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How to Make Wet-Felted Soaps Using a Tumble Dryer

Sally Gulbrandsen Feltmaker: Her tutorials and techniques are as individual as she is—unique, experimental, and always interesting.

Wet-felted soaps make great gifts for Xmas or anytime!

Wet-felted soaps make great gifts for Xmas or anytime!

Learn How to Make Felted Soaps: Tutorial With Photos

We have all read those ads which promise work-from-home opportunities to anyone looking to earn an income. Most of these ads offer false hope and promises which will never materialize.

For those of you who love crafting and would love to earn some income from being creative, it will be a long road to prosperity. Far too many people give up on their creative dreams only to replace them with 'real work' because they become discouraged by their inability to produce enough quality items to turn a profit. The aim of this tutorial is to help you discover an easier way to make more quality items in the least possible time.

This Method Lets You Make Multiple Soaps at Once

Wet-felted soaps can look beautiful, but they should function perfectly as 'scrubbers' as well. To do this, the fibers need to be put down in a meaningful way which will produce the best results. This takes time—lots of it. Feltmaking is not a quick process, especially when one considers how much rubbing and rolling goes into it.

With this method which I created, you should be able to prepare multiple soaps in one sitting and then tumble dry them together at your leisure.

True, there will be some preparation required to make the little foam parcels, but you may be able to source recycled waste foam which already has cavities which were cut into it from the manufacturing stage to cushion a product in transit.

Felted Soap Is a Great Gift and a Great Craft Fair Item

The beauty of my system is that these foam bundles will be used over and over again. It is my hope that you will find this felted soap tutorial useful and that, in time, it will help lead you down a path to some genuine financial gain.

You can sell them at craft fairs or even from your own Etsy store. If not, give them to friends and family for Christmas or birthday gifts. These soaps make wonderful gifts which will likely be treasured or enjoyed.

Soap in a sweater!

Soap in a sweater!

Necessary Materials

  • Recycled cushion foam
  • Pair of scissors
  • Sharp knife
  • Long ruler
  • A cut-off piece of stocking
  • A small piece of bubble wrap
  • Elastic bands
  • Hot soapy water
  • Squeeze bottle
  • Merino wool roving or tops in a glorious mix of colors especially for felting
  • Dove soap or other soap of your choice
  • Tumble dryer
Recycled foam seat cushion

Recycled foam seat cushion

1. Place a Piece of Foam on a Cutting Table

The foam should be about a minimum of 1 1/2 inches thick and not quite dense.

Cut off a length of foam.  Leave at least 1 inch to both sides of the bar of soap.

Cut off a length of foam. Leave at least 1 inch to both sides of the bar of soap.

2. Cut the Foam Into 2 or 3 Lengths

Place the soap on the foam and cut into the strip leaving a border of about an inch of each side.

Cut 2 or 3 pieces from the recycled foam.

Cut 2 or 3 pieces from the recycled foam.

3. Use a Long Metal Ruler to Measure the Foam

Cut the foam into two to three strips depending on the size of the soap. The metal ruler provides a strong line to hold the knife against for cutting purposes.

An electric carving knife can be used if you have one handy.

4. Cut a Rectangle Into the Foam

Cut a rectangle into the foam to a dept of about half an inch.  Leave a border of about an inch on all sides.

Cut a rectangle into the foam to a dept of about half an inch. Leave a border of about an inch on all sides.

5. Cut Lines Inside the Rectangle

Cut lines half an inch deep into the foam avoiding the border area.

Cut lines half an inch deep into the foam avoiding the border area.

6. Remove the Lines of Foam to Create a Hollow

Remove one line of foam at a time.

Remove one line of foam at a time.

Foam removed to a depth of 1/2 inch

Foam removed to a depth of 1/2 inch

7. Prepare to Cover the Foam With Merino Wool Fibers

Please follow the instructions below for creating the wet felted soap. The felted soap will act as a loofah, shrinking as the soap shrinks leaving a handy scrubber behind.

Items required to wet felt a bar of soap, wool roving, hot soapy water elastic bands, piece of bubble-wrap, piece of cut off tights.

Items required to wet felt a bar of soap, wool roving, hot soapy water elastic bands, piece of bubble-wrap, piece of cut off tights.

