Homesteading: Chemical-Free Castile Soap

>> Sunday, August 3, 2014

As I was sitting on the beach last week, I caught up on some reading material. Or, rather, enjoyed some super old magazines (2010 style!) that I found laying around my in-laws' house. One of them was Health Magazine, and I caught a snippet about personal care products, etc. -- shampoos, conditioners, face wash, shaving creams, toothpaste, etc. -- and exposure to chemicals. We're making our own efforts to green our home, including making our cleaning sprays and soaps, so I hope you'll follow along as we move forward and (likely) make some missteps.

The gist: Two environmentalists, Rick Smith and Bruce Lourie, conducted a relatively informal study, switching from their crunchy soaps to more conventional products most of us use every single day. Their findings were published in a book titled Slow Death by Rubber Duck which explores the "secret danger" of everyday things. I'm not an alarmist or anything like that, but their results were certainly astounding at times, showing major increases in things like BPA and phlatlates when exposed to plastics and other "hidden" dangers.

Let's focus today on one of my favorites: CASTILE SOAP! It's yet another one of those awesome + budget-friendly Green Cleaners That Work.


We often just squirt our castile right out of the bottle for basic cleaning, especially of hands. But the more we've used castile, the more we've learned that diluting it to the right ratio can help get a better clean for a number of different purposes. Here are some ways we use castile in our home.

#1: Shampoo -- just dilute it with water in either a 1 part soap, 2  parts water or 1:3 ratio. Some people have better luck using a citrus hair rinse that helps break up the soap for a shinier finish.

#2: Baby Wash -- since Stephen and I like the stronger peppermint variety, when we wash Ada, we either use plain castile or lavender. Something a bit less intense. I follow the same dilution as I do for our shampoo above, or just squirt some in the bath for bubbles.

#3: Dog Shampoo -- we don't have dogs, but I wanted to share that one of my friends uses this same method on her dog, and it works great. Greening your home includes your pets!

#4: Veggie Wash -- if you've ever seen those pricy spray bottles in the produce section, try this at home. I take a standard spray bottle and put in a heaping tablespoon and fill the rest with water.

#5: Body Wash -- I usually just use bar castile soap (peppermint is my favorite) for this one, but if you'd like a liquid solution, just squirt into a loofah. Pretty simple and very clean.

#6: Foaming Hand Wash -- my mom taught me this one: Just put a tablespoon or two of castile soap in your foaming dispenser and fill the rest with water.

#7: Shaving "Cream" -- I take a few drops of the soap directly onto my skin and lather it with water before shaving. No chemical-laden creams for me!

#8: Laundry Detergent -- going to make you guys wait on this one, but we use castile soap in our laundry detergent. I grind up bar soap and combine it with a few other ingredients for clean clothes.

#9: Floor Cleaner -- I use around 1/4 cup soap into 2 gallons of hot water for mopping our kitchen floors. I haven't tried this method on wood, though.

#10: Car Wash -- I squirt around a 1/4 cup of castile soap into a bucket and fill the rest with hot water to wash cars. I don't wash our cars often, but it does the trick and I don't feel as bad when I rinse it off onto the pavement and grass.


I've mentioned many times that our family regularly uses Dr. Bronner's brand of castile soap. It's widely available and comes in a variety of essential oil scents. (And for a more castile soap usage ideas and dilution ratios, be sure to check out Dr. Bronner's "cheat sheet" -- anything from clearing congestion to deterring ants in your home.)

Two of my favorites include:
While I was researching less expensive options for this post, however, I came across a new castile soap to try: Dr. Brown's. It's cheaper on average -- in fact, some of the types I found cost half of what I usually pay.

Here are a few options to investigate:


Do you use castile soap in your everyday routine? 

If so, how do YOU use it? I read that people even brush their teeth with it -- so there are seriously 1,000,001 ways you can use this chemical-free cleaner. And what brand is your favorite? I've also come across a few methods for making liquid castile soap at home (in a slow cooker, of all places!). Might have to try that out someday.

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