Cleanup & Safety Tips for Soap Making: Let's Chat About it

tips for cleaning up after cold process soap making

Just writing about the clean-up part of soap making, makes us say, blah! It's probably universally the most disliked part of the soap making process. Even if you're NOT a "messy" soaper, you're still going to be stuck doing a clean-up process each and every time. 

So while we're on the subject, we mid as well talk about how to properly do it. You see, the process of the cleaning up after soaping, is different then what you're use to. In most cases we use heavy lye, heavy amounts of butters, oils, saponification has even began to occur in your mixing buckets. 

Keep in mind even mixed soap batter can still be caustic for a number of hours because the chemical reactions of the oils/butters and lye is still occurring, meaning there is still unused lye lingering around. 

So what the heck do you do with all of it? How do you properly dispose of everything?

First off, there may not be a "best method", but truth is there are right and wrong ways to handle soaping ingredients. Following some basic safety tips is probably best, however you decide you want the process to go!

One thing is for sure, make sure to wear long sleeves, goggles, and have plenty of disposable gloves! ; )

Tips for How to Effectively and Safely Clean-up After Soaping!

cold process soap cleanup

So we've come to that point, right! All that time spent being inspired to formulate, calculate, and execute your soap. You've measured, melted those oils, waited patiently for the lye solution to cool, blended, mixed, poured and did you're beautiful swirl design. 

Hopefully your soap has turned out just as you wanted. Well, we hate being the bearer of bad news, but regardless if your soap did just what you wanted or not, the clean-up is next!

* Please DO NOT just throw everything in the dishwasher! *

Let's Talk Lye Clean-up!

First, please keep all soap making equipment separate then "cookware". Keep away from children and pets, soap making is for responsible adults only!!!

Now, since this is often the first question out there, let's get it out of the way. We know lye is caustic and it's most harmful when it's the most concentrated. So what do you do with the container that held the lye itself!

The easiest way to clean the container in regards to lye is wash it out with warm tap water and dish soap. The container can completely be re-used. 

Remember, you should be using specific containers for lye and lye solution (NO aluminum, & remember glass can break!) and handling all equipment after CP soaping with disposable gloves (spoons, measuring cups, lye solution container, thermometer if you don't use an infrared one) should be dealt with similarly to the lye container). 

What if I See Spilt Lye or Granules on the Area I soaped? 

If dry lye does fall on your surface, brush it off gently (potentially back into the lye container) then wipe the area with a damp cloth multiple times

What About the Soap Batter and Mixing Equipment with Residual Soap Batter?

Again, personal preference here. We like to deal with the equipment first that held the undiluted lye and the lye solution. Once that's out of the way, we handle the equipment with batter/lye residuals. 

a. Immediate Disposal: 

I would say most soapers like to clean their containers and equipment fairly quickly. I know we hate dirty dishes lying around, we'd rather get the "clean-up" over with. 

For us, the easiest way to clean, is to wipe down all the containers, spatulas, mixers with paper towels of any residual batter. (You can also scrape contents with a rubber spatula). We have a separate bag for dirty "soap rags" or paper towels that we discard, after soaping. After all, you don't want all those oils, and soap batter in your pipes, which is why we avoid the dishwasher!

After all the heavier portions of residual are gone, their is bound to still be a coating on your soap making equipment. 

Have a dedicated rag and/or sponge for cleaning your soap equipment. We also have a long brush to get into any detailed bottles we may use.

At this point their is no magic formula, it's about getting down and dirty! Dawn is our friend. It's grease fighting and does a really good job when combined with hot water at getting through the oils. So gather your containers, dish soap + hot water & let them soak. We usually place our small utensils in one of the soapy containers as well and let sit for a few minutes. 

At this time, we usually clean our blender. Place it in one of the containers with dish soap and hot water and pulse it. This usually does the trick as long as the soap has not been sitting to long on the blender and blades. 

After that, we simply clean the rest of our containers, and utensils. Let dry and we are ready to go again!

b. Wait Method: 

Some soapers prefer to wait until the better has saponified, 24-hours or so. At this time you don't have to worry as much about caustic solutions or batter. It is soap at this point and can fairly easily be washed away with 30 minutes of soaking. 

Another plus to this method is if you're someone who hates waste, you can in fact scrape out the soap from the container(s), and use it in another project down the line. Maybe you want to make soap balls of soap, or shreds, to place in another soap project, this is perfectly fine with this method, because you now have soap!

Final Thoughts!

Any method you choose for clean-up, make sure you keep yourself safe, and keep all soap making materials in a safe place, away from children and/or pets.

If you have any other thoughts on safe handling and clean-up of CP soap, please be sure to share with us here at RN to Zen, we'd love to hear!

Thanks for stopping by!

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