The Magic and Reality of Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap

Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap ReviewOn my mission to make my house green and non toxic, I came across chatter on the web about the wonders of Castile Soap, specifically, Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap. I was intrigued because my mom says my grandmother used to use Castile Soap to wash her delicate clothes back in the 50’s and 60’s, and it is made from either Coconut Oil or, if it’s pure Castile Soap, made from Olive Oil and contains no sulfates or harsh synthetic detergents. I have very dry skin and have always had to fight off eczema, especially in the winter time, so I knew it was something I wanted to try. I read that there are many uses for the soap – an ingredient in homemade cleaning products, homemade laundry detergent, hand soap, body wash, shampoo and more. I thought it must be too good to be true, but I was feeling optimistic at the time, and decided to buy a whole GALLON from Amazon for $50.

Are the claims right? Some of them are. It’s my new favorite under-the-sink house and body cleaning tool. First of all, you can buy Dr. Bronner’s on Amazon and other sites, and also at your local health food store and even at Target! I found Amazon’s prices to be the cheapest, and even got free shipping with free super saver shipping (but had to be very patient as I waited for a week for it come in – it was a long week!). I read a gallon could last 6 months to a year, depending on how you use it. I think mine will last a year or longer!

Dr. Bronner’s is so cool because it comes in many different scents – Lavender, Almond, Peppermint, Tea Tree Oil , Eucalyptus, Rose, and Citrus. It also comes in Baby Mild to use on your baby. I’ve used Peppermint, Almond, and Lavender. Surprisingly, I did not like the almond scented one for cleaning products. I love the peppermint one for laundry and cleaning products, and the lavender and almond for beauty care (body wash, hand soap).

Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap Label

Once you get your bottle, you might take a moment to read the text that’s written ALL over it, like “Absolute Cleanliness is Godliness! Teach the Moral ABC that unites all mankind free, instantly 6 billion strong & we’re All-One. Listen Children Eternal Father Eternally One!” Apparently, Dr. Bronner thought he was God’s prophet for making soap, and he was in a mental hospital for a while, however, he was a victim of the Holocaust, so he can write whatever he wants to! His children put all of his sayings on the bottles to commemorate their father. It might scare off a newbie to green cleaning, but it made me feel like a renegade hippie! If you’re the really curious type, you can watch a mini-movie about him.

But, you don’t necessarily have to buy Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap. There are many other companies that make it, but I love that this one is made from all organic ingredients and is fair trade. Double bonus. Plus, the company is really hippie-dippie in a very cool way – they speak out against injustice around the world and are very environmentally conscious.

Here’s how I use my Dr. Bronner’s:

Body Wash and Baby Shampoo Recipe

Everyone in my house (there are 5 of us) uses Dr. Bronner’s to wash our birthday suits. It’s very gentle and doesn’t strip the skin’s natural sebum.

Super Gentle Foaming Hand Soap

I use about 7/8 filtered water and 1/8 Castile Soap in my hand soap, although you can use more if you like it. It suds up really well, even with this little. Add 20-30 drops of Tea Tree Oil to make it antibacterial soap (where to buy high quality essential oils).

All Purpose Household Cleaner:

I use it as an ingredient in a homemade household cleaner. I got the recipe from the book, “Clean House, Clean Planet” and wrote a post about it! You can also use it in a very diluted form to mop the floors and clean other surfaces in the house. When mixed with baking soda, it makes a great cleaner in the kitchen to use on countertops.

Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Castile Soap works really well to clean nasty toilet bowls! Click on the link for my recipe.

Homemade Laundry Detergent

This is one of my favorite ways to use Dr. Bronner’s. I use only a 1/2 cup in 2 gallons of detergent, so it goes a long way! It makes detergent SO cheap and it just makes it even better that it’s green! (More on that coming soon!)

An Overnight Dish Cleaning Soak

Dr. Bronner’s is AWESOME at getting hard water stains, stuck on grease and food off the bottom of pots, pans, glassware, and baking dishes. I just squirt enough straight out of the bottle to cover the bottom of the pot or pan and let it sit overnight. The next morning I rinse it out and voila! Every time I’ve done it the stains are completely gone!

