Where to Buy Fels-Naptha Soap

Fels-Naptha Soap in a basket of laundry

The Spruce / Candace Madonna

Even though it has been around since 1893 and has many household uses, Fels-Naptha soap can be quite hard to find. Its primary use and the one for which it was invented as an ingredient in homemade laundry detergent. Most people use premixed detergents these days. However, you can still find Fels-Naptha in some stores and online. Read on to find out how you might be able to use it.

Fels-Naptha Soap Uses

Fels-Naptha is made of non-toxic ingredients: sodium palmate, sodium tallowate, sodium cocoate, talc, and water. While it's marketed for use as a laundry additive or laundry detergent, Fels-Naptha has a wide range of other household uses.

Some uses include cleaning grout and keeping deer out of your garden (they don't like the scent). It also repels mice, mosquitoes, bugs, and lice. You can also use it as a non-toxic insecticidal soap to remove aphids in the garden. Fels-Naptha can clean sinks and showers, toilets, paintbrushes, outdoor furniture, and treat stains. It works as a deodorizer, degreaser, and restores aluminum's shine.

Here's an example of how it effectively removes stains on leather. The cleaning process is simple. You never want to use water on leather; instead, wet a Fels-Naptha bar of soap. Rub the stained leather with the moistened bar of soap. Lather well. After one hour, rub the area with a dry cloth. The stain should be gone. Do not wet the leather with water at any point.

The oils in Fels-Naptha also work wonders on squeaky hinges and drawers. Rub a dry soap bar of Fels-Naptha on the areas that need greasing. The oils in the bar lubricate doorknobs, hinges, and drawer tracks. Wipe off the residue with a dry cloth.

Where to Buy Fels-Naptha

Fels-Naptha is no longer a household staple for most, which means many stores don't give it shelf space. You might find it in the laundry aisle in a grocery store or in a pharmacy near where it stocks mosquito bite treatments or soaps. Walmart often stocks it in the laundry supply aisle. Some hardware stores and international grocery stores carry it. You can also find it on Amazon.​

Substitutes

If you still can't find Fels-Naptha, you may consider these alternative homemade laundry boosters and alternative cleaners. Like Fels-Naptha, these soap manufacturers claim these soaps has multiple uses and are similarly beneficial inside and out of the home:

  • Zote Soap: As popular as Fels-Naptha as laundry soap, Zote originated in Mexico, is available in pink and white bars, and has a citronella scent. It may be more readily available at big-box stores than Fels-Naptha. Its primary ingredients are the same as Fels-Naptha. It contains citronella oil.
  • Castile Soap: This is not a brand but a soap made with vegetable oils. Look for one made with all-natural ingredients. It's named after the olive oil-based soaps originating in Castile, Spain. Oils primarily used in commercially available Castile soaps include coconut, olive, hemp, avocado, almond, and walnut. Kirk's and Dr. Bronner's are two popular brands.
  • Ivory Soap: Another classic American product, Ivory is a gentle soap free of dyes and heavy perfumes. Like Fels-Naptha, its primary ingredients are sodium palmate, sodium tallowate, and sodium cocoate. It is available at almost any grocery or drug store in the United States.

Warnings

The original Fels-Naptha contained naptha, a flammable liquid and cancer-causing hydrocarbon known as benzene. Its use in soap was considered quite an innovation at the time. It became increasingly popular during the Great Depression; it was inexpensive and could clean most things around the house.

In 1964, naptha was removed from Fels-Naptha soap. But, a warning on the modern version of the product still indicates that it could irritate the eye or the skin after prolonged exposure. Use gloves and eye protection when using it.

The Fels-Naptha name remains the same, though, presumably because of its status as a genuine all-American product. Fels-Naptha was created by the company Fels & Company in Philadelphia in 1893. The product remained in the family's hands until 1964. It was then sold to a bigger company and changed hands several times before landing with the Henkel Corporation, the owner of Purex and Dial soap.

Article Sources
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  1. Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry. ToxFAQs: Benzene. Centers for Disease Control.