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Soap Remedy Is Ridiculed

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Q. You folks are ridiculous, superstitious and ignorant. How can you recommend a bar of soap under the bottom sheet for leg cramps?

It's just plain dumb. Please spare us such silliness.

A. We agree that putting a bar of soap under the bottom sheet sounds silly. But though we can’t explain how it might work, we assure you that many people have found it helpful.

Testimonials are no substitute for scientific study, but soap is inexpensive and doesn’t usually have dangerous side effects. Here is what one reader says: “I hesitated to try the bar of soap for my leg cramps, but finally I decided to give it a try. I did not tell anyone, because I just knew it wouldn't work.

"Surprise! It worked!

“Then one night it didn't, but the next morning I discovered the bar had slipped down off the side of the bed without my knowing. This sort of proved to me that it wasn't all in my head.

“At home I use regular Irish Spring, and by the time the bar in the shower needs replacing, I take the bar that's been in the bed, move it to the shower and put a new bar in the bed.

"When I’m traveling I find that the small hotel soap bars also work.

"I've even gotten up the nerve to tell other people about it.”

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To quote a reader's comments (concerning soap under the sheets), "It's just plain dumb. Please spare us such silliness."

My husband now keeps a bar of Irish Spring on his nightstand to stop charlie horse cramps (he no longer has to borrow mine). I KNOW it works. One night my husband was having a really bad leg cramp; I offered my extra bar of soap that I kept on my side of the bed on MY nightstand; well, he asked me why I would offer SOAP during his PAIN!

I asked him where the pain hurt worst, slipped the bar of soap under that spot and in seconds, mere seconds, he stopped his moaning and said, "WOW".

I keep two bars under the bottom sheet at all times to help prevent restless leg syndrome. After a while the bars lose effect; just replace them for a dollar or so. Many brands work. I have used hotel soaps, too, while traveling.

Joe & Terry,

I had always had a lot of problems with leg cramps waking me up in the middle of the night, to jump out of bed, trying to "stretch them out" and calm them down. Finally, a masseuse worked over my legs for about an hour and a half, ending one particularly bad bout (long story), and explained I needed to take vitamins daily. I did, and that pretty much ended the calf and thigh cramps. But, about once out of every two weeks, I would still get what I call "foot and ankle" cramps. My feet would arch, flatten, and/or roll to the inside or outside. These were very tough to "stretch out", as one doesn't normally consciously control the muscles that counter those muscles, and standing up just results in standing on the toes, heels, or the insides/outsides of the feet. I doubled the daily vitamins, but that didn't get rid of the foot cramps.

About two months ago, while discussing the problem, my cousin recommended the bar of soap remedy. I consider myself, and I'm generally considered to be, a very skeptical person, and, my immediate reaction was, "BS", and I said so. She just said, "Try it ... ". But, I didn't put a bar of soap under my bottom sheet. And, about a week and half later, the foot cramps hit again, and nothing I did would stop them. Thinking, "Why not ... ", I got a bar of soap, and, seeking immediate relief from the pain, rubbed it all over my feet, ankles, and lower calves, and then tucked it under the bottom sheet. Went back to bed, immediately back to sleep, and I haven't had any foot cramps since. I use Dial Tropical Escape, even before putting it in the bed, but have now discovered, it makes the bed smell nice, too!

The only time I think about foot cramps anymore is when the shower bar runs out, and I pull the bar out of the bed, put it in the shower, and put a new one in the bed, and when I noticed the "soap remedy" in your column this weekend. "Anecdotal evidence" is, sometimes, the only explanation we have. So, to those who don't have the problem, there is no convincing. But, to those who do, I can only say, "Try it ... "


I too read the article about the soap under the sheets to combat leg cramps. I thought it sounded ridiculous until I tried it. Wow, I couldn't believe it, but it works. I've had the soap under the sheets for the past two weeks and no leg cramps. I'm a believer!

I really hate to admit it, but the soap thing works for me as well. I have mild to moderate Restless Leg Syndrome, and I couldn't sleep very often. My wife regularly complained about me waking her up from jerking. So my father made the suggestion about the soap. In the past year since I've been using it, there have only been 3 times that she has complained about it. Twice, the bar fell out of the sheets. The other time is still a mystery. Anyhow, I know that it sounds stupid, but using Lever 2000 under my sheets has let me (and my wife) sleep a whole lot better.