Shampoo with Essential Oils

A very gentle way to wash your hair with no sulfates or chemicals!

The Not-So Magical Side of Dr. Bronner’s

We tried it as a dishwashing soap to hand wash dishes in the sink but didn’t like it at all (the liquid version). It doesn’t create any suds and I had a hard time getting grease and food off of the dishes. Now, it would work if left to soak for several hours or overnight. Green cleaners like this one just take longer to work, but I don’t always have that kind of patience! I have seen recipes where it was used successfully grated and melted on the stove.

How to Purchase High Quality Essential Oils through My Merry Messy Life

About Sara McFall

Sara is the owner and founder of My Merry Messy Life, which started in 2011 as a way to chronicle her journey to a natural, chemical-free lifestyle and to share her passions of mothering, real food, homeschooling and crochet. She is a mama to three precious and energetic little boys and wife to a university professor who loves to sing, dance ballet and ballroom, and live simply and naturally.


  1. Had been actually shopping for just a traditional shower enclosures when i found this page, did not even know there
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  2. I have been reading about people getting Dr. Bronner’s soap and finding it seems diluted or at least thinner for some reason. One person even compared his bottled from Amazon with one from Whole Foods and said they both were much thinner than in the past. Do you know if the company has changed the recipe for their liquid soap and, if so, how? Has anyone else on here had this experience? Thanks do much for your blog.

    • I used Dr. B’s extensively in the 1980s and recently returned to using it. I recall it being MUCH, MUCH stronger. It seems very diluted to me. For example, in the 1980s, you wouldnt want to use the undiluted soap – even a drop of it – for mouthwash or toothpaste. It would burn too much, And I recall the label giving very explicit instructions about how to dilute the concentrated soap. Now its just like any other soap. Nice, but mild.

  3. Just found out I have a strong sensitivity to sulfates (found in lots of foods and shampoo) so looking for alternatives and stumbled upon Dr. Bronner’s. Loving it so far but who knew you could use it so many different ways! Great post!!!

    • Dr. Bronner’s makes it easy to switch off of sulfate-laden soaps! I still buy it by the gallon and use about 2 gallons a year for body wash, shampoo, hand soap, laundry detergent and cleaning supplies. Makes life much cheaper and easier!

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  5. I use the Dr Bronner’s Citrus Orange liquid castile soap to make my own foaming hand soap. I use 1oz of soap for every cup of water. I use distilled water and I add a few drops of Thieves essential oil to it to give it a germ-fighting kick. I’ve also used a few drops of Tea tree essential oil in the past. The soap has a very rich lather that smells heavenly. I’m still learning new uses for the soap as well. I’m a total lifetime customer of this product. Oh the many uses.

  6. I totally Dr. Bronner’s Tea Tree Soap! My daughter has a skin condition that causes painful sores, my mom is diabetic and has skin sores, not to mention shingles- bought a bottle for both and they LOVE it! Helps so much! As suggested they both use it diluted by 1/2 like I do. How I found out about it? It’s great for dog soap (diluted of course too) keeps those flying /crawling vermin at bay. I got poison ivy just a few weeks ago on my feet, put it on straight over night, dry it right up. Still was itchy over night but next day almost gone. Smell is not my fav but wow it works great!

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  8. I have been using Dr. Bronner’s for over 20 years, back when I could only get it in outdoor retailers. It use to have a lot more writings from Dr. Bronner. They were pretty good and there was even a recipe for contraceptive using dr. bronner’s another of the thousands of uses. I still remember it if anyone wants to try it.

    I have just started to make my own castile soap and I just used it in your laundry detergent recipe. It is a lot of fun for my to make this stuff at home, the liquid soap making takes a lot of time but, you can add what oils you want for different properties. Like I used avocado as my base with a little olive oil and castor oil, I also added jojoba and lanolin for their great skin and hair properties. When my wife used it she said it was just like dr. bronner’s so I guess my first attempt wasn’t bad. I am excited to try different recipes for liquid soap so if any of you are making your own let me know.

