The many uses of soap

Uses Of Soap – A Growing List Of Practical Uses

Did you know that there are quite a few other uses of soap?
(Add more of your own unique uses to the list)

To a chemist, soap is what you get when you boil down the sodium salts of fatty acids.

To you and I, it’s just soap – known mostly for removing dirt from grimy hands or washing clothes or dishes.

Did you know that there are lots more uses of soap?

First, a tip. I have been using the following liquid soap for many years. It is absolutely the best soap for cutting grease. Dawn Ultra Platinum. I keep a big refill jug of it too. Let me know if you find anything better than this…

(view on amzn)

List: Uses of Soap

Keep your fingernails clean: While you’re working in the garden or potting plants, scrape your fingernails over a bar of soap to collect slivers underneath them. This will prevent dirt from caking under your nails and the soap washes out easily.

Keep bugs off plants: Soap works as an insect repellent and can protect your plants from being eaten by bugs. Mix soap with water until it’s sudsy, then put the water solution in a bottle and spray the underside of plant leaves.

Relieve itchy bug bites: Rub the bites with a dampened bar of soap for instant itch relief. It also helps keep the bites clean.

Keep your clothes fresh: Place bars of soap in closets, drawers, suitcases, and bins where you store your clothing. It’ll also repel bugs and prevent musty odors.

Remove stains from fabric: Rub a damp bar of white soap over stains, then wash the clothes

Mark a hem: Instead of using store-bought marking chalk, use a sliver of bar soap to draw a line for a hem. It washes out more easily than chalk.

Garden bug repellent: Place a bar of soap in your garden to keep pests away.

Household bug repellent: Mix soap and water and place in a spray bottle and spray around your home to rid your house of spiders and bugs.

Spray ant trails: Use Dr. Bonner’s Pure Castile Peppermint Soap and dilute with water to spray.

Wasp spray: You can mix almost any amount of liquid soap with water in a spray bottle. A good solid long squirt in the bottle, then fill with water. Swoosh it around to mix it up. Spray on wasps/nests.

Rid your house of fleas: Place some liquid soap in a bowl mixed with water under a light and it will attract fleas and they will drown.

Zippers: Loosen stuck or rusty zippers by sliding some bar soap up & down the zipper.

Detect gas leaks: Mix a solution of water and soap and rub along pipes, if it bubbles, you found your leak.

Find leaks in tires, tubes: Don’t forget to use it around and on the valve stem, too.

Soot prevention: If you’re planning a cook out using a cast iron pot, rub a bar of soap over the bottom of the pot before you set it over the open flame. The soap will make for easy cleanup, as the soap will prevent the soot from accumulating.

Halt squeaks in floorboards: work a little moist soap into the cracks between the boards.

Loosen a tight ring: Rub soap over the finger. The ring will slide off when the hand is washed.

Loosen a stiff door lock: Lubricate the key by rubbing it with soap.

Keep eyeglasses from steaming in cold weather: Rub both sides of each lens with soapy fingers, and then polish.

Deer and Rabbit Repellent: Irish Spring Soap works as ‘deer repellent’. Cut the bar soap into pieces / shavings, and place them in nylon stockings to hang in strategic areas.
[ Read: How To Keep Deer Away ]

Smelly sneakers, boots or shoes: Simply place a wrapped bar of the soap in your shoes, sneaker or boots and leave overnight. They will be fresh smelling by morning.

Make your own hydrating shave lotion: Mix together a solution of one part hot water and one part grated bar soap.

Make sliding glass doors slide easier: Rub soap on the bottom track of sliding glass doors.

Helps a sewing needle go through fabric easier: Stick needle into soap.

Disperse gas/oil sheen on water: Got a boat? Use Lemon Joy to squirt on an oil spill or gasoline spill to disperse the sheen.

Restless leg syndrome: Place 3 bars of ivory soap in a net laundry bag and place it under between the sheets at your feet.

Quiets squeaky belts on cars: Apply to belts.

