13 Uses for Castile Soap — Natural Cleaning for Body & Home

October 12, 2017
Castile soap - Dr. Axe

If you have longed for a soap that you can trust is made with pure, all-natural, chemical-free ingredients, Castile would be at the the top of the list. Castile soap represents one of the best natural and biodegradable soaps that can be manufactured by hand.

Castile soap is not only a great soap for washing your body and hair as part of a natural skin care routine, but you can do the laundry with it — plus, it can safely be used by children. Castile soap is also very popular among vegans and vegetarians since it’s plant-based. Also, it doesn’t lose potency with time and is often seen in the form of liquid Castile soap or pure Castile soap as a bar.

Speaking of potency, a study shows that Castile positively affected contaminated orthopedic wounds when used to irrigate and ultimately cleanse the wounds. A comparison was made using normal saline, Castile soap, benzalkonium chloride, bacitracin or sequential irrigation with all of the above combined. While sequential irrigation treatment significantly lowered the rate of wound complications when applied, so did Castile soap all by itself! (1)


A Little History of Castile Soap

Probably the most popular maker of Castile soap is Dr. Bronner. Dr. Bronner’s parents began this successful business manufacturing the soaps in the basement of the Heilbronner home in the Jewish quarter of Laupheim, Germany. Around the 1880s, the Heilbronners innovated the first liquid Castile soap, supplying public washrooms across Germany.

The Dr. Bronner that we know on the label today eventually made way to the U.S., where he continued the family business, ultimately founding Dr. Bronner in the 1940s. Though Dr. Bronner died in 1997, Dr. Bronner’s, the company, became the largest personal care company to be certified under the USDA National Organic Program, with bar and liquid soaps being certified by the highly reputable certifier Oregon Tilth. (2)

Castile soap has been around for a very long time and was created just following the popular Aleppo, which is quite possibly one of the most important soap and household cleaning products ever made. An all-natural chemical-free soap, Aleppo was made from mixing oil from laurel (bay) trees with olive oil and soda. This is where Castile got its inspiration, however. Castile is one of the most popular European soaps today and has gained a ton of popularity in the U.S., found in health food stores and basic supermarkets today. (3)

Soap became a critical part of revolutionizing public sanitation and personal hygiene in Europe, especially with the prevention of spreading diseases. Initially, production of European soap was localized to the Mediterranean area, which slowly started spreading with the arrival of Muslim soap makers to Spain and Italy during the 12th century. This popular new creation enabled Spanish cities of Malaga, Carthagene, Castile, Alicante, and Italian cities of Savone, Genoa, Naples, Bologna and Venice to become soap export centers of all of Europe. Among all those early European-made soaps, one managed to distinguish itself by its high quality and ability to clean better than others. This was Castile soap.

Castile soap managed to establish such popularity because the Spanish city of Castile had an abundance of olive oil, which was a crucial ingredient used in the production of this high quality soap. While the original recipe for Aleppo soap required laurel oil, this type of oil was in short supply; however, the city of Castile had easy access to olive oil and that enabled the creation of a pure white soap that was very mild and effective. The whiteness was seen as purity, which made it very popular with Spanish royalty. As centuries went by, Castile soap began to make it’s way all over Europe, entering the British market during mid-1500s by sea. (4) (5)


13 Top Uses for Castile Soap

Castile soap can be used for so many things! Washing your face, body, hair, rinsing fruit, doing laundry and cleaning windows are just a few of the uses. Here are a few of my favorite uses and some suggestions on how to create your own products using Castile soap.

Castile Soap for The Home

1. Homemade Dish Soap

Castile soap makes a great homemade dish soap. It’s all-natural, which means no chemicals on your hands or dishes. Just replace your regular store-bought dish soap with Castile soap and few drops will take care of those dirty dishes.

