Sugar Soap [The Definitive Guide]

ionversrsionveIf you’re an inexperienced DIYer who has been researching how to paint a wall, you may well have come across an unfamiliar product called sugar soap. Many professionals in the industry would advocate for its use and we do too!

But what is it and what can it be used for?

Our aim in this article is to answer those questions and more to ensure you’ll never make a mess of prep work ever again. With that being said, let’s jump into our guide on sugar soap.

Image of No Nonsense sugar soap.

What Is Sugar Soap Made Of?

Sugar soap is commonly made from an alkaline such as sodium carbonate or sodium hydroxide along with preservatives such as Benzisothiazolinone, a colouring, an abrasive and water. Some come in powder form and require the user to mix the powder with water before application.

You might’ve noticed that sugar soap doesn’t actually contain sugar. To clear up this confusion, this is because it’s named after its texture (like common table sugar) rather than its contents.

What Are Its Uses?

Sugar soap has a variety of uses including cleaning grease and grime off interior walls, doors, kitchen cabinets before painting, kitchen worktops and greasy areas around the hob and sink. Its main use is to prepare walls for painting so you will need to be a bit careful if you’re going to use it on other surfaces and in all honesty you’re probably better off using specific products for things like cleaning the hob rather than using soap.

Also bear in mind that sugar soap is an abrasive so it’s better not to use it on delicate surfaces or lacquered wood.

Can You Make Sugar Soap?

Whilst you can make it at home by yourself, the ingredients are difficult to source and would sometimes be required to be bought in large quantities so unless you were going to be using sugar soap every day, it’s really not cost-effective.

Don’t worry though, sugar soap is incredibly cheap.

How to Mix Sugar Soap Powder With Water

If you’ve bought a powder version, you’ll need to make sure you get the ratio of water to soap correct otherwise you risk creating an even bigger cleanup job. Our advice would be to follow the manufacturer’s instructions as each brand will have its own set of guidelines. But as an example, here’s what No Nonsense (one of the most popular powder makers) advises:

StrengthWarm Water AmountSachet Contents
Full10 LitresAdd All
Half10 LitresAdd Half
Quick Jobs2 Litres50g

The Cleaning Process

Cleaning with sugar soap is a simple process – all you need to do is follow the manufacturer’s advice on the back of the bottle but for a quick step-by-step guide, keep reading:

  1. Get a suitably sized bucket ready, depending on how much soap you’ll need. If you’re cleaning out a crack in your plaster you won’t need too much but if you’re giving your entire room a rub down, make sure you have a bucket that can comfortably hold 10 litres.
  2. Start filling the bucket with clean, warm water and add the appropriate amount of soap as per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Whilst the bucket is filling up, pop a rubber glove on and give the water and soap a good mix.
  4. Dip a sponge in the bucket of solution and wring it out before giving the wall a good scrub down.
  5. Continue to apply the sponge to your walls until you’ve covered everything you need to cover.
  6. With a clean bucket and clean warm water, repeat the process to remove any remaining soap. It’s vital that you remove sugar soap from walls before painting them as applying paint over dried sugar soap could result in your emulsion cracking or peeling.

What Can You Use Instead of Sugar Soap?

If you’ve got all your painting supplies ready but forgot to get some sugar soap, you might be wondering what can you use instead. Fortunately, there are a few items that you might have handy at home which will work just as well when it comes to cleaning your walls.

The most obvious choice is white vinegar. To clean your walls with white vinegar, simply follow the guide above (it’s a very similar process as cleaning with sugar soap).

Where to Buy Sugar Soap From?

It is widely available in the UK. You can purchase it at your typical DIY stores such as B&Q, Screwfix or Homebase but you’re equally likely to find it at major supermarkets such as Tesco or Asda.

Of course, you always have the option to purchase it online through Amazon for a few quid and have it delivered for free the next day (assuming you have Amazon Prime).

In terms of which one to buy, it really makes no difference. The liquid version makes it easier to measure but all brands are fairly similar in the way they make it.

Final Thoughts

Whether you’re planning on painting your walls, front door or kitchen cupboards, hopefully after reading this article you have realised the importance sugar soap plays in achieving a top-notch paint finish.

As it removes grease and grime from surfaces, it means your paint will stick like a dream and ensure that you don’t encounter any problems such as peeling or cracking further down the line.