Gorgeous wool roving, soap, cut off tights and hot soapy water

Gorgeous wool roving, soap, cut off tights and hot soapy water

8. Dip the Soap in Warm Water

Dip the soap in warm water.

Dip the soap in warm water.

Bowl of warm soapy water, squeeze bottle and a bar of Dove soap

Bowl of warm soapy water, squeeze bottle and a bar of Dove soap

One needs very little soap with this tutorial as the soap will come through from the woolen fibers below.

Use the squeeze bottle to add a few drops of water to help ensure that the fibers stick to the soap.

Use the squeeze bottle to add a few drops of water to help ensure that the fibers stick to the soap.

9. Add the Fibers Carefully, Dampening With Soapy Water

Place the fibers down carefully onto the soap. Drop a few drops of soapy water onto the fibers and smooth down with your fingers to ensure that they stick to the soap below.

Cover the top of the soap with fibers. Dampen the fibers to make sure they don't slip off the soap.

Cover the top of the soap with fibers. Dampen the fibers to make sure they don't slip off the soap.

Merino fibers carefully arranged on top of the soap

Merino fibers carefully arranged on top of the soap

Dampen the woolen fibers carefully with a little hot soapy water.

Dampen the woolen fibers carefully with a little hot soapy water.

Wrap the fibers firmly around the damp soap.

Wrap the fibers firmly around the damp soap.

Wrap the rest of the fibers around the soap.

Wrap the rest of the fibers around the soap.

Add more fibers to the bald spots and match the other side.

Add more fibers to the bald spots and match the other side.

The last layer on the second side.

The last layer on the second side.

Wet the fibers and wrap the soap.

Wet the fibers and wrap the soap.

Wrapping the soap, completing the first layer.

Wrapping the soap, completing the first layer.

The first layer Is now complete.

The first layer Is now complete.

10. Add More Fibers to Create the Second Layer

Layer 2: Repeat the first layer by putting the fibers onto the sides.

Layer 2: Repeat the first layer by putting the fibers onto the sides.

Close up of the fibers on the sides of the soap.

Close up of the fibers on the sides of the soap.

Top layer

Top layer

Wrapped and ready to go.

Wrapped and ready to go.

11. Pull the Stocking Over the Soap

Put the stocking onto your hand and then pull the stocking over the soap

Put the stocking onto your hand and then pull the stocking over the soap

12. Knot the Stocking

Knot the stocking so that it can easily be pulled open when required

Knot the stocking so that it can easily be pulled open when required

Placing the soap between the the foam cushioning

Placing the soap between the the foam cushioning

13. Place the Bubble Wrap

I used a small piece of bubble wrap to prevent any loose bits of foam from getting onto the covered soap. This was a preventative action as the soap is already covered in a piece of stocking.

14. Fold the Foam Over the Soap

Fold the foam in half over the soap.

Fold the foam in half over the soap.

15. Secure the Foam With Elastic Bands

Secure the soap firmly inside the foam wrapping it with elastic bands.

Secure the soap firmly inside the foam wrapping it with elastic bands.

16. Put the Foam-Wrapped Soap in the Tumble Dryer

Please prepare all your soaps and then insert them into a tumble dryer at once. Better still, pop them into the dryer at with your laundry in the last stage of drying process to help conserve energy in order to make this project as cost effective as possible.

The soaps should felt in about 10–15 minutes. Check the contents of the dryer after 10 minutes, and if the soap is not quite ready, continue felting for another 5 minutes.

17. Remove the Soap From the Stocking and Check Its Contents

Check the contents of the stocking after 10 minutes by removing the soap from the stocking.

If it has stuck to the stocking, gently tug the wool away. Put the soap back into the stocking, knot and plunge the soap into very hot water as shown and then into cold water. Repeat twice more, rinse under a cold tap, dry with a towel and put it onto a radiator to dry.

18. Once It's Felted, Dip the Stocking-Wrapped Soap in Hot Water

Dip into a bowl of very hot water once the felted soap has been removed from the tumble dryer.

Dip into a bowl of very hot water once the felted soap has been removed from the tumble dryer.

