Castile soap is a valuable tool for natural living. It is very versatile and can replace many, if not all, of your commercially prepared, chemical-laden detergent cleaners.
What Is Castile Soap?
Traditionally the term castile, in regard to soap, referred to a hard white soap made from olive oil. It was named for the Castile region of Spain where they made soap only using olive oil.
In recent times this term has become more loosely defined as a pure vegetable based soap (void of any animal products). A pure olive oil soap makes a moisturizing soap but it doesn’t lather well, so many soap makers find that using a blend of different oils allows them to customize the properties of the soap better.
Most castile soap today is actually a blend of olive oil, coconut oil, castor oil, or any other commonly used vegetable oil. Castile soap can be made as either a hard bar soap or a liquid soap.
There are several good brands available. Dr. Bronner’s is the most well known and I get it at a discount here.
Is Castile Soap “Natural”?
Hard soap bars are a result of mixing oils/fats and sodium hydroxide (lye). Liquid soaps are a result of mixing oils/fats and potassium hydroxide (caustic potash). Many people are concerned about using these caustic compounds and wonder how something can be “natural” when it contains them.
The beautiful thing about chemistry is that you can combine two substances to create a chemical reaction which yields an entirely new substance. Take salt, for example. Naturally occurring sea salt is a chemical compound consisting primarily of sodium and chloride. In it’s pure form, sodium is a metal that reacts violently when exposed to water and chlorine is a poisonous green gas that has been used in chemical warfare. But together they are salt; a naturally occurring resource valuable and necessary for life.
The point here is that soap, if made properly, is a useful cleaning tool that is safe and gentle for use on your skin and for cleaning in your home. You are no more rubbing a caustic chemical on your skin than you are trying to clean your dishes with olive oil.
12 Ways To Use Liquid Castile Soap
- Homemade Natural Shampoo – You can make a simple homemade shampoo that actually lathers with just a handful of ingredients that you probably already have in your home. The castile soap gently washes away dirt without stripping the scalp and the coconut milk is nourishing to the hair and helps prevent breakage and hair loss.
- Homemade Natural Body Wash – This moisturizing body wash combines the cleaning power of castile soap with the soothing and antibacterial properties of honey for a body wash your skin will love.
- Foaming Face Wash – Your face is your most prominent feature and therefore should be treated with delicate care. The beauty industry wants you to strip, exfoliate, and chemically peel your face into oblivion and often times these “solutions” create a vicious cycle of “need” for more products. The best way to care for your skin is to eat healthy foods and to try to preserve the balance of natural oils your body produces. Using castile soap on your face will not strip it of beneficial oils, but will do what soap is meant to do, remove the dirt. It may take a bit for your skin to adjust, but your face will thank you. I use the recipe for foaming hand soap and customize the essential oils for your skin needs. Tea tree and lavender are good for acne prone skin. Use frankincense and lavender for mature skin or sandalwood and chamomile for dry skin.
- Shaving– Conventional shaving creams are full of many toxic ingredients. And just like other personal care products, it is relatively easy to mix up some of your own shaving cream. Here is an easy recipe for your legs and one that is more gentle and suitable for a man’s face. If you want to keep it really simple, just lather a few drops of liquid castile soap and rub all over your legs. Then just shave!
- Foaming Hand Soap – If your house is anything like mine, you go through quite a bit of hand soap. It can get expensive to buy the foaming versions in the store (we don’t use antibacterial soap anyway) but the good news is that it is incredibly easy to make it yourself by reusing a foaming dispenser and my foaming hand soap recipe.
- Homemade Natural Baby Wipes – It is especially important to keep toxic ingredients out of your baby’s life. They are so small and all of those chemicals can have a huge impact on their little systems. Even before I switched to cloth diapers and organic baby clothing, I was making wipes for my little ones. It only takes a minute and they can double as face and hand wipes for all of your children.
- Natural Homemade All-Purpose Cleaner – I love this cleaner for just about everywhere in my home. I use it for grimy messes on the floor, stubborn stains on the trashcan, in the bathroom, and on my patio furniture, just to name a few. It is very easy to make and considerably less expensive than other natural cleaners. Give it a try and attack those tough stains!
