What's the Deal with Castile Soap?
Breaking news: Not all soap is created equal. And that's why pure castile soap—made from plant-based oils—has been lauded for years as being gentler and more versatile than any other soap out there. So what's the deal with castile? Ahead, everything you need to know about this multi-tasking sudser, exactly how to use castile soap, and the best castile soap brands to try. (Bonus: Foaming Soap, Face Wash and Beauty Products Our Editors Love RN)
What is castile soap, anyway?
Originally named after the olive-oil based soaps from Castile, Spain, castile soaps these days are made from olive and a variety of other oils, all of which are plant-, nut-, or vegetable-derived. (Coconut, hemp, almond, and walnut oil are all commonly used, and castile soap can come in either liquid or solid form.)
Along with these oils, castile soaps contain lye, which, when mixed with the oil, creates soap molecules. Mix that soap with water and it creates charged atoms that capture dirt and other grime. (Speaking of skincare, have you heard about the serum that more than a million Amazon users purchased?!)
How does it differ from other soap?
It all goes back to those oils. Traditional soap uses tallow (a.k.a. animal fat), making castile soap a vegan, cruelty-free alternative. (Besides reexamining bath products, here are 12 more things no one tells you about going vegan.) Other soaps and cleaning products may also contain harsh detergents; pure castile soap is totally natural, non-toxic, and biodegradable. And that's exactly why it can be used as both a beauty product and household cleaner, working to effectively clean everything from your face to your faucets. It's also super affordable, so replacing multiple different products with this one all-purpose solution can be a great way to not only save space, but some of your hard-earned, cash, too. (Related: How to Use Essential Oils to Fight Back Against Cellulite)
The Best Uses for Castile Soap
Truly, there's not much it can't do. Case in point: The OG Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap that you've likely seen on Instagram and the like touts 18 different uses. FYI: Pure castile soap is concentrated and needs to be diluted with water, but the exact ratio depends on what you're using it for.
When it comes to beauty and personal care purposes—using it as a face wash, body wash, shampoo, shaving cream—the water that gets naturally mixed in during the process will be enough to dilute it. (Oh, and since it's non-toxic, your whole family can use it...it even works as a great dog shampoo.)
For household use, check out all these different things it can do, along with some general dilution guidelines; find these and more here.
- For a multi-surface cleaner, mix 1/4 cup soap with one quart water.
- For a dish detergent, use one part castile soap to 10 parts water.
- For a floor cleaner, mix 1/2 cup soap with three gallons water.
- For a fruit and veggie wash, add one dash of soap to a bowl of water.
- For a laundry detergent, add 1/3 to 1/2 cup soap per load, and add 1/2 cup vinegar to the rinse cycle (more on why in a minute).
- For an insect-repellent for plants, mix one tablespoon soap with one quart water.
Is there anything I shouldn't use castile soap for?
Again, as long as you're diluting it properly, not really. A few caveats: It's not a great option for color-treated hair, as it can strip out the dye molecules. Also, you don't want to combine acids (vinegar, lemon juice) with castile soap. Castile soap is alkaline, so the two will essentially counteract one another and can result in a leftover film or residue on whatever you're trying to clean. Still, castile soap can sometimes leave salt deposits behind, so those acids can come in handy afterward.
For example, try using an apple cider vinegar rinse on your hair after shampooing with castile soap, or dip castile-washed dishes in a vinegar-water solution. (Related: The Best Natural Beauty Products You Can Buy at Whole Foods, All Less Than $20)
The Best Castile Soap Brands
Dr. Bronner's Pure Castile Soap in Peppermint (Buy It, $10, target.com)
Arguably the brand that put castile soap on the map in the U.S., Dr. Bronner's offers a total of seven scents, as well as an unscented baby version, plus solid bars, too. Also nice: It's made with fair-trade and organic ingredients, and housed in recyclable bottle.
Follain Refillable Everything Soap (Buy It, $24; follain.com)
Made with coconut, olive, and jojoba oils, take your pick from a lavender or lemongrass scent. Purchase the chic bottle once and the refills separately thereafter, minimizing your impact on the environment.
Real Castile Bar Soap (Buy It, $10; amazon.com)
Solid soap fans will appreciate this bar, ideal for stashing in the shower. Like the original castile soaps, it uses only extra-virgin olive oil.
Grove Collaborative All Purpose Castile Soap (Buy It, $7; grove.co)
This uses natural essential oils to create the three scents—mint, citrus, and lavender—and touts a 100 percent organic formula.
Cove Castile Soap Unscented (Buy It, $17; amazon.com)
Purists will appreciate this simple and scent-free option. Bulk shoppers will appreciate that it's also available in an extra-large, gallon-size pump bottle.
Quinn's Pure Castile Organic Liquid Soap (Buy It, $13; amazon.com)
With vintage-inspired packaging, this will look especially pretty perched on your bathroom counter or in the shower.