I wonder occasionally how women accomplished tasks around the home 75 years ago. Like, what did they do before kitty litter? Sand and baking soda. That got me thinking about baking soda, and also vinegar. Those two items are safe, inexpensive and have dozens of useful purposes around the home. Here is a list of 60 uses for baking soda. Here are 131 uses for vinegar.
Now I have discovered “Octagon All Purpose Soap by Colgate”. As the product description states, Octagon is more economical to use than liquid soap as it lasts longer. Easily cuts through grease and grime Removes stubborn stains. Great for your laundry, dishes, hands, and more.
This is a soap that has been in continuous production for 100 years. The Department Of American Studies at the University of Maryland reports, “Octagon Soap is a lye soap intended primarily for laundry purposes, but often used as an all-purpose soap. When used as a laundry soap, soap shavings are usually added to the water in a wash tub and laundry is hand washed using a corrugated washboard. Another way of using soaps of this kind is to put a whole soap bar in a water-filled tub containing the items to be washed. Heated from below by a fire, the contents of the tub would be stirred with a paddle. Until the 1940’s, this was a common way of washing bedclothes which people wanted white and spot free. But Octagon soap is mild enough to be used as a hand soap if one is not very concerned about skin softness.”
“Octagon soap was first sold early in the 1900’s. During its most popular period, in the 1930’s, it was a brown, roughly-cut, extruded bar of soap with coupons printed on the wrappers which could be collected and exchanged for various kinds of merchandise.”
My bar of Octagon soap is the same- large, brown, heavy with 1930s wrapping.
“Until 1928 Octagon Soap was manufactured by the Colgate Company. Colgate & Company was started in 1806 by William Colgate when he opened up a starch, soap, and candle business on Dutch Street in New York City. Colgate & Company became the first great soap making concern in the United States. The first Colgate advertisement (for “Soap, Mould & Dipt Candles”) appeared in a New York newspaper in 1817. It was not until the 1830’s that the company began selling individual bars in uniform weights.”
“Colgate introduced perfumed soap and began the manufacture of perfumes and essences during 1866. In 1872 Colgate began to produce the first milled perfumed toilet soap, Cashmere Bouquet. In this same year the Peet Brothers (William, Robert and James) started a soap company in Kansas City, Kansas.”
“In 1898, in the western United States, the B. J. Johnson Soap Company began to make a soap entirely of palm and olive oil. The advertised advantage of this soap was that it floated. The soap was popular enough that in 1916 the Johnson brothers renamed their company after it – Palmolive. In 1926 the Peet Brothers’ soap company merged with Palmolive to become Palmolive-Peet. In 1928, Palmolive-Peet merged with the Colgate Company to create the Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Company. For many years after 1928 Octagon Soap was produced by Colgate-Palmolive-Peet.”
It floated. Huge inducement to buy the soap. Can you imagine the aggravation of leaning over a washtub in the hot sun, scrubbing your husband’s farm shirt, and the soap slips and falls to the bottom of the tub. Having to root around for it a billion times must have been irksome in the extreme, not to mention a time waster.
“In 1953 Peet was dropped from the company’s title, resulting in the company’s present name, Colgate-Palmolive. Octagon soap was still in limited production at the time of this writing in 1999.”
That is why I was surprised to find this throwback on the shelf at the store. Not that I knew what Octagon soap was at the time. I just was looking for a bar of soap that was less than $1. It cost 79 cents. It does last a good long time. I cut it in half and I use half at the bathroom sink and half at the shower.
Other uses I’ve read about are that it is wonderful for bug bites. Here is a list of applications Octagon soap is good for.
Clothing stain remover
Bug bite/poison oak and ivy remedy
Deer and rabbit garden repellent
“A single bar of simply packaged, long-lasting Octagon Soap can perform several tasks so you don’t have to worry about buying multiple targeted products in oversized plastic bottles, tubs, and what have you.”
To use as a bug bite salve, simply lather up and put it on the affected area. Let dry in place.
I really like not having to resort to lots of different chemical items for household tasks. I really like having low-tech items available to do my usual jobs. I really like being able to buy inexpensive but quality items. Look for Borax and Octagon soap at the store, and buy lots of vinegar and baking soda while you’re there. You can’t go wrong.