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

Fels-Naptha soap is a popular heavy-duty laundry bar that has been around for generations. Known for its yellow and red packaging, this soap contains naptha to help tackle tough stains and odors in fabrics.

If you’re new to Fels-Naptha and want to learn how to use it for laundry and household cleaning, this guide will tell you everything you need to know. We’ll cover what’s in the soap, how it works, tips for getting the best results, and various ways you can use Fels-Naptha to freshen up clothes, linens, and surfaces in your home.

What Is Fels-Naptha Soap?

Fels-Naptha is a multipurpose laundry soap bar that first hit the market in 1893. It was named after the Fels family and the key ingredient “naptha” which helps cut through grease and dirt.

The bar soap contains the following ingredients:

  • Soap – Provides cleaning properties and suds. Fels-Naptha soap contains a blend of vegetable oil and tallow soaps.
  • Naptha – A petroleum-derived solvent that helps dissolve oil and grease stains.
  • Perfumes – Gives the soap its distinctive scent. Fels-Naptha has a clean, fresher fragrance.
  • Colorants – Provides Fels-Naptha’s iconic yellow and red swirled color pattern.

Unlike modern laundry detergents, Fels-Naptha soap does not contain any fillers, brighteners, enzymes, or fabric softeners. It is simply a hard-working bar of soap for tackling dirty laundry.

How Does Fels-Naptha Soap Work?

Fels-Naptha is able to power through tough stains thanks to the combination of saponified oils and naptha.

The soap component creates suds that grab onto dirt, grease, and oils in the fabric. The naptha acts as a solvent to break down stubborn oil stains so they can be lifted away.

Together, the soap and naptha in Fels-Naptha work together to penetrate, loosen, and wash away tough laundry stains.

Many users feel Fels-Naptha works better than regular detergents for stain removal and keeping whites bright. The bar soap format also allows you to pre-treat spots and stains by rubbing the bar directly on fabric.

The heavy-duty cleaning power of Fels-Naptha makes it ideal for handling dirty clothes, like mud-stained sports uniforms, greasy shop rags, and more.

Tips for Using Fels-Naptha Soap

Fels-Naptha may be a classic multipurpose soap, but there are some tips and tricks to using it effectively:

Always Grate the Bar First

Don’t try to throw a whole Fels-Naptha bar right into the washing machine. It works best if you use a grater or knife to shred small flakes of soap into the water. This helps the soap dissolve and activate.

Use Warm or Hot Water

The warm or hot temperature helps the soap fully melt and go into solution. Make sure your machine is at least set to warm when using Fels-Naptha.

Add to Wash Cycle, Not Detergent Dispenser

Add grated Fels-Naptha flakes directly to the drum of the washer at the start of the wash cycle. If you put it in the dispenser, it may not fully dissolve and activate.

Increase Agitation

If your washer has an agitator, make sure it’s on the high or heavy duty setting. More agitation helps dissolve and distribute the Fels-Naptha flakes.

Don’t Use Too Much

A little Fels-Naptha goes a long way. Start with 1 to 2 tablespoons per load. You can increase the amount for larger, heavily soiled loads. Too much soap may leave behind residue.

Avoid Bleach

Don’t add bleach when washing with Fels-Naptha. The bleach can react with soap molecules and cause yellow stains on fabric.

Rub on Stains and Soak Before Washing

To boost stain fighting power, wet the clothing and rub Fels-Naptha directly on any dried, set-in stains. Let soak for 30 minutes before washing. The soap and naptha will penetrate deep to loosen the stain.

How Much Fels-Naptha to Use

When it comes to how much Fels-Naptha soap to use per load, here are some general guidelines:

  • Light Load – 1 to 2 tablespoons
  • Medium Load – 2 to 3 tablespoons
  • Heavy/Large Load – 3 to 4 tablespoons

For tough stains, you can also do an intensive pre-treatment by grating a tablespoon of Fels-Naptha over the stain and rubbing it in before washing.

If clothes come out with soap scum residue, cut back on the amount you use. It’s easy to add more next time but harder to remove buildup.

Fels-Naptha Uses Beyond Laundry

While Fels-Naptha is intended as a heavy-duty laundry bar, its cleaning power goes beyond the washing machine. Here are some other popular ways to use it throughout the home:

Boost Store-Bought Detergent

Add a tablespoon of grated Fels-Naptha to each load along with your regular detergent for an extra kick against stains.

Handwash Delicates

Make a sink of warm sudsy water with a bit of grated Fels-Naptha to safely handwash delicate clothing and fabrics. Rinse thoroughly.

Clean Tile and Grout

Use a damp Fels-Naptha bar to scrub bathroom and kitchen tile and grout. The soap and naptha will cut through residue.

Remove Grease Stains

Rub Fels-Naptha on greasy stains on non-delicate fabrics. Let sit 5-10 minutes then launder as usual.

