I use Sunlight soap for a lot of things around the house (now this is starting to sound a bit like an ad!) and I remember seeing my grandmother's using it too. Sometimes I really do yearn for a life where we weren't bombarded by so many choices in everything. I think it was just easier that way.
I remember my nanas using a soap holder that was shaped like a small square cage on a long handle. They used it to clean the dishes by swishing it around in the sink to produce bubbles. They also used it to hand wash their 'delicates'. I also remember my mum using the little metal cage thing when I was quite small.
I have looked high and low for something like the metal cage thing and came up with nothing. So, last year when I was in Melbourne for my grandmother's funeral I found something I could use. It was in the T2 shop of all places! It was one of the big tea leaf ball holders that you use in a tea cup. It's not big enough to hold a full bar of soap but it does hold the scraps of soap left over from grating soap.
I grate the soap on an old vegetable grater, using the finest hole possible. It must be the finest hole otherwise it's too hard on the hands and it doesn't melt as well. Once I've got about a cup or two of soap powder I melt it down in about a litre or two of hot water, stirring it gently while it simmers on the stove top. I keep adding water as I go until there's about three or four litres worth. Once it's cooled down a bit I pour it all into large jars or my big plastic container I have to hold it all. Sometimes I add a couple of tablespoons of lavender or eucalyptus oil and stir it in. I use this for washing every day clothes, but sometimes I use commercial powder or liquid for The Groom's grubby work clothes. I use about a tablespoon or two of the soap mix to the washing. I also decant some into a spray bottle and add more hot water to make a general purpose cleaner for bench tops and cupboards etc.
I have on my window sill above my kitchen sink two soap dishes. One is for the tea ball thingy with the soap scraps in it. The other has a bar of soap in it. When I fill up the washing up tub with hot water I hold the tea ball thingy under it to make some bubbles. I use that lightly soaped water to wash the lightly soiled dishes and glasses. Then I rub the soap bar onto a wet cloth (I knit my own cotton ones - look for some as a giveaway later on ) and rub it over the dirtier dishes or utensils. I then use this water to water my pot plants. Otherwise, if I use the sink to wash up, the water all goes out the grey water pipe to further out the paddock. Sometimes the dogs drink from that puddle of water so I don't want to use anything that can hurt them. The amount of soap in the water is relatively small anyway, so it should be okay. And because the amount of soap that is in the water is small I can use the same water to rinse the dishes in too.
I was talking to a fellow teacher about how I use Sunlight and he said how pleased he was to hear of it. Too many people seem to want to take a quick route to cleaning, he said, and it's good to hear people still use 'old-fashioned' ways in the home. Let me put my hand up right now and confess that cleaning is not necessarily something I'd choose to do in my day to day life, but I figure if I have to do it I may as well feel good about it. And I find that grating the soap and stirring it over the gas flame is rather relaxing! And - better still, it saves a lot of money, especially if you use a home brand bar of laundry soap.