19. Dip It in Cold Water

Dip into cold water and then repeat the hot and cold water process again.

Dip into cold water and then repeat the hot and cold water process again.

20. Remove the Stocking, Then Let the Soap Dry on the Radiator

A row of soaps drying out on a radiator.

A row of soaps drying out on a radiator.

I Hope You Enjoyed This Tutorial!

I look forward to receiving any feedback or suggestions for any future projects which you might like to see.

Wet-felted soaps using a variety of wool including some Merino wool roving, which includes some silk fibre.

Wet-felted soaps using a variety of wool including some Merino wool roving, which includes some silk fibre.

Questions & Answers

Question: What temperature setting do you use for the tumble dryer?

Answer: I use the lowest temperature on my tiny tumble dryer. It only has two settings but I do not think that temperature is as important as the vibration that happens within the drum of the machine.

Question: Have you tried this with handcrafted soaps? I do rebatch and melt and pour. The latter is pretty soft compared to a hard milled or “store” soap. Do you have any ideas?

Answer: I have only tried this with store-bought soaps but think that if you use the foam there should be no reason why they should not survive. Perhaps you could try an experimental batch.

© 2015 Sally Gulbrandsen

Comments

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on January 16, 2019:

I see no reason why your 'special' soap won't work. I have used a lot of different kinds of soap and all were successful. I love to use quality soaps, especially those who give off a nice perfume when they are left in a soap dish in the bathroom:) I very much appreciate your very kind comments re this article. Thank you so much.

aflocas on January 16, 2019:

Thank you! You are wonderful and also your ideas and projects.

I'm going to do this tutorial with a special soap with pure lanolin will it be felted well? Would it be better to do it with another soap that does not have lanolin?

You can do more tutorials, you are very special and your way of seeing life I love it!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on October 20, 2017:

It is my pleasure. I hope you won't give up. I love working with this medium. It is definitely not an exact science and can sometimes be a challenge but that is what makes it so interesting.

Christine B on October 20, 2017:

You are very helpful, thank you! Like you said, I will try with other brands, and won't give up! :)

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on October 19, 2017:

I almost always use Merino wool roving but it is possible that the wool you are using still contains a fair amount of natural lanolin which might prevent the soap from foaming. It may foam better as some of the lanolin in the wool is with time washed away. As I understand it the simple explanation for why certain soaps foam is that they contain chemicals called foaming agents but one needs a layer of water and air to create foam and the wool may be preventing it from doing that. I wish I could be more helpful but I can only suggest that you try a few different brands until you find one which you like.

Christine B on October 19, 2017:

After my first one, made with my own cp soap, I tried a Dove, to be sure it was not my soap... I still have the same problem. Would it be my wool? I bought it at Michael's, can't know exactly what it is, it's only written "100% wool" on the product, but it's in the felting department...

Thank you so much for helping me with this! :)

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on October 19, 2017:

Hello Christine,

I think it might be your choice of soap, What type of soap are you using? I tend to use very good quality soaps which later pretty easily. The wool needs to be quite wet to lather well. I look out for soap which is being sold very cheapy at local car boots or thrift shops. Olive Oil Soap or even Dove soap lather pretty well. I appreciate your stopping by to comment, thank you.

Christine B on October 19, 2017:

Hi Sally, your tutorial is great! I made few felted soaps and I love it!! But maybe I do something wrong, I can't get any bubble out of it!! a little lather, that's it...?? Do you know what could it be? Thanks for your help!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on April 02, 2017:

Careful Martie, take one step forward and you won't be able to stop:)

Martie Coetser from South Africa on April 02, 2017:

Wet felting is for sure my next hobby!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 14, 2016:

Diana Abrahamson

Glad you liked this idea. The end result was excellent and my friends and family certainly enjoyed their gifts at Christmas time. This method certainly saves time and gives a good result.

Diana Abrahamson on February 13, 2016:

Really love the wet felting soap idea ..hope I can try your method too sometime.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 09, 2016:

MsDora

Thank you so much, it is kind of you to take the time to pop back to this hub.

Dora Weithers from The Caribbean on February 09, 2016:

Congratulations on your HOTD accolade!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 09, 2016:

RTalloni

That was nice of you, thank you so much.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 09, 2016:

gerimcolym

I hope you will try it. This really is a fun project and a very rewarding one. Thank you for your very kind words.

