I’m gonna let you all in on a secret: I don’t really like bar soaps. Sure, I understand the necessity, and they are often quite pretty and smell delicious, but without fail, before the end, a bar of soap degenerates into a slimey, gooey ball of yuck that you couldn’t pay me to touch. Yes, I know it’s soap, and is therefore inherently clean, but it just feels and looks gross! Or it shatters into several tiny, useless chunks that slip through your fingers and get all over the place. I’d take liquid hand soap or body wash over bar soap any day.
But then I saw Felted Soap on Pinterest, and I became intrigued. In making felted soap, you create a wool “sweater” for your soap, which helps to keep it together, and keep the goo off your hands, counters, and shower. And it looks pretty. And the felt acts as a loofah/washcloth, so you don’t have to use and wash another linen. And it’s fairly simple (and fun!) to do. So I decided to try it out.
I purchased this prepackaged assortment of wool roving at my local craft shop for $4.99, and it was enough to do 4 bars of soap with some left over. I used a couple of bars of soap that have been languishing in my cabinet for months because this particular type of soap disintegrates faster and gooier than the average soap, and I therefore wouldn’t touch it otherwise. After doing those two bars, I liked it so much that I decided to do two fancy bars of all-natural soap my sister gave me for Christmas. Very good choice
DIY Felted Soap Tutorial
liquid dish soap
Step 1: Fill your bowl with hot water-as hot as you can stand to put your hands in
Step 2: On a flat work surface, lay out your towel and place your bubble wrap on top of it
Step 3: Shave any sharp edges off your soap with the cheese grater so that they don’t poke through the wool “sweater”
Step 4: Take a long strip of wool roving and wrap it around the width of your soap
Step 5: Using another long strip of roving, wrap around the length of the soap, completely encasing the bar in wool-you don’t want any gaps!
Step 6: Using small pieces of roving, add any embellishments you want-stripes etc
All wrapped up!
Step 7: Dunk the wool covered soap into the hot water and allow it to soak all the way through
Step 8: Remove the soap from the hot water, and squeeze a small amount of liquid dish soap onto all surfaces of the wool roving.
Step 9: Start gently rubbing the wool to begin the felting process. It’s going to feel really loosey goosey and you are going to start grumbling in your head that that Rachel girl lied to you and this is never going to work. Don’t worry, it will, just keep going! As you continue, you can rub harder, just make sure to hold the wool tightly to the soap so that it stays in place. Re-wet the wool and squeeze it every now and then
Starting to felt
Step 10: Once the wool starts to feel a bit more stuck together, begin rubbing it on the bubble wrap. This will keep your fingers from getting chafed by the wool. Make sure to get every surface-top, sides, bottom etc, and keep dipping it in the water and squeezing every now and then.
Step 10: Keep going! By now, it should feel much more fitted and secure. But you’re not done yet. Bring the soap over to the sink and give it a quick rinse in hot water. SQUEEEEEZE the excess water out, and then go back to rubbing with your hands. Repeat this process several times-the wetting and the squeezing is helping to further shrink the wool and fit it to your soap.
Step 11: When you think the wool has shrunk and felted enough (this takes a while, trust me!), rinse it one more time in very hot water, then do a rinse in very cold water. Squeeze all the water out that you possibly can, then place the felted soap on your towel and squeeze again. Get out as much water as possible! Now just set it out on a rack to dry
A few notes-don’t try too hard to keep the shape of the soap in the shape of the wool. I actually found it was easier to let a lot of the edges be more rounded rather than square on my second try, and I think it ended up looking nicer in the end. Also, don’t get too dependent on the bubble wrap. It’s there to help, but really, only your fingers will be able to feel when the felting process is complete. Lastly, many DIYers recommend placing the wool-wrapped soap in the toe of an old stocking to help hold the roving in place while rubbing. I didn’t have any old stockings I was willing to cut up, but I can see how this would make things easier, especially at the beginning, so maybe give it a try!
After every use, make sure to place the soap somewhere where the felt can dry completely. Apparently, as you use up the soap inside, the wool continues to felt and shrink, so that you can use every last ounce of that bar soap without getting soap slime on your hands! When the soap is all gone, you can cut open the felted pouch and use it for any number of things-fill it with potpourri, sew it back up and use it as a scented sachet bag for your drawers. Put a new bar of soap in. Make it into a little drawstring bag for your kids’ treasures-the possibilities are endless!
Doesn’t this just make bar soap so much more interesting?