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What Is Castile Soap

What is Castile soap (pron. ka-ˈstēl)? It is a highly effective and versatile cleaner made from vegetable oils. The original castile soap where olive oil was combined with sodium carbonate to create a hard white soap that was sold throughout Europe as early as the 16th century. Castile soap is biodegradable and nontoxic, it’s safe to use on pets and around kids.


When it come to versatility, castile soap wins the day. It can be used for personal care, as well as house cleaning purposes, which makes it a smart investment. Below are some great ways in which to use castile soap at home.

Hair Shampoo

Castile soap is amazing for so many different things, but it’s not necessarily a fail-safe when it comes to being a shampoo substitute. Avoid it if you have colored hair, and make sure you understand what you can do to combat the possible drawbacks if you are going to use it. If you want to swap out your standard shampoo for castile soap, more details are ahead.

WHO SHOULD USE IT: Those with sensitivity to chemicals or ingredients found in traditional shampoos. It may also be beneficial for scalp issues such as dermatitis, psoriasis, and dandruff.

How to Use Castile Soap for Hair

  • Only apply to the top of your head: Apply on the roots and scalp rather than the lengths and ends of your hair. Given that castile soap can admittedly lead to tangles and snarls, moving downward as you “shampoo” can help prevent the hair from becoming knotted (as can brushing your hair out before you wash it, FYI). In other words, don’t pile it all up on top of your head and go to town vigorously rubbing and lathering.
  • Have conditioner ready: And finally, since you could wind up with tangles, make sure to always follow with a hydrating conditioner.

Dish Soap

Castile soap is great at cutting through greasy dishes, and it gets an A from the Environmental Working Group for being a ‘product of low concern’.1 You can make a washing solution with one part castile soap and 10 parts water, or add a generous squirt of concentrated liquid while you’re filling the sink with hot water. It won’t create suds, but your dishes will be sparkling clean. Rinse well.

All-Purpose Cleaner

Warm one quart water and add one-quarter cup castile soap. Mix and pour into a spray bottle. Use this to clean counters, appliances, furniture, floor stains and messes, dusty surfaces, and more. Spray and wipe with a clean cloth. For more scrubbing power, sprinkle the surface with baking soda before spraying.


Castile soap is not a typical detergent, but it can be used to clean clothes and bedding. Use one-third cup per normal-sized load (or half of this for an HE washer), but add one-half cup white vinegar to the rinse cycle. Lisa Bronner of the Dr. Bronner company also recommends using grated bar soap as a powdered form of laundry soap (one cup grated soap bar mixed with four cups baking soda), but still use vinegar with the rinse. You can add a squirt of concentrated liquid soap to a sink of warm water to soak delicates.

Face and Body Wash

Wet hands and face, add two to three drops concentrated liquid soap to hands and rub to lather. Apply to face and rinse well. Add a squirt of concentrated castile liquid soap to a wet washcloth or sponge and rub all over your body in the shower or bath.


Castile soap has become tremendously popular in recent years. Eco-minded shoppers are attracted to its environmental profile, its affordability, and the ethical production standards of certain manufacturers.


The appeal of castile soap lies in the fact that it cleans as effectively as many conventional, chemical-laden formulas, minus the environmental hazards. The soap is biodegradable and free from synthetic preservatives, detergents and foaming agents. For anyone wishing to reduce their personal chemical burden or wanting to minimize children’s or pets’ exposure to harsh cleaning substances, castile soap is a good choice. The fact that it’s made entirely from vegetable oils, rather than animal fats, is attractive to vegan users.

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