and drying, spray down all your counters and work areas with the vinegar-water spray. Don’t forget to get the handles of your faucets!
Don’t forget to wash your gloves! Wash your gloves before you take them off. And, if you’re like me and wear the close-fitting heavy-duty kitchen gloves and have trouble getting them off, rinse with cool water before trying to remove them, and then pull one finger at a time to ‘break the seal’ as it were.
Hopefully, this has made your post-soaping cleanup a little easier. If you’re a fellow soaper and have any tips or tricks to add, please feel free to leave them in the comments.