Oil spots on garage floor: Make a 50:50 solution of Dawn Dish washing Soap, apply to oil spots. Wait a few hours and wash with water.

Mouse trap bait: They apparently love it…

Temporarily stop a small gasoline leak: Rub bar over leak while using pressure to fill hole/crack.

Get worms out of the ground for fishing: Make a solution of soap and water and pour on the ground. Wait for the worms…

Poison Ivy Cleaner: Use Fels Naptha bar soap to wash poison ivy. Best within 1 hour of exposure. Use cool water.

Make your own laundry detergent: Use Fels Naptha, Borax powder, Arm & Hammer Washing Soda.
[ Read: How To Make Laundry Detergent ]

Clean up a potty mouth: How many of you have had your mouth washed out with soap when you were young?

Lather up before greasy work: Prior to working with greasy/oily machinery, lather up with soap, wipe off excess, but don’t rinse. Makes for easier cleanup afterwards.

Soap on wood screws: Rub on wood screws and they will go into with about half the effort compared to dry screws.

Stuck Drawers: Rub soap on the slides of old stuck drawers for easier open and close.

Faster skis, sleds, toboggans: Rub soap on the bottom or runners for a faster ride down the hill!

Soft hands like Madge: Blast from the past: PALMOLIVE “Palmolive softens hands while you do the dishes” “You’re soaking in it!”

[ Read: How To Make Your Own Liquid Dish Soap ]

Have your own tips and uses of soap?


  1. I was told mice don’t like Irish Spring and to put it all around in the 5th wheel to keep them out. So far it seems to work . [ along with the most fragrant bounce type sheets you can find . ]

    1. Just might have to try that. Rodent ate some of my car wiring last year — $430 !

      1. I just got finished getting rid of 9 (yes 9!) mice in my truck’s engine compartment. Thank goodness that there does not (at this time) appear to be wiring damage. I hear that they don’t like mothballs either.

        1. Ken,

          BTDT. Check the A/C condensate drain line too (soft chewy rubber). Or you may get a wet surprise underfoot in a few months.

        2. New wiring cover is made using soy. The rats in Boston love chewing on the new wiring in new cars.
          Car mfg. need to change that.

    2. BAMBAM, aka, Ken, McGyver;
      I know this is an article on Soaps, and their uses, but for Rodents try a Urinal Cake, you know those things in the ‘men’s pizzer’ in restrooms, they are 99% the same a Mothballs.
      Get them at Janitorial Supply houses, 12 for $7.oo
      My Car ran me $500+ to get Chip Monks out of the heating system.

      1. PS; also helps keep the Cats from under the hood, ever grind up a cat when starting the truck? not good at all.

        1. Yeah, that’s not a pleasant cleanup and traumatizing to the pet owner. They will nestle in for warmth as an uncle of mine discovered years ago. The urinal cakes are a better idea than mothballs according to our local hardware store owner because modern mothballs aren’t as potent as they were once upon a time.

        2. So where do you put the moth balls/urinal cakes? In the engine compartment, under the car? or? I can see flaking Irish Spring with a cheese grater all along the car.

        3. aka
          I just set one next to the Battery under the hood, kinda wedge it in there.
          Also just unwrap it about 1/3, they will last longer and still work fine, for me anyways

    3. I wonder if the owners of CATerpiller products have the same problem. Sorry, just can’t resist a pun.

      1. JustAnOldGuy
        I have seen a LOT of ‘CATs’ Grind a few motors in my day…. HAHAHAH
        AND a help of a mess to clean up, so LOT’S of Dawn Soap……
        How’s that for bring it back on subject? :-)

  2. Three bars of hard soap in a sock with a knot 3/4 ways down makes a improvised weapon to knock the devil out of someone in a pinch. Inmates often made them as weapons when I worked as a Correctional Officer.