I, too, was hesitant to try the bar of soap for leg cramps. But decided to try it after speaking to my neighbor, a cardiologist, who recommends it to patients who've tried other remedies for leg cramps. Well, it works! Just any bar of soap, either between the top & bottom or under the bottom sheet. Sounds crazy, but when you're desperate, you'll try anything.

I have suffered with leg pain for about three years. Doctors found nothing, thank God. BUT I did try the soap under the bedsheet for the past year with NO pain since. Thinking I would share this with cousins, I found that they have been doing the same for about two years... all positive outcome.

I used to have very bad leg cramps. After reading about the bar of soap/sheets, I decided to try it. It works for me. Recommended it to a relative, and it works again. I believe!

I'm a BELIEVER! Soap stops cramps! I keep a bar next to my bed & when a cramp starts I apply it & go back to sleep. No more walking the floor, massaging my cramped legs & feet & losing sleep. Bless you!

The bar of soap definitely works. A friend was telling me his wife would wake up every night complaining of leg cramps. I told him about the soap. He said his wife would not try it. I told him to slip it in without her knowing it. He later told me that she said she didn't know why, but her leg cramps went away. He keeps the soap in her bed all the time now.

Heard your discussion on leg
cramps and restless leg syn on radio. Suggested soap approach to my wife who has had the problem for years. She got immediate relief and swears that soap makes the difference.

When you say "apply the soap" do you mean dry-apply or wet-apply? Also, I have had right-shoulder-joint/all-the-way-down-the-arm pain for at least 9 months now. Been to doctor and sports medicine specialists. Am doing the exercises recommended, taking ibuprofen, but the pain still persists at various levels. Any suggestions? Thanks.

I tried the soap and it didn't work. I'm happy for all those people who have found relief. A nurse in a dr's. office recommended tonic water containing quinine. I finally got relief. I was fearing going to bed because of the bad leg cramps. Angela

I believe this remedy must work. Can you explain where you actually place the bar of soap? Is it at the foot of the bed? Surely you don't lie upon it. Thank you.

Don't knock what you haven't tried. I heard Joe talk about this on my local talk station, WZTK and went to the store and got the 3 pack Ivory soap special, 88 cents, what is there to lose. One on each side of bed and the occasional restless leg is gone, the charlie horses in the middle of the night, the big toe standing up straight, the foot curling.

Believe what you want but it does work. I mentioned to a friend who travels a lot with friends and told me there are a couple of people in her different group that grab the hotel soap to put under sheets. You know how that old saying goes "TRY IT, YOU MAY LIKE IT."

Soap under the sheet completely stopped leg and foot cramps for my husband and me so we placed an unwrapped bar near the top center of the bed and it has greatly relieved our shoulder and upper back aches. I have no idea why this works, but it has for us. We have used any brand of soap, both wrapped and unwrapped. We do replace the bars periodically.

I've been having severe calf and foot cramps every night for months. My husband read your article in our local paper and slipped a bar of soap under the bottom sheet on my side of the bed.

I woke up the next morning thinking, good, no leg cramps last night. After the second night with no cramping, my husband asked me if I noticed the bar of soap in the bed. I thought he was crazy. Then he showed me your article.

Since I never knew about the soap before he "surprised" me, it most certainly is not wishful thinking.

It works!

I have been using Ivory soap between the sheets, so I can feel it when I get in bed. I used to get Charlie Horses in my legs so bad that I had to get out of bed & walk, so painful until a friend told me about this. Have been using this method for 3 or 4 weeks. I would get them at least 3 nights a week. It works.

I was one of those people who didn't believe in this silly thing, but believe me it works. I usually get Charlie Horses at least 3 times a night about 2 or 3 am. Haven't had a cramp, since I have been doing this for a couple weeks, now I have the second bar.

Thanks for the web site. I love it.

