I have often seen bars of laundry soap on store shelves and wondered what they were for. I have Laura Ingalls Wilder images of a happy washerwoman skipping through a field of daisies down to the creek with a basket of laundry, and whacking a dirndl against a rock, furiously rubbing it with an oversized chuck of soap and rinsing it in the bubbling brook. Or maybe the bar of laundry soap is used as a pre-wash; applying a vigorous rub with the soap on a stubborn stain before throwing it in the machine.
The main use appears to be using the bar on a stubborn stain, as mentioned, before tossing it in with the wash. Wet the spot, moisten the soap and rub the bar into the stain.
Another use for the bar soap is to supplement your powder or liquid soap by grating a little of the bar right into the wash. Some folks recommend grating as much soap as they desire right into some hot water and letting it dissolve before adding to the wash.
I talked to veteran campers who bring a bar –or half a bar-of the soap with them when they go into the country for extended trips. It doesn’t take much room or add much weight to the ol’ backpack, you can use the same bar over and over, and there is no packaging to deal with, which is great when you are in the middle of nowhere and don’t want to lug around an empty carton or box or bottle.
But the most intriguing use for bar laundry soap just may be using it as a base to make your own, homemade liquid laundry soap. There are numerous “recipes” for homemade soap, most of them use a base of borax and soap, and they are all economical and somewhat environmentally friendly. Linda Laundry Soap, for example, is made in Italy and described as “a natural laundry soap that can be used on any type of fabric.” And of course, if you make your own liquid laundry soap out of it you can use the laundry bottles over and over.
Go to the Canadian Preppers Network site for directions and a recipe.