  3. Quite effective for curing a foul mouthed kid,,,,,,
    Of course, later on in life they become me anyway, who has bouts of extremely foul language and can be known as someone to stay the hell away from,

  4. Dawn Dish Soap, God’s gift to the Single Man, let me tell ya, if you burn something in a skillet or pan, just soak it in Dawn over night or a few days and it’ll be a heck of a lot easier to clean (don’t ask hehehe). Do not do this to Cast Iron, if you burn Cast really bad, just toss it into a fire or Wood Stove for an hour, than recoat it with oil.

    I always give Blue a bath starting with Dawn Soap, than use a second wash with a good Dog Shampoo.

    Wash windows with Dawn, not vinegar, works a lot better and will cut the grim a lot faster, if you want to wash after with the vinegar go for it.

    Soak an infected cut in a solution of Dawn and Water, it will draw out the infection and clean the heck out of the cut, make sure to wash with a LOT of clean water. Disclaimer; not a doctor here, so don’t ask.

    On a side note; how do you get some people to step a little closer to a Bar of Soap and to wash their Hair at least once a month? you know what I mean…….

    1. NRP
      Heres a tip regarding glazing on a pan,
      When the pan is hot, pour enough water in it to fully cover the bottom of the pan (1/4”ish)
      If pan has cooled heat it back up, then pour the water in it. It will de-glaze the pan and make it easier to clean

        1. Ever seen a Cast-Iron Dutch-Over glow red from sitting in a Camp-Fire?
          Will guarantee you that it wont need Soap after… HAHAHA

  5. I remember when I was a kid,my dad and grand dad use to make a gooey paste out of a brown bar soap (fels naptha I think), a little water and sugar. They would put it on cuts, boils, etc. and cover it with a bandage. It seemed to work. Any one else ever heard of this?

    1. – BBC
      Yep, I have had it used on me, after a close encounter of the catfish kind. Worked great..
      – Papa S.

    2. yep, each time i have infected splinter, i would wrap soaped bandage around it and it helps to bring all the pus out to the surface. Then you just easily squish it and disinfect it, Gross but effective.

    3. Use Ivory soap and water to make it like a paste and put on a band aid then place on a bee sting or insect bite. It will keep it from whelping up as bad and helps it not to itch as bad. My wife used this remedy many times on me and our son when we would get stung by yellow jackets. Also a small dose of benadryl with this remedy will almost eliminate the effects of the sting/stings.

  6. Soap is a great innocuous topic to lower the temperature in the room – us paranoid individuals get carried away sometimes when the troubles in the world overwhelm us. Or, is someone worried that the 3% are becoming too angry. Ivory soap is definitely calming and inoffensive :)

    1. hermit us;

      I agree, Soap is a ‘clean’ subject, I guess I get kind-of ‘dirty’ when I get told what to feel and am told I’m shameful for not expressing it publicly on a Survival BLOG by someone that has no idea.

      Golly Gosh, time for a Soul Cleaning shower, wonder what soap I should use? Maybe some Angel Soft?

      1. NRP
        Maybe soap on a rope, or has that been deemed to dangerous by the safety police?

        1. hermit us
          I don’t believe the “holding facilities” will allow soap-on-a-rope anymore, to easy od access to a “rope”.
          Heck I don’t even know if it’s made anymore. never had a use for it :-)

        2. It was a great thing for “holding facilities” – you don’t have to bend …. no I’m not going there, Ken will wash out my whole server with Cascade.

        3. Yes Nailbanger, that is one use that was not mentioned – the Darwin pod soap award.

        4. Nailbanger
          ANOTHER stupid thing they are trying to “outlaw” brightly colored Tide Pods, come on people you just can NOT fix stupid, or outlaw evil.
          Tide is a GREAT product, and now people are eating it? Really????????

        5. NRP
          Yup, cant fix stupid,
          all this talk of eating etc, its pouring rain here, ta heLL with it, im going to make me some bacon and eggs!

