Discover more from Your House Machine
How I cut the number of soaps I use in half
Why do I have 10 different kinds of soap in my house?
Your House is Your Machine explores a systems-driven approach to home organization and life. If you like what you’re reading, perhaps you can share this with your best friend, your mom, or someone you know who dreams of an organized home.
Sometimes when solving a problem, the trick is to simplify the problem rather than design the perfect solution.
My soap saga is an excellent example of this. Soap can quickly get complicated. Marketers tell us we need a lot of specialized soaps in our homes: For each job, the perfectly customized soap! Following their lead, here’s where I found myself a few years go:
That’s a lot of soaps! And if you have each of these 10 soaps, you need to devote space in your brain to knowing when one type is low, refilling the soaps, researching to make sure that scary chemical X you just read about isn’t in each soap, and so on.
My soap-simplification journey began when I was thinking about starting a family and learned about all the compounds in personal care products that can mess up your fertility. I quickly became overwhelmed at the prospect of having to research and replace all these different products with hormone-safe ones.
Then it occurred to me…do I really need TEN different types of soaps? Isn’t soap basically just….soap…at the end of the day? Who will get mad if I use shampoo on my body? What law says I can’t use the same stuff for dishes and my hands?
Call it laziness, call it discernment…either way I’ve managed to cut down on products by asking soaps to do multiple jobs:
Dish soap - If you get an eco-friendly product, it can double as hand soap without drying your skin out. It won’t cut grease like Dawn, but you’ll live—trust me.
DishWASHER soap - I’ve learned the hard way, never use dish soap in the machine. The machine gets its own bespoke soap.
Body soap - I use fancy shampoo or else I’d just use the same thing for skin and hair
Bath soapUse body soap, or nothing as soap will dry out your skin if you soak in it Hand soapI use eco-friendly dish soap at every sink in my house as hand soap Face wash- Our skin has a microbiome, and I’ve heard it’s best to use face products that leave it intact. So instead of soap I use micellar water, which cleans and removes makeup all at once. Not sure if it’s cheating to cross this off the list but I’m gonna do it. Baby soapUse shampoo or the same body soap you use Baby shampooUse your own eco shampoo
I’ve managed to cut my list in half to 5 products, which feels more manageable to me. Bonus if you can get your partner to use all the same products so you don’t have multiple shampoos in the shower (it’s a little known fact that gender differences do not require different soap!).
Every product we use is the gentlest possible version of itself — fragrance free, skin protecting, and so on. We don’t need to be scrubbing the living daylights out of every single thing. There are benefits to biodiversity, protecting your skin’s microbiome, and keeping chemicals out of your home. Clean enough is good enough for me. And it simplifies my life, so I don’t need to worry about using the wrong product on the wrong thing — nothing will be harmed either way.
The items we run through most quickly are dish and hand soap, and lucky me these are one and the same product in our house so I just buy liquid in bulk to refill the glass jars we use at all sinks, kitchen and bathroom alike.
If you want to go the extra step to research the safest products, the Environmental Working Group reviews the safety/irritation potential of most household products and is a great resource. The EWG has had controversy over brands allegedly buying high scores, but I haven’t found a more comprehensive resource yet, so I refer to its Skin Deep personal care product database and its Cleaning Product database. Gimmethegoodstuff.org is another site that dives deep on safety and clean products of all sorts. Find a couple brands you trust and can get easily, and then set it and forget it.
There are many good choices out there, but I use Ecos Unscented soap for all dishes & hands (it’s clean according to EWG and my local grocery store sells refills), and Dropps for dishwasher and laundry tablets.
(Not at all necessary for simplifying your soap usage, but if you want to not sleep tonight, here’s a basic primer on endocrine disrupting chemicals.)
Thanks for reading! If someone forwarded you this, enter your email below to receive weekly-ish home organization advice from Your House is Your Machine:
Other posts you may enjoy:
Why I don’t post (much) organization porn - safe for work!