  9. You can wash dishes with it , even the greasiest but you have to use it undiluted when it really greasy!

  10. Just a tip. I noticed that a lot of people are experiencing the “wax build up” when using Dr.Bronner’s as a schampoo. I had that myself – for about a month or two. I found it absolutely necessary to use quite alot of the soap (undiluted) and make a massive lather helmet for a few weeks before i could get rid of that waxy bit at the ends (well from the neck down) my hair goes down to my hips and THICH, the hairs are thick like a horses mane and in a ponytail (no pun intended hah) it measures the same as a chunky baby arm – so it got tangled! And a few crows mooved in for a while i think. But i got rid of it! Just stick too it, take a loooot of the soap in the beginning, latger it alololt! And rinse it straight away before it yeah. Because it’s not waxy and gluey in the scalp area it can’t be the water (some blame hard water) i just think it’s all the s*** – excuse my hidden letters – that has been applied through the years, products, silicones, chemicals, colors etc! They are being forced out to the surface or something i can imagine? Now my hair tangles but isn’t waxy. I rinse with vinegar water – a great tip is to pour it into a breakfast bowl, gather your hair in a tail and dunk it/push it down. After a few times you learn the right amount so when you pull your head up the bowl is practically empty and you save money on less vinegar usage. I add raw/organic argan oil or just take a little amount in my palms and finger comb through the ends. My hair loves me and i love my hair! The volume is amazing with Dr.Bronner’s – my hair is usually dull, flat, oily, HEAVY – but now it has volume, shines, is bouncy and “airy” and i don’t have to wash it as often! (I don’t use vinegar on the scalp and the soap gives it a little texture i think?)

    Just found your place and wanted to share my hair story and thank you for a lovely read! 🙂
    I will continue to visit and enjoy it very much!
    /New reader from Sweden

    • To clarify, lather ALOT at first.
      My hair is still like straw when using Dr.Bronner’s alone (i blame al the years of chemical treatments – dyed my hair since 13 and im 29 – products and blow drying – and i do NOT blame Dr.Bronners) Besides, WHO knows what our hair is SUPPOSED to feel and act like NATURALLY in the age of store bought schampoo?? Maybe im rocking it true vikingstyle for all i know?? 😉
      But i will continue to add shine and easier combing with the vinegar rinse and a dab of oil now and then..

      • Hi Vicky,
        Thanks for the tip. Just wondering, for the vinegar water rinse you use on your hair, what dilution of vinegar to water do you use? Thinking of doing it myself and just want to make sure I don’t over vinegar my hair or anything! 😛

  11. Thanks for the background on Dr. Bronner. I had read the label when I got my first bottle and thought I would look for another brand the next time. Then I went on the website and read a little of his family’s mandate and decided to stick with the brand. Now with the information that he survived the holocaust (I am sure many family and friends probably didn’t) it all makes much more sense. I agree with your statement.
    For a vinegar rinse (on coloured hair) I use 2 Tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar in a 1 cup measuring cup. Fill up to the 1 cup line with warm water and pour slowly over your hair and rinse with clear water. It gets rid of the buildup of the natural shampoo bar that I use from a local company. It’s a shampoo,conditioner body bar which works great but using the Apple Cider Vinegar mixture once a week keeps my hair soft and shiny.

  12. Hello,
    I’m a semi-recent huge proponent of Dr. Bronner’s. My first experiment (besides using as toothpaste over a year ago) was using it for dishes. First, I used the liquid castile soap. “Horrible.” But switched to Sal Suds and will NEVER go back. It’s the best best thing against grease ever. Use 1 tablespoon with about 20oz of water in a heavy duty spray bottle — up to 1 cup if you want more suds. NOTHING, I mean NOTHING is better. Worth trying I think. Let me know what you experience if you end up trying it. Cheers!

  13. Thanks for information 🙂

  14. V ictoria Emerald says:

    Try the Eucalyptus for shampoo, I like it the best.

