Fels-Naptha heavy duty laundry bar soap has been around since 1893, so there’s a good chance that our grandmothers and great grandmothers used it for “the wash.”
My bar of Fels-Naptha is still in its paper wrapper, but I can get a whiff of the scent. It smells clean and fresh, and remarkably familiar. My own mother may have used it when I was little.
Originally created around 1893 by Fels and Company, about the time my grandmother Leora was born, it was the first soap to include naphtha. Naphtha made the soap effective for cleaning laundry and removing the allergen urushiol (also known as benzene solvent), the oil in poison ivy and poison oak, but it was also a cancer risk, so was removed from the soap.
They shaved the yellow bar and added the flakes to the hot water. It was also used as a home remedy to treat poison ivy and other skin irritants.
Now Fels-Naptha is manufactured by and is a trademark of the Dial Corporation.
You can still buy it. It features the old-fashioned paper wrapper and logo.