One Soap To Rule Them All

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I took a historical paper bindings workshop (bindings as in bookbindings) this weekend, and not only did I learn an incredible amount about making books, but got to spend time with some birds of a feather. I was not at all surprised to enjoy the conversations around me just as much as the bookish teaching and learning. I found out about a great new Mexican restaurant in the area, why chicken eggs are the colors they are (the breed of chicken!), and there was even a conversation about why shampoo, soap, and other detergents are unnecessary for personal care much of the time. If there is one thing I’ve learned in my rationing project, it’s that presently people both overuse and use too great a variety of soaps, detergents, shampoos, and other cleaning products for their hair and body. They can take their toll on you, and also on the environment (not only the chemicals, but all. those. plastic. bottles.).

I thought it would be a good time to review the ways I keep my soap coupons low, and still stay clean and tidy!

*Vinegar. Vinegar, vinegar, vinegar! I have white and apple cider vinegar on hand at all times. It cleans my house, gets added to my laundry, and I rinse my hair with it (sometimes all my hair needs, especially in the winter, is to get wet and get an apple cider vinegar rinse — no soap involved). You can even make apple scrap vinegar pretty easily (it’s what I’m using on my hair presently).

*One Good Bar of Soap. Right now I use a bar from Chagrin Valley — it’s a shampoo bar but I use it everywhere. I soap my hair, get some soap on a (handknit!) washcloth, and I have plenty of soap for a bath. I let it dry on a soap rack so it will last longer. I’m still using the bar of soap I opened in, what, April?! 🙂

I just learned that a natural, handmade soap shop is opening in my town, and they are offering soap making classes! I’ve been wanting to learn soapmaking for decades but have been nervous about handling lye on my own the first time, and really wanted to make some with an expert the first few times. It looks like I may get my wish this fall! If I start making my own soap, I’ll be combining single ingredients, which means my soap will not cost any coupons. I can’t tell you how happy this will make me!

*Soapnuts! I use these berries to do my laundry, in combination with vinegar and a scoop of baking soda if things need extra freshening. No plastic bottles, no scary chemicals running into our waterways.

*Water. Sometimes, water is all that you need. At work, we have horrid drying soap, and if my hands aren’t greasy or very dirty I only rinse them with water (I’ve not had a cold in over a year – knock wood). As stated above, sometimes my hair gets water and an apple cider vinegar rinse. I rinse my tea cup and water glass thoroughly every day at work and don’t use soap (I take them home and put them through our dishwasher — which gets half the (low impact!) dishwasher detergent “necessary” and a glug of vinegar to save on dishwashing powder — every now and again). In the morning, I rinse my face with water, and do not use soap. I’ve only been sleeping!

And there you have it! A far cry from the zillions of (I think completely unnecessary) bottles in the average home. That being said, I will let you in on my one Soap Related Vice — I ask my husband to bring me home his partially used soap, lotion, shampoo, conditioner, etc. from when he travels for work. Whenever I feel the need for a shampoo and condition like the Modern People do, I have some on hand that would have went to waste otherwise (hotels throw this stuff away).

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