By Nicole L. Warren
Your home can be cleansed, scented and purified with an all-in-one non-toxic wonder-soap. Remember in the movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” how Toula’s father swore by Windex as multi-purpose marvel? Dirty windows, pimples, poison ivy, insect problems -- all remedied with Windex. While this was a running joke from the pages of a movie script, there really is a multi-purpose superhero that every home should have: castile soap. It’s a vegetable oil-based soap that originated in the Castile region of Spain, which was known for its abundant supply of olives. Traditionally, olive oil was the only oil used in the soap, but today most castile soaps are made with other oils, like coconut, hemp, and jojoba. The appeal of the soap is that it’s all-natural, free of any artificial or harmful ingredients, and it’s biodegradable!
Castile soap is available as a solid bar, but the cleaning superstar is the liquid form. A wide variety of fragrances are available including rose (my personal favorite), lavender, peppermint, tea tree, baby powder, citrus and eucalyptus. I love the smell of gardenias and was happy to discover the soap can be brought unscented, so you can add ⅛-¼ teaspoon of an essential oil of your choice. Don't look for Castile soap in the cleaning section of the store. Instead visit the aisles of the health and beauty department. Selection can be limited depending on the store, so be prepared to order it from an online retailer. Dr. Bronner’s is a brand that's popular, but the store brands and other manufacturers’ work just as good.
I know you’re asking “But will it really clean my whole house, even those areas that need disinfecting or scouring?” Yes, and the laundry too! Either diluted with water or mixed with other natural products, liquid castile soap can do the job. The word on the street is that Castile soap is indeed a disinfectant, killing 99% of germs. For an extra layer of protection, add tea tree oil to the mix. In addition to being a deodorizer and antiseptic, tea tree oil has been proven to prevent both bacteria and fungus. You can either purchase a pre-made tea tree oil castile soap or make your own solution. All you need to get started with your cleaning are spray bottles and water.
- 3 tablespoons of liquid Castile soap
- 16 ounces of water
- 24 drops of tea tree oil
Combine all of the ingredients into a spray bottle and shake well.
Here’s a breakdown of the uses for household cleaning, along with the formulas for making the solutions. Print this out and hang it on the ‘fridge.
Fill a squirt bottle with 1 part soap and 9 parts water. For example, if you have a 14 oz bottle, which is a standard size for dish detergents, you’d add 1 ¾ of castile and fill the rest of the bottle with water. Squirt the solution on a sponge, dish cloth or scrub brush and wash.
Countertops and other kitchen surfaces
To create a multi-purpose cleaner, mix ¼ of a cup of soap with a quart of water in a spray bottle. For extra disinfecting power, add ¼ of a teaspoon of tea tree oil.
Mopping (tile, hardwood, linoleum): Pour a half-cup of castile soap into a bucket, along with 3 gallons of water. Mix.
Carpet Cleaning: For spot removal, mix 1 teaspoon of soap with 1 cup of warm water. Scrub stains, and then blot dry with a dry cloth.
Fabric Upholstery Cleaner: Use a spray bottle that's capable of releasing a mist, rather than a stream or spray. This will help you avoid over saturating the fabric. Mix 1 cup of water with ¼ of a cup of soap.
Dusting Spray: Mix 1 cup of water and 1 ½ tablespoons of soap.
Wood Polish: Add ¼ of a teaspoon of olive oil to the dusting spray formula.
Detergent: Use 1/3-1/2 cups of soap for a large load. If you have a High Efficiency (HE) washer, use about half of this amount. Add a half-cup vinegar to the rinse cycle.
Pre-treating Spots: In a spray bottle, mix 1 ½ cups of water, ¼ of a cup of soap, 1/4 of a cup of liquid vegetable glycerine, and 2 tablespoons of baking soda. Spray the stain asap and let it sit for at least 20 minutes before washing.
Toilet: In a 16-ounce spray bottle add a half-cup of soap and ¼ of a teaspoon of tea tree oil. Fill the rest of the bottle with water. Squirt the toilet bowl, then sprinkle baking soda on the brush, and scrub bowl. Let everything sit for at least 10 minutes before flushing.
Mirror: Wipe with a solution of 1 tablespoon of soap in a 16-ounce spray bottle, followed by a rinse with that’s half vinegar and half water. The soap can leave a film, but the vinegar/water mix removes this with ease.
Shower/Tub: For tougher jobs like removing soap scum, add a little elbow grease to your formula. In a 16-ounce spray bottle, combine 1 tablespoon of baking soda with 2 tablespoons of soap, filling the rest with water. Shake.
Use the same solution used for the bathroom mirrors: 1 tablespoon of soap to a 16-ounce spray bottle, followed by a rinse of a half-vinegar and half-water solution.
Other Household Surfaces
Use the same multi-purpose cleaner used for the kitchen surfaces: ¼ of a cup of soap with a quart of water in a spray bottle, with ¼ of a teaspoon of tea tree oil added for extra disinfecting power.
Make the Switch
Liquid castile soap sounds too good to be true, but it isn’t. It will change how you’ve been cleaning your home. No toxic fumes. No accidentally bleached carpets or clothes. No chemical odors. Just safe cleaning goodness.
There are countless other uses for Castile soap in your life. What are some that you've tried?
Images used with permission, courtesy of www.shutterstock.com