March292013

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps - For just about anything!

Ok guys, get ready for a real whopper of a post. I’ve come to talk to you about.. soap. Do you know what’s in your soap? Do you know what it’s doing to your body? I bet you don’t! Castile soap is all the rage, and all the cool kids are using it.  Let me explain to you why you definitely absolutely should have a bottle [or bar] of castile soap in your house. 

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Castile soap is named for the region of Italy where the soap making process originated, and Dr. Bronner’s is one of the best-known brands for Castile soap today. They are certified organic, free trade certified for life, and a family owned company based in the US, if that kind of stuff is important to you. There are other brands out there that (I’ve heard) are a little big cheaper, but because you only use a few drops at a time, 5 bucks for a bottle that will last at least half a year does not seem like a splurge to me. If you ignore the radical christian propaganda written all over the bottle (or not, it’s an interesting read when you’re sitting on the toilet) it’s a very satisfying product.

What can you use Castile soap for? Everything, literally. Dr. Bronner’s has 18 uses listed on the bottle, which can be used with any Castile soap I’d assume, and these range from washing your face and body, to hair and teeth, to laundry and all-purpose cleaners, to steam treatments for congestion and allergies. And they smell wonderful too. I have used these soaps for hand soap (the most obvious use), all purpose cleaner, organic insecticide, face and body cleanser, shaving cream and shampoo, foot soak, and laundry detergent. Let me offer you my reviews for each of these uses, shall I?

Hand Soap: It’s perfectly fine hand soap. Clean washing, naturally antibacterial if you choose the tea tree variety, but non-antibacterial with other varieties if you are of the persuasion that it isn’t necessary. The recipe is  to make a 1:4 solution with water (or even more diluted) in a foam dispenser. I just used a used softsoap dispenser and it worked perfectly fine. I’m not all that picky about hand soap though, but it didn’t dry out my hands. Some people have reported it will.

All Purpose Cleaner: 1-2 tbsp in a quart of water in a spray bottle. Add the water first or the foam will envelop your house. You can use this to wash windows (if you spray with a vinegar solution and squeegee afterwards it’s better than windex), counters and tables (perfection), the microwave, stove, anything in the kitchen pretty much, bathrooms, sinks, showers, basically anything, and it smells wonderful, and if you accidentally get it on your clothes or skin it doesn’t matter because it isn’t a corrosive chemical, it’s just soap and water! Because the soap bonds with the dirt better than the surface it’s on, it is more effective at carrying it away when you wipe it off with a rag. It’s wonderful. 

Organic Insecticide: I prefer the peppermint for this one. 1 tbsp in a quart of water in a spray bottle. You can also add cayenne pepper, garlic powder, or cinnamon for added benefits (The cinnamon is an antifungal). Spray it all over your plants, or directly on bugs in the home. I tried it on an ant, the thing shriveled up and DIED right in front of me. It was so cool. Apparently the soap dissolves their exoskeletons, anyways you can check it out on Lisa Bronner’s blog here and here.

Face Cleanser: Use two (2!) drops of the liquid soap on wet hands and lather, then massage onto a wet face for 20 seconds or so. I’ve also used it with a clarisonic, though the bar version lathers more and provides a more satisfying clarisonic experience. Tea tree (more drying) and lavender (less drying) varieties are the best for treating acne, baby mild is the best for sensitive skin. I should also say that the bar version is more moisturizing than the liquid version. I’ve been using this as my cleanser for a while now, and love it. Simple because my boyfriend can use it too without feeling like a girl, and you can just use the same stuff all over your body so it’s great for traveling and speedy showers.

Body Cleanser: Use a small squirt on a washcloth, pouf, or loofa, or rub the bar onto your body, hands, or whatever washing implement you desire. It rinses really quickly, and though you may feel like there’s a residue left behind while you are wet, as soon as you dry off your skin is soft and supple, no squeaky feeling. Just trust me and dry off before you make any big decisions. My favorite is almond, smells amazing, but other people may prefer the more floral scents like lavender or rose, botanicals like tea tree or eucalyptus, or refreshing scents, like peppermint or citrus.

Shampoo: I didn’t personally like it as shampoo, but I’m sure for guys or people without problematic hair like me, it would be fine. Lisa bronner has a post about it here.

Shaving cream: Since while you’re wet, the soap does feel squeaky on your skin, it is a good idea to use a shaving cream as well. The good news is, the soap can also function as a shaving cream! Just shave right after you lather, before you rinse the bubbles off (they’ll stay there as long as you don’t get under the water, then they’ll slide off very quickly). It provides a close shave since it isn’t thick and crazy like other shaving creams, and yet it protects the skin from razor burn. You can also use coconut oil after you’re dry to condition your delicate gams.

Foot Soak: A drop or two in a bucket of warm water. I love experimenting with scents for this, as it really is a good aromatherapy opportunity. Gets your feeties clean!

Laundry Detergent: 1/3 cup castile soap and extra baking powder if your laundry is stinky, 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar in the rinse cycle. Lisa Bronner has a post here on using it for laundry, it kills bugs so it’s perfect for bedding, but it’s also very unlikely to solicit an allergic reaction, especially the baby mild, so it’s great for cloth diapering and sensitive skin as well. And cheaper than laundry detergent, too. 

One important thing to note, you should definitely use vinegar as a rinse agent for windows, dishes, laundry, hair, etc. But you shouldn’t use soap and vinegar at the same time. Why?

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Eeew. Yucky chemical reaction, that’s why! Lisa Bronner goes into detail about this subject here.

So where can you get this soap? Answer: Target. They sell it there. And online, if you order from their site, you can get free shipping for orders over $20.00 US. Not sure if you can order outside of the US or not. I got 2 oz sample sizes of all the scents to try them, then also bought a bar of the almond variety on a whim in a health food store. You can also hunt around online for it, and it’s in most health stores that also sell bath products.

Lisa Bronner is a wonderfully helpful green mom who has an entire blog dedicated to sharing all the wonderful uses for Castile soap with The Internet, you can check it out here! I really encourage you to explore around, she has solutions for just about any cleaning conundrum (which I will talk about in my next big post), recipes for cleaning the house and body, and dilution cheat sheets for using Dr. Bronner’s very concentrated (read: economical) soap! I love that she responds to every single comment she gets on the blog personally. It’s really nice.

Photo credit: http://all-one-typography.com/Dr_Bronners-soaps.jpg

I was not paid to advertise for Dr. Bronner’s, I just love their soap!

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