Clean Tools

Wipe dirt off garden tools and workshop items with a damp Fels-Naptha bar to remove mud and grime.

Shine Stainless Steel

Buff out water spots and fingerprints on stainless steel sinks and appliances using a damp Fels-Naptha bar.

Wash Dogs

Lather up your pooch with a mild Fels-Naptha dilution to remove dirt and odor before rinsing clean. Avoid eyes.

Scrub Pots and Pans

Use a damp Fels-Naptha bar to scour away baked-on food residues from pots, pans, and cookware.

The solvent properties of Fels-Naptha make it a great heavy-duty cleaner off the laundry pile. Just test in an inconspicuous area first before using on any surface.

Does Fels-Naptha Have an Expiration Date?

Fels-Naptha soap does not have an official expiration date printed on the packaging. As an all-natural soap product without preservatives, it can eventually lose potency and fade in cleaning power over time.

There are a few signs your Fels-Naptha bar may be expired or losing efficacy:

  • Dried out, cracked, or mushy texture
  • Loss of color and pattern
  • Weak, barely-there suds
  • Musty or rancid smell

Under ideal storage conditions, a Fels-Naptha bar should provide effective cleaning for 2 to 3 years or more. Keeping it in a cool, dry place can help maximize shelf life.

Once you notice it’s not sudsing or cleaning the same, it’s time to replace your bar with fresh Fels-Naptha soap.

Does Fels-Naptha Have an SDS Sheet?

SDS stands for Safety Data Sheet. It provides detailed information about a chemical product for workplace and emergency personnel safety.

Fels-Naptha soap does have an SDS sheet available online since it contains solvents like naptha. Search for “Fels-Naptha SDS” to find it.

Key details on the Fels-Naptha SDS include:

  • Ingredients – Lists the components like soap, naptha, perfumes, etc.
  • Physical properties – Describes the appearance, solubility, flammability.
  • Health hazards – Any risks associated with inhalation, skin contact, eye contact, etc.
  • First aid – What to do for accidental ingestion, eye irritation, etc.
  • Storage – How to safely store and handle the Fels-Naptha soap.
  • Disposal – Proper way to dispose of product or packaging.

While Fels-Naptha is safe for general laundry use, the SDS provides more safety information for those handling the soap in industrial or occupational settings.

Does Fels-Naptha Contain Phosphates?

No, Fels-Naptha does not contain phosphates.

Phosphates are water-softening agents that can be found in some laundry detergents and cleaners. However, phosphates are linked to algae overgrowth in lakes and streams.

As an eco-friendly laundry soap, Fels-Naptha relies on its natural soap, naptha, and water-hardness tolerance without phosphate additives. It’s able to power away dirt and stains without disrupting freshwater systems.

Fels-Naptha’s phosphate-free formula makes it a good option for environmentally conscious consumers seeking effective laundry cleaning.

Is Fels-Naptha Laundry Soap Biodegradable?

Yes, Fels-Naptha is biodegradable and septic-safe. The classic yellow and red bar is formulated using plant-derived soap and petroleum solvents. These ingredients can break down through natural biological processes.

Modern laundry detergents often contain synthetic compounds and fibers that do not readily biodegrade. Fels-Naptha avoids these environmentally persistent ingredients.

When used correctly, the soap and naptha components will completely rinse away down the drain without upsetting septic systems or wastewater treatment. This makes Fels-Naptha a more eco-friendly option compared to many conventional laundry products.

Just be sure to use the minimal amount of Fels-Naptha needed to avoid residue issues in septic systems. Moderation is key for biodegradability.

Is Fels-Naptha Safe for Septic Tanks?

Fels-Naptha is considered septic tank safe when used appropriately in moderation. The all-natural soap formula is free of harsh chemicals that can potentially disrupt biological digestion and drainage flow in a septic system.

To safely use Fels-Naptha soap with your septic tank:

  • Use only the recommended amount of grated soap per wash load. Too much can lead to indigestible residue backup in your system.
  • Avoid using bleach or other harsh chemicals along with Fels-Naptha. Stick to the soap as your main laundry cleaner.
  • Make sure all the soap rinses away down the drain. Scrape off any undissolved flakes from clothes before transferring to the washer.
  • Limit use of solvent-based stain removers which can kill bacteria in a septic tank.
  • Avoid dumping leftover Fels-Naptha suds or scrub water down sink or shower drains.

With moderate use, Fels-Naptha soap is a smart eco-friendly choice compatible with most septic systems. Always check with your local wastewater authority if unsure.

Is Fels-Naptha Effective Against Poison Ivy?

Yes, Fels-Naptha soap can be an effective remedy against poison ivy rashes. The soap helps remove the sticky, oily urushiol residue left behind by the poison ivy plant from skin and clothing.