      2. NRP
        Did someone actually rebuke you for not expressing your feelings – I must have missed that?

  7. Within my locked facility, soap is in the form of small white bars. It would take about 20+ in a long stretch sock for any weapons potential. No soap on a rope in my facility due to ligature restriction. If it drops on the floor, just leave it and get another small bar. They are cheap. We will get you another bar.

    To: hermit us, Nailbanger and NRP

    STOP IT! you boys are being bad. Keep it up and we will take away your canteen privileges and no ice cream for dessert when you are in the SHU. ( Segregated Housing Unit.)

    this coming from the HMFIC in the land where the only difference between staff and patients is: Staff have keys.

    1. CaliRefugee;
      Sorry dad, was just trying to lighten the mood some.
      BTW, they gave you a key????? hehehe

    2. I’m sorry too.
      But small WHITE bars? Are there protesters outside demanding personalized types of soap for the inmates?

    3. – Worked in a combination general population and superseg for about ten years before going to the dark side (Psych facility) for several more. I think that some of the most spectacular injuries I ever saw were from socks with soap, cans, or padlocks in them.
      – Papa S.

  8. As with restless leg syndrome, soap will also prevent the nighttime leg cramps elderly women get.

  9. How about an article on how to make soap without using purchased products or kits. In other words, starting from scratch with tallow or fat, water and wood ashes – ala Granny Clampett with her backyard kettle. It might be a handy skill set to have or have knowledge of.

      1. Ken;
        Have you tried making this Soap?
        just checked and retirement is in 316 days, and will be looking for things like this to do more and more.
        Yeah Yeah Yeah, little miss homemaker here, with my Mossberg strapped on my back, and a 45 on my hip hehehehe

      2. Ken
        Making soap may take a lower priority in a SHTF situation if it involves the use of any food group. Storing liquid detergent might be a good option as a little dribble goes a long way – and you get soft hands. :)

        1. hermit us,
          I will save any scraps of rancid grease/oil for soap making…re use most fats now , but rancid= best uses will be for lighting, fire starting or soap

    1. Im screwed if we need animal fat, the deer i can hunt are lean, same with the wild hogs, lean lean, only thing with an abundance of fat are the many two legged baluga whales here on vacation from cold climates!

      1. Nailbanger,
        with all the global warming, maybe you will get some polar bears down your way. plenty of fat in them.

      2. Nailbanger
        Any form of “beluga whale(s)” are fair game for soap making during desperate times…and your comment sent me into a fit of laughter..😂🤣

      3. Actually there are a number of soaps made with vegetable derived fats. I believe glycerin is the primary fat that’s used. My guess, just offhand is that shooting something that’s fat would be slightly easier than deriving glycerol from plant triglycerides. PS I’m pretty sure there’s a closed season on ‘balugas’ unless of course you’re a native subsistence hunter.

        1. I got olive trees, going to be planting more, extracting the oil, now thats a problem, not like those pitebo oil extractors, whole lot more grinding and squeezing etc, pretty complex, but going to try an experiment with my bearing press, make a cylinder with screens to extract, soap is one of those things im storing kinda like NRP and his TP

  10. To NRP and hermit us:

    as a REward for responding first to this posting, I hereby designate you 2 as “cellies” within my locked facility. you 2 can have your fun with your bars of soap – together.

    Sorry Ken, You had a nice, clean wholesome post on cleaning products and the local hooligans took it sideways.

    To NRP: You can address me as “HMFIC” or “Sir” only within the 4 walls and plexiglass windows. and I have many keys which are heavy and also effective within the long tube sock.

    To hermit us: No protesters outside our walls. That is what the pepper spray in the previous article is used for. (see yesterday’s post?). On an industrial scale, I like using the gas grenades and the large canisters are referred to as “Holiday Foggers” to be used against protesters and drunken soccer hooligans.

    By the way, too many police officers trying to take their gas contaminated uniforms to the same laundromat will effectively clear out the entire facility. Dry cleaners will not take them either. Trying to launder your uniforms at home after using gas has been grounds for divorce within house holds.

