If you mention “castile soap” in green circles, you’ll probably hear overwhelmingly positive feedback. You can use it to clean everything. It’s natural. It’s safe. Heck, the Dr. Bronner’s brand even markets it as “magic soap.” I do like using castile soap. But I don’t always love it … mainly because of a few major disasters I’ve had while using it.
Castile soap is a great product made of organic, vegetarian oils. Dr. Bronner’s includes water, organic coconut oil, organic olive oil, organic hemp oil, organic jojoba oil, citric acid, and tocopherol, or vitamin E (a fat soluble chemical). It’s highly concentrated, so a tiny bit goes a long way.
Castile soap can be used as hand soap, face soap, body soap and shampoo. You can wash your clothes with it, as well as your dishes and even your food. By adding some baking soda, you can create an effective soft scrubbing cleaning paste.
I like to squirt a little in my toilets and sprinkle some baking soda, then scrub. Since I use the peppermint scented castile soap, it leaves my bathrooms smelling so refreshing after I clean my sink, toilet and floor with it. (I clean my sink and floor with a squirt of castile soap diluted with a lot of water.)
Since I’ve started cleaning my bathrooms with castile soap, I’ve been able to let my toddler-aged son help me out. He sprinkles baking soda in the toilet while I squirt the soap in, then we take turns with the scrub brush.
I LOVE the fact that my children can help me clean and it’s not dangerous. And I love not having to worry about them accidentally exposing themselves to toxic cleaners – I doubt they would swallow castile soap, but even if they ever did, I wouldn’t have to panic.
Castile soap also naturally eliminates pests: simply squirt a mixture of castile soap and water on plants to get rid of insects.
As much as I’m a fan, I know from personal experience that castile soap must be used with restraint.
I first purchased a bottle to use as safe shampoo. Excited to try it, I used it for two to three days until it looked like I had dunked my head in an oil spill. If I remember correctly, my husband lovingly nicknamed my hair the “Exxon Valdez” until I used a different shampoo. I know some people swear by using it as shampoo, but you’ll never hear me make that recommendation.
Another disaster happened a few weeks ago. I ran out of dishwasher detergent and dirty dishes were piled in my kitchen sink. I tried a quick, natural dishwasher detergent recipe: castile soap, water, white vinegar, and lemon juice.
Since the peppermint castile soap left an amazing scent during the washing process, I was pretty excited – I could have clean dishes, a cheap detergent and a natural air freshener, too! But as soon as I opened the dishwasher door, I stared at my dishes in horror. Every single thing was covered in a white film.
I tried an additional hot water rinse, in hopes that it would wash away. It didn’t. I tried adding regular dishwasher detergent and re-running the load, but the white film was still there. By this time, I was completely aware of how much water and electricity I was wasting, so I tried to rinse everything by hand, while scrubbing the soap film off.
Several weeks later, I still know what dishes experienced the castile soap dishwasher trial, because a slight, white film remains on everything. (I probably need to rinse everything in vinegar. Again.) I never thought I’d be so frustrated with one product.
(January 2013 update: I finally discovered why my dishwasher detergent recipe turned into a disaster! Castile soap should never be mixed with an acid like vinegar or lemon juice – the acid reduces the soap to original oils. Hence my mess.)
I haven’t tried the castile soap in my laundry, but I’ve heard mixed reviews. While some people love it, others say the soap leaves huge grease stains on their clothing. I have a feeling that with my track record, I’d ruin my laundry with one attempt.
Have any of you had huge successes or failures with castile soap? Do you love or hate castile soap?
Disclosure: Ordering from the link in the post will result in a commission for www.accidentallygreen.com.
This post originally was published May 5, 2011.
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