Once a valued staple in a homemaker's cleaning closet, Fels-Naptha soap has fallen out of favour in recent years in lieu of easier cleaning methods using more chemicals and less effort. But with one hundred years on the market, the hardy bar may be making a comeback, thanks to its long-lasting value and various uses for skin irritations, pest control and even stain removal.
Fels-Naptha works well on spots caused by cosmetics, sweat and food. Run the bar under the tap, then rub the bar on any oily stain trapped in clothes, then wash the garment as normal. This product will often get out stains that other pre-treaters can't touch.
Small Laundry Loads
If you just have a couple of garments to wash and want to save energy, fill your sink halfway with water and use the bar like a loofah over clothes, then rinse. This is especially effective on ring-around-the-collar stains and socks; this method uses less water, less electricity, and since Fels-Naptha is real naptha soap, less detergent.
One of Fels-Naptha's most famed uses is in the treatment of poison ivy, oak and sumac. As soon as you realise you've been exposed to these skin irritants, get under water and wash down completely with a bar of Fels-Naptha soap; this lifts away the natural plant oils that cause the maddening poison ivy rash. After you dry off, throw the clothes you just discarded in the washer with soap shavings measuring about one-sixteenth of a bar; the plant oils are stubborn, and can remain active on fabric for up to twelve months, but a good wash with Fels Naptha solves the problem.
A solution of Fels-Naptha and hot water can get rid of aphids. Mix three tablespoons of soap with a gallon of hot water; mix thoroughly, cool, and spray. For black fungus threatening roses, grate a full inch of soap, place in a foot of discarded pantyhose, then drop into one gallon of boiling water with four ounces of pure liquid dish soap. Mix one tablespoon of this solution with one tablespoon each of baking soda and vegetable oil, in one gallon of water, then spray on plants. Other recipes include different ingredients for an all-around pest formula and lawn nutrient spray.
Homemade Laundry Soap
Several recipes call for using Fels-Naptha as an ingredient in homemade laundry soap along with borax and laundry soda; this mix eliminates the added agents in modern washing powder, although it can be time-intensive. An easier mixture calls for a dry combination of one cup each of Fels-Naptha, washing soda and borax, which is more convenient to store for multiple uses, and just takes a couple of teaspoons to get laundry clean.
Other Household Uses
Fels-Naptha has been used as a bathroom cleaner, to brighten up canvas and other heavy fabrics, and even as an ingredient in converting animal skin into leather.