The laundry and bathroom are some of the most toxic rooms in a typical house - full of dangerously toxic products that are bad for you, your family and the planet. It doesn't have to be that way and it's easy to change.
There’s a type of natural soap, that can replace a huge selection of these toxic products and in the process also save on packaging, shelf-space and money - a simple and effective solution.
Non-toxic castile soap can be used instead of the 15 cleaners listed below (and many others).
- shaving cream
- hand wash
- face cleanser
- body wash
- baby wash
- bubble bath
- dishwashing detergent
- laundry detergent
- surface spray
- oven cleaner
- floor cleaner
- toilet cleaner
- dog wash
- car wash
What is Castile Soap?
Castile soap is such a multi-functional, versatile, natural, toxin-free, vegan soap. It is great for a nice lather. It’s is easy and safe to use, is kid-friendly eco-friendly, organic, GMO-free and fair-trade. Also, a little goes a long way. In my permaculture household, this soap is so useful and it is also safe in my reedbed system for the grey water. Castile soap is a type of soap not a brand. A quick google search will show you many different brands, and also ways you can make it yourself.
Castile Soap History
Castile soap originated in the Castile region of Spain in the 12th century. It is a vegetable based soap, based on the original Aleppo soap from Syria created, it is thought, around 3000 years ago. There are claims that even Queen Cleopatra used this type of soap.
How is Castile Soap different?
Most things we call liquid soaps today don’t actually don’t contain any soap. They are actually detergents based on petrochemical-based products
Castile soap is made from plant oils, rather than tallow (animal fat) or detergents (petrochemicals). We can usually find it in bar, flake or liquid form. The liquid form is most popular because it is so very versatile. Olive oil is the traditional base oil, but it can be made with coconut, hemp, avocado, almond, wallet and other vegetable oils.
Real castile soap is free from toxins. Putting toxins on the skin, our largest organ, is probably as bad as eating them, or worse because they are directly absorbed into the bloodstream without being filtered through the digestive system.
Castile soap lathers really well without the health risks of the typical foaming agent, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) that is found in around 90% of personal care products. There are abundant studies relating to the toxicity of SLS.
Also, castile soap actually requires far less water than traditional soap for a good lather and it will foam up in hard or soft water.
Castile Soap for Personal Use
Mix one part castle soap with 3 parts water, and optionally a table spoon of jojoba oil. I quite like just using a bar of peppermint scented castile bar soap for my shampoo, as well as body soap.
2. Shaving cream
I just use a little bit of undiluted liquid castile soap and lather it up on my legs and underarms - makes a smooth shave and is not drying. Good for guys too.
3. Foaming hand wash
In a foaming soap dispenser, I add 1 part castile soap to 10 parts water. A fabulous replacement for the toxic anti-bacterial liquid hand soaps*.
4. Facial cleanser
Put a tiny bit of liquid castile soap in the palm of your hand, mix it with water and use it to wash your face. I love it, my face always feels so clean. Rather than making a blend with oils etc, I simply follow up this wash with a small amount of jojoba oil gently massaged into my face and neck.
5. Body wash
I use it straight - just a little squirt on a bath sponge. You can dilute it too - a good ratio for mixing a lovely lathering body wash is 2 parts soap to 1 part water. Others like to blend it with raw honey and an oil like jojoba for a more skin-nourishing wash. You can add in essential oils, or just leave it unscented.
6. Baby wash
Because it is chemical free and made of natural ingredients, castile soap without the essential oils are particularly suited for babies and those with sensitive skin. Still a good idea to keep it free from baby’s eyes. (‘Tear-free’ formulas use a synthetic numbing agent - another additive!)
7. Bubble bath
A squirt in the bath adds great fun for our little one, lots of bubbles to play with. They don’t quite last as longs as the ‘traditional’ bubble bath, but these detergent-based bubbles are certainly worth avoiding, especially for young skin.
Household Cleaning - safe for the kids to help you with!
8. Dishwashing liquid
There are a few ways you can make dishwashing liquid. Just a squirt in the wash water will do, and in the rinse water at a splash of vinegar. (if you mix the two it doesn't work).
9. Laundry detergent
To make a safe, chemical free liquid laundry detergent, mix 1 part soap to 3 parts water. You can add your favourite oil - I often use either eucalyptus, tea tree or lavender. (NB: Clothes drier vents emit VOCs (volatile organic compounds) if scented laundry detergents are used - some of which are classified as hazardous air pollutants).
10: Surface cleaning spray
Add about 2 tablespoons of castile soap to 500mls of water in a spray bottle. Add essential oils if you like. For cleaners, I like eucaluptus, tea tree, peppermint or a citrus oil.
11. Toilet bowl cleaner
Mix soap and water 1:3 and spray on the bowl, then sprinkle with bicarb (baking soda) and scrub with a toilet brush.
12. Oven cleaner: Mix 1 part soap: 3 parts water in a spray bottle. Spay on stove top or in oven and sprinkle with bicarb. Rub it in with a sponge to remove grime. If really dirty, let the soap and bicarb sit just a bit before wiping off with a sponge.
13: Floor cleaner
To give a hardwood or tiled floors a good mop, add half a teaspoon of castile soap to a bucket of warm water. The soap will lift the dirt off without leaving a residue.
14. Car cleaner
Mix 2 tablespoons of castile soap into bucket of hot water as an effective car wash.
15. Pet shampoo - Castile soap is good for pets too, and safer for them. It won’t irritate their skin or build up on their coats. Keep to the unscented versions, as essential oils can be toxic to cats.
Important: Avoid mixing castile soap and vinegar
The vinegar ‘unsaponifies’ the soap – reducing it back to its original oils. You’ll be left with an oily, filmy substance on top of whatever you were trying to clean! This is because vinegar (or other acids like lemon juice), is an acid and the castile soap is a base they cancel each other out.
Vinegar is fine however as a rinse agent, to use after the soap has been washed off and to help remove all traces of dirt and build-up and add shine.
Point 3: *About these anti-bacterial soaps, the FDA (Food and Drug Administration in the United States) said, "There is currently no evidence that they are any more effective at preventing illness than washing with plain soap and water. Further, some data suggest that long-term exposure to certain active ingredients used in antibacterial products—for example, triclosan (liquid soaps) and triclocarban (bar soaps)—could pose health risks, such as bacterial resistance or hormonal effects."