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.
I remember it well. I also remember Ivory flakes — no more need to shave the bar yourself.
That sharp scent just woke me up for the day. Wash time!
Like a page out of the old Sears and Roebuck Catalogue.
Our washday staple – in terms of soap bars – has always been green Sunlight Soap, which made its debut in 1891. The bars still look the same, although are probably smaller in size than they used to be.
I’m pretty sure this was the kitchen soap my grandmother used. I was trying to remember the name of it a few weeks ago.
There’s a bar of Fels on our laundry tub, used for stubborn stains.