  15. I was sooooo happy to have my very first try of dr bronners castile soap in lavender scent but i got dissapointed d moment it made my hair super dry that i felt like i didnt shampoo my hair for months..:(..theres a positive side tho- made my hair thicker..:)..any suggestions what to pair w d soap to make my hair softer perhaps?:(

  16. We love Mr.B’s soap. I have stopped using it to wash dishes and clean my tub because I found it was clogging the pipes. I didn’t find it cut through the grease on some of my dishes that well and I was having to empty the sick in between. I was wondering if anyone else had this problem. Is it the type of Mr.B’s I am using?

  17. Really enjoying your website. Do you know if the Dr.B’s would clog a septic tank?

  18. greats.. thanks

  19. were is the cheapest place to buy DR Booner’s baby soap by the gallon?

  20. What I cant find anywhere….. is this Castille Soap – DR Bronners is what I have 100% natural???
    I hvae used nothing but natural ingrediants on my hair for 8 months now, not really doing anything for me and DR-B is the only thing that makes me feel as though i shampooed, although a little dry.

    • I’m sorry, I don’t really understand the question. You’re wondering where to find it? I link to it from the blog – I get it on Amazon.

  21. I was excited to purchase and try out Dr Bonner Castile soap, as I was looking to try out going all natural with my skin care products due to my acne prone skin. Following MAma Rosa’ s YouTube video on how to make an all natural face wash, I went ahead and mixed it with abit of jojoba oil, glycerine and lavender oil essential oil. This product makes my skin so dry. Starting to thing this product is not meant for me

    • For my face, castile soap is also very drying, Eve, so I do the Oil Cleansing Method. I highly, highly suggest it! I do it and so do many of my friends and family and our skin has never been healthier. For my body, castile soap has been great, no issues with dryness. Even in the middle of winter, I don’t have to put on lotion after showering. If you find it’s too dry for you, perhaps adding more water to your solution would help.

  22. Sharon S. says:

    Did it miss the information on eczema? Is it safe for those with eczema? Enjoyed the post!

    • Yes, I highly recommend it for that. I used Castile soap in all my soap dispensers for my hands at home and when I go to other peoples’ houses, my hands get SO dried out and sometimes break out.

  23. TheFarmGirl says:

    Love Dr. Bronner’s!
    I also use the peppermint as a ‘pesticide’ spray in the garden… its got the two ingredients that help: soap and peppermint oil!

  24. I tried the lavender bar soap last night for the first time and my skin felt very waxy/sticky afterwards. Like I couldnt run my hands over it with ease. What is causing that? I’ve used dove for years but am slowly switching to natural products but this feels weird!

    • Hmm, I’m not sure. It reacts differently when the water is really hard (has lots of minerals in it). Could that be the case for you, Natasha?

    • Natasha, natural products do not strip the oils out of our hair and skin so whenever you first switch to products that are sulfate-free you will have a transition period to where your hair and skin will feel that waxiness. It’s your body trying to figure out how much oil it needs to produce to stay moisturized, it should have only lasted for a few weeks.

    • You may have used too much. You really only need to lather your cloth a tad. I believe it says to rub the bar on the bath cloth 2-3 times. That’s enough to clean your entire body

  25. Thank you for your article. I used a foaming bottle and it works better for dishes, When I fill a sink full of water, then add the soap, this does not work. But if I mix 5:1 water to soap in the foamer bottle, just one or two squirts on the dish I’m cleaning works like a charm. Hope this helps.

  26. Hello,

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned this yet, but I have a tip for using Dr. Bronner’s as a dish washing agent. After wetting your sponge ring it out as much as possible. Then rinse your dish to get any big grim off but make sure that there isn’t any water pooled on it either. Essentially you want your dish/dishes and sponge to just be “damp” or close to dry. Then you only need a couple drops of castile soap on the sponge and it should lather beautifully. Then off course you can rinse accordingly, but still make sure to keep the sponge away from the running water and it should last you for quite a while. At least that has been my experience.

