Ingenious Devices for Domestic Tasks

The Soap Saver: A Thrifty Solution

A soap saver is a small wire or metal container designed to hold soap. Its main function was to contain small pieces of soap too small to be used by hand. In the 19th century, soap was considered a luxury item. Homemade soap, made from animal fats and lye, could be quite costly. Consequently, families sought ways to maximize soap usage. The soap saver embodied the era’s thrifty attitude toward resource management, ensuring no soap was wasted and thus reducing costs.

How It Was Used for Laundry

Collecting Soap Scraps

Throughout the week, tiny pieces of soap too small to grasp were collected in the soap saver. Instead of wasting these scraps, the soap saver allowed families to use every bit of soap.

Preparing the Laundry Tub

On laundry day, a large tub or basin was filled with hot water. The soap saver, filled with soap scraps, was dipped and swirled in the water. This movement mixed the soap with the water, forming lather essential for cleaning clothes.

Washing Clothes

Clothes were soaked in the soapy water. The soap saver could be used to scrub particularly dirty areas or left in the tub to dispense more soap. This method ensured no soap scraps were wasted, maximizing the soap’s utility.

Rinsing and Drying

Finally, clothes were rinsed to remove all soap residue. The soap saver, now empty, was set aside to dry until the next use.

By using a soap saver, families effectively reduced waste and saved money, making it an indispensable household tool in the 19th century.

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