#381 Actually finishing a bar of soap

Scrub those suds, baby.

Work that hard square down to a soft-cornered bar. Work that soft-cornered bar down to smooth oval. Work that smooth oval down to a thin bar with deep creases. Work that thin bar with deep creases down to a jagged soap icicle.

And then make a big decision:

1. Toss the ice. You see the white tape stretched across the finish line but you know the extra effort required to get there will be too painful, so you just end up tossing the soap in the trash or letting it fall down the drain.  Basically, you just collapsed into a dry-heaving pile of sweat on the side of the road.

2. Soap surgery. Here’s where you attempt to extend the soap’s lifespan by melting it onto the back of a new bar. This results in a slippery and awkward bar for a while, but is theoretically possible with patience, care, and understanding houseguests.

3. Pushing through. You make the decision to work that soap icicle till it’s a goner but then face an uphill battle of dangerous soap shards, inevitable middle-splitting, and annoyingly long bouts of hand washing that involve scrubbing tiny dime-sized bits of soap between all your fingers for ten minutes.

But here’s the thing: if you actually make it, if you actually do it, if you actually pull off using that bar of soap all the way to the bitter end… well then you can take pride in focusing on a tough job and finishing it off… and can take pride in making it all the way to the finish line of


Photos from: here, here, here, and here

54 thoughts on “#381 Actually finishing a bar of soap

  1. this is so ridiculous. it’s just soap and it’s so cheap but i just cannot be wasteful and throw that candy-cane-thin bar away.

  2. My auntie puts them all in an old stocking and ties the stocking to the tap in her laundry. feels just like another cake of soap, but its just full of the left over bits.

    1. WOW! My grandma used to collect all the thin-ish soaps from the sinks and use them for the baths. And then when they got even thinner, she’d collect them in this holey thing oranges used to come in, and use that for the hand wash. Lol, Not a bit wasted!!

      1. Eventually you get to the stage where you can’t wind it up any higher and you have to start digging little nuggets out with your fingernails. (Hey, if your lips are dried out, you will do what it takes!)

        1. I was thinking that exact thing! I always do that! There’s still lots of product left, nestled down in the plastic. You can get a few days’ worth of chapstick outta there!

          1. Running out of chapstick makes me sad. I’m a bit addicted to chapstick so when I’m in need and I’m on my very last swipe across the lips, I start going into a mini panic cuz I rarely have a backup.

    1. I call shennanigans on this whole comment chain. There is no way anyone has finished a full stick of chapstick.

      I barely get through about 5% before I lose it.

      I’m with Thomas – I imagine it would be awesome, if it ever happened, but we’ll never know because it is an impossible task.

      1. Shenanigans to you, Freddo! I totally do this with all my chapsticks! Nearly every waxy morsel makes its way to my lips before it gets tossed. Girls have purses and are thus less likely to lose things like chapstick. I will mail you a fully-consumed chapstick as proof. :)

      2. I keep one chapstick in a drawer at work, one in my bedside table drawer, one in my winter coat pocket, and several scattered in various purses. Last winter I used up the office one, and the bedside one.

        So Freddo, pbstffsbble! (not sure if this is how you spell sticking your tongue out and then flapping your lips)

        1. That sounds like me … one in my desk, a couple in my purse, one by my bed, and one with my make-up. Just in case. I used to keep one in my coat pocket, but one time when the coat got wet from snow, I popped it in the dryer … and got melted chapstick all over my coat and dryer. Oops.

          P.S. I like your consonant jumble; I think it should be the accepted onomatopoeia for sticking out your tongue and flapping your lips. :)

        2. Me too! Except I don’t use Chapstick, I use the Blistex that comes in the tiny jar. (I guess you call it a jar?) I have them stashed all over the place. And I always use it until every last bit is gone! :)

          1. I use all kinds of brands, including the free ones you get at the dentist. My favourite is Burts Bees. In a jar, in a tube, whatever! Blistex is good too.

            I think the “Chapstick” brand is actually kind of inferior, but I like it because it reminds me of my mom, since she always wore that when I was a kid. Chapstick and Noxema: the scents of mom. LOL.

            1. Burt’s Bees > most other brands of chapstick! The only other one I love just as much is C.O. Bigelow Mentha Lip Balm Stick from Bath and Body Works. It’s so good.

              Awww, scents of mom…

              1. LOL, this weekend I was visiting mom, and I forgot to bring my face cream, and asked to borrow hers. I had to laugh when she brought out the big pot of Noxema!

      3. The only way I ever come close to finishing one (read: get more than a quarter finished) is if I have one, lose it for a few months, find it, lose it again, find it again, etc.

      4. I do it all the time, when it runs down to not being able to swipe it any more, I put them in a basket beside my bed and dig out all the chap out with my pinky nail.

  3. Wouldn’t it make sense to have soaps with a bit bigger hole on one side so you can have an easier “operation” and stick the previous one with the new one??

  4. Soap surgery! haha that is indeed awesome. I was in a hotel for a week recently and found myself sticking the thin pieces of soap onto the new bar. Even at a hotel, I have to do it.