2. Homemade Laundry Detergent

You can have a pure laundry detergent in no time. What is great about this is that your clothes will likely last longer since they will not be exposed to harsh chemicals, and you can avoid irritation of the skin from avoiding heavy dyes and perfumes among other ingredients that are often found in the store bought versions.

I created a homemade laundry soap with Castile soap, and you can also try this one:

Combine 1 cup of liquid Castile soap, 3/4 cup of baking soda, 2 1/4 cups of warm water and 1/4 cup of finely grated sea salt. Dissolve the baking soda and salt into 2 cups of warm water. Pour into a gallon container and add the liquid castile soap. Fill to the top with water. You can use about 1/4 of a cup per load making this recipe worth about 64 loads! Can’t beat that.

3. Homemade Dishwasher Soap

If you can wash the dishes by hand with it, you can make your own soap for the dishwasher, too. I like to make a citrus version, as it not only smells amazing but lemon is a great antibacterial and antifungal agent. Just mix 8 ounces of Castile soap with 1 cup of water and 3 teaspoons of lemon juice and shake gently.

To use, add 1 tablespoon of the above mixture into the “open” compartment of your dishwasher and add 1 cup of white vinegar to the “closed” compartment. If you have hard water, add a little more vinegar.

4. DIY All-Purpose Household Cleaner

Using a spray bottle, fill it a quarter of the way up with white vinegar, fill it with water, then add just a squirt of liquid Castile soap, a few drops of tea tree essential oil and a few drops of orange or lemon essential oil. This makes for a safe and effective household cleaner.

5. Homemade Glass Cleaner

Mix half a cup of white vinegar, 2 teaspoons of liquid Castile soap, and 2 cups of distilled warm water into a spray bottle. You can add a few drops of tea tree and lemon essential oil to the mixture to make it a bit more effective. Blend well by giving it a good shake and spray onto your windows. Use newspaper to clean it, leaving it streak-free.

6. Homemade Tub Scrub

Fill a spray bottle with 1/3 Castile soap and 2/3 water. Spread baking soda liberally around the bath and spray the Castile soap mixture on top of it. Scrub with a scouring pad or scrub brush for a squeaky clean tub.

 

Castile soap guide - Dr. Axe

 

Castile Soap for The Body

7. Homemade Face Wash

Using a foaming dispenser, add 1/4 cup of liquid Castile soap and fill it to the top with distilled water. Add 5 drops each of tea tree and frankincense essential oils. Both oils help fight bacteria and can reduce acne.

8. Homemade Shampoo

You can avoid those pricey, surprisingly toxic shampoos, most of which are filled with chemicals that can cause lots of problems for your hair in the long term. Making your own shampoo with Castile soap is very easy. Simply mix together 7 tablespoons of Castile soap with 6 teaspoons of coconut milk and ½ teaspoon of coconut oil. This will make about 7 applications. It will store best in the fridge for a about a week.

9. Homemade Hand Soap

Fill a foaming soap dispenser with 3/4 boiled or distilled water and ¼ liquid Castile soap. You can add 5 drops of tea tree essential oil for its antibacterial properties and lavender oil for its fragrant and relaxing scent.

10. Castile for Shaving

For your face, use about 10 drops; for the underarms, 3 drops should do the trick and for the legs use about a ½ teaspoon. Simply work into a lather in wet hands and then apply to area. You can add olive oil to the mix for some added moisturizing while shaving.

11. Castile for Your Teeth

Put 1 drop of Castile soap and a small dollop of coconut oil on your toothbrush and brush as normal. Just like your toothpaste, do not swallow. It will taste like soap but has amazing cleansing and antibacterial properties!

12. Castile Soap Foot Bath

Use about 1–½ tsp of Castile soap in a small tub of hot water and allow the feet to soak for 10–20 minutes. Add a few drops of tea tree essential oil and lavender essential oil for added benefits.

