What Is Fels Naptha Soap? Here's How to Use It

Fels-Naptha Soap in a basket of laundry

The Spruce / Candace Madonna

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 3 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 15 - 30 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner
  • Estimated Cost: $2

Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar can be used to treat laundry stains or for hand-washing clothes. It is often grated and included as an ingredient in homemade laundry detergent. It is particularly effective in removing oily stains and ring-around-the-collar.

Created by Fels & Company in Philadelphia in 1893, the bar originally contained naptha, a flammable liquid and cancer-causing hydrocarbon known as benzene, and was sold as a cleaner for the entire household from floors to laundry. The benzene was removed from the laundry bar in 1964 when the company sold the rights to Fels-Naptha.

The product is now known as Purex Fels-Naptha and is produced by Henkel Corporation manufacturers of Dial Soap and Purex and Persil ProClean Laundry Detergents.

Fun Facts

Fans of Purex Fels-Naptha claim it can be used in many ways:

  • Deer repellent: Cut slices of the soap and hang them from your plants to keep deer away because they don't like the scent.
  • Personal pest repellent: Bathe with Fels-Naptha to repel mosquitos, lice, and other pests.
  • Silence squeaks: Rub the bar on squeaky door hinges and drawer glides for quiet and flawless openings.
  • Household cleaner: Grate the bar and mix with hot water to clean floors, toilets, and sinks.

Purex Fels-Naptha Basics

Detergent Can be combined with other laundry products
Water Temperature Can be used in any water temperature
Cycle Type Can be used in any washer cycle
Special Treatments Can be used as a stain remover, for hand-washing, or as an ingredient in DIY laundry detergent

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • 1 Washing machine
  • 1 Laundry sink or plastic tub
  • 1 Grater
  • 1 Measuring cups and spoons
  • 1 Wooden spoon
  • 1 Air-tight storage container
  • 1 Plastic gloves

Materials

  • 1 Purex Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar
  • 1 Baking soda
  • 1 Washing soda
  • 1 Borax

Instructions

How to Use Purex Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar for Hand Washing Clothes

  1. Grate the Bar

    To make sure the soap dissolves and disperses throughout the water, it should be grated. Use a kitchen grater to finely grate about one tablespoon of soap flakes per gallon of water.

  2. Mix the Washing Solution

    Fill the sink or plastic tub with cold to warm water. If using cold water, dissolve the flakes in one cup of hot water before adding them to the sink. Use sufficient water so the clothes are not crowded as you wash them.

  3. Sort the Laundry

    Sort the clothes by color and type of fabric before deciding what to wash together.

  4. Submerge the Clothes

    Add the clothes to the sink. Allow them to soak for about 10 minutes so the soap can begin breaking down the soil. Handle the fabrics gently by squeezing the water through the clothes or scrub sturdy fabrics together to release the soil.

  5. Rinse and Dry

    Once the clothes are clean, rinse in cool water. They can be dried flat, placed in an automatic dryer, or hung from a clothesline or drying rack.

How to Use Purex Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar as a Stain Remover

  1. Wet the Laundry Bar

    Dampen the laundry bar and rub it directly onto the stained area of the clothing. Work the product into the fabric with your fingers or a soft-bristled brush. Let it work for at least 10 minutes before washing the garment.

    Tip

    Fels-Naptha works best on oil-based stains. It is not the best treatment for all problems, soap can set stains like berries, fruit or vegetables making them more difficult to remove

  2. Wash as Usual

    Wash the garment as usual by hand or in the washer with a commercial or homemade detergent. Check the stained area before placing the garment in an automatic dryer. If the stain remains, repeat the steps or try another type of laundry stain remover.

How to Use Purex Fels-Naptha Laundry Bar in Homemade Laundry Detergent

  1. Grate the Bar

    Use a kitchen grater to create one cup of Fels-Naptha flakes.

  2. Mix the Ingredients

    In an air-tight container, combine the one cup of soap flakes, one cup of baking soda, one cup of washing soda, and one-half cup of borax. Washing soda (sodium hydroxide) is caustic to the skin, so wear rubber gloves. Mix the ingredients well with a wooden spoon. Store the container in a cool place and keep it well-sealed.

  3. Add to the Washer

    • Use one-half cup of the mixture per load of laundry in a standard top-load washer.
    • Use only two tablespoons in a high-efficiency top or front-load washer.
Originally written by
Erin Huffstetler
Erin Huffstetler is a frugal living expert who has been writing for over 10 years about easy ways to save money at home. She's covered money-saving advice and tricks for numerous publications, including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Forbes, among others. She is the owner of "My Frugal Home," a money-saving, frugal living how-to guide.
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Article Sources
The Spruce uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. ToxFAQs: Benzene. Centers for Disease Control.

  2. Emergency and Continuous Exposure Limits for Selected Airborne Contaminants: Volume 2National Research Council (US) Committee on Toxicology. 1984