Natural Cleaning Supplies

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Today I’m sharing three easy ways to clean your home naturally using liquid Castile soap. Have you tried this green cleaning product yet? Even though Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap has been sold in the U.S. for nearly 100 years (!), the brand struggled to gain popularity for a long time due to its limited availability and possibly its odd labeling. (Read more on that below, if you’re curious.)

Well, Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap (and other brands) are now readily available online and in retail stores — and all I can say is that I wish I had tried this soap sooner! When it comes to cleaning ability, Castile has the power to do the job and is truly an earth-and-human-friendly product, with no harsh chemicals or additives whatsoever.

I especially love the simplicity and versatility of liquid Castile soap. It’s an easy-to-use concentrate that you need to dilute with water in various ratios, depending on the job at hand. So far, I’ve tried it on several different surfaces with great results — which I’m sharing here. As I experiment more, I can see Castile soap replacing many of the cleaning products under my kitchen sink.

What is Castile Soap?

Castile soap originated in the Castile region of Spain and was traditionally made with olive oil abundant in that area. The soap still has olive oil today, but often includes other plant-based oils like coconut, hemp, jojoba and castor as well. It also contains water and potassium hydroxide (a form of lye, which is necessary to make a true soap.)

As a natural soap maker myself, the ingredients list makes total sense to me. All of the plant oils in Dr. Bronner’s have cleaning or suds-making properties. The Castile soap I’m using (Dr. Bronner’s 18-in-1 Hemp Peppermint, to be exact) also has essential oils, though you can buy a plain unscented version if you prefer. It’s available on Amazon, at Target and other retailers.

There are other brands of Castile soap, but the only one I’ve tried is Dr. Bronner’s. It’s available unscented or scented with essential oils (e.g., lavender, peppermint or rose.) There’s also a gentler version for babies and a “sister” product for more heavy-duty cleaning called Sal’s Suds. I haven’t tried that yet.

While it might seem pricey, liquid Castile soap is a concentrate that you’ll be mixing with water — so a bottle can last a long time.

The Original Green Cleaner?

Way before green cleaning products were trendy and we were all checking EWG for product safety ratings — Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap was formulated to be free of foaming agents, synthetic detergents, petrochemicals, and artificial fragrances. It’s available in bar and liquid form and is biodegradable. I kinda think it was one of the original green cleaning products and maybe our grandmothers used it…but who knows for sure?

Note: Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap is a concentrate. It’s designed to be DILUTED, although it’s not dangerous to use it undiluted if you’re dealing with stubborn dirt.

Are you ready to get cleaning with Castile soap? Here are three simple ideas, adapted directly from www.lisabronner.com [Lisa Bronner is the granddaughter of the company’s founder]:

1.) Scouring Scrub Recipe (think Soft Scrub)

You can use a Castile scouring scrub in your bathroom or kitchen. I’ve used this on my stainless steel sink, gas cooktop, shower and bathtub so far — all with good results. There are two ways to make this: pre-mixed and undiluted — which is totally safe when used properly.

Pre-Mixed: Mix three cups of baking soda with one cup Castile soap in a large bowl until well-blended and there are no lumps. Add one cup water and mix well. Pour the mix into an empty bottle. When you are ready to use it, squirt over the surface and scrub with a damp cloth, sponge or brush. Rinse with water. This can be stored for future use.

[Note: I haven’t tried this mix yet; I took the lazy way out and just combined baking soda and Castile directly on the surfaces I wanted to clean, following the directions for an undiluted scrub below. You can also use the all-purpose spray and baking soda.]

Undiluted: Sprinkle baking soda on the surface you want to clean and then pour some undiluted Castile soap on top. You do not need a lot of soap; just use enough so a paste forms when you start to scrub. Use a sponge or brush and then rinse with water.

2.) All-Purpose Spray Cleaner

An all-purpose Castile spray can tackle all sorts of cleaning jobs. Use 1/4 cup of soap mixed with a quart of water in a spray bottle. Add the water to the bottle first, then the soap. Swirl gently to mix. Spray this directly on surfaces and wipe with a damp cloth; or spray onto a cloth and use it to wipe down surfaces.

According to LisaBronner.com, this can be used on kitchen and bathroom counters, tubs, tiles, toilets, painted surfaces, wood cabinets and furniture, stainless steel appliances and more. If you’re not sure, test it in a small inconspicuous area before using it.

3.) Castile Soap as a Floor Cleaner

Add 1/2 cup Castile soap to three gallons of hot water and use this to clean your wood, vinyl, laminate or tile floors. Dunk your mop into the solution and wring it out thoroughly. On wood and laminate, you’ll want to avoid puddles and be sure to mop up any excess water.

Note: If you have hard water, it may react with Castile soap and leave behind a harmless white film residue. The Dr. Bronner website recommends adding a small amount of vinegar to your cleaning mixes to counteract this, although I’ve read mixed reviews on this. You may want to research it further.

Wondering if Dr. Bronner’s is a disinfectant or anti-bacterial? The short answer is no. The CDC recommends cleaning your home surfaces with soap and water only and limiting disinfecting to times when someone in your home is sick. Of course, this is a big question right now due to the covid-19 pandemic and everyone wanting to stay healthy. My own philosophy is to use a disinfectant on high-touch surfaces (like light switches and doorknobs/handles) and use soap on everything else. I’m certainly not an expert on this, but I take my cues from the CDC and the EPA — which has a helpful chart here.

What About All the Claims? Dr. Bronner’s promotes dozens of uses for their Castile soap, for everything from cleaning your home to brushing your teeth. It’s recommended as a safe and gentle body wash, shampoo, makeup remover, dog wash, ant spray…you name it. I don’t have any plans to try it for anything besides house cleaning and laundry — so I can’t attest to any of the claims. I do believe it’s gentle enough, however, that it’s unlikely to be harmful.

Footnote: What’s With the Odd Labeling?

I have to admit that I knew about Dr. Bronner’s soap for several years before trying it. I was put off by the odd labeling, which has tiny, tiny type and religious ramblings bordering on cult-speak! I wondered…what’s with the weird label and where is my money going??

Well, as a brief history…the product and the labeling originated with Dr. Emanuel Bronner who was born to a family of soapmakers in Germany in 1908. When Dr. Bronner immigrated to America, he pleaded with his parents to come with him — but they stayed and ending up dying in the Holocaust.

I learned that Emanuel Bronner became more and more zealous over time about his extreme religious philosophy which he called All-One-God-Faith. (The family doesn’t hide his eccentric ramblings or struggles with mental health…it’s all laid out on the Bronner website.)

Anyway, Dr. Bronner preached to anyone and everyone who would listen, while selling peppermint soap on the side. But when people stopped listening to his sermons, he decided to print snippets of them on his product. While he died in 1997, the company still uses those labels.

As far as how the profits are used, the Company is a Benefit Corporation and Certified B corporation — with a long history of sharing profits with their workers and being kind to the earth. There’s a whole lot more about that on their website.

I am not a licensed nutritionist, medical professional or cosmetics expert. The information provided on Honest + Simple is for general informational purposes only. The statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food + Drug Administration and are not intended to treat, prevent or cure any disease. Before making decisions about your health or other concerns, please consult a qualified professional and do not rely on this website for medical advice.

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