7 Things You Didn’t Know You Could Do With Castile Soap

Clean every room of the house—and yourself—with amazingly versatile castile soap.

December 22, 2016
castile soap
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You probably already know that castile soap can make your tub sparkle and your floors shine, but that’s not all the non-toxic, classic soap is capable of.

“Castile soap, and soap in general, has been the recommendation of experts on how to clean anything ever since we realized the importance of cleaning,” says Lisa Bronner, public relations specialist at Dr. Bronner’s and the granddaughter of the company’s founder, Emanuel Bronner.

You can feel good about using it for just about everything, too. Castile soap like Dr. Bronner’s is safe and free of harmful chemicals according to the Environmental Working Group.

Related: The Only 10 Things You Need To Buy To Make All Your Own Cleaning Products

“Soap is much closer to natural ingredients,” says Bronner. “It biodegrades quickly back to nature, and it doesn’t have any harmful side-effects that we’re seeing with more synthesized products.”

Here are 7 perfect uses for castile soap:

(Find seasonal recipes, inspiring imagery, and gardening tips every day inside the Rodale’s Organic Life 2017 Calendar!)

Replace Your Shampoo

Castile soap, especially the liquid variety, makes a great shampoo alternative. Traditional shampoos are typically full of detergents that strip the hair and scalp of beneficial oils. Castile soap cleans the hair without drying out the scalp or leaving behind silicones or other substances that can weigh down hair.

You can use castile soap straight out of the bottle or make homemade organic shampoo with it. How much you need to use depends on the length and thickness of your hair. Start with 2-3 tablespoons and adjust accordingly.

For best results, follow your wash with an acidic rinse to condition and restore your hair and scalp’s pH balance. Apple cider vinegar or a little bit of lemon juice works great for this. The acidic rinse helps to reseal the outer layer of the hair, reduce frizz, and restore shine. Skipping the conditioning rinse will leave your hair feeling tacky, difficult to brush, and frizzy. If you have dyed hair, test a small, inconspicuous section of your hair before washing with castile soap and rinsing with vinegar to make sure the routine does not remove the dye. (Here's what happened when one woman tried washing her hair with 4 different homemade shampoos.)

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Remove Insect Infestations

You don’t have to use toxic insecticides to rid yourself of garden pests. Castile soap is effective at killing insects and eliminating an infestation. Simply mix a teaspoon to a tablespoon of castile soap with a quart of water and spray the infested areas thoroughly. Don’t forget to check underneath the leaves for hidden pests.

“[Castile soap] is great on plants that might be infected with aphids or some type of mite or pests,” says Bronner, “especially if you are dealing with an edible plant that you don’t want to be spraying a toxic poison on.”

However, the soap mixture only works to kill insects when the spray is wet; it does not have a residual repellent or deterrent effect. While the exact mechanism is not well understood, soap appears to alter the cell membranes of an insect and remove its outer protective waxes according to Colorado State University Extension.

Use the spray a couple times a day until there are no longer signs of pests. You should also rinse the dried soap mixture off the plant a couple of hours after application to help reduce damage to the plant and remove pests.

The same principle also applies in the home, especially to get rid of ants. Up the mixture to a quarter cup castile soap per quart of water and spray directly onto the insects. The castile soap will kill the insects and clean up any scent trails they leave behind.

doing dishes
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That’s right, you can hand-wash your dishes with castile soap just like you would with a liquid dish soap. It doesn’t take much; Bronner recommends mixing a ratio of 1:10 castile soap to water before washing. You can do this in the sink and submerge dishes to wash or fill a squirt bottle with your pre-diluted mix.

Do note that you may want to skip this one if you have hard water. The minerals in the water break down the soap and leave a dull film on the dishes. (Here are 5 more castile soap mistakes you're making.)

body wash
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Body Care

“A good castile soap will be able to wash you from head to toe,” says Bronner. From face wash to shower gel to hand soap to shave cream, castile soap can do it all. A single bottle can replace your entire shower arsenal. The soap replenishes the skin instead of stripping its natural, protective oils, according to Bronner.

Castile soap is also a good alternative to potentially dangerous antibacterial soaps. Despite the rise of antibacterial soaps, plain soap and water is still best according to Mayo Clinic. Nearly half of all of the hand soaps on the market today contain an antibacterial additive according to Harvard Medical School, and it doesn’t just stop there. Body washes, acne wash, and even some shampoos contain antibacterial additives. These harsh antibacterial agents, like triclosan, are believed to disrupt hormones and contribute to antibacterial resistant bacteria. While triclosan has recently been banned from soaps, similar antibacterial agents are still being used. 

washing your dog
Pet Shampoo

Castile soap isn’t just great for your hair. Unlike regular shampoo made for humans, you can also use castile soap as a pet shampoo. Stick with unscented varieties when bathing dogs with sensitive skin or cats since many essential oils can be toxic to cats, including peppermint, tea tree, and lavender oils.

“It’s great for pets because their skin responds better to these natural oils than to harsher synthetic materials that will strip the oils out of their skin,” says Bronner. “I always recommend [castile soap] to people who say that their dog is particularly itchy or sensitive.”

laundry basket
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Liquid castile soap can go straight into the washing machine. Simply use one-third to half a cup of soap per large load in a normal washer or three tablespoons to a quarter cup in a high efficiency washer. Bronner also recommends adding a half cup of vinegar to the rinse cycle when using the liquid soap. You can also use bars of castile soap to make your own laundry

hot tea
Clear Congestion

A little bit of the right soap and some steam can create a powerful decongestant. A tablespoon of castile soap that includes eucalyptus or peppermint oil in a bowl of hot water can help clear congestion. Drape a towel over your head and the bowl to help contain the steam.

Both eucalyptus and peppermint oil can help ease cold and flu symptoms. Eucalyptus has long been used to clear congestion and loosen phlegm according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. Many medicines, lozenges, rubs, cough syrups, and vapor baths include eucalyptus for this reason. Similarly, peppermint oil, the main ingredient in menthol, is also a good decongestant and cough soother. (Check out these 6 science-backed ways to get over a cold faster.)

Get two for one and use the eucalyptus or peppermint soap in the shower to clear your congestions while washing up.