  5. I love when it gets to that paper-thin stage … it’s delicate and you risk ripping it (it’s inevitable, really), but that’s when the excitement of finishing the whole bar really kicks in. I’d always tear it in half and stick it to itself, making a still-thin-but-now-double-decker piece of soap. I’ve only had the patience to achieve full-bar-usage a handful of times in life. Usually I just succumb to laziness and toss that little soap scrap.

    I never knew Tom Selleck was the pioneer-era spokesman for Ivory soap!

    1. I’m with you, Laura – I’ve got nothing here because I’ve never used up the full bar. My wife and I have very different ideas of when it’s time to replace the soap with a new bar.

      We usually get to a point where I go with a new bar of soap, and she continues to use the thin bar (and eventually the scraps) for weeks. By that time, I’ve whittled the full bar down to a point where I won’t use it anymore, and she inevitably starts using the resulting scraps again.

      Poor wife – she never ends up using a full bar of soap.

      *light goes off*

      I think someone just thought of a great Christmas gift idea!! A full bar of soap all her own!


      1. Yes! Making up for all those times you ratted on her about her Nutella affairs, Snuggie love and Twilight addiction. ;D

  6. I don’t use ‘bars of soap’ anymore. I got tired of having to deal with that itty bitty piece toward the end, dropping it and it breaking into smaller pieces. I got wise and now use all liquid soap. No trying to pick it up and getting chunks of soap under my nails. No trying to lather up a piece smaller than a quarter. Its nice. Liquid soap is my new best friend. Thanks for helping me appreciate it more.

  7. Soap surgery is just awesome! My boyfriend just tosses the little sliver which annoys me as much as a bad haircut or a parking lot ding in my car! I simply don’t understand wasting that soap! It’s like bubble wrap, you HAVE to pop it. Well, you HAVE to meld the sliver onto the new bar! I’m always so proud when I achieve total soap fusion. When the day finally arrives that two are now one, I marvel at my Frankenstein-like creation and breathe a sigh of relief. Job well done.

  8. I don’t use bar soap anymore, but when I did, this was a challenge I enjoyed undertaking. Sometimes I would use the tiny bits, sometimes I would join it with the new bar.

    I love when the bar gets all ridgy because then it scrubs better!

  9. I can’t use bar soap. I just can’t. I’m not a germaphobe or anything, but I can’t help but think about all the germs just sitting there, waiting to attack. I’m a body wash and liquid hand soap girl, all the way.

    1. I am totally with you! I can’t even look at a bar of soap without being grossed out! My house is a “no bar soap” zone!!!

  10. #2 is not that hard if you do it right. Just make sure there’s a bit of water left in the soap dish to soak the leftover sliver, then when it’s soft, plop the fresh one on top. Flip over, let dry, and you have a solid new bar with an oddly shaped bump on it.

  11. My dad always performs soap surgery to make those little bits of soap last as looooooong as possible and it makes my mom CRAZY!

    She shakes her head at him and laughs. Even after all these years.

    1. I used to do this too when I was little! I’d try to join them to make one long piece. Putting them on top of each other is for sissies. But to make one long piece from 3 used pieces… that takes skill.

      You have to score the edges and stick them together.

      It never worked well enough to actually use, but at least I tried.

  12. Those little piece of soap go into a pretty basket in my linen closet. Makes the towels and sheets smell nice and I haven’t wasted anything. :)

    1. That’s a neat idea! Soap does smell good :D My class carved soap the other day and my classroom smells phenomenal!

  13. My hubby and I must be champion soap user-uppers, because the contest here is who will remember to get the new bar of soap after the soap is gone? Goes like this: Hubby uses the last bit of soap. Forgets to replace it. I get in the nice steamy shower, soak from top to toe, reach for the soap and Aaaaaah! No soap! Do I go back out to the cold to get a new bar? (probably not because cold air + wet body = not happy) Do I shower with shampoo? (usually) Then, of course, I forget to get the new bar and the cycle repeats for a day or two.

    But, back to the awesome, I love being the one who uses that last flake of soap!

    1. WHAT WOULD HAPPEN if you simultaneously ran out of soap AND shampoo?? I don’t want to think about it!!

      1. jdurley – We have many bottles of shampoo! But if it ever happened, I would bravely risk the goose bumps and premature use of my towel for a new bar of soap.

  14. I finally finished a bar of soap after reading this post… and it is true. I felt/feel totally awesome. :)

  15. I have never made a soap-sicle…my bars are always thin wide strips that end up translucent. are you people using the side of your soap bars only?

  16. I knew a woman who made “shapes and sizes” of “soap on ropes” in nylons and hung them from her shower. The whole thing was disgusting, trust me!

    I use liquid but it’s still an unspoken responsibilty that I replace soap for bar users and clean up the slivers, crumbles and bits all over the shower floor. It’s just an accident waiting to happen~(I see in crystal ball #326)~ so I take the little slivers, crumbles and bits; push them down the holes of the drain and truly believe I may’ve saved a life and helped freshen the septic system:)

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