13. Clearing Congestion

Castile can even help with congestion! Put 1 tablespoon in a bowl of steamy hot water. Add a few drops of eucalyptus oil and peppermint essential oil. Breathe in the mist with a towel draped over the head. Be careful as steam can burn your skin. (6)


Where To Buy Castile Soap

As noted, the most popular brand of Castile soap is the Dr. Bronner’s variety but there are other brands available. Make sure to take the time to read the ingredients to ensure that it is made from pure, recognizable ingredients.


A Cautionary Note

Castile soap is amazing for most cleansing needs; however, when it comes to certain injuries, it may be best to use a saline solution. Your doctor will know best should you be in a situation that requires this type of cleansing, but I want to share a study that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, that shows that patients who had their open fractures washed with saline fared better than those whose wounds were washed with soap.

This research, led by Mohit Bhandari, MD, PhD, at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, found that patients who had their wounds washed with sterile Castile soap at the start of surgery were 32 percent more likely to need a second surgery than those whose injuries were washed with sterile saline. The clinical trial involved nearly 2,500 patients who were followed for a year at dozens of clinical centers. (7

Read Next: 5 Best Uses of Coconut Oil For Hair


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56 Comments

  1. Gillian on

    Sorry, when you mention that something is an “all natural chemical-free soap,” you’ve just lost all credibility as a medical doctor. BTW, I am a professional soap-maker.

    Reply
    • riham on

      Of course it can be chemical free. I don’t know what you mean by chemicals here but if you mean the lye or sodium hydroxide then it really is not counted toward the ingredients as it is used up in the process “saponification of the oil”and it has been traditionally used for hundreds of years “from aches of wood”. It is just better now because we can make sodium hydroxide in a pure form which makes soap production more predictable!

      Reply
    • sylvie on

      actually it is chemical free- you can google the ingredients and process to understand. so don’t throw fits and make dramatic statements as you actually don’t know. cheers

      Reply
  2. Greta SGT on

    So, I love your recipes, just, one little thing. Re: Laundry Soap. Pretty sure you’d get 32 loads if you’re using 1/4 cup out of a 1 gallon batch.

    Reply
    • Diana on

      Greta SGT…He was correct in saying you would get 64 loads out of a 1 gallon batch, by using 1/4 cup per load. 2 ways to calculate: 1) 1 gallon = 16 cups. There are four, 1/4 cups per cup, so 16 x 4 = 64 uses…OR…2) 1 cup = 8 ounces, so 1/4 cup = 2 ounces. A gallon = 128 ounces. 128/2 = 64 uses.

      Reply
      • kelly on

        ***Warning- if you use for laundry, just know the Castile soap leaves a very small film on your clothes. Eventually you will need to strip it off with a astringent type of laundry soap (homemade of store bought). Truthfully…most of us who make all of our own personal and home products do not recommend Castile soap for laundry.

    • Gudrun on

      vinegar? might do the trick – i use it when i do use the dish washer as the rinse agent; I have not tried castile for dish soap as such, but will try down the road, so thanks for the warning!

      Reply
    • Lynda on

      Hello,
      We have the same result. We have hard water, and after reading this problem on many websites, the hard water seems to be the culprit.

      Also, never mix castile soap with vinegar (at least for those of us with hard water). It becomes a terrible mess.

      Hope this helps.

      Reply
    • Bobbie Branson on

      Yes, white vinegar will help for the residues and if you put some in your last rinse of laundry, it rinses out chemicals. My mother used it all the time for her laundry and they came out soft, with no vinegar smell.

      Reply
    • Gudrun on

      my daughter found it at TJMax already! I order mine online (vitacost.com) but there are other online stores that sell it (lower cost than amazon)

      Reply
    • Dan on

      You can get Kirk’s Coco Castile (bar) soap at the big box grocery stores. I’ve been using it for 45 years or more for bath and shampoo because it ALL rinses off which feels really good. It also lathers in hard water. I like DrBronner’s but Kirk’s costs less than half as much.

