The Benefits of Castile Soap That Make It Worth Adding to Your Cleaning Routine

Photo: Getty Images/Delmaine Donson
There's a wide world of soap out there. You've got the bar variety, liquid body wash, sanitizers, and Castile soap, which has been around for-e-ver. Castile soap benefits go way beyond just cleansing your skin—it's basically the baking soda of your cleaning arsenal (meaning: you can use it for e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g).

If you're wondering what "Castile" means, I feel you. "Castile is a region of Spain where the soap originated," says Gary Taneja, CEO of Dr. Natural, a brand that specializes in Castile soap. What differentiates Castile from others? Its ingredient base. Taneja notes that it's made from vegetable matter, traditionally olive oil, and it's always produced without animal fats or synthetic ingredients. "It's very versatile, and today it can be made with coconut oil, hemp seed oil, as well as almond oil," he says. "Castile soap is considered safe for most skin types, since it's made from simple plant oils. Most sensitive skin types can use it."

Other than using specific ingredients, Castile soap is a lot like your typical soap. "It can be found in liquid or solid form, and the difference of which you use all comes down to personal preference," says Taneja, noting that the liquid variety uses potassium hydroxide to saponify oils, while bar forms use sodium hydroxide (which simply produces a "harder soap" than potassium hydroxide, he explains). Beyond the body, it can function as everything from a house cleanser to the perfect ingredient to get rid of makeup brush gunk. Here's what to know.

The Castile soap benefits you should know about

1. Window cleaner

Those streaky, dirty windows and glass surfaces don't stand a chance against Castile soap, your new cleaning BFF. "Whether it's fingerprints or puppy nose touches, Castile soap can take care of that glass surface grime," says Taneja. Use one tablespoon of the soap in one quart of water to clean the mess, then rinse with soda water. His tip? Dry windows and glass with newspaper.

2. Dish soap

Break up with your dish soap, because Taneja points out that Castile soap is a simple alternative. "It's a great cleaner and will leave your dishes sparkly," he says. Though there are variations on the recipe, he says an easy option is adding one part Castile soap to ten parts of water for a liquid dish soap that'll get the job done.

3. Dishwasher soap

The plate-cleansing perks don't end in the sink—Castile soap works in the dishwasher, too. "You can use your Castile soap formula by mixing equal parts of it and water in a bottle, then filling your detergent compartment as normal," says Taneja.

4. Shaving

There's no need to buy an actual shaving cream, as Castile soap can fill in as one. "Using Castile soap works as a simple, quick, practical, even scentless shaving cream," says Taneja. Just lather up a bit of the soap in your hands, then apply to wherever you want to shave for a smooth, moisturized surface.

5. Foot bath

Skip the pedicure—soak your feet in a Castile soap mixture instead. "Simply add two teaspoons of liquid Castile soap to a small bucket of hot water, then sit back and unwind as you soak your feet for up to 20 minutes," he says. You'll melt away all of that gunk.

6. Makeup brush cleaner

Cleaning my makeup brushes has never been a strength of mine—I've yet to find something that thoroughly cleans the ghosts of makeup past. But Taneja says that a simple cup of warm water plus a few drops of Castile soap will do the trick. "First rinse your brushes in water, then place them in the cup for about ten minutes," he says. "Rinse the brushes again and allow them to air dry." Voila.

7. Scouring scrub

The multi-purpose soap has some flex to it, too, as Taneja notes it can function as a stronger cleanser for stubborn gunk. "This DIY trick is a must-have in your arsenal of cleaning supplies," he says. "Mix one cup of Castile soap and three cups of water into a spray bottle. Shake some baking soda in and then spray the cleaning solution on the area that needs to be cleaned, using a sponge or brush to scrub away any dirt or grime." He says this works on everything from soap scum rings to mold.

8. Laundry detergent

If you've ever dealt with irritation from a harsh laundry detergent, well, same. But Castile soap can replace that for a more natural way to clean your clothes. "Add a half a cup of Castile soap to a load of laundry," says Taneja, who says you can even use less soap if you're working with a high-efficiency washing machine.

9. All-purpose household cleaner

A summation of so many of the Castile soap uses above? It's a great, multi-purpose cleanser, in general. "Just add one to two cups of Castile soap into a quart of water as a cleaning spray," says Taneja. Sounds like I'm about to seriously Marie Kondo my cleaning supplies.

10. Fruit and vegetable rinse

Yep, Castile soap can clean your food, too. "Castile soap is an excellent way to clean pesticides or residue from fresh fruits and vegetables," says Taneja. Add one-fourth of a teaspoon of soap into a bowl of water. Soak, then gently rub your produce using your hands. Then rinse with plain water.

11. Pet wash

Good news, pet owners—you can ditch your furry friend's pet shampoo for Castile soap. "It can even be used to wash your pets, though the exact amount of soap you use will vary depending on the amount of hair and the size of your animal," says Taneja. Begin by using a small amount of soap mixed with water to wash your pet, then rinse. Be sure to use an unscented soap, as some "essential oils can be toxic to animals," he notes.

12: Plant spray

Castile works for your plant children as well. "Keep bugs off of your plants by mixing one tablespoon of Castile soap in a quart of water to make a spray," says Taneja. "Always test it on a small part of the plant before using it all over." Just to be safe.

13. Mopping

Besides beautifying the surfaces in your house, Taneja says the stuff can make your floors "sparkle." Just add a half of a cup of Castile to three gallons of hot water and mop as usual.

14. Toilet cleaner

Did I mention Castile soap can clean practically everything that exists in your home? Toilets fall into the mix, too, says Taneja. He recommends mixing one cup of soap to four cups of water and put it into a spray bottle to clean your toilet with.

15. Face wash

Experts suggest using Castile soap as a face wash when you're looking for something to really remove gunk from your skin. One famous brand called Dr. Bronners is particularly helpful.

16. Body wash

Same for your body, Castile soap for some skin types can help to rid the skin of oil and dirt.

Shop for Castile soap

Seven Minerals Pure Castile Soap — $16.00

Opt for this EWG-verified pure castile soap, which it says can function as hand soap, body soap, shampoo, dish soap, and house cleaner.

Dr. Bronner Hemp Peppermint Pure Castile Soap — $26.00

This Dr. Bronners Castille Soap, scented with peppermint essential oils is so good and effective, it’s going to go fast, so it’s a good thing it comes in a two pack.

Cove Castile Soap — $18.00

This unscented Castile soap is spiked with argan, jojoba, and hemp oils, making it a hydrating option to lather up with.

What to avoid when using Castile soap

1. You can curdle it when mixing it with acid

Welp, apparently you can curdle your Castile soap, team. Don't mix it with an acid like lemon juice or vinegar because it will neutralize and get clumpy and not work anymore, according to this Reddit reviewer.

2. It can have a very high pH if you're making it at home

When you're working with an existing Castile soap, you shouldn't have to worry about the pH, because the manufacturer should have tested it to make sure it was safe to use; however, one Redditor mentioned that the pH of their soap was very high or basic. When creating your own soap, make sure that your soap doesn't have too high a pH or it could irritate skin.

3. It can result in soap scum with hard water

If you have hard water, and you utilize Castile soap, you can wind up with soap scum. The reason, says on Reddit commenter, is that true soap—one that utilizes a fatty base like olive oil saponified with lye—tends to react with the mineral in the water, leaving a residue on skin and surfaces. In place, opt for a soap-free cleanser.

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