Dr Bronner's liquid castile soap claims to have 18 different uses. But what are they and does castile soap work? A product that multipurpose sounds a bit too good to be true. We decided to test and review each of the uses Dr Bronner recommends for their liquid castile soap, here is what we have found.
The different uses below have been broken down into body, household and other. Next to each of the uses are instructions for how to use and dilute the soap for optimal performance. You may want to play with and adjust these ratios to find what best suits you. Dr Bronner also has 11 different scented/flavored liquid castile soaps. Not all are suitable for each function. Keep that in mind when reading on.
Face: 2-3 drops on wet hands, applied to wet face
My husband happily uses the castile soap as a face wash. My skin is a lot more sensitive and I find it a little bit harsh. Especially the ones scented with peppermint and other stronger fragrances. The unscented baby soap is the best bet for sensitive skin.
Washing your face can also help reduce acne. Especially if using the tea tree soap due to its antibacterial properties. Your skin may feel tighter and drier however. It is also not uncommon to breakout after starting to use the liquid castile soap as a face wash before your skin clears. Allow for a 2-week detox period. Moisturising can help reduce this and is great for rehydrating and nourishing your skin.
Body: one small squirt on a wet washcloth, applied to a wet body
Liquid castile soap works well as a body wash. You can expect some suds but not a huge amount. While I personally don’t find it drying for my skin, I have heard it can be for some skin types. Especially if your skin is not used to it. If this is the case, use a moisturiser until your skin adjusts or go for the castile bar soaps which tend to me more moisturising.
Hair: ½ Tbsp. in your hand, worked into wet hair, or dilute ½ Tbsp. in ½ a cup of water and work that into wet hair
For my thick and curly hair using castile soap made it incredibly frizzy and dry and just didn’t feel great in general. Before you ask, yes, I was using it properly! I just don’t find it right for my hair type. Mind you I also only tried it a few times which didn’t allow much time for my hair to adjust. A detox period is a real thing when changing up your hair care routine. If you are serious about using castile soap as a shampoo you should try and stick with it for a solid month to see how your hair takes to it.
For me, it just wasn’t convenient enough to keep using. I think it would be an effective option for a guy with short hair who just wants a quick clean and doesn’t have to worry too much. For longer hair, results can vary from person to person. There are those who have had great success with using castile soap as a shampoo. If you decide to try it out here are three key things to remember.
Dilute properly (and don’t use too much) –
Castile soap is very alkaline. Using too much or having it too concentrated can be harsh on your hair and lead to less than ideal results. What works for your hair can also differ from person to person. Some may be fine using more than others. Dr Bronner recommends ½ tbsp liquid castile soap to ½ cup water. Other recommendations online have been to start with 1 tbsp in 2 cups of water (probably better amount for longer hair) and go from there. Find what works for you based on your hair type and length.
Use purified water –
This particularly important if the water in your area is particularly hard (has a lot of minerals in it). The minerals will interact with the castile soap and can leave soap scum in your hair.
Acidic after-rinse –
This is a crucial step for re-balancing the pH level of your hair. As the liquid castile soap is alkaline you need an acidic rinse to counter it. You don’t even have to purchase Dr Bronners citrus hair rinse if you want to save some money. You can use apple cider vinegar or lemon juice instead. Start by diluting ¼ cup of your acidic agent in 2 cups of water (adjust as necessary). Carefully pour through your hair (after rinsing out the soap) trying to be as thorough as possible.
Ideally keep everything you need to measure and dilute to make it as easy as possible and mix up what you need right before your shower. It does take some extra effort but for many it is worth it.
Bath: Depends upon water amount, but roughly 2 Tbsp. soap in an average sized tub.
Dr Bronners castile soap can be added to your bath for extra cleaning help but don’t expect bubbles. For me I love a luxurious bubble bath occasionally so I personally wouldn’t use Dr Bronners castile soap for this purpose. If you don’t mind a nice warm soak without the bubbles however go for it.
Shaving: Face – 10 drops; Underarms – 3 drops; Legs – ½ tsp; Work to a lather in wet hands and then apply to area.
Shaving with Dr Bronners soaps you need to find what works for you. The liquid castile soap will produce a very light lather for shaving and works alright but is nothing to rave about. My husband tried shaving this way and used way too much soap making it feel a bit slimy and gel like without much of a lather. Try starting with a small amount of soap and a splash of water for best results.
What I have found works better for shaving however is Dr Bronner's castile bar soaps, as it gives a better lather. This is consistent with a lot of feedback I have heard about using Dr Bronner's bar soaps for shaving. They also have a shaving gel but I personally don’t find it ideal.
Teeth: 1 drop on a toothbrush.
