Q. I’ve heard of soap for leg cramps before but sounded more like an urban myth.  Lately I have been having  cramps at least several times a night. This has been going on for months. I tried potassium and calcium supplements, but they had no effect. I then tried an over-the-counter cramp medicine that didn’t work. I read that cold feet can cause cramps, so I put on socks. No good. Really hot baths and several other remedies were equally unhelpful.
I was taking Advil at night which helped a little, cutting the cramps to 2 to 3 cramps instead of 3 to 4 a night. So what the heck, I figured, I will try the soap. I opened a brand new bar of Jergens that smelled great but didn’t work. In fact I had more cramps, none of them major. I often have to get out of bed and walk and the cramp goes away pretty quickly. I then tried two bars of Jergens with no result. I then tried a bar of Olay since the scent was a lot stronger, again no result. So thought the effect people were getting was pure placebo.
The next night my wife said she bought some more soap. She bought Ivory since I had mentioned that some people use Ivory. She also had one bar that said lavender and I remembered a post that recommended it. So I tried the lavender soap. I was pretty surprised to wake up the next morning having not experienced a single cramp, and the same the next night. So for me it was not any bar of soap but one with lavender.

A. We are pleased to hear that the lavender soap worked. The scent of lavender has a reputation for soothing folks into sleep, so it’s great that it also soothed your muscles.

Soap tucked under the bottom sheet, near the legs, does not work for everyone but we have heard from many readers who find this is very helpful in preventing nighttime leg cramps.

We would like to mention that our People’s Pharmacy Bed Soap was designed to be used for this home remedy. It is perfectly nice soap to use in the shower, but the bar is broad and thin, so it creates less of an obstacle for the legs. It also has a  lavender aroma. That said, we trust that you will continue to get relief with lavender-scented soap from any source.

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  1. jh
    Reply

    I take 2000mg Vitamin D3 at bedtime and have no RLS AT ALL.

  2. Foot Pain
    Reply

    A herbalist in our neighborhood usually uses a leaf called “Tuba-tuba”, it’s the native name for that leaf here in the Philippines. It’s also very effective for leg cramps.

  3. SR
    Reply

    I have used Dial soap between our sheets for years. I don’t know how it works nor why, but it does. Regarding RLS, I used to be bothered with that which, I believe, was caused by certain medications I was on. (Wish I could remember what they were.) The soap didn’t help that much. I would stretch my leg muscles to the point of screaming to get them to stop. They were awful. I am not bothered with RLS at all now.

  4. SGH
    Reply

    You’ve got nothing to lose by trying it, except maybe some of the money Big Pharma is making from you. In a separate post, I noted that I put my bar of soap inside a sock (I’m using Irish Spring right now), and keep it in the bed with me. If I feel an episode coming on, I rub both legs all over with the sock, and may try switching out Irish Spring for Lavender, since I love the fragrance. If it doesn’t work as well, I’ll go back to Irish Spring. One additional comment; this doesn’t work for me ALL the time; I still have meds, but take them much less frequently.

  5. SGH
    Reply

    Nor for cramps, but for RLS, I use Irish Spring soap stuffed into a sock, and it helps. If I feel an episode coming on at bedtime, I take the sock and rub it down the sides, fronts, & backs of both legs. Since I like the lavender fragrance, I might try that, and see if it works. If not, back to the Irish Spring.

  6. Tony
    Reply

    I found that putting a small bar inside my sock around the ankle area helps a great deal when on a long hike.

  7. Judy C. G.
    Reply

    I, too, have leg and foot cramps when I retire for the night. I now have two bars of soap in bed with me at all times.
    When my foot goes into a cramp I put the bar against the bottom of my foot and within seconds the cramp is gone.
    I have leg pain almost nightly and put the soap bar directly on my leg for relief.
    No doubts here.

  8. Abigail
    Reply

    I like to put the bars of soap on top of the bottom sheet rather than underneath it because I need to move them around to where they are needed. Have to be careful not to toss them in the washing machine along with the sheets.

  9. NancyCL
    Reply

    Okay, I’m about ready to try anything (other than doubling my Ropinerole, which my doctor suggests), but I want to know…does this only work for leg CRAMPS, or is it good for restless legs too?

  10. leesia
    Reply

    In addition to the soap helping – lavender or otherwise – have heard and it seems to help me: do not have ANY sugar for several hours before you go to bed. Not a fan of what sugar does to you any time of the day or night (execpt taste good) – but have heard it exasperates whatever causes RLS.

  11. SMM
    Reply

    I have found that taking B vitamins causes me to have leg cramps so I take them fairly infrequently which seems to make a difference for me.

  12. VG
    Reply

    I tried this soap trick about 6 months ago. I have RA and leg, toe, and finger cramps daily are part of the disease when it is severe. I used ivory bar soap, put it in a sock so it wouldn’t mess up the sheets, and put it down by my calf. Guess what? I haven’t had a cramp in bed since. Maybe I will try a lavender just for the nice smell.

  13. Judy K. Warner
    Reply

    Thanks to you, I’ve been using soap in the bed for months, and it is mysteriously but really effective. It has to be right near my feet to work. The other night it had wandered off and I got a cramp. I stood up, which often ends the cramp, but it went on.
    I went to the sink and held a bar of soap to my foot and the cramp disappeared. I’m going to start carrying a little bar of soap in my purse for when I occasionally get leg cramps when I’m out and about.
    I find any kind of soap works. I take home the little soap bars when I stay at a hotel, and they work great in the bed, even with their wrappings on.

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