Commercial soap, cleansing or beauty bars can be full of harsh chemicals that pull the moisture from your skin, leaving behind an often toxic residue.The same goes for cleansing products you use in your home. Although they may smell great, there are hidden dangers for sure.
One of the biggest problems with regards to personal care and cleaning products is that consumers do not receive all of the information they need to make an educated decision. Because of labeling laws, it is increasingly easy for manufacturers to sneak in ingredients without providing full disclosure on the labels.
Because I treat everything that goes on my skin, and even products I use around the home, the same way I treat the foods I eat, I want to know exactly what the products contain. I don’t buy fancy cleaners or soaps because they have a pretty wrapper or an alluring scent. This can be dangerous when it comes to the health and safety of my family and generally defeats my intent to walk softly on the Earth.
And, to be honest, most of the time, I make my own products at home so that I am completely sure of what they contain. Contrary to what you might think, homemade personal care solutions and household cleansers are equally, if not more, effective than store-bought products.
There is one product that I buy consistently to use as the base of these mixtures. Like coconut oil, I purchase Castile soap in large quantities, mostly because it has so many uses around the home. It is the main ingredient in many of my homemade concoctions — and is totally safe and non-toxic.
What is Castile soap?
It is thought that Castile soap was first made in a region of Spain once called Castile. True Castile soap, also called olive oil soap, is made from 100% pure olive oil, water, and lye. It is a vegan product and does not include any animal fat like other soaps. In addition, Castile soap is non-toxic and free from harsh preservatives, fragrances, or dyes.
If you are like me, you are sick of purchasing laundry detergent that only does a so-so job and can often irritate skin. I have a couple of household members with super sensitive skin. Because of this, I started making my own Castile-soap-based detergent. Not only does it get my clothes super clean, it is very easy on the skin and totally biodegradable, so it is also great for the Earth.
Here is my recipe:
- 1 cup liquid Castile soap
- 1 cup baking soda
- 2 cups water
- 1/3 cup salt
- 16 drops of lavender essential oil
To make, dissolve the baking soda along with the salt in two cups of warm water. Pour this into a gallon container and add the Castile soap. Fill the container to the top with water and add in the essential oil. I use about 1/4 cup of detergent for each load, and this recipe yields about 64 loads and costs a fraction of what you buy in the store. Just give the container a little shake before using each time.
I stopped using commercial soap about eight years ago when I discovered how easy it was to make my own. As an added bonus, if you need a great gift, this soap is perfect.
Here is my favorite soap recipe made with Castile soap. Not only does it smell great, but it also leaves your skin feeling soft and refreshed:
- 2 cups of grated Castile soap
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1/4 cup of rubbed sage
- Place the grated soap in a glass bowl. Add the water.
- Heat a pot halfway full of water over medium heat. When simmering, place the glass bowl inside the pot.
- When the soap is melted, add the rubbed sage and stir just to combine.
- Pour the mix into soap molds or a wax paper-lined baking pan and place in the fridge overnight.
- After removing the molds from the fridge, remove soap and place on a rack to dry for 3 weeks before using.
Want to get those pearly whites shining? Switch out your commercial toothpaste for a few drops of Castile soap. Seriously, it will get your teeth clean and leaves behind no residue of any kind. Not ready to ditch your commercial toothpaste yet, just read this article we wrote earlier and you probably will be.
Wooden Floor Cleaner
I love wood floors and find that the easiest, most effective, and by far the most economical way to clean wood floors is by simply mixing two tablespoons of Castile soap with a bucket of warm water. Sometimes I add a few drops of lemon essential oil for a fresh clean smell.
I hate streaks and really hate cleaning windows over and over again. Much to my surprise, I found that I can use the versatile Castile soap to make homemade window cleaner that does a fantastic job. I simply mix two teaspoons of soap and two cups of distilled warm water together with half a cup of white vinegar and six drops of tea tree essential oil and pour the mixture into a spray bottle. I shake and spray, using newspaper to wipe off for sparkly, streak-free windows every time.
There is nothing I hate more than shaving burns. To avoid burns and leave my legs soft and silky after each shave, I use one of my favorite homemade mixtures:
- 1/2 cup almond oil
- 1/4 cup raw honey
- 1/4 liquid castile soap
- 10 drops essential oil (your choice)
- Combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until well mixed.
- Pour into a squeeze bottle.
- You only need just a little of this — it goes a long way and the good news is that it won’t expire.
When I used to use commercial products (a very, very long time ago) to clean my bathroom, I always noticed that I felt unwell after cleaning day. I switched to a very easy soft scrub bathroom cleaner and now even enjoy cleaning day!
- 1 cup baking soda
- enough Castile soap to make a paste
- 6 drops tea tree essential oil
Mix the ingredients together and use for any surface including tubs and sinks.
I have five dogs that love to play in the dirt. I don’t like to wash them too often because it tends to dry out their skin. Castile soap makes an excellent and very gentle dog wash. I simply wet my pooches down and use a small amount of Castile soap for the wash. After a warm water rinse, they are squeaky clean with no chemical residue left behind.
Tis the season for flying things, at least here where I live in New Mexico. We don’t have mosquitos, thank goodness, but plenty of pesky flies. To keep all sorts of flying insects at bay, you can mix 1/3 cup liquid Castile soap and add 30 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. If you have a serious problem with mosquitoes or are planning on spending time in the woods, add in 10 drops of peppermint essential oil. Apply as you would a lotion to the skin and repeat after showering or swimming.
I could go broke buying dishwasher detergent, but with my homemade Castile soap recipe I know I am saving tons, and using this chemical-free biodegradable product makes me feel good. I simply mix eight ounces of Castile soap with one cup of water and two teaspoons of lemon juice and use a tablespoon at a time in my dishwasher (open compartment). I also add one cup of white vinegar for a rinse aid (closed compartment).
Quick Cleaning Wipes
I love to take some of these quick cleaning wipes with me when I go hiking or camping. They are so easy to make and super effective at cleaning up just about anything. I cut paper towels in half or squares, or whatever works for you, and place them in a plastic container. I make a solution consisting of two cups of water, one tablespoon Castile soap and 10 drops of tea tree essential oil, and pour it over the paper towels. Once everything seems saturated I put on the lid and use as needed.
As you can see, Castile soap is a great alternative to both toxic personal care products as well as household cleansers. There are a number of different brands you can choose from. Just be sure that the soap you choose is vegan and does not contain any additives or fragrances.
How do you use Castile soap?
– Susan Patterson
Susan is the Content Director at The Alternative Daily, a Certified Health Coach, Certified Metabolic Typing Advisor and Master Gardener. With an extensive knowledge of whole foods and wellness, Susan enjoys educating others on how to live healthy and sustainable lives. She presently lives off grid in the middle of the New Mexican high desert with her three children and numerous animals.