Ewww ewww ewwww! It will clean your teeth, its soap. It also tastes like soap (who knew!?) which is gross! Most people I have talked to can’t get past this taste. Washing your mouth out with soap should be kept a punishment for dirty mouthed kids, not used in your daily oral care routine. Keep in mind it is just soap and while it helps cleans, that is where it stops. Your toothpaste needs to do more than just clean your teeth, it should also contain calcium (or even fluoride) to make sure it re-mineralises your teeth to help repair daily damage from food acids. This is the most important job of a toothpaste.
Foot Bath: 1 ½ tsp. in a small tub of hot water.
Good to help clean your feet during a nice foot soak. Once again don’t expect much bubbles or foaming.
Clearing Congestion: 1 Tbsp. in a bowl of steamy hot water. Breathe in mist with a towel draped over the head.
If you have a head cold clearing out congested sinuses can help you feel a lot better. When I was sick as a girl my dad would get me to do something similar and it helped tremendously, so I was very interested in seeing how well Dr Bronner’s liquid castile soap worked for this purpose. I was pleasantly surprised how well it worked.
This is one of the uses where it is not the soap that does the work. It is the fragrance ingredients that have been used to scent the soaps that will clear your sinuses out. I figure you would get a similar result using essential oils (assuming they have been appropriately measured and diluted). However, using the Dr Bronner liquid castile soap is a convenient and simple process. In terms of effectiveness I would not recommend the baby/unscented soap. The peppermint, eucalyptus and tea tree soaps are my top picks for helping clear you our but others should also do the trick.
Dishes (handwashing): Pre-dilute 1:10 with water. Squirt on a scrub brush and scrub dishes.
It will effectively clean dishes. You won’t have foamy, bubbly water but the cleaning power is there. We recommend using the unscented/baby soap as if you use the other scented soaps the scent can tend to linger on your dishes.
Laundry: 1/3-1/2 c. of soap for a large load in a normal (traditional) washer. Add ½ c. vinegar to the rinse cycle. Use half of these amounts for HE washers (high efficiency washers)
I am guessing most of you will probably have a high efficiency washer due to their increased popularity because of their significant water and energy saving benefits. However, I know a lot of traditional washers are still out there too, so make sure you use the right amount for your washer.
In terms of effectiveness... it will do the job but it is not terribly heavy duty. It won't remove stains but it will do in a pinch. I also find it is not very cost effective with how much the castile soaps cost and how much you need to use per load. I still prefer to use Kin Kin for my laundry, particularly their laundry soaker.
Mopping: ½ c. of soap in 3 gallons of hot water.
Mopping with Dr Bronner’s liquid castile soap worked well and didn’t damage my floor boards. Obviously different floors and environments will produce different results but I am confident in its effectiveness as a light-medium duty floor cleaner. For a heavy-duty floor cleaner, I think you would be hard pressed to find one that wasn’t full of harsh chemicals.
All-purpose cleaning: ¼ c. soap in a quart of water in a spray bottle. Add ¼ tsp. tea tree essential oil if desired.
This all-purpose cleaner is great for general light duty cleaning. Doesn’t quite have the oomph for more heavy-duty cleaning however.
Windows: 1 Tbsp. soap in a quart of water in a spray bottle. Follow up with pure club soda, or half vinegar/ half water.
I was impressed with how well it worked to clean the windows, which admittedly were fairly dirty beforehand. It cleaned all the grime away without leaving soap scum or streaking. Please note that you are using the vinegar/water mix as a follow up in a separate spray bottle. Not adding it to the castile soap and water mix.
The castile soap mix is particularly effective at helping clean extra dirty windows. This makes it ideal for external windows that get more weather and wear. For internal windows and mirrors you can probably get away with just using the vinegar mix.
Using a squeegee or microfibre cloth will also make the process a lot easier and help you clean the window before the mix dries and streaks.
Toilet: Predilute 1:4 with water in a squirt bottle. Add ¼ tsp. tea tree oil. Empty toilet, squirt bowl thoroughly, sprinkle baking soda on the brush, scrub bowl, let sit 10 minutes, turn water on, flush.
This method really gives an effective clean while helping you avoid toxic chemical cleaners. It is slightly more of a process and extra effort shutting off the water but that is because otherwise the soap spray and baking soda will be washed away before you have finished cleaning. Harsh chemical cleaners usually come as thick gels that don’t disperse in the water, so they don’t have the same issue. You can just imagine how great (read: awful!) that is one it goes down the pipes.
Fruit and Veggie Rinse: 1 dash (approx.. ¼ tsp.) in a bowl of water. Dunk produce and swish. Then rinse in clear water.
