Vegetable-based castile soap is a wonder when it comes to natural cleaners. While commercially-produced soaps can contain chemically-manufactured scents or antibacterial chemicals that damage your skin with overexposure, castile soap (named for its birthplace in Castile, Spain) gets the job done naturally and gently, whether it’s cleaning your skin or loosening grime and dirt from surfaces in your home.
All-Purpose Cleaner: Combine 1 gallon hot water, 1/2 cup liquid castile soap and 10 drops thyme essential oil. Pour mixture into a spray bottle, shake and use as a natural alternative to commercial counter or tile cleaner.
Wash Your Pooch: Liquid castile soap makes a great natural soap for your furry companion. Castile soap with peppermint oil is particularly good for repelling fleas. After an initial rinse, apply the soap directly, using just enough to create a good lather, and being careful to avoid your pet’s eyes and ears. To finish, simply rinse off and dry your pet.
Carpet Shampoo: Combine three cups of water, 3/4 cup liquid castile soap, and 10 drops peppermint essential oil. Mix all ingredients in a blender. Rub the resulting foam into soiled areas with a damp sponge. Let the carpet dry thoroughly, and then vacuum.
Shoo-fly: Spray this mixture of castile soap, garlic, chili peppers and essential oil on plants before bringing them indoors over the winter, or just to keep pests at bay during warmer months. Get the full recipe.
Stovetop Cleaner: To cut through kitchen grease, add a few squirts of liquid castile soap to 2 cups hot water, and apply the mixture to your stovetop, burners and vent hood.
Homemade Laundry Detergent: To wash clothes without chemicals, make your own simple washing powder. Combine 16 cups baking soda, 12 cups washing soda and 8 cups grated soap flakes from a bar of castile soap. Add 3 tablespoons of lavender, lemon or grapefruit essential oil, and mix with a wire whisk. To clean clothes, use 1/8 cup of the mix per load of laundry.
Liquid Dish Soap: Combine liquid castile soap with naturally-degreasing citrus essential oil for your own effective-yet-gentle dishwashing soap. Fill a 22-ounce squirt bottle with castile soap (if using concentrate, dilute according to manufacturer’s instructions). Add 20 drops of lime essential oil, 10 drops sweet orange essential oil and 5 drops citrus seed extract. Shake the bottle. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of liquid to your dishwasher, and wash as usual.
Pamper Your Feet: Make an antibacterial foot soap to keep your toes clean and avoid bacteria and fungus on your feet. Simply add 10 drops of tea tree essential oil and 10 drops of thyme essential oil to an 8-ounce bottle of castile soap (peppermint or almond-scented varieties work well) and shake well. Add 1 to 2 squirts of the mixture to a foot bath to clean and disinfect your feet.
Abby Olcese is the Editorial Assistant for Mother Earth Living. When she’s not writing and editing articles for the magazine or planning online content, she enjoys learning new cooking methods, watching classic films and reading with her book club. She recently discovered the wonders of baking with sourdough starter.