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 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 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)