- Mopping – Mix 2 tablespoons of liquid castile soap and 1 gallon of hot water in a bucket to mop your floor.
- Hand-Washing Dishes – Add a squirt to hot running water when you are filling the sink to wash dishes. This won’t bubble and suds up like a detergent would, but the soap is still in there doing its job. For tough, stuck-on food, allow dishes to soak before you scrub them.
- Windows – While it isn’t necessary to use soap for regular mirror cleaning in your home, if you are switching from a store bought cleaner you may need to add a few drops of liquid castile soap to your homemade window cleaner to remove the residue left by the commercial cleaner. Also, if you will be cleaning your exterior windows, the added castile soap will help clean away the grime and dirt they are exposed to all year long.
- Dog Shampoo – the amount you use will vary depending on the size of your dog and the length of it’s hair. Thoroughly wet your pup’s hair. Pour the appropriate amount of castile soap into your hand and work it around in your hand for a few seconds. Then begin to massage it into your dog’s hair until you have covered his whole body. Work it into a nice lather and then rinse.
- Plant Bug Spray – Keep bugs away from your plants by spraying them with a mixture of 1 tablespoon castile soap to 1 quart of water. Or, for an ant spray, increase the soap to 1/4 cup and spray in problem areas. Just don’t use this higher concentration on your plants as it will burn them.
Where I Get Liquid Castile Soap
This versatile soap is now available in many grocery stores and is widely available online. I personally use Dr. Bronners. I’ve ordered at a discount from Thrive (a membership site) or from Amazon.
Will you try any of these recipes? How do you use liquid castile soap?
Discussion (53 Comments)
Great post! I would like to make a natural wet wipes for swiffer. It is one of the last chemical cleaners I use. I guess I could use a mop but alas I like the ease of swiffer. So what mixture would you recommend? I will dunk a rag in it and attach it to the swiffer to zoom around the floor.
Tara, have you ever tried 7th Generation products? Keep your swiffer mop but cut some old sheets or use an old washcloth to attach to it – you know – good ole (7th Generation) soap and water works well, then rinse. It is a little more work but a lot cleaner and zero toxicity for your home, your family and pets. Vinager and water works well on vinyl floors (and a lot of other things) smells bad during use, and is not for stone or granite floor, but is simple, inexpensive and works well. What are your thoughts, WellnessMama?
Have you tried using the shark mop? You have a dry rag but add distilled water to a chamber and it steams the floors. The steam basically kills bacteria and no chemicals are used!
I would like to know if Castile Soap can be used in dishwasher?
We love Dr. Bronner’s for mixing with water and making foaming hand soap. Nice to see all these other uses, too!!
I have tried castille soap and it does not work for me. I have tried both Kirk’s castile and liquid Dr. Bronner”s, which was even worse for me. I have also found that with hard water, castille soap makes a sticky mess because it doesn’t rinse off in homemade cleaning products. I used up my small bottle of Dr. Bronner”s a teaspoon at a time in the dishwasher until it was gone along with the homemade dishwasher detergent.
Also, not to be gross, but when I worked in a hospital years ago, they were too cheap to buy us shampoo for the patients because most of them were only in for a couple of days. We would save the castile soap packs from the enema kits for shampoo in a pinch and throw them in a drawer until needed for those patients that ended up staying longer. They were better than nothing, but just barely. It was hard to rinse out. We would take turns bringing in a bottle of cheap shampoo for those who stayed longer to avoid resorting to the soap packs. (soap suds enema was a common order that wasn’t used much anymore which is why a little pack of soap was included in the kit before anyone asks why the heck would it be in the enema kit).
A lot of people love castille soap and it is worth trying out but don’t invest a lot of money and use with caution until you find out if it works for you.
I personally don’t see the point of using a soap that I need to add anything to when there are plenty of inexpensive mild soaps out there that do not irritate my skin. I have also usually ended up going back to traditional cleaning products and have found that even with hard water, I need much less than I was in habit of using. Just by cutting back on the amount used, exposure to chemicals is reduced. I will still keep trying out the homemade/natural stuff but haven’t had much luck so far. Anything that calls for castile soap, I skip. If I ever move to somewhere with soft water, I may consider trying it again for cleaning but not for bathing.