If exposed to poison ivy, here’s how Fels-Naptha can help:

  • Wash skin with Fels-Naptha lather as soon as possible after exposure. This may help limit spreading of the urushiol oil.
  • For a rash, run cool water over the area, then gently scrub with a damp Fels-Naptha bar to help dry out weeping blisters.
  • For clothing, grate Fels-Naptha directly onto the affected garment. Let sit 10 minutes, then launder on hot.

The soap molecules in Fels-Naptha bind to the urushiol oil for removal down the drain. Be sure to thoroughly rinse skin and clothes to wash away oil residue.

While scrubbing the rash with Fels-Naptha can help dry it out, seek medical treatment if rash worsens or spreads. Catching exposure early is key.

Does Fels-Naptha Repel Mice and Rats?

Anecdotal reports claim that Fels-Naptha soap may help repel mice and rats due to its strong scent. However, there is limited scientific research confirming Fels-Naptha’s effectiveness as a rodent repellent.

Some tips for potentially using Fels-Naptha to deter mice include:

  • Grate bars of Fels-Naptha and place near potential entry points, like under sinks or around pipes. Replace monthly.
  • Mix grated Fels-Naptha with an equal amount of baking soda and sprinkle around baseboards or attics.
  • Place Fels-Naptha flakes or wraps in cupboards and drawers where food is stored.
  • Rub Fels-Naptha on the outside of trash cans or bags to mask food smells.

While Fels-Naptha may make indoor areas less attractive to rodents, also be sure to seal up entry points, clean up crumbs, and store food in chew-proof containers. Proper sanitation is key for controlling mice.

For a severe infestation, it’s best to contact a professional exterminator rather than relying solely on homemade remedies like Fels-Naptha.

Where to Buy Fels-Naptha Soap

Fels-Naptha laundry soap is sold at many major retailers. Here are some of the best places to find it:

  • Walmart – Typically in stock at affordable prices in the laundry aisle.
  • Dollar General – Frequently carries Fels-Naptha bars for $1-2 per bar.
  • Lowe’s – Often stocked along with other heavy-duty cleaners.
  • ACE Hardware – Local hardware stores generally have inventory of this classic laundry soap.
  • Amazon – Available to purchase online and ship direct if stores near you don’t stock it.
  • FelsNaptha.com – The official website offers online ordering and store locators if you’re having trouble finding it in your area.

Look for the distinctive yellow and red swirled Fels-Naptha bars near other mainstream laundry soaps and pre-treatments. If you can’t find it on shelves, ask at customer service for help locating it or placing an order.

Is There an Unscented Fels-Naptha?

Fels-Naptha soap only comes in the signature scented yellow and red swirl bars. There is no unscented variety currently available.

The recognizable clean, linens-like fragrance is part of what makes Fels-Naptha stand out from other heavy-duty soaps.

However, the scent is designed to be fresh but low key. It does not contain perfumes, essential oils, or fragrances associated with skin sensitivities.

If you prefer no scent at all, some unscented alternatives to Fels-Naptha include:

  • Boraxo Heavy Duty Hand Soap
  • Sunlight Laundry Detergent Bar
  • Kirk’s Hardwater Castile Soap
  • Soap Nuts Laundry Detergent
  • Ivory Bar Soap

Spot test any new soap first to ensure no skin reactions before switching from Fels-Naptha. Wear gloves when handling laundry soap if you have sensitive skin.

Does Fels-Naptha Shrink Clothes?

When used properly, Fels-Naptha soap does not shrink clothes any more than regular laundry detergents. Like any cleaner, shrinking can occur if water temperature is too hot during washing and drying.

To prevent unwanted shrinkage when using Fels-Naptha:

  • Wash clothes in warm or cold water, not hot.
  • Take clothes out of dryer immediately after drying and hang to reduce heat exposure.
  • Lay flat to air dry knits, delicates, and stretchy fabrics.
  • Skip the dryer and line dry spandex, wool, and other shrink-prone materials.
  • Use the gentle cycle for agitation when possible.

As long as you follow fabric care instructions, Fels-Naptha’s effective cleaning won’t come at the cost of shrunken clothes.

Does Fels-Naptha Fade Clothes?

No, when used properly, Fels-Naptha does not cause fading of clothes. Like any laundry soap, it’s important to follow fabric care instructions to prevent fading over time.

To maintain vibrant colors when washing with Fels-Naptha:

  • Wash brights and darks in cold water. Hot water can leach out dye.
  • Air dry clothing when possible rather than machine drying.
  • Wash similar colors together to avoid transfer of loose dye.
  • Turn clothes inside out to minimize abrasion of fabric dyes.
  • Avoid using bleach along with Fels-Naptha on colored items.

The main culprits of fading are hot water, harsh chemicals, and overdrying. Fels-Naptha’s eco-friendly formula allows you to lift stains without bleaching out dyes when used with care.

Does Fels-Naptha Work with HE Washers?

Yes, Fels-Naptha is compatible