    And as far as using it as a shampoo, I have not had success doing that, but it does say on their website that you have to use an acid rinse after (like others have mentioned) and they sell a citrus rinse on their website I believe if someone didn’t have luck making their own.

    Just to clarify, so castile soap doesn’t strip the body of its natural oils?
    Thank you!

  27. I am a twenty year old college student who found out about castile soap through Pinterest! I researched the soap and found Dr. Bronner’s to be a good, dependable brand. I purchased a large bottle of the mild soap for babies from my local target and I’ve been using it as a hand soap, body wash, and face wash ever since! Here is how I feel about Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap after one month of use. At first, I was completely in love with it! I have ugly pores on my legs and I feel like this soap made them shrink (I noticed it after about 3 uses). As a face wash, I love it. It cleans my face very well and I feel like it is healthy. This soap for some reason dries out my usually normal skin type. To remedy this, I put lotion on my face before I go to sleep. As a hand soap, it is alright. Because it is concentrated, I have to mix it with water and since it is already runny, it has an extremely watery texture, but it does lather! It also dries out my hands so I have to apply lotion every little bit. Although it is winter so that might have an affect too. As a body wash, it is something to get used to. I feel like it leaves a film on my skin much like a bad bar of soap would, although I can’t tell a difference once I get out of the shower and dry off. I put lotion on my skin occasionally, but I am fine without it. Lately, I feel like I have been stinky. I have done nothing different except this soap. I am using the same deodorant as a year ago, but I feel like I am just smelly at the end of the day. I don’t know if it would make a difference if I had gotten a scented type of soap. As a body wash, I will probably discontinue use at least for a little while. Lastly, I tried this once as a shampoo and it was a very weird experience. It was like the soap soaked into my hair because when I tried to wash it out, it was all water. I may have needed to add more though! It felt like my hair had a film on it much the same as my body when I used it as body wash. After my shower, I tried to brush my usually not very tangly hair, and it was almost impossible. While blow drying it, I had to brush it several times and it had an abnormal texture until the next time I washed it. I was not a fan. In conclusion! Face and hand wash: YES! Body wash: At your discretion. Shampoo: Definitely not!

  28. I need to go and buy a bottle of this wonder called castile soap. 🙂 I heard great stuff about this type of soap and the fact that it can be used for different purposes makes it really nice. Thanks for the lovely post!

  29. If the company is speaking out about injustices in the world then why are they only fairtrade? Fairtrade just means that the farmers are getting a wage considered fair for the country and circumstances they are from. It’s not fair by American standards and it doesn’t mean that their employees are being treated fairly or paid fairly. . . .

  30. Hello, I’m 52 yrs old. This summer for some odd reason I felt like I wasn’t clean when I got done bathing. My hair looked greasy, body odor, with in hours. I started taking showers twice a day. My daughter told me about Doc Bronners because my grandson has a chemical allergies. I web searched and found a moisterizing face cleanser I mix myself. I use it as a bony wash too. And now I’m using the mixture on my hair, so far everything is great. Here is the recipe if anyone is interested.
    2/3 cup of Doc Bronners soap
    1/4 cup of unfiltered honey
    2Tablespoond olive oil
    2teaspoons vitumin E
    20 drops of essential oil (tea tree, peppermint, lavindor, or any one you wish)
    I put all in a glass bowl and mix until blended. Put it in a hand soap pump and keep it in my shower

  31. Pamela Caldwell says:

    i’m a big fan of Bronner’s Sal Suds. I use it for laundry (in the machine) and for hand laundry–just a drop in the basing. The thing is, it cleans so well, but it also rinses very easily.

  32. Hi Sara,
    We have a question about ingredients in bar soaps. While using a bar of peppermint in our shower, we noticed the peppermint scent is gone and it now has a noticeable tobacco smell. Is this an artifact or is this an ingredient?

    Thanks and kind regards

    PS We’ve used the liquid Dr. B soap for years and like it v. much. My husband uses it to shave.

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