Your friend Mo Nash

Sample-size soap bars under the bottom sheet stopped foot and leg cramps so effectively that my husband & I decided to put small unwrapped bars near our shoulders. This has greatly relieved our aches & pains in the back & shoulders. I believe the soap has helped relieve my husband's sleep apnea & restless leg syndrome. Anyway, we are both sleeping more soundly & we were both skeptics of this treatment.

I tried soap--that did not work for me! I have tried everything and still no relief!



Actually it works for the burning arches I have, and I also had a condition where I could hardly stand, as it felt like a peg was being driven into each of my heals. Since placing a bar of Ivory soap under the bottom sheet, I have had no issues and feel like a new person, able to walk and stand like a normal person would all day. I only wish I knew how it works and why nothing else seemed to.

Heard about the soap under the sheets from a friend while playing golf.

I have had leg and foot cramps nightly for the past 4 years. My husband would have to get up and massage my legs for me to get any kind of relief.

Tried the "ivory soap under the sheets" about 4 weeks ago and have not had a cramp since then.

Don't know why it works; don't care.

Go buy some "soap for the sheets".

For over 20 years I have had RLS that gets worse every year. Only taking aspirin would let me sleep at night. The horrible creepy leg ache feeling started around 7 pm every night. Exercising more during the day didn't help...taking iron tablets daily seems to lessen it and limiting caffeine helped hold it off from hitting at 7 pm to starting around 9 pm, perhaps. But when you can't fall asleep, you need caffeine to get through a day of work, so it starts a never ending cycle.

I tried Ivory soap and it didn't work for me. Then about a year later I tried Irish Spring. It works! And after a night or two, the feeling didn't even start during the evening, it seems like it not only helps when I go to bed but it helps for a day or so afterwards. I must have my legs actually touching the soap through the sheets. I have also tucked a bar of soap in each of my socks and that works well too.

After about the first two weeks I had a night when it wasn't working (although the leg cramps weren't as bad as they used to be). I put in new soap bars (I use one for each leg) and it was fine again. I have kept track on the calendar and it is almost exactly every 2 weeks the feeling starts up again, so I switch to new soap and it works again. I hope it never stops working - it is wonderful to sleep so well without taking so much aspirin like I used to have to do.

I wish some scientist would take this seriously enough to do a study. I also wonder if the soap was analyzed after it stops working, would they find any chemical difference in it from brand new? I didn't believe it at first either, but it really works. If you try it and it doesn't work, try switching to another brand of soap. Ivory didn't work for me at all, but Irish Spring does!

Both my husband and myself have leg cramps. We tried the soap under the bed sheet and it didn't do any good at all, didn't work. And we both felt silly thinking it might work.

I can not belive this and yes I am sure that it is crazy....However, My husband finds me in the tub 2 or 3 times a night trying so soothe my leg cramps. So you better believe tonight a bar of soap goes in!!! And if you don't have leg cramps why do you care what someone else does to stop them and if you do have leg cramps, You will do anything to stop them!!!! Thanks and I will let ya know!!! JB

I have knee pain all the time. A nurse of mine told me that I needed to try the bar of soap under the sheet. It works! I tell all my friends to do such thing they laugh at me until they try it. Then they tell me, it really works.

Dianna M.

Does this same rule apply to feet cramping in the night? I have severe feet cramps and I can not hardly touch my bed for a cramp will start. Can you please tell me how to get rid of them.

As ridiculous as this may seem..the soap under the sheets is the only saving grace for me. Last night The pain was so bad and I was hopping around like a maniac trying to stretch my legs etc. low and behold my soap had fallen on the floor..grabbed it as fast as I could and the cramps disappeared in a minute..don't be a doubting Thomas if you suffer these cramps.

Hi, I just started using the soap after two bunion surgeries. So far so good, I have the burning on the bottoms of my feet when I sand up. I have to see what happens when my surgery heals and I can walk again. Becky

I thought that placing a bar of soap in bed was the craziest thing I have ever heard!!! BUT one night while having a severe charlie horse i hopped to the bathroom found a huge bar of soap and put in my bed. I couldn't believe it worked!!!! How does it work is my question. Does anyone know?

I know it sounds crazy, but whenever I stretched in the morning, I'd get awful leg cramps. My wife heard about soap in the bed and we tried it. I works GREAT! Haven't had a cramp in months. Try it, you'll like it.

