By February 1, 2013 Read More →

Five Great Soaps to Prep!

If you could only prep one kind of soap, what would it be? 



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There are always hundreds of answers to that question because there really isn’t a single ‘best’ soap to store; almost any soap is good to stock up on compared to none at all.  If they have to, people can make do cleaning most things with just about any common soap.  If you make your own soap, that is a very frugal and admirable skill.  Homemade soap is  a good option if you have time to make extra and stock up on it (click here to learn how).  The important thing is to have a supply soap on hand for hygiene and sanitation if the store is ever sold out or closed.

All soaps have strengths and weaknesses; here are five soaps that have multiple uses that make them ideal for storage and emergency use. Maybe one of these soaps will work for you!

1) Dawn:  (or an equivalent) dish washing detergent:   Dawn is well-known for getting dishes clean, but did you know that it is well-known for doing that even with cold water?  Their website encourages people to try washing dishes in cold water to conserve power.  This would also be handy in the event of a long-term power outage.  Dawn is also commonly used as shampoo to remove product build-up and strip excess oil.  Because Dawn is non-toxic and biodegradable you can make an insecticide with it (as well as from other biodegradable soaps) by diluting it with water.  Other insects such as ants tend to avoid treated areas also making it a repellant.  Dawn also makes an effective flea bath for cats and dogs.

The grease busting power of Dawn makes it an acceptable substitute for laundry detergent and/or a pre-treatment for tough stains. (Although care must be taken not to add too much Dawn or there will be an overflow of bubbles and trouble with rinsing.)  Mixed with boiling water Dawn can also help clear a grease clogged drain in the kitchen and it makes an effective glass cleaner when just a drop or two is added to vinegar and water.  Dawn detergent will store for years and remain effective; however, the soap may separate if exposed to extreme temperature swings.

2) Ivory:  Classic Ivory soap is biodegradable; it was originally marketed as a laundry soap bar and is still used in many different homemade laundry soap recipes.  If doing laundry by hand the old-fashioned way, classic Ivory is still capable of getting your clothes clean and residue free.  Because bars of Ivory floated in water it became a popular bathing soap.

Today Classic Ivory still has many uses.  Bars of Ivory soap can also be used as an insecticide by grating it first then melting it down with heated water to create a liquid soap.  The resulting liquid Ivory can also be used for dish washing, and shampooing.  Since Classic Ivory soap is only lightly scented, floats, and is free from many of the additives that make other soaps undesirable for environmental and health concerns, it’s a very popular choice for campers and preppers. Classic Ivory bar soap will store indefinitely without any additional treatment.  Be sure to look for the “It Floats!” slogan and “99 44/100% Pure” statement on the label.  There are several different types of Ivory now, and the Classic Ivory bars are the only ones that float, the formula on the rest of Ivory’s products are different.

3) Soap Flakes:  Soap Flakes is another product that was originally invented as laundry soap because it was much easier to dissolve them in warm water than it was to grate down a solid bar of soap.  Soap Flakes are pure soap in a flake form; they are made from a 100% vegetable base of palm and coconut oils.  They contain no bleaches, phosphates, enzymes, or perfumes and are completely biodegradable.  Soap Flakes can be used as laundry soap, dish soap, body soap, and as a general household cleaner.  They are notably mild and frequently recommended for the cleaning of children’s toys, laundry, and even as a children’s bath soap.

For years Soap Flakes were our grandmother’s choice for hand washing dedicates and wool.  They will store for years in their dry form, are light weight, and are easy to dissolve for any of the above uses. Soap Flakes’ friendliness to the environment and light weight have made them a popular choice for backpackers and campers for years, for this reason they are also a common item in bug out bags.

4) Fel’s Naptha:  Fel’s -Naptha was originally invented and marketed as a heavy-duty laundry soap bar and still is today.  The potent bars of Fel’s-Naptha are most commonly used as a pre-treatment for stains and they frequently out perform their higher priced spray bottle competitors in that area.  Fel’s-Naptha is the current best-selling choice for those who make their own laundry detergent. When combined with ingredients like borax and washing soda, a single bar of Fel’s-Naptha will last nearly a year.  How is that for cost efficient?

Fel’s-Naptha can also be used to treat poison ivy, poison oak, or sumac rash when used just after exposure occurs.  The soap will break up the oils from the plants, which contain the toxins.  It can also be used in bathrooms to remove soap scum and in the garden as an insecticide.  Fel’s-Naptha is not flawless however, as it still contains strong perfumes, additives for color, and shouldn’t be used on the skin as a replacement for regular body soap.  Fel’s-Naptha once contained Stoddard solvent, which is a known eye irritant, but according to their website the soap no longer contains the solvent.  Fel’s-Naptha soap, like Ivory, will store indefinitely with no additional treatment.

5) Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap:  Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap is a liquid Castile soap.  Castile soap is a name used for olive oil based soaps, which are frequently noted for their mildness.  For years Dr. Bronner’s has been one of the best-selling holistic soaps on the market.  Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap also has many uses, it comes in several different scents including un-scented and it’s completely biodegradable.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap can be used for everyday washing, shampooing, dish washing, as a shaving cream, for tooth brushing (although I have heard the taste is awful), for laundry, for household cleaning and its high glycerin content allows it to be used as a leather soap in a pinch.  Parenting forums have claimed the tea tree variety of Dr. Bronner’s is effective in treating and repelling lice and fleas.  Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap will store for long periods of time but, like other liquid soaps, may separate if exposed to dramatic shifts in temperature.

So if you could only prep one kind of soap, what would it be?  Please feel free to leave your comments and ideas for others!

