A bowl of fruit sitting on a table, with Vinegar

How to Use Castile Soap to Make Natural Cleaning Products

From time to time I hear from readers who have sensitivities or allergies to our beloved Blue Dawn. Is there something else we can use that will not trigger these reactions but still work well? There is and it is pure castile soap.

While olive-oil based castile soap has been around for centuries, Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soap, itself dating back to 1858, is making a big, glorious, all-natural comeback.

 

Castile soap

Available in several versions including one that is unscented, this organic castile soap is available online as well as in grocery, health food, and discount department stores. Dr. Bronner’s is not the only pure castile soap out there—other brands of castile liquid soap are equally suitable for the following cleaning recipes and household and personal uses, such as Almona, St. Clare, and Seven Minerals.

All-Purpose Cleaning Spray

Add 1/4 cup pure castile liquid soap to one-quart warm water and mix gently. Pour into a 32-ounce spray bottle and use it as you would any spray cleaner around the house. Safe on granite and quartz counters and laminate surfaces. Optional: A few drops of lemon or orange essential oil will give this cleaner a fresh, pleasant fragrance.

Degreaser cleaning spray

Add 1/4 cup pure castile liquid soap into a 32-ounce spray bottle then fill with warm water. Fill a second 32-ounce spray bottle with 1 cup white vinegar and warm water to fill. Spray greasy kitchen surfaces with the soap-water solution and clean them well with a soft cloth. Then spray the same surface with the vinegar-water solution to rinse, followed by another round with the soft cloth. Caution: Rinse granite or other natural stone surfaces with clear water as vinegar may, over time, dull and damage the stone’s sealant.

All-natural laundry detergent

Pure castile liquid soap is especially useful in the laundry for those who are sensitive to chemicals and fragrances. Here’s the recipe:

Pour one cup pure castile liquid soap into a one-gallon container. Add 3/4 cup baking soda and 1/4 cup sea salt. Fill the container to the top with warm water. Mix well. To use: Add 1/4 cup of this laundry detergent to a typical-sized load of laundry.

Liquid dish soap

The formula for dish soap is ten parts water to one part one-part pure castile liquid soap. You can make up in a bottle to keep handy at the kitchen sink or use the concentration formula on the fly as you fill a basin to wash dishes.

For tough spots on pots and pans or other items, squirt a few drops of full-strength pure castile liquid soap on the area then finish up with your favorite scrubber. After you’ve hand washed your dishes with castile soap and rinsed them, dip them in a sink of vinegar water and then allow to dry.

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Tub and shower soap scum remover

To make a stronger cleaner that will melt soap scum from the walls, doors and floor of tubs and showers, fill a 32-ounce spray bottle 1/3 of the way with pure castile liquid soap then fill with warm water.

Spray down the areas and allow to sit for a few hours. Rinse well with water. For really tough spots with signs of mold and mildew, sprinkle with baking soda then follow by spraying with white vinegar to activate the baking soda.

You may need to scrub some areas a bit before rinsing the areas thoroughly. You’ll be amazed to see all the gunk and scum flow down the drain to leave beautifully clean, sparkling surfaces.


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Quite possibly one of the best tips to ever land my mailbox came from a guy who is a professional property manager. He handles rental apartments near a big university and lots of them. As an apartment is vacated, his job is to see that it is thoroughly cleaned and made ready for the next occupants.


Automatic dishwasher detergent

The formula for all-natural automatic dishwasher detergent is one cup pure castile liquid soap to one cup warm water plus 1 tablespoon lemon or lime juice. This recipe multiplies well.

To use: Add one tablespoon detergent to your dishwasher’s detergent dispenser and one cup white vinegar to the “rinse-aid” dispenser. If you have especially hard water and or notice water marks remaining on glass items, you may need to increase the amount of white vinegar.

Carpet spot cleaner

Mix pure castile liquid soap 50/50 with hydrogen peroxide. Pour into a spray bottle, then treat carpet spots as soon after they happen as possible. You may need to scrub with a clean white cloth or brush before blotting up the stain along with as much moisture as possible. 

Because hydrogen peroxide degrades quickly once exposed to air and light, make up this spot cleaner as you need it, rather than storing it.

Floor cleaner

Mix 3/4 cup pure castile liquid soap in three gallons of warm water. Use this to clean your tile, wood and vinyl floors, using a slightly wet mop to wipe away dust and dirt making sure you are not leaving behind puddles of water. The key is to wring the mop well then scrub, clean and mop up as much moisture as possible. Once dry, enjoy a streak-free floor.


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If there’s one place in your household spending that you can really cut the cost, it’s household cleaners. The cost of most home cleaning products is getting outrageous. Making your own cleaning products from ingredients that are downright cheap and perform as well—maybe better—than their commercial cousins.


Fruit and vegetable wash

Just 1/4 teaspoon pure castile liquid soap in a bowl of cool water will make a natural and effective wash for fresh fruits and vegetables. Add the items to the solution, swishing them around in the water, then rinse and enjoy.


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7 replies
  1. Carissa says:

    I tried your solution for dishwasher detergent and it didn’t work. Things are still dirty. Everything on the bottom rack has a white film on. I made the solution exactly as you specified and used 1 cup of vinegar in the rinse aid.

    Love the soap as a body soap but definitely not as a dishwasher detergent.

    Reply
  2. Michelle says:

    I started using Dr. Bronner’s years ago, when my kids were little, since a couple of us in this family have sensitive skin. Love that stuff.

    Reply
  3. Mark Johnson says:

    I keep hearing that adding vinegar to washers and dishwashers can cause the rubber gaskets to degrade. Is this true?

    Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Hi Mark … I’ve been reading that for many years, most recently in a consumer magazine. I have never seen any reasonable evidence to support this scare tactic. Since I’ve been washing clothes I have owned and heavily used six washers; different brands, every type (top loader, front loaders, agitator, no agitator; manual, digital) and I have used vinegar in my machines—always. I have never had a hose fail, or any problem with valves, gaskets or other things “they” caution will be destroyed by vinegar. Common sense tells me this: white vinegar is 5% acidity. That means it is 95% water. A modern high-efficiency washing machine uses 15-20 gallons of water. I routinely add 1/2 cup (4 oz.) white vinegar to my GE front loading washing machine, in the “liquid softener” reservoir. That means less than 1/2 oz. of acid (the 5% of the vinegar that is acedic acid) it mixed into gallons of water in that last rinse. That is at best a very weak solution. That is not a problem for me. If this were critical to the operation of the washer, we would expect to see a big warnings not to wash a tablecloth on which wine had spilled or a dishcloth that had mopped up a puddle of vinaigrette. I would add the same for dishwashers. Just think of all the acidic things end up in there! Hope that helps!

      Reply
    • Mary Hunt says:

      Yes … Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile straight from the bottle you should dilute, dilute, dilute! But how much? There is no hard and fast rule. If your stuff is really dirty or your water is really hard, then you may want to use more than the recommended amount. However, this should get you started. Cheat Sheet from Dr. Bronner.

      Reply

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