Well the weather has warmed up enough now that I think it is safe to say winter is, for all intents and purposes, over (now watch for a cold snap, I’ve just jinxed it!) Time to get going on all our spring projects!
It occurred to me the other day that I have over the past couple years accumulated a rather obscene amount of castile soap. Which kind of defies the purpose of this all-purpose product, but when you find something that works, you just can’t get enough! I’ve found such a diversity of uses for this magic soap that I need to get it in every scent.
I realize that for most people, the thought of using the same product for your hair, skin, laundry, floors and countertops is a bit disconcerting. Soap is made traditionally from animal or plant-based fats, and in this form has been used for thousands of years as an all-purpose cleaning agent. In the 20th century, as natural oils became more costly, synthetic surfectants were developed, and changed the cleaning industry as we know it. These synthetic surfectants, combined with fragrances, optical brighteners, phosphates, and other chemicals, allowed new petroleum-based detergents to dissolve messes quickly, keep your underwear gleaming white (artificially, thanks to the brighteners in laundry detergent), and foam up a little easier in hard water. People very quickly abandoned their boring old soap!
But this all came at a cost — to our health. If you’ve ever gotten a headache just from walking through the cleaning aisle at the grocery store, then you understand. According to the Environmental Working Group, many conventional cleaning products “contain ingredients linked to asthma, cancer, reproductive toxicity, hormone disruption, neurotoxicity and other health effects.”
Don’t you think there’s something a little wrong with the fact that the products we used to clean the surfaces we eat off of and the home we live in require a label like this?
There is an endless supply of simple and affordable green cleaning recipes online. I’ve written about it here. But this post is devoted to my beloved castile soap. Not a day goes by where I don’t use it in some way. I’ve amassed quite an array. Here is how I use it:
My hand soap and face and body wash. I dilute it in an old foaming soap dispenser at approximately 10:1 water:soap ratio. I don’t actually measure this. I fill the dispenser about a half inch with soap and fill the rest with water. The point is that a little goes a long way.
Made from coconut oil, with nothing artificial, this soap is so super gentle on your skin. The artificial ingredients in conventional face wash, such as sodium lauryl sulfate, are actually extremely drying and irritating. They do more harm than good. This stuff gets you clean gently and effectively. My skin has been so happy since using it.
I refill all my hand soap dispensers with this too. Most store bought soap these days contains triclosan, an antibacterial ingredient you want to avoid. Not only is it implicated as a possible carcinogen and endocrine disruptor, it is just generally not a good idea to overload on antibacterial agents. This is what encourages resistance and in the long-term provides NO additional health benefits.
I buy a big bottle of the rose castile soap and it lasts me almost a year.
This is what I use for the laundry. It leaves my clothes with a pleasantly clean and natural fragrance! Here is my post on homemade laundry detergent.
Dog shampoo. If you think conventional human soap is bad for you — take a look at the ingredients in your typical dog shampoo. I have a Chesapeake Bay Retriever, and their fur is naturally oily which provides water resistance. Regular dog shampoo would strip those oils right off, but using a gentle, oil-based soap gets her clean without being harsh. As a bonus, I have heard that the peppermint and eucalyptus scents provide some level of pest prevention, though these products are not certified for that.
Baby mild unscented
Sometimes you just want unscented soap. I keep a small bottle of this on hand for those occasions.
Travel. I have a small bottle of lavender that I toss into my bag when I’m traveling or going camping. It’s a travel-size face and body wash, a biodegradable dish detergent when camping, and in a pinch I can use it as shampoo, for washing clothes, and cleaning messes.
I don’t have a favorite for all-purpose cleaning; I usually just grab one already in my stash. I am tempted to try the tea tree oil or eucalyptus for this, but I don’t need to feed my soap addiction.