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About the Author:

Stephanie is a writer for the American Preppers Network, a small local paper and for her blog, The Home Front. She is also the credited writer of "Emergency Bag Essentials (Swatchbook): Everything You Need to Bug Out" to be released in August 2014. "I write articles based on my own experience about emergency preparedness, self-sufficiency, homesteading, food preservation and life around the farmstead. I grew up in a very rural area where I learned to garden, the art of canning, to hunt and fish, and to raise my own animals for food. Yes, families such as mine still do exist! I also spent 6 years volunteering for the local county Search and Rescue group where I learned a variety of survival skills and a little bit about law enforcement protocol. " "As a general rule of principle do not write articles about information that I have only read - if I am writing about something it's because of I have done it myself and gone to great lengths to provide you with the facts. I also have a full time job with an hour commute - my alter egos are as a Marketing Director, and an amateur photographer. " To connect with me --> click on one of the many little square social media buttons below!

33 Comments on "Five Great Soaps to Prep!"

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  1. Vera Hamann says:

    Great artcle, thanks for sharing your knowledge with us. I’m regularly using Fel’s Naptha and still did not find the stain I could not remove with this soap. Just add a little elbow grease and you are all set! But, shop carefully……..I have
    been paying up to $4.25 for one bar of soap …but recently I found it at Walmart for $ 0.97……….stock up!

    • dogman says:

      great article! I had a question on dial and safe gaurd soap As to how did they stack up in comparison? Thanks, and keep up the good work

      • Hi Dogman,

        I looked up both soaps for you. Safe guard came in almost just like Ivory, although it does have a few extra ingredients that Ivory does not. It was never formulated for a laundry soap but still could work as such. The same goes with Dial Soap, although the fragrance and artificial colors in Dial tend to make it less desirable for the wide range of uses than Ivory. But like I said, really any soap is better than no soap at all, and Dial will also last forever in bar form so if you like it and want to prep it – go ahead! 

        • Gail says:

          I opt for the SafeGaurd as it has been my soap since the 60′s when a doctor reccomended it to clear up an allergy rash. It is supposed to be anti-bacterial.

  2. Great article. Thanks!

  3. Dr. Bronner’s – I use it for everything from washing my hair and face to the toilet and counters, lol.

  4. Dr. Bronner’s – I use it for everything from washing my hair and face to the toilet and counters, lol.

  5. Leila, I mix Dr. Bronner’s with olive oil and spray it on my tomato plants to get rid of aphids. It works great!

  6. Leila, I mix Dr. Bronner’s with olive oil and spray it on my tomato plants to get rid of aphids. It works great!

  7. Richard Hoon says:

    Whenever I have the opportunity, I grab a pack of family-sized bars of soap (usually ivory or irish spring)…not only are these easy to store and transport, they can also be used as barter items later. ;)

  8. Richard Hoon says:

    Whenever I have the opportunity, I grab a pack of family-sized bars of soap (usually ivory or irish spring)…not only are these easy to store and transport, they can also be used as barter items later. ;)

  9. I make my own so lye and oil are what I store :)

  10. I make my own so lye and oil are what I store :)

  11. Darla White says:

    I love Irish Spring. :-) Add clear Glycerine in a bottle to the list–its not a soap– but it’s used in making handmade (liquid) soaps so it’s a must for the prepper. Add your favorite like Irish Spring, or Zote, Borax, Washing Soda–for making your own liquid laundry detergent. I love mine. Use White Vinegar as a “fabric-softener” to make the clothes soft and takes out all kinds of bad smells.

  12. Darla White says:

    I love Irish Spring. :-) Add clear Glycerine in a bottle to the list–its not a soap– but it’s used in making handmade (liquid) soaps so it’s a must for the prepper. Add your favorite like Irish Spring, or Zote, Borax, Washing Soda–for making your own liquid laundry detergent. I love mine. Use White Vinegar as a “fabric-softener” to make the clothes soft and takes out all kinds of bad smells.

  13. You can’t beat Ivory. We all know that it is 99.44% pure, and you can get a 10 pack for only a couple bucks.

  14. You can’t beat Ivory. We all know that it is 99.44% pure, and you can get a 10 pack for only a couple bucks.

  15. Definitely Dr. Bronner’s, nothing else.

  16. dawn liquid breaks down after a good freeze…. still useable but dont look the best…

  17. Alane Haley says:

    I did not know Dawn and Ivory were biodegradable… thank you for this information.

  18. DAWN! You can use Dawn for a lot of stuff!

  19. DAWN! You can use Dawn for a lot of stuff!

  20. I have stored lye & lard, were using our lye soap for everything but shampoo, that would be baking soda w/ a vinegar rinse

  21. I use Dr. Bonner’s Peppermint Castille in baths to bring down fevers. I also use it to shampoo my dogs (won’t hurt their skin) especially if they’ve been running in the woods or swimming in the muddy creek — it eliminates that musky, clay-ey smell from their fur and leaves them clean, shiny and smelling great!

  22. Karen Fudala says:

    Nothing worse than having many good items and then forgetting about being clean !! Clean keeps you healthy.

  23. Karen Fudala says:

    Nothing worse than having many good items and then forgetting about being clean !! Clean keeps you healthy.

  24. Great Article Steph. We have lots of Dawn. Love it use it…it rocks. It gets the grease out of your way havent you heard? :)

  25. Merry says:

    Instead of buying Dr. Bonners – which is very expensive for the amount you get, I buy Green Soap, which is a biodegradable soap, and is very useful not in just washing clothes, but is also good for sensitive skin, dishes, windows, pets etc. It’s also around 14 dollars a gallon – and you dilute it a lot to use.