Jackie, Omg I have never heard of using castle soap in a dishwasher! You were not gross telling about the soapsuds enemas in the hospital. Soap suds enemas were very common years ago. In the hospital and homes. Moms used to make a soapy enema at home using a bar of ivory soap. Swish the bar around in a pan. Made mild soapy water. Poured the solution into the enema bag or bucket. Or filled up the enema bulb syringe with the solution. I never knew of a mom, including mine and my aunt, who made a soapy enema in the home with castle soap. I never knew of using castille soap for the enema until I went to nursing school. Omg hard to believe they could not buy, or were too cheap to buy, shampoo for the patients! It shouldn’t have been that way. Regardless if staying one night or longer. The budget there must have been horrible. Like broke! Hard to believe you had to resort to bringing in a bottle of cheap shampoo for those who stayed longer. I remember giving many soap suds enemas. At home, in the hospital and in homes I visited.Making the soapy enema solution with the little pack of soap or pouring from a larger bottle of Castile soap into the enema bag or bucket.
I haven’t seen the soap pack in a enema kit in years. I know lot of people who love castille soap now. But after using it in so many enemas, I will pass.
Forgot to mention…
Soapsuds enemas were found to cause problems. I will have to find where I read this and post it later.
I think home and hospital enemas fell to the way side (not given as much as before) because pills and chemicals were seen as better. Working part time in a health food store hardly a day goes by without a mom asking about enemas for either themselves (coffee enemas) or enemas for their children. Enemas are coming back as a home remedy.
Giving a herbal enema is much better, and safer, than the old fashioned soapsuds enema.
Herbal enemas like a catnip tea or garlic enema for fevers. Even a lemon juice enema is fine.
Every home should have a copy of book Prescription For Nutritional Healing. It is wonderful.
Has many home remedies in it. Including herbal enemas!
Even though soapsuds enemas are said to cause problems… giving a home enema is still a very good natural home remedy. Better than giving harsh laxatives and other chemicals.
I am a big fan and believer in enemas as a natural home health tool. Being divorced mom with three kids giving a enema has saved many trips to the ER or doctor. Helped with colds, fevers, constipation and more.
Every home should have a enema bag or bulb syringe. Or both.
Of course, common sense rules. Always check with your doctor before giving or taking an enema.
I love wellness mama! This is my go to site for just about everything! I make my own liquid castile soap that is made from 100% coconut oil. Very easy to make. You see, I have 4 girls and quickly learned that using store bought laundry detergent was going to be unacceptable. It is an excellent soap to use for laundry and a pre soak for stains. But that’s not all I use it for. It’s my everything soap. Carpets, cars, dog, kids, husband. To those who think castile soap is drying: you should know that this thin consistency soap is super concentrated and knowing how to use it properly is key. Dilute it. Say 1 part soap to 3 parts water in a foaming dispenser works for just about any purpose. Add a few drops of vitamin e oil for a moisturizing effect. Better yet, this site is full of recipes and ideas to address your dryness issue. The homemade lotion recipes are awesome. Shalom.
Can you possibly send me the recipe for your liquid castile soap? I would love to try and make some w/o additives. Thanks!
I always superfat at 10% as a safety net.
1319 grams of coconut oil
356.13 grams of potassium hydroxide
1055.20 grams of distilled water
I melt and mix in the crockpot on the lowest setting.
I mixed until trace, which happens very quickly with coconut oil, and cooked in the crockpot on the lowest setting. This soap paste also cooks very quickly, so don’t go far! When it reached “Vaseline” stage I turned off the heat and dissolved in 2 gallons of distilled water. I can use this immediately. I know there’s a lot of mixed feelings about that, but it works for me. I hope this helps.
I mix Bronners Castile soup 1/4 to 3/4 water in a foaming soap pump. Its great, it’s pure and no less drying than other soaps….. which likely have other less natural additives. Mix gently melted coconut oil in equal portions with Shea butter and Cocoa butter for a nice lotion bar to deal with dry hands:).
