Welcome to the ninth installment of my retro cleaning product-promoting ‘Back to basics’ series. Before proceeding with today’s entry, Colgate’s Octagon Soap, I want to open up the next, the tenth and final, ‘Back to basics’ post to you. So far I’ve tackled Bon Ami Cleaning Powder, Kirk’s Original Coco Castile Bar Soap, Fels-Naptha, Heinz Distilled White Vinegar, Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, 20 Mule Team BoraxDr. Bronner’s Classic Liquid Soaps, and ReaLemon lemon juice concentrate. Is there a cleaning or laundering product that’s near and dear to you and that’s been around for more than a few decades that I’ve missed? Tell me about it in the comments section and I’ll consider highlighting it in the final ‘Back to basics’ post!


And now on to Colgate’s Octagon Soap. First off, you’re probably wondering if it has anything to do with that Colgate’s ... it does. From what I’ve gathered, at already 100-years old starch, soap, and candle-making pioneer, William Colgate & Company started manufacturing lye-based Octagon Soap in the early 1900s (Colgate’s toothpaste-in-a-tube concept entered mass production in 1908 and to this day is probably the company now known as Colgate-Palmolive’s most well-known product).


Although there’s plenty of information out there about the history of Colgate, I couldn’t find that much regarding the specific history of Octagon Soap. All I know is that after over 100 years in production, it’s still around (although much more hard to find), still not very attractive-looking, and still a favorite of cost-conscious home keepers and admirers of everything and anything throwback.


Now a bit about the current ingredients in Octagon Soap. Like some other ‘Back to Basics’ products that I’ve featured, all-purpose Octagon Soap isn’t exactly all-natural. According to the Vermont Country Store, ingredients include: Sodium Dodecylbenzene Sulfonate, Pentasodium Triphosphate, and Crystalline Silica. So, yep, it's not just plant-based ingredients in there. However, what makes Octagon so eco-friendly is its economical versatility. 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. Octagon was originally marketed as laundry soap (in the pre-washing machine era) but here’s some other household uses that I’ve wrangled up from around the web:



  • Dish soap
  • Hand soap
  • Clothing stain remover
  • Acne remedy
  • Bug bite/poison oak and ivy remedy
  • Grease remover
  • Cabinet/woodwork cleaner
  • Stove cleaner
  • Bathtub/tile cleaner
  • Tick repellent
  • Deer and rabbit garden repellent 

Have I missed a use for Colgate's Octagon Soap? List it below in the comments section. And remember to tell me about your favorite old-school-but-not necessarily-for-octogenarians product that I might have missed in a previous 'Back to Basics' post. 


Image: Here on the Road


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