      Reply
  3. Reb on

    I don’t like Dr Bonners because help oil is used to make it and I want my home to be CBD and THC free so I found Dr Jacobs olive oil Castile soap. I’m sure there are others as well.

    Reply
  4. Stella on

    I just made the liquid Castile Laundry Soap. My first wash is in the dryer. I have made a powder laundry soap for three years. I will try his dry recipe.
    Thank you for your recipes I use a lot of them and they help.

    Reply
  5. Adriana on

    A true Castile soap is 100% olive oil. Therefore 90% of soap claiming to be Castile is just really a liquid soap. This includes dr b’s!!

    Reply
  6. Kelly on

    Castile soap is not a good choice for your skin. It is very alkaline about 9-10 Ph. Your skin is more acid 4-6 Ph. Many people use Apple Cider Vinegar to try to bring the skin back to a Ph that is closer to normal after using Castile soap. But…Why would you agitate your skin in the first place and take it up to a very unacceptable alkaline Ph to begin with. Then dump an acid on it to try to normalize it back to a natural acid Ph. Up and down. Ummm…NO. Using a correct Ph soap on your skin is critical to healthy skin. And FYI..the same goes for using Castile soap on your scalp/hair for shampoo. Unfortunately, shampoo is one of the hardest homemade products to make without some sort of undesired outcome. I use Morrocco Method. Its perfect! You only use a small amount and don’t need conditioner. I know what your thinking…What?? No conditioner?? I thought the same thing till I tried it. I bought the 5 elements (5 different kinds). I did not know how important it is to rotate your shampoo’s. You can use it for body wash, however I don’t prefer it.

    Reply
      • kelly on

        Anita, the longer I make my own products, the more I do not like Castile soap. In fact I have 4 hugh bottles that I know I won’t use. I don’t like the film it leaves. The only time I use it is when making my own cleaning wipes for kitchen and bath. Im so cheap, that I won’t get rid of it. The key to using Castile soap is to use only an itty bitty amount (table spoon or so), mixed with Tea Tree Oil (10-15 drops to eliminate mold and bacteria) in 3 cups of Distilled water (ONLY use distilled water, its clean and has NO bacteria, fungus or chlorine) I cut Brawney or Bounty, full size paper towel roll, in half with a bread knife. Whisk your 3 cup solution and quickly dump appox 1 cup into your empty dispenser, put your 1/2 cut paper towel in, whisk remainder of solution again and quickly pour the remainder on your paper towels in making sure to wet the cardboard in the middle of the paper towel (or you can wet your cardboard tube prior). Pull the cardboard in the middle of your paper towels out, thread the your container lid and voila, you have clean, carcinogen free wipes. I make my own baby/personal wipes using Almond Oil and a few drops of Tea Tree Oil. The best wipe dispenser I have found is at Aromatools.com. It is one hand operation with a lid, Keeps your wipes moist/wet. Omni-wipe container #9833. Its on sale, at least for today. Have fun with your home made products. Add Essential Oils that you love. You will save a ton of money and know exactly what the ingredients are.

    • Lauren on

      My skin has been terribly dry since using Dr Bronner’s as my daily soap in the shower. What would be a better alternative? I use Young Living body wash from time to time and get great results but it is so much more expensive than Dr Bronner’sz

      Reply
      • Svetlana on

        I use Dr. Bronner’s as face wash. Then apply small amount of coconut oil to skin. It acts as a moisturizer, plus has antibacterial properties. My skin looks so much clearer, by the way.

      • Svetlana on

        I also dilute Dr. Bronner’s castile liquid soap, for both as face and body wash. Usually 1 drop of soap to 3 drops of water. If you feel a burning sensation to skin, then dilute it to 5 drops of water.

