Liquid foamy soap is one of my favorite things. It’s so light and effective and it washes away easily without much water. The trouble I’ve always had with liquid foamy soap is that it’s usually laden with chemicals I don’t know and it comes in a disposable plastic bottle with a disposable plastic pump. So in an effort to make healthier choices for both my body and the environment, I begrudgingly switched from liquid foamy soap to natural bar soap.
Why begrudgingly? As much as I love that I can buy locally-made, all-natural soaps, I just really don’t like bar soap. It gets caught up in my rings, taking extra time, effort, and water to rinse completely. If I’m not careful to keep the soap dish free of water, the soap gets really mushy and pretty gross. Then it breaks into little chunks and is harder to handle. I mean, who doesn’t love mushy blobs of bar soap marinating in a bowl of cold water? Ugh.
Then one evening I was reminded of the old soap-in-pantyhose trick my mom used decades ago when the whole family went camping together. Basically, she’d drop a bar of soap into the toe of an old stocking, then tie the stocking onto something next to our water jug. We’d wet our hands, rub our hands on the stocking-encased bar of soap, later up, then rinse. We barely used any water in this hand-washing process and the soap hung happily from a tree or the side of our camper — never getting soggy or stuck to a soap dish. This was great for camping, but really too cumbersome for indoor use.
And that’s where the garlic comes in.
Sometimes I’m able to buy loose garlic in bulk, but other times, the only way to buy garlic has been in a little white plastic net-like bag. I really dislike buying produce in packaging, but sometimes I do it anyway and it just inspires me to find a way to upcycle this packaging. I’m particularly excited when I get to upcycle something that totally solves a problem I have. In this case, it’s my mushy bar of soap sitting next to my sink.
As it turns out, if you use one of these garlic bags as a soap sack like my mom’s pantyhose method, your bar soap will behave like liquid foamy soap. Wait a minute… that’s the best of both worlds! And this is how it works: when you double the bag and put your soap inside, the inner layer of plastic net sticks to the bar, but the outer layer remains free to move around — and creates lots and lots of beautiful foam for you. If you store your soap like this on top of a little soap saver in your soap dish, it stays drier than it does when it’s naked. And if you hang it from a hook or suction cup in your shower, it works even better.
Here’s how to upcycle a garlic bag into your own sudsy buddy.
Step 1: Carefully untie the knot and remove garlic. Cut the label off of the top so you’re left with a tube with 2 open ends.
Step 2: Turn the tube halfway inside-out and line up the two open ends together. You still have a tube. One end now has a rolled top and the other end has the ragged cut edges.
Step 3: Sew the ragged edges together forming the bottom seam to sleeve you are making.
Step 4: Turn the sleeve inside out so that your stitching is now on the inside of the sleeve. Then, make a little hole *in the outer layer only* near the top edge. Run a string through that hole, around the inside of the sleeve, and back out of the same hole. This will be your drawstring.
Step 5: Tie a knot in your drawstring and you’re done! Now you can load this with a fresh bar of soap or even just the little bits of soggy soap from your soap dish. If you need to, you can cut your bar of soap in half and save the other half for later. You’ll be surprised how long your soap lasts when you’re only using the foam it makes for you.
Bonus Step: If you find that your drawstring doesn’t stay closed as tightly as you’d like, you can tie a sliding knot on the string and cinch it shut.
Hooray! Now you’ve improved your bar soap situation and upcycled another single-use, disposable plastic thing! If you make any improvements on this model, please share.
Tip for Success: Wet the bar just a little bit, then rub vigorously between your hands to get the sudsy action flowing. You may find some soaps work better than others.