I haven't tried the soap in the bed yet; just heard about it. But I wanted to give a suggestion to the folks who have RLS and can't get relief. I have found that I have to carefully balance my potassium intake and calcium intake. Too much potassium and the RLS starts. Too much calcium and the leg cramps start. Or is it vice-versa?? Anyway, another thing that helps for RLS is to put your legs up, the higher the better. Lie on the couch and put your legs up on the back of the couch. You may find you can sleep in that unlikely position.

I too suffer from charley horses and am constantly at the Dr's having blood tests to rule out things. First off, my potassium, calcium, and my CPK muscle enzymes are normal. I do have an elevated WBC (white blood cells) to show infection somewhere. I also have LBC (low blood cells) for iron, which I have been like that since I was a teen.

So now they are checking at least B12 and some others that I don't recall. Anyhow, not sure why I am having them just yet. But a friend of mine told me about the bar of soap. So two nights after having a massive charley horse that I was screaming bloody murder and woke up my family at 6am, I decided to try the soap that night. I took a bar of Irish Spring and wrapped it with a bandanna, so at least one side of the bar (curved) only has 1 layer of the bandanna. So I tied it above my right ankle where the pain was and went to bed. No charley horse :)

Then last night I did the same thing, no charley horse above my right ankle, however I did get one in my left calf. So I took it off and tied it to my calf this morning at 3am and went back to bed until 6, with no charley horse. So far this bar of soap is working and I plan on doing this every night until I find out what the hell is causing them to happen. Hope it has nothing to do with my bladder, which now I have overactive bladder that has traces of infection in my urine and I'm only 37. Well, good luck to everyone.

My husband and I have been using Ivory soap under the fitted sheet for a year now. He has leg cramps and I have RLS. Believe it or not, we first heard about this from his cardiologist, who has many patients that told him about it. He can't tell us why it works, but his attitude is, why not try it.

It is interesting to read the comments about how it is not just Ivory that works. That makes a little more sense that it has more to do with the ingredients in soap rather than in just one particular brand. We had been taking our soap with us when we travel, now we will try using the hotel brand. Great idea about changing the bars when you run out in the shower. I do feel they lose their effectiveness after a while.
For those Doubting Thomas', you'll never know unless you try!

I am the culprit for this "remedy" being circulated. I made up and wrote this disinformation as a prank on Mosaic in 1993. Who knew that my early 'net based hoax would become a world wide "remedy"? Classic LOL. Makes an old lady feel as though she has left a silly mark on the www.

Some remedies cannot be explained.... but, they work and when they do... just be thankful. Recently, I was getting ready to go on vacation when my left bunion region of my foot became very painful. I tried using a topical cream, heat, etc. Nothing relieved the pain. Then, I remembered my husband telling me about the "bar of soap" remedy. Got a bar of the "hotel" soap, put it in the sock on the affected foot.....pain GONE!!! Can't explain...just lovin' it.

When I first heard of soap and aches, I thought my cousin was stupid. I have constant severe pain in my legs, hips, and ankles. I used to take aspirin on a regular basis, and was laid up for a while. I got so fed up with the pain, that I took a dumb bar of soap, stuck it in my sheets and went to sleep.

The important part is where I said, I WENT TO SLEEP. Normally, I can't because of the pain. Soap. Ache. dumb idea, right?

WRONG! I don't know how it works. I just know it does. No more aspirin. And my sheets smell so nice, too.

I had my leg calves hurting me for 2 or 3 years. Dr evaluated me... could find nothing wrong. Dr suggested physical therapy = tried it.. all I gained was proper way to stretch my legs.
In the night I would wake up with calves aching & taut, like I had been walking uphill.

Driving was a pain also because I would use Aspercreme & lots of Biofreeze rub ons.

Discovered the soap theory online... tried it = haven't had one problem with my legs in the last 5 months.
My brother-in-law plays golf everyday.... has charlie horse cramps nightly... told him about the soap about 3 months ago. He didn't try it for awhile... but when he did = immediate results.
Don't know how it works but is amazing to people like me that even the Doctors couldn't help.

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