      • kelly on

        Yes it is going to extremely dry all of you body/hair/scalp because Castile soap is VERY alkaline (9-10 Ph). Your skin, hair and scalp are acid (4-6 Ph). Castile should never be used on the body. Now, some people mix ingredients in to make it closer to the correct skin Ph. You will need to research to find other ingredients to lower the Ph of Castile. I have been making my own products for many years. Wont EVER put Castile soap on my body.
        If you want to buy pre made body wash it will be difficult to find one with perfect ingredients. Alaffia makes a pretty good soap with one ingredient that is iffy to me. Im super picky that is why I make my own products. It is Cocamidopropyl Betine. It is not a complete deal breaker, but…I prefer to have zero carcinogen/chemicals. I buy it at AllStarHealth.com. Cheapest anywhere for most of their products. They have a flat ship fee of $5.95. On my last order I saved $82. Make a list and then order. Free shipping is NOT free, the products are usually more.
        As for Ph body/hair wash…you are going to need to do some research to find what you like. I like to use dried herbs, flowers etc. They need to sit for a period of time to mix in Distilled water. You can add other ingredients once you have done your research to see what you are attracted to. I use Morrocco Method shampoo, it is Ph perfect. You could use that as a body wash. I would dilute it with your herb water and Distilled water. Shake before use. Your good to go.
        My all time favorite is homemade bar soap. Make a whole lot of it at one time. I do occasionally buy Nubian Heritage Raw Shea Butter Bar soap. Pick your scent. Cheapest is at AllStarHealth.com. All of these bars are large, 5oz and they are ALL the same price (unlike other sites). No undesired ingredients.

  7. LaDeane on

    I have made my own hand soap for many years. Every recipe for soap includes the oils or fats, then for saponification you need a base. Sodium chloride is a “soda”. When they are combined they become a salt, Dr. Axe, do you have a recipe for making soap using bicarobinate of soda? I wouldn’t want to waste the olive oil just to try it.

    Reply
  8. Laura on

    My home and body are totally Bronner-ized :) I do not do well with scents even some essential oils so I use the fragrance free Baby Bronner Castille liquid….. I have found that a much higher combination of water to liquid soap make for a much sudsier shampoo – my mix is only two capfuls per cup of water. An apple cider vinegar rinse make my hair soft and shiny (1/3 vin to 2/3 water). I also use it on my dogs when they get need a good washing :) Great for health and wallet!

    Reply
  9. Catherine on

    OK, let me point out that EVERYTHING IS MADE OF CHEMICALS! One atom of water is a chemical comprised of 2 hydrogen atoms and 1 oxygen atom a/k/a H2O (sorry no subscript here). Sodium, whose chemical designation is Na and which is actually a metal, combined in a 1:1 ratio with Chloride (Cl) creates table salt (NaCl).

    The real question is not “does it contain chemicals?” (of course it does, no matter what it is!) but “are the chemicals harmful?” Even water is harmful if you drink too much of it. It is uncommon but it has happened. Too much water interferes with your electrolyte balance, diluting the sodium levels resulting in hyponatremia (just Google it!).

    Reply
  10. Laura Mae on

    I make all natural soaps and sell them at a local Farmer’s Market. Saturday two little girls and their mother stood before my table checking out my soap when suddenly vocal sparks flew between the two daughters. The mother rather calmly says, “Relax. You’ll live longer.”

    Reply
  11. monica stoneburg on

    I hand wash my laundry. When using castille soap can i use the leftover soapy water on my plants seeing as the soap is plant based already?

    Reply
  12. JJ on

    Please help me regarding Laundry detergent I recently made with the recipe given in your post above.The castile soap floated on top along with the baking soda, salt

    Reply
  13. Sam on

    There’s no such thing as “chemical free”. Water is a chemical. It has a chemical formula so you’ll know. Don’t be a dunce, and don’t proliferate idiocy.

    Reply
  14. Debora on

    I tried your # 4. DIY All-Purpose Household Cleaner!

    Whenever you mix castile soap and vinegar it results in a gooey bad chemical reaction. These two should never be mixed together in a container. Castile soap turned into a greasy cream floating in the water+vinegar mixture.

    Reply

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