When we was he day pup’s fur with Castille soap, he started losing his fur! Has this happened to everyone and how can we wash his fur naturally without this problem?
i haven’t tried washing my dog with castile soap, but i do know there are doggie shampoo bars you can buy on amazon or etsy.
I used to buy Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile Soap. Now the company seems to put hemp (marijuana) in all its soaps, including the “pure castile baby soap” you buy at a discount. If you ever publish (or have published) a pure Castile soap recipe or have a suggestion for a Castile soap you like that does not have hemp in it, I’d love to read about it. Thanks WellnessMama for your many welcome posts.
Why do you not want to use hemp?
While it’s true that hemp and marijuana are different plants, and therefore hemp has no THC, I know of a woman in our community who was using hemp, and hemp only. No marijuana. She had been a school bus driver for at least 15 years, excellent driver and well-liked by kids and parents.
Last summer, she failed the random drug screening and has lost her Commercial Driver’s License, and of course been fired. There were many character testimonials at her hearing, including the presence of her pastor. Now her Appeal has been denied. I think she has one more level of appeal open to her. It’s tragic.
I enjoy my clarity of mind, and so have made the personal decision to use zero hemp or hemp derived products. I don’t understand how a zero THC product can cause such a problem, but I prefer to err on the side of caution.
Those standards will eventually change, as public outcry and demand typically lead the way…
Hemp and Marijuana are not the same.
Hemp is not marijuana.
Even diluted, I have found Dr. Bronners’ (even the product meant for babies) soap terribly drying even for hand soap recipes. Several of my work colleagues have mentioned similar problems. I will use bronners’ for household cleaning products that will not come in skin contact.
Any idea why natural soaps are so harsh on sensitive skin?
I have this same problem, it’s very drying, and would like to know a substitute to liquid castile soap for making foaming hand soap.
Miracle II soap and other products are great. You can find them on the internet.
I had the same prob. I *heard* it’s because Bronners is too alkilizing and messing up the pH of the skin. Ant thoughts?
Naia, I, too, have sensitive skin. Not only do many soaps cause dryness, but also redness. I have been using Seba Med for over a year now. According to them, skin ph is 5.5. Get some litmus paper and test what you are putting on your skin. The first time I ever heard of pH and skin problems was back in the 70’s when Jerry Redding developed RedKen products. He later sold Redken. That soap was wonderful! It smelled like berries and what is the best soap I have ever used. Seba Med products are made in Germany but are available online and in some stores. Several levels of product are available – some without fragrance for very sensitive skin and also some for baby skin. I would be very interested in learning of a product with pH 5.5 made here in the USA. I haven’t found any yet, but then maybe I wasn’t looking in the right place. Wellness Mama, we welcome your comments.
I would agree with that. I had trouble too when I used Dr. Bonner’s in the foaming hand soap, it dried my hands out terribly. I found that adding a few drops of liquid glycerin to each batch has made a tremendous difference. Give that a try, it may help you too.
I had read similar comments when researching Dr. Bronners soaps for my family, but there was an overwhelming consensus that the soap with almond oil in it did not produce the same effect. That’s the one I use now and I like it. I can’t say much about if it’s drying or not because I slather myself in coconut oil after my showers! 🙂
Coconut oil, contrary to what a lot of people say, is actually not great for skin use. In the long run it dries you out (along with other factors). A great substitute is jojoba oil!
We have recently switched to a toxin free home, and the discovery of Dr. Bronner’s has been the most exciting thing for me. I keep a bottle in the shower, a bottle in the laundry room, and a bottle in my cleaning closet. I love that is has so many uses, and comes in some pretty amazing scents.
Really? What kind of scents are there? XD
They have quite a few: Rose, Eucalyptus, Almond, Peppermint, Lavendar, Rose, Tea Tree, Citrus. The one I use is the Baby-Unscented one. I used to be really itchy all the time, having no idea that I had sensitive skin. Ever since I started using the Unscented soap I have a lot less problems with my skin. You can get it pretty cheap at Kroger in the natural food section, if you have one nearby. Every where else is really expensive.