    1. CaliRefugee;
      What??? I was trying to lighten out the conversation, with soap, from the foul mood on that other comment-thread,
      BTW, if I may ask, what is “HMFIC”, I’m not to familiar with that Acronym, is that a new .gov agency? :-)

      Interesting your brought up washing Uniforms, I have been doing additions to many local Fire Stations installing HUGE Washers and Dryers to clean their ‘Gear’. Was able to get some of the Soap (see how I got it back on subject?) this stuff is FANTASTIC!!!!! One teaspoonful will do a full load of wash, and get it clean Clean CLEAN !!!!!!

      1. Stands for Head M/F in charge. Not going to spell the whole thing or Gonna get that soap in the mouth thing going again

    2. CaliRefugee
      Okay okay, I will stay on topic – we three clowns have been reprimanded and forced to take bubble baths to clean up our acts.

      1. hermit us;
        Honestly I like a Bubble Bath, Skin-So-Soft makes a GREAT soap for B-Baths it’s got Lanoline and Eucalyptus Oil in it.
        Makes for a very VERY relaxing evening with a glass of Gin and some candles lighting the house, the world seems a little less “bad”.

        1. NRP
          You could send that soapy theme to Harlequin – who said you aren’t the romantic type? But please, no pictures.

        2. hermit us
          WHAT?? no profession photo shoot?? OK, never mind…you did make me rowl..thank you!

        3. profession–professional ..see that is what happens when I get to laughing….

        4. Antique Collector;
          Ahhhhh HA!!!!! we know where your ‘dirty’ mind was…. HAHAHA
          Time to ‘clean’ that up with a little ‘Bubble Bath Soap’ huh?
          AC does ACDH know your on the computer? LOLOL

        5. NRP
          YES, after 40 year of my unique sense of humor, he knows when I am having fun teasing.

    3. – To CaliRefugee, we used to refer to those gas-powered foggers as ‘Holiday Foggers’- did they not allow your bosses to play with those? Personally, I always enjoyed the show with the 37mm and watching inmates trying to scramble out of the way.
      NRP – when I was a new young Army private I was introduced to the concept of a GI party, which is a far cry from any sort of party I would want to be invited to. We also had a young man who didn’t quite get the concept of showering every day. There is also the GI shower, which involved multiple participants, those bars of yellow soap and gong brushes. Let’s just say it ceased to be a problem.
      To NRP and Hermit us – enjoy your bubble bath, I only hope it is air and not other ‘noxious gas’ in those bubbles from sitting in the tub. LOL
      – Papa S.

  11. To NRP:

    Head Mo Fo In Charge = HMFIC.

    Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition = FUBAR

    If you say things like that in their full glory in daylight, you will never become a manager or advance beyond rank of Sergeant.

    My technical qualifications? I dunno. I just keep showing up for work each day and many others do not. One day I will retire and purchase a laundromat in town.

    1. CaiRefugee
      I hope you clean up – what will you call your laundry?

    2. CaliRefugee;
      I have been also doing some work for a man that owns something like 5-6 Laundromats, the Dude is worth millions, literally millions.
      He calls then Slot Machines that people just dump $$$$ and Soap into with nada payback.
      Heck even his Soap Dispensers triple his money for those that forget to bring their own Soaps.

  12. I was going to open one up in The Gulch. I’ll be mopping the floor and pretending I do not speak English.

  13. Ken,
    I know we are all over the place today… but thank you for the list (and you patience).
    I stock Ivory soap and Dawn and had not read some of the uses on your list – like bug bites. I am the one on every camping trip that gets bit – now I have a new remedy to try. Thanks!

  14. I know that it’s hard to believe, but this is a serious post. Clean and Tidey 😄 Sometimes you can find liquid detergent/soap in 5 gal. buckets at a flea market. It must work cause I ain’t never seen no fleas there 😅

  15. Regarding using soap on a squeaking belt: Belts squeal because they are slipping, you can quiet them with soap or even commercial belt dressing, but it is not fixing the problem. Simply put it is just lubricating the belt, the underlying issue of the belt slipping is still there, still not transmitting power efficiently.

