by Laura McIlwaine February 05, 2020

Pure soap is the original general purpose cleaner. In its purest form, natural soap contains no extra additives such as colours and fragrances and biodegrades completely. In this article I’ll share the benefits of using pure soap for household cleaning tasks and my three favourite uses for pure soap flakes.

What is Pure Soap?

Soaps are derivatives of fatty acids and have been traditionally made from triglycerides (oils and fats). Tallow (or sodium tallowate), rendered beef fat, is the most available triglyceride from animals.

Soaps can also be made from vegetable oils such as palm oil, coconut oil, olive oil and laurel oil. Soap made from pure olive oil is sometimes called Castile soap and is reputed for being extra mild.

In recent years, there has been growing awareness of palm oil due to due the impact of this industry on declining orang-utan populations. To help reduce the global demand for this product, opt for locally made pure soaps made from other plant oils such as olive oil. We recommend All Natural Soap Flakes made by The Australian Natural Soap Company. They are palm oil free, cruelty free, paraben free, sulfate free, detergent free, biodegradable and vegan.

How Does Soap Clean?

When used for cleaning, soap allows otherwise insoluble particles to become soluble in water and then be rinsed away. Synthetic detergents operate by similar mechanisms to soap however are not made from natural ingredients.

Pure soap is wonderful for cleaning our hands, face and body, because the loosened dirt is rinsed away immediately; however soap used by itself is not as effective in the laundry.

Soaps can allow dirt lifted from clothing to redeposit on the clothes before the wash cycle is finished. In hard water (water containing high levels of minerals such as magnesium and calcium), soaps can react with minerals to form scum. This scum does not easily dissolve and it can be difficult to remove from fabrics. Due to these disadvantage, soaps have largely been replaced by detergents in the washing of clothes, however soap scum can be avoided by blending pure soap with a natural softening agent such as washing soda (sodium carbonate).

Three Uses for Pure Soap Flakes

Natural Laundry Powder Recipe



If using the bar of soap, you will need to either grate manually (using a cheese grater) or cut into smaller pieces and grind in a food processor such as a Thermomix (about 10 seconds on speed 8).

Mix together 2 parts soapflakes to 1 part washing soda (sodium carbonate). Add a bit more washing soda to the mix if you live in a hard-water area.

*If you don’t have the ability to grate your soap, you can take a short cut by using commercial soap flakes but just ensure that they don’t contain parfum (artificial fragrance). We use and recommend The Australian Natural Soap Company laundry soap bar or flakes available at Sustainahome.

Use 1 tablespoon in top loaders, ½ tablespoon in front loaders.


Natural Wool Mix Recipe


  • 1 cup pure soap flakes
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons water soluble essential oil (e.g. Eureka brand lavender or eucalyptus)

Alternative: you can use 2 teaspoons of pure essential oil instead of synthetic water-soluble essential oil, however will need to add it with ¼ cup of methylated spirits to keep the oil in solution.


  • Place the soap flakes and boiling water in a large mixing bowl and mix well with the stick blender or whisk (or electric blender or Thermomix) until soap has dissolved.
  • Add the essential oil and methylated spirits (if using) and mix very well, but not too well that your suds overflow the blender!
  • Pour the mixture into a large jar. You may have to do this in stages while waiting for the suds to settle.
  • Leave the jar overnight to cool and the wool mix will set to a firm jelly.
  • To use, rub a small amount into stains or dissolve one tablespoon of wool wash in warm water prior to adding to your load.
  • Wash woollens as per manufacturer’s directions and rinse well.


Natural Dishwashing Liquid Recipe

Commercial dishwashing liquids contain synthetic ingredients such as Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Lauryl Glucoside, Sodium Xylenesulfonate and Benzisothiazolinone

Pure soap is much gentler on your hands, health and the environment than commercial dishwashing alternatives. To use simply add approximately one tablespoon of natural soap flakes to a sink of hot water. Stir vigorously to dissolve and create bubbles. Wash and rinse dishes as you would with any other dishwashing liquid.


Final Thoughts

Pure soap is a natural and effective cleaner for your home that’s also better for your health and the health of our environment than synthetic cleaners.  By using natural soap for cleaning applications around your home you’ll reduce waste, save money and improve your health.

If you’d like more tips and recipes to help you to break up with toxic chemicals in your home, check out my  Home Detox Boot Camp. It’s there where I guide you step by step through the process of replacing toxic chemicals in your home with effective, economical and natural alternatives.


What are your best uses for pure soap? Share in the comments below!

Home Detox Boot Camp

Laura McIlwaine
Laura McIlwaine

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