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Learning to Love Castile Soap

April 5th, 2012

So what is castile soap anyways? Basically, it’s an olive oil based soap. It’s called Castile because it was named after the Castile region in Spain. Really, it’s as simple as that. I’ve read a lot of recipes on-line and it seems easy to make yourself. Perhaps I’ll try to make a batch here soon, I just need to read up on lye and what’s the best brand to use. You’ll be the first to hear if/when I tackle this. Seems the ingredients aren’t that expensive so I could probably save myself some cash by making my own. Then I would also know exactly what kind of oil was used in it (since I buy my olive oil from a small farm in California).

You might wonder why I buy my Castile from Mt Rose Herbs as opposed to other brands? I like it because they us all organic ingredients. I purchase almost all of my organic herbs and spices from them along with a lot of teas. My friend Miranda from Go Nude Soap loves them as well and purchases a lot of her supplies from them as well. She makes all natural soaps & lotions.

When you start using natural soaps you will notice that they don’t seem to cut grease. That’s the first thing I noticed when I started washing my dishes with it. At first, I felt like all the dishes were still greasy and the soap just wasn’t getting them clean. I continued using it because I didn’t want to be using products with SLS* (which cuts grease like you wouldn’t believe). Then it dawned on me that it wasn’t that castile doesn’t dissolve grease, it’s that it doesn’t strip away everything. Meaning, it doesn’t strip the natural oils off your skin or the finish off your dishes.

I liken it to the natural non-stick finish that builds up on a cast iron pan with good seasoning. Using a soap that cuts grease and strips oils ends up stripping off the protective coating that covers most everything we use in our daily lives. Once you get used to that feeling when you’re washing you won’t want to use a soap that cuts grease. After using castile soap for a while I noticed that my dishes and pans were much easier to clean.

So give it a shot, try using castile soap for a month or two and then see if you can go back to a grease cutting soap. Chances are you’ll realize that that squeakiness we were taught to attribute with clean is actually detrimental, to your hands, your body and the objects in your home that you’re cleaning! Sometimes when we try something new we have to retrain our minds to what is “normal”.

What has been the hardest thing for you to get used to when it comes to switching to non-toxic cleaners, soaps, etc?

Stocking Your Non-Toxic Cleaning Kit
Learning to Love Castile Soap
Make Your Own: Foaming Soap
Make Your Own: Infused Vinegar
Make Your Own: Multi-Purpose Cleaner
Make Your Own: Color Safe Oxygen Bleach
Friday Favorite: Charlie’s Soap
Friday Favorite: Twist Sponges
and more to come…

*Note that as Sage pointed out yesterday Sal Suds from Dr Bronners does contain SLS. I keep a bottle around and use it sparingly only if I actually do need to dissolve grease from my hands/clothing. It’s then followed up with castile soap to remove any residual SLS.

18 Comments to “Learning to Love Castile Soap”
  1. Allison on April 5, 2012 at 8:51 am

    Interesting! I cleaned my windows last week with homemade window cleaner and today when the sun was shinning in, I noticed they all had streaks :/

    Reply to Allison's comment

    • Susy on April 5, 2012 at 8:56 am

      We’ll talk about what those streaks mean next week (hint: it has to do with all the things in your home).

      Reply to Susy's comment

      • Carrie on April 5, 2012 at 1:38 pm

        I use a mixture of water, vinegar, and cornstarch for my windows and mirrors. AMAZING. Just remember to shake before using ;)

        to Carrie's comment

      • Susy on April 5, 2012 at 3:04 pm

        I’ll have to give this a try.

        to Susy's comment

  2. tj on April 5, 2012 at 9:17 am

    …I dunno Susy if I could ever get used to dishes not being squeaky clean. You’re asking me to go against what has been ingrained into my psyche for 50 years…f-i-f-t-y years. *sigh*cringes*giggle* :o)

    …Do you & Mr. Chiots have or ever use a dishwasher? If so, what do you use in it to clean?

    …I love it that you always provide the links to the products or items that you use. You know what would be awesome? With this site redo that you and Mr. Chiots are talking about, maybe a page devoted to links to products, companies, farmers, etc. that you both use. Great idea, yes? ;o)

    …As always, great post! Altho’ this one caused me to shudder uncontrollably due to the thought of non squeaky clean dishes but still, all in all, great post. :o)

    …Enjoy your day you two!


    Reply to tj's comment

    • Susy on April 5, 2012 at 9:39 am

      It’s tough isn’t it, to get used to things not being squeaky. Just like it’s tough to relearn some of our eating habits!

      We do have a dishwasher and used to use when. When I did I used either the Ecover Dishwashing Powder or the Dishwashing Powder from Tropical Traditions.

      I quit using my dishwasher because I wasn’t comfortable with the ingredients in even the non-toxic detergents and I felt like they never fully rinsed off the dishes leaving a powdery residue. Since I wasn’t comfortable eating the my dishwashing soap, I switched to castile and hand washing instead. I have actually found that for me it doesn’t take any longer, dishes get washed as soon as they get used. I’ll talk more about my hand dish washing next week.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  3. Kelly on April 5, 2012 at 9:53 am

    If you want a more grease-cutting, natural soap, try one with orange essential oil. I make all our soaps and created a scrubby soap for when I’ve been gardening that includes orange essential oil and pumice stone. I’ve given some to family and heard back that it’s fantastic at cleaning tractor grease (FiL) also, and I don’t use anything else to clean my grimy, gardening hands.

    I think it’s great that you’re going to try making your own soap. Castile can be really hard, and if you’re going to make bar soap you may want to use a small amount of an oil that will speed up trace (Castor oil works great!). Good luck! Smart Soapmaking by Anne Watson was a huge help to me and I highly recommend it!

    Reply to Kelly's comment

  4. Estelle on April 5, 2012 at 11:54 am

    I love Ecover’s dishwashing soap, highly recommended!!! I find it for $3.50/box at Wegman’s. Excellent price! I have been reading your posts on natural cleaning with interest Suzy, I think I will try the recipe for all-purpose cleaner. I take an even more radical approach to cleaning… I just don’t clean my house much, I’d rather do other things. I vacuum 1x/week because of carpet (until we get rid of that). I used to feel vaguely guilty about it until I read how bachelors basically have less germ-ey homes than people who obsess with cleaning… And with all the theories behind allergies being caused by being too clean… I am not going to change anytime soon!!!!

    Reply to Estelle's comment

  5. Rocky Top Farm on April 5, 2012 at 12:44 pm

    I do have a dishwasher and find it very difficult to find a good all natural soap. Any suggestions? :)

    Reply to Rocky Top Farm's comment

  6. Rocky Top Farm on April 5, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Note to self, read previous comments before asking questions. :)

    Reply to Rocky Top Farm's comment

  7. Carrie on April 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    I have tried going Shampoo-Free a few times by just using baking soda and vinegar. I have REALLY thick and heavy hair, so I found I was needing to supplement with a regular shampoo every so often which then screwed everything up and I’d have to start over from the beginning. So I’ve started using Dr Bronner’s Lavender castille and their conditioner and it is working GREAT! It takes about a week for your hair to adjust, but once it does, you will never go back to regular shampoo! I also use honey to wash my face, but that was a SUPER easy transition.

    Reply to Carrie's comment

  8. Debra on April 5, 2012 at 3:23 pm

    I truly enjoy reading your articles. I would love to give Castile soap a try as an all purpose cleaner. I usually concentrate on natural products for my body. Thanks for the great tips.

    Reply to Debra's comment

    • Susy on April 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm

      It does take a little getting used to, but it’s so worth it simply for the easy of only having to keep one product around. You can even use it in the shower if you want, I use a bar of goat’s milk soap though for that.

      Reply to Susy's comment

  9. KimH on April 5, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    “Sometimes when we try something new we have to retrain our minds to what is “normal”. ”

    I agree.. There are many things I still do that are so 60’s & 70’s.. but they were what where the norm in those days.. I’ve never been a low fat proponent, I’ve never been into all the antibacterial products, and I’ve never been one to rush my food into the frig after cooking.. and I’ve never been sick from doing any of them. I think I’ll survive ok.. ;)

    I’ve always wanted to make my own soaps.. castille soaps to be specific.. although I’ve also heard that a mix is easier/faster.. Someday… :)

    I’ll have to check it out one of these days! Have a great eve!

    Reply to KimH's comment

  10. Debbie Jamieson on May 13, 2012 at 9:18 pm you use the castile soap full strength…or is it diluted at all? My husband is the dishwasher in our house and while we used to use Method dish washing liquid (no SLS) we are giving the castile a try…since I had a whole bunch. He’s getting used to it. :)

    Reply to Debbie Jamieson's comment

  11. chrystal frost on July 1, 2013 at 7:21 pm

    If you have a 2 section sink like I do, then use one side for wash water, one side for rinse water. Put vinegar in the rinse water and it will get rid of any soap residue as well as sanitize your dishes.

    Reply to chrystal frost's comment

  12. Jayna on January 25, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    God help me, I put aside a whole aftonreon to figure this out.

    Reply to Jayna's comment


This is a daily journal of my efforts to cultivate a more simple life, through local eating, gardening and so many other things. We used to live in a small suburban neighborhood Ohio but moved to 153 acres in Liberty, Maine in 2012.

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