Getting rid of wax and pesticides on the skins of your produce means less nasties going into your system and anyway we can prevent that is worth considering! Where I struggle with fruit and veggie washes is that it’s hard to see if they are effectively being cleaned. There is no evidence to support that fruit and veggie washes effectively remove all pesticides. Some studies done have determined they are little more effective than water.
So, what is the solution? Organic produce is more expensive but it is the only way to ensure you are not getting pesticide residue with your produce. Just make sure you are getting it from a certified supplier.
As far as Dr Bronner? It can work well alongside water to clean your produce if you feel water isn’t doing enough. Even organic produce should get a rinse before eating to get rid of dirt or any other residue on the surface. If you do use the liquid castile soap this way, we recommend using the unscented/baby soap and rinsing thoroughly afterwards. Otherwise your produce may take on the scent of the soap you used and you might get a hit of soap in your mouth later.
Dog washing: Amount varies widely depending on size, hair type and length, and overall dirtiness. I wet my dog thoroughly, then start to work in castile soap up and down their body until I have a good lather. Really massage it in down to the skin. Your dog will thank you for it.
I find the liquid castile soaps work well as a dog wash. We had the one and only Riatta dog Sammy (an adorably mischievous border collie mix) try it out for us. He certainly didn’t seem to mind! Don’t be fooled by the lack of an artificially glossy/shiny coat. The castile soap delivers an effective clean and is easy to rinse out.
How much you need varies based on size and hairiness of your dog, a small amount will go far. Start with a medium sized coin amount and use more as needed. Be careful to keep it out of their eyes and ears, just as you would your own. Make sure the dog is thoroughly soaked through before lathering in the castile soap or dilute it in the water before applying. We recommend using Dr Bronner’s peppermint, sandalwood, eucalyptus or tea tree liquid castile soap.
Plant spray for bugs:1 Tbsp. in a quart of water. Add ½ tsp. cayenne pepper, cinnamon or garlic, if desired.
We haven’t had a bug problem recently to try this one out ourselves so we are only speaking from feedback and research here. The soap kills bugs by dissolving their exoskeletons when it comes in direct contact. You want to be careful not to make it too concentrated. Adding cayenne pepper, cinnamon or garlic will give it some extra oomph. Using the unscented or peppermint liquid castile soap here is ideal. Others scents will work too, just be careful not to make it too concentrated so you don’t burn your plants.
Ant spray (not on plants):¼ c. tea tree soap in a quart of water. (This concentration will burn plants.)
Serious ant problem? Dr Bronner recommends using a tea tree soap mix at a higher concentration than the plant spray. This makes the spay more effective at killing bugs. You can’t use this on plants (in case the warnings in bold above weren’t enough) this concentration will burn them. So, the soap will kill the ants – dissolves the exoskeleton apparently – by why use the tea tree? The scent of the tea tree effectively disrupts any trails the ants you just killed may have left behind for other ants to follow. Getting rid of the ant scent trail means it is a lot less likely the ants will return later. Unfortunately, this is the wrong time of year to try it out ourselves but once we come across some unlucky ants we will let you know!
Riatta Recommendation - bonus use!
Ever had trouble getting foundation and other cosmetics out of your makeup tools? Castile soap works really well compared to other natural cleaners I have tried using on my makeup brushes (such as a soapberry cleaner mix - it was alright for powders but nothing more heavy). I soak my bushes in Dr Bronners Liquid castile soap for 1-2 hours and then rinse them off. That is it and they are clean and almost good as new. Just make sure you rinse all the soap out.
In conclusion? Dr Bronner’s liquid castile soap….
Our overall verdict? Dr Bronners liquid castile soap is an amazing and versatile product that I happily use on myself and in my home – just maybe not for all the uses they list. Remember your skin and your hair may need an adjustment period to get use to the castile soap. This can be true for any change of products/routine for your hair or skin.
The liquid castile soap also goes a lot further than you think. Make sure to pay attention to the recommended amounts to use and suggested dilutions. I have had a lot of feedback from people who end up using a lot more than they realised they needed. Not only is this wasteful and will empty your bottle faster it can lead to less than ideal results depending on how you are using it.
Because of its versatile and multipurpose nature, we have found that Dr Bronner’s Liquid castile soap is a popular replacement for many household cleaning and personal care products. It is also great at reducing the number of liquids you need to take with you when you travel, helping you pack light when it counts. If you are looking for a toxin free, organic, fair trade and vegan natural soap/cleaner alternative we absolutely would recommend giving Dr Bronner’s liquid castile soap a go. Not only are they a high quality multipurpose product, they come in a range of different scents to suite different needs and tastes.
Have you already tried Dr Bronner’s liquid castile soap? How does your experience compare to what we have outlined here? Are there any other ways you use it? Any tips for those starting to use it? Wanting to give it a try? If you have any questions be sure to comment below!