RTalloni on February 08, 2016:

Back to say congrats on your Hub of the Day award for this neat project that is useful in more than one way!

Geri McClymont on February 08, 2016:

An excellent and very detailed tutorial on wet felting. I would like to try this, as well as felting in a tumble dryer, which I fell in love with when I attended an art festival several years ago. The personalized label on the finished soap adds a very nice touch. Congratulations on HOTD - well deserved!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 08, 2016:

Hi Kristen,

Thank you very much. Yes, this is a 'soapy' project - the end result really is worth the time and effort, besides, the soap smells so nice.

Your support and encouragement is appreciated as always.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 08, 2016:

MarieneB

Thank you very much. Felting is a fascinating craft, not a predictable one for sure, but a challenge quite unlike any other craft I have ever attempted. I love it. I am glad you enjoyed the tutorial, these soaps make great gifts, something you can prepare beforehand, just in case you need to make an unexpected present to someone. I hope you will come back to explore the many Tutorials I have written.

Kristen Howe from Northeast Ohio on February 08, 2016:

Sally, congrats on HOTD! This is a clever crafty and soapy idea. It looks like fun to do and fun to make.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on February 08, 2016:

This is an excellent tutorial. I have never heard of this craft until now, but I was curious to read about it. What an intense project! The finished product makes it all worth the time and effort.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 08, 2016:

VirginiaLynne

The art of felting is something special, in fact, it is quite addictive. The sky is the limit, you can make anything from booties to fabulous clothing. I hope you give it a go sometime. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

Sally.

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 08, 2016:

janshares

Hi Jan,

No the merino wool is soft and beautiful, especially the merino tops, both of which are perfect for felting. I appreciate your visit and the very kind comment. I hope you give felting it a go sometime:)

Janis Leslie Evans from Washington, DC on February 08, 2016:

Hi sallybea. This is my introduction to wet felting soap. I didn't understand the concept at first but I think I get it now. All I could think about is, "won't that merino wool itch when rubbed against the skin?" I did read your reply to Donna which was helpful. Congratulations on a well-done hub receiving another HOTD nod. Excellent tutorial.

Virginia Kearney from United States on February 08, 2016:

I've never done wet felting but you've made this tutorial so clear that I think I would feel ready to do it. Excellent and clear directions! I love doing new crafts and have seen the felting at my craft store but haven't known what to do with it. I may have to try this!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on February 08, 2016:

Hi Donna,

Always a lovely surprise to wake up to find I have an HOTD, especially today. Thanks for coming back to comment. Your support is always valued and appreciated.

Sally.

Donna Herron from USA on February 08, 2016:

Hi Sally - This is one of my favorite tutorials. Congrats on your HOTD! Well deserved!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on January 04, 2016:

Hi Jo,

Thanks for the sweet comment. Not sure if my projects will go viral but one can live in hope:) I do however expect I to reach the 200,000 mark very soon. I hope that your neighbour has had some success with her slippers.

Blessings to you. dear Jo.

Sally.

Jo_Goldsmith11 on January 04, 2016:

Happy New year Ms. Sally! Once again, I am delighted in reading your fun and creative projects. :-) Also, a neighbor of mine has taken on learning from your projects and attempted to make felt slippers for Christmas gifts!! Praying that your projects will go viral this year :-)]

It is way better than Martha Stewart shows. (smile )

Shared...blessings hugs dear lady (((((( Sally ))))))

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on January 02, 2016:

Glimmer Twin Fan

Happy New Year to you too.

The soaps came out beautifully and I too gave them as gifts for Xmas. The recipients seemed delighted, which made them a very rewarding gifts to give away.

I am sure your mother loved hers.

Thanks for stopping by and for taking the time to comment. Every visit is valued and very much appreciated.

Sally.

Claudia Porter on January 02, 2016:

Hi Sally - Happy New Year! This is a great project and as a Christmas present my daughter bought something like this for my mother. It's a lovely gift and using the colors you chose for the pics it's gorgeous!

Sally Gulbrandsen (author) from Norfolk on December 21, 2015: