Castile soap is non-toxic, biodegradable, and safe for the environment. It’s also an excellent way to clean your home.
What is Castile Soap?
Fat is the key ingredient in all soap. Most soaps use animal fats like tallow or lard, but Castile soap is unique because it is plant-based. Created in the Castile region of Spain — hence the name — this soap relied on the area’s abundance of olives. Traditional Castile soap is still made from olive oil, but some soap makers use other plant oils like castor, coconut, avocado, or almond oil.
Why is Castile Soap Good for Cleaning?
Castile soap’s high quality and purity make it gentle on the skin but effective on grime. It comes unscented or in scents like lemon and peppermint. You can find Castile soap in most grocery stores, health food stores, and online. (I buy a US-made brand from Amazon.)
11 Things You can Clean with Castile Soap
Since Castile soap is oil-based, it’s excellent at dissolving grease and stubborn dirt. For that same reason, avoid using it on very reflective surfaces like glass or chrome, or rinse well if you do.
1. Degreasing Kitchen Cabinets
Chemically, “like dissolves like.” So, the best way to degrease your kitchen cabinets is with grease or oil-based cleaners. That’s where Castile soap comes in. Fill a spray bottle with warm water and swirl in a few drops of Castile soap. Spritz your cabinets and wipe away the grease with a microfiber cloth. For stubborn grime, use an old toothbrush.
Use Castile soap to pre-treat greasy food stains. For an all-natural, dye-free laundry detergent, use unscented Castile soap in your washer. This is an excellent option for people with eczema, psoriasis, or allergies. Add 1/8 to 1/6 cup in HE machines or 1/4 to 1/3 cup for non-HE washers. If your machine allows it, pour it directly into the wash water. Using 1/3 to 1/2 cup of baking soda (bicarbonate) helps Castile soap clean even better in hard water areas.
3. Cleaning Wipes
Finding cleaning supplies is still tricky in some areas, so it’s great to know how to make your own wipes. To make reusable cleaning wipes with Castile soap, fill a large glass jar halfway with squares of undyed rags. In a separate container, combine 1 cup each water and rubbing (isopropyl) alcohol and 1 teaspoon of Castile soap. Add a few drops of essential oils if you like, then pour this mixture over the rags. To use, grab a square, wring it out, and wipe. There’s no need to rinse. Launder used wipes in a mesh bag and add them back to the jar, topping off the liquid as needed.
4. Homemade Fruit and Vegetable Wash
Castile soap is an easy, natural way to clean fruits and non-leafy vegetables. Just fill a sink with cool water and add a splash of unscented Castile, then swirl it around with your hand. Let your produce soak a little, then rinse it under fresh water and it’s ready to eat.
5. Multi-Purpose Cleaning Spray
One trick to keeping your home clean is to make cleaning easy. When you’ve got kids or pets, though, you have to keep most cleaning products out of reach. Since Castile soap is non-toxic, this isn’t a concern. To make an all-purpose cleaning spray, use 1 teaspoon of Castile soap, 2 cups of warm water, and a small pinch of salt. Swirl until the salt dissolves, then use it to clean grimy counters and other surfaces.
6. Leather Cleaner
To make a leather cleaning spray, add 2 tablespoons of Castile soap to 2 cups of water. Lightly spray the leather, wipe it with an undyed rag, and buff it dry with a soft, lint-free cloth. Always spot test for colorfastness first.
7. Gentle Scouring Cleaner
To tackle stubborn food spills or a dirty cutting board, make a paste of Castile soap and baking soda. Dip the corner of a rag into this and use it to scrub the mess, then wipe with a clean, damp cloth. (For larger or dirtier areas, try my homemade soft scrub cleaner.)
8. Doing Dishes
You can wash dishes, utensils, pots, and pans with Castile soap. Either add it to your scrubbing dish wand or squirt a little into a sink of water. Oil-based Castile soap is great at dissolving grime, but pots and pans may need extra soaking time. Due to the oil, avoid using Castile soap on glassware or rinse it very well to remove all residue.
9. Toilet Freshener
Add a few drops of Castile soap to your toilet bowl and swish with a brush for a touch-up between cleanings. Castile soap is non-toxic and biodegradable, so it’s safe to flush and won’t harm your septic tank or the environment.
10. Carpet Shampoo
To make a natural carpet cleaner, add 1/4 cup of Castile soap per gallon of water to your carpet cleaner machine. (For smaller areas, use a spray bottle filled with 1 tablespoon of Castile soap and 1 quart of water.) To rinse, refill the tank but substitute white vinegar for the Castile soap.
11. Plant Cleaner
Large-leaf plants like the Elephant Ear or Fiddle Leaf Figs collect a lot of dust. You can use 1 tablespoon of unscented Castile soap mixed into 1 quart of water to clean house plant leaves. Then, spray it on and wipe with a clean, damp cloth to remove dirt and other grime. (For plastic or silk plants, see how to clean fake plants instead.)
How to Turn a Bar of Castile Soap into Liquid
You can buy Castile soap as a liquid, but sometimes bars are less expensive and easier to find. To turn a bar of Castile soap into liquid, grate or chop it into small pieces. Add these to a pint-sized jar and fill it with boiling water. Wait 20 minutes for the soap to liquefy, then stir it until dissolved. Now, you can use it in the same amount as liquid Castile soap to clean.