Felted soap is one of my favorite things to make in my spare time, and it’s very fun to give as gifts, too!
Felted soap is a bar of soap covered in wool fiber which is then felted – it’s like a bar of soap and a washcloth in one. When you have felted soap, you don’t necessarily need a separate washcloth or scrubby in the bath, and it’s truly a very easy project once you have a bar of soap.
You can use a bar of soap you might have at home, or if you prefer to make your own cold process soaps, you can use those to wrap in wool, too.
Depending on the wool used, you can make it as colorful or natural as you would like. You can choose dyed wool for a colorful change, or go with un-dyed wool to make it more natural. You can also go a step further and embroider a pattern or design on your soap to make it more personal.
What you’ll Need:
- Bar of soap
- Wool roving for felting (find at Hobby Lobby)
- Knee highs (or a pair of pantyhose)
- Potato peeler or small knife
I found wool roving at Hobby Lobby they have 1.5 oz bags for $1.59 (even less with coupon), or a 6-pk of wool roving $12 (or just over $7 with coupon). The pack truly does cover quite a lot of soap (I usually get 30-40 bars of soap out of one bag of roving). If you are looking for natural wool colors though, you can find many other options on Etsy.
If you are lucky, you might be able to find a local sheep or alpaca farm near you that sells wool roving as well – I would suggest getting roving that’s already prepared and not roving you have to prepare yourself. Several months ago I scored three bags of wool roving that needed to be cleaned and carded and it’s quite a long process.
Knee-highs are also handy to have, and they sell them at the drugstore for $.30 – $.90 per pair. Just one or two pairs are all you need.
If you are using rectangular or square bars, it’s a good idea to start by rounding the edges of your soap with the potato peeler and/or small knife. I have kept the soap untouched and rounded others, and I find that if I don’t round, the edges can sometimes stick out through the wool.
In this particular felting session, I felted coffee & cacao soap and lemongrass soap.
Sort out your roving and select your color to start – lay out your roving in a criss-cross pattern – one layer vertical, and the other layer on top, going horizontal. That layering will help that wool transform into felt.
If you are looking for a multi-color felt soap, you can go a step further and add small pieces across the front as stripes or etc.
Once layered, place the soap in the center and fold the wool over the soap as if you are wrapping a present. Keep the wool as tight as you can, making sure that the entire area of the soap is covered in several layers.
Place your hand in the pantyhose, and grab the soap, pulling the hose up around the soap so that the soap is in the “foot” of the hosiery. The pantyhose helps the wool keep its place while you are felting.
Fill up a medium bowl with hot water (the hotter the better!) and then dip the soap in the hot water several times. Twirl the soap around in the hot water, and squeeze to encourage it to start felting; before you know it, the soap will start to suds, and you will want to rub the soap back and forth between your hands to encourage that wool to felt.
While you are working the soap back and forth, dipping in water every minute or so, watch the corners of the soap – make sure the wool is being stretched over the top of the soap without the edges poking through.
After a short time, the wool will pull tighter and tighter together as it shrinks and felts towards the soap. The whole process can take anywhere from 5-7 minutes. When the wool tightens and starts to matte together, you’ll want to rinse it well in ice water – I just fill up a separate bowl with ice and then top off with water.
That cold water will help the felt set and will also help to rinse the soapy residue from the wool. Rinse in the ice water, and then try to squeeze the felted soap of as much liquid as possible. You might have to do this a few times. Then set the soap somewhere to dry (1-2 days in the sun should be sufficient!)
Once dry, you can use in the shower or bath – the felted soap will lather up beautifully from the soap within the felt. As the soap shrinks, the felting will shrink down as well, and eventually you will be left with a piece of wool – you can reuse or discard.
Felted soap is:
- Anti-microbial – the bar will resist bacteria
- Non-slip – the wool felting will prevent the soap from slipping from the hands
- Renewable and sustainable – sheep and alpacas will keep producing more wool
- Hypoallergenic – you shouldn’t be allergic to a felted soap bar
- Functional – no need for a washcloth or loofah
- Wonderfully full of lather
Choose your own color combinations or simply go natural with un-dyed wool. Felted soaps are wonderful for kids and make great stocking stuffers!