  16. Ken,
    I only have one thing to offer here, you have pretty much covered everything. My use for soap is to float metal ores out if ground up rock. In the milling end of mining, they use ‘float cells ‘ with ground up rock slurry and specialized soap like chemicals. The frothy bubbles come off the top carrying sulfide metal ores. I was once told this was discovered by a washer woman in Leadville who used to launder mill workers cloths. She collected the ‘shiny bubbles of metal and showed them to the mill workers. Wet metallurgy was born and float cell’s were born. Might be worth knowing if you ever had to try and extract metal (like lead) out of ground up ore from an old mine.

  17. – Best recipe I know of – google ‘Grandpappy’s homemade soap recipe’. It’s a long article, but really pretty simple. Worked well for me when I tried it. Lots of color pictures and explanation. Not going to try to link to it, and I hope this isn’t outside parameters for you, Ken
    – Papa S.

  18. My family has always told the grand kids that if they use foul language then they will have to wash their mouth out with soap. That threat always seems to work.

    1. Clean up a potty mouth


      I’ve had a bar or two in my younger years.

      Didn’t work🤷‍♂️

    2. I do recall that particular “motivational” use of soap when I was young too! Good one…

  19. Well, I recall VERY clearly in 1971 having my first and only ‘enema’ with castille soap before giving birth to my oldest son. Yes sirree and being lathered with soap in an intimate area with the big ole nurse holding a straight razor, saying be still. You guys do not know what you missed with those soapings!!!!! 🥴

    1. – Mrs. U,

      Having been that big ugly nurse with the bucket and straight razor, believe me I know where you are coming from. Virtually the only hairy parts of the human body I have not shaved, with a straight razor, are eyebrows and eyelashes. Not nearly as exciting now, as they now use battery-powered clippers. (Want to spend a few minutes relaxing on the carpet? Nick someone with that straight razor and you will be visiting with the surgeon!)

      Someone mentioned Irish Spring soap (original scent). Currently have a couple of bars between outer and storm doors in a piece of net, cuts down on our current bumper crop of flies getting in the house, and have only seen one wasp who just wanted out of the space since trying this. It’s also supposed to be good in gardens for keeping deer away.

      – Papa S.

  20. “Relieve itchy bug bites: Rub the bites with a dampened bar of soap for instant itch relief. It also helps keep the bites clean.”

    Yep. My grandma taught me this one.

    Never heard of the restless leg one. Will be trying that one to see if it works. I have a slight case since my back surgery two yr ago.

  21. Momma used to cut pieces of Octagon soap and tie them around the trunk of young trees to keep bugs from climbing up. Rain would put a wash on the trunk.

  22. Back when in the Boy Scouts, we would use a dry paper towel and cover it with dish soap. We would then wipe the outsides of the stainless pots and pans that will be used for that meal over an open fire. When cleaning after cooking, the soot came right off with little to no scrubbing. It was a great time and effort saver.

  23. I like revisiting these topics.

    Fels Naptha is amazing. It sure gets heavy grease and motor oil stains out of overalls! I use it to pretreat other stains before going in the washer as well.

    I use pine tar soap quite a bit too. Sure is helpful for poison ivy before it makes the rash and eases the pain if the rash has already started.

    I also cook down zote soap in a recipe to bait my trotlines for river fishing. 1 bar of zote, 1/4 cup of water, 1/3 cup of bacon grease, and 3-4 gloves of garlic crushed and minced. Shave or grate the soap in a pan over low heat adding the water slowly to help it melt. Then add the bacon grease and garlic. I’ve even added a little cheese a couple of times with mixed results. As it cools, mold it into the shapes you want and lay onto wax paper.

  24. Poultice. Homemade bread .soaked in hot water add shavings of sunlight soap and put on boils, infected cuts. Works

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