What kind of freak uses laundry BAR soap?

That would be me. I’m exactly the kind of freak who uses laundry bar soap.

Seriously, isn’t laundry bar soap like from the olden days when women slaved over washboards or river rocks to clean their family’s clothing? That is what I thought for a long time. I’d see Fels Naptha once in a while at stores and wonder, “who uses those things?” Is there a population of folks around here who hand launder? With rocks or washboards? Maybe for delicates? Because hard bars seem like they’d be so much more gentle than silky liquids or powers, right? Or do you put the whole bar in the washing machine and it devolves just enough but not too much? Remove it before the rinse cycle starts?

Then one day not long ago, I got a freakish rash over more than 30% of my body. Conveniently it only showed up in places that were covered by clothing so I didn’t look nearly as freakish as I felt. After self-diagnosing every skin disease under the sun via the ever-so-helpful Internet, a doctor diagnosed my rash as allergy-induced dermatitis. At least this made me feel better about being around other humans. I wasn’t entirely sure that I hadn’t been spreading the plague to my family. But the diagnosis was only vaguely helpful since it didn’t give me any info on what was causing the allergic reaction. 

I started eliminating anything that might cause a reaction. My mom has eczema and my aunt, psoriasis, so I took some laundry advice. No scented laundry products including dryer sheets. We’d already been using mostly unscented laundry detergent since my daughter has some sensitivity issues, but I’d still pop half a dryer sheet in the dryer to combat static cling.

I turned again to the Internet for more information on skin allergies. A number of recipes for homemade laundry detergent turned up. These called for, you guessed it, laundry bar soap – usually Fels Naptha but also a bar soap called Zote. These recipes claimed not only relief for sensitive skin and skin allergies, but also clean, fresh laundry for pennies a load. Sold!

Now, until I actually started looking for it, I swear I saw Fels Naptha readily available several places, several times. Really! Remember earlier when I wondered who used that stuff? But I couldn’t seem to find it anywhere once I actually wanted to purchase a bar. It’s like it was wielding revenge for my previous thoughts on its usefulness – “no soap for you!”

I finally found Zote at the local Korean supermarket. Instead of in the laundry goods section, it was with the regular body-washing bar soaps. Okay then. At least laundry and bath products were the same isle at that particular market. They even had both pink and white Zote. Yummy! At $1.27 per bar I picked up both.

A week or two later I found Fels Naptha at a Walmart which also carried Zote as did the Home Depot. So I actually get to compare.

Walmart had the lowest price. Both Fels Naptha and Zote were under a dollar at 97 cents per bar. It turned out Home Depot had Zote for $1.99, but only the white version. A bar of Fels Naptha is less than half the size of Zote, so depending on how you use these, Zote is probably the better value.

Both bars really excel at spot-treating. Moisten an end of the bar and rub it on a spot. They’re also easy to use instead of laundry detergent to clean a whole load. No, you don ‘t pop the entire bar in the washer. You can shave off some with a cheese grater; put a chunk in a blender or food processor & pulverize; or zap a small piece in the microwave* and let it foam up, cool, and crumble with your hands.

Making your own homemade laundry detergent and looking for a recipe? There are many versions out there, you need only Google it. I’ll post my recipe soon and include comparisons on which bar I like the best.

Here’s a link to my favorite recipe, homemade laundry soap recipe.

And here’s my complete comparison of Fels Naptha versus Zote laundry bar soaps.

(Oh, and the rash is gone now, so yay. I later came to the conclusion that it was a reaction to a krill oil supplement I’d started taking. But once there my skin was extra sensitive to everything else too. Watching scented laundry stuff helps!)

*Caution when microwaving soap. Use only small chunks at a time and allow to completely cool before handling. It is awesome to watch it foam up – like a mini science experiment! Fun for kids and those who are kids at heart. Makes your microwave smell fresh & clean too.


9 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dan Coit
    Jul 26, 2015 @ 18:26:33

    I used octagon soap as a body soap for years. They quit making it in 2012 I believe. FelsNaptha is very similar. Both clean well and fight rashes such as poison ivy.


    • alightningbug
      Jul 26, 2015 @ 18:42:32

      I think I remember an octagonal soap, but don’t remember the name right now…

      I’ve tried Zote on my oily skin. It does a good job of making it feel clean — something a lot of soaps don’t manage. But I’d be wary of using it all the time because it may be a little too drying.

      I could definitely see both Fels Naptha and Zote being good at removing the oils of plants like poison ivy to reduce rash (but not rash from eczema).

      (Now want to search on name of octagonal soap.)


  2. melindajmoore
    Aug 18, 2015 @ 09:33:06

    I read your post today and had to know why the heck anyone would use bar soap 🙂 This is good to know because I swear my skin gets more sensitive every year!


    • alightningbug
      Aug 18, 2015 @ 10:19:28

      Good point! I should probably add a link from today’s post to this one. I think I’d be okay with regular laundry detergents at this point, but I hate to take chances. Plus the bar soap can be super economical and effective too.


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  5. Joanne Rimmer
    Jan 25, 2019 @ 17:52:30

    No more dryer sheets for me. Started using a lower temperature on my dryer and drying for less time. Clothes are still dry, power bill is less and no static cling. Who knew? lol


  6. Holly
    Oct 06, 2019 @ 14:24:16

    What kinda of freak uses bar soap. For laundry as well as kitchens? A clean freak! That wants to make sure the laundry spots come out & the kitchen is santised! I loves F.N
    Because where our community lives it’s hard water I love the .way the soap works and smells. But. It does not stay hard because of the chemicals in the water.this little 1.00$ bar. Fly’s off the shelf. Thank you..P&G


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