Using Castile Baby Mild Soap on Babies


I use Dr. Bronner’s Castile Baby Mild Soap on my baby, even though it is not “tear free.” Consider that babies have been washed with normal soap for a really long time before the advent of “tear free” stuff. In fact, most of us who are now washing babies were washed with non-“tear free” products ourselves, and we survived. We have to be careful to keep it out of the eyes.

To understand why I chose to abandon the realm of “baby friendly” products demands the question, “What makes ‘tear free’ products ‘tear free’?” “Tear free” products have a neutral pH. Irritation to the eyes is caused primarily from a deviation in pH. Our eyes have a very narrow window of tolerable pH, around 7.54+/- 0.01. This is ever so slightly alkaline (a pH of 7 is neutral). Dr. Bronner’s Castile soaps are around 8.9, a pH not at all irritating to our skin. To lower the pH would neutralize the cleaning ability of the soap.

So, using a product with a neutral pH that doesn’t irritate a baby’s eyes but still gets a baby clean may seem like a no-brainer – until you look at what these products are made of. I never use the word “soap” regarding these substances because they are not, in fact, soap. Soap is a natural (i.e. directly from nature, not synthetic) product made by reacting animal or vegetable oils (in Dr. Bronner’s case olive and coconut oils) with an alkali. Baby products that go by names such as “cleansers”, “baby wash”, “shower gel”, or the like, are made from non-soap surfactants, which almost always means petro-chemicals, or derived from petroleum. They are very mild petrochemicals, but petrochemicals all the same. Additionally, such products will probably have synthetic preservatives which can be irritating to the skin. (We use Tocopherols, aka vitamin E.)

So, although it’s not good for the eyes, our Baby Mild Castile soap is awesome for babies’ sensitive skin. It does not contain any of the essential oils that the other soaps have and it has twice the concentration of saponified olive oil which makes it even more moisturizing.

Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Castile Soap

How to wash a baby with our Baby Mild Castile soap:

First, I don’t use any products on my baby’s face. I use a wet wash cloth to wipe her face gently. Then, I add a couple drops of the pure castile soap to the washcloth. The washcloth helps immensely. First, you don’t use or lose as much soap. Secondly, it is easier to control where the soap goes, and you don’t have it running all over the baby. Thirdly, the soap is diluted on the wet washcloth and isn’t applied strongly to my baby’s skin. I use cup of water to rinse the soap off. It rinses very easily. To take care of her head, I tip her head back so that the water and soap run backwards off of her head. I’ve also heard that there are little bath visors babies can wear to keep the soapy water out of their eyes when rinsing their heads. I haven’t tried them, though.


100 thoughts on “Using Castile Baby Mild Soap on Babies

  1. I have the peppermint castile soap and would like to use it for my baby’s wash. I’ve read a few comments that say it may be too harsh for baby… As long as I keep it off his face, is it safe to use on him?

    • I’m the one who wrote in horrified at the horrible screams Dr. Bronner’s caused my baby. My issue was that it was caustic to the delicate pH of my baby’s eyes.

  2. I bought my first bottle of Dr. Bronners’s Baby Mild so that I could make my own cloth baby wipes. I prepared them this morning using about a teaspoon of soap to 2 cups of water. The wipes were too wet, so I wrung them out slightly and stacked them in my warmer. Fast forward 2 hours, and my hands are extremely dried out and hurting. This soap is supposed to be safe for babies, but now I’m scared to use it on him! I have rinsed my hands several times and have applied 3 kinds of lotion to try & alleviate the discomfort. What gives? Is this soap too strong or something?

  3. Hi Michelle – Mixing the soap and coconut oil directly would probably not accomplish a whole lot. The soap would bond with the oil and neither would be of much use. It’s better to use them one right after the other: wash with the castile and then moisturize with the coconut oil.

    HI Larissa – The peppermint essential oil might be a bit strong for new baby skin. It is very tingly. My kids still think it is too strong and they are older now. Perhaps it would be best to start with a milder one – Lavender or Almond or, of course, the unscented Baby Mild. Even the milder ones should still be kept off the face.

    Hi Laura – If the soap is left on the skin, it will be very drying, although your skin’s reaction does sound very strong. The wipe recipes I’ve seen (and unfortunately, we were past this age before I started making my own solutions) often call for putting a solution in a little spray bottle and spraying the baby’s bottom and then wiping with a soft damp cloth. Then, no soap is left on their skin.

    All the best,

  4. Jennie, soap will cloud even distilled water. The acidity of water compared to soap changes some of it to fatty acid, which is cloudy in water. If you made the water as alkaline as it was in the soap bottle, it would clear up — but you wouldn’t want to do that.

    You COULD use Dr. Bronner’s as bubble bath — some people have succeeded in doing so, just as some people used Lux flakes or other soaps before there were bubble baths — but first your water would have to be “soft” enough. Some people would get itchy after a bath with enough soap in it to be foamy on top; bubble baths foam at concentrations much lower than would be needed to turn the bath into a cleaning solution. Or you could rig up a foaming device (as I’ve done with an upholstery shampooer) to a blower (such as a bath spa) to blow foam on top of the bather or the water, as Dr. Bronner’s has done with their traveling show at outdoor events.

  5. Lisa – please forgive me if this has already been answered, but I’m unclear whether the baby mild soap is tear-free or not. My 2 young boys prefer to rinse soap out of their hair by dumping cups of water over their head (rather than tilting back)- which usually sends a good amount of soapy water to their eyes. They aren’t interested in a visor (and neither am I) because they like the water going over their faces. Crazy boys! Your thoughts are appreciated.

    • I use a sock and fold it lengthwise and hold over the top of their heads. It helps keep water and soap out of their eyes.

    • It is NOT tear-free! There are plenty of all-natural, tear-free baby soaps on the market.

  6. Hi Lisa,

    While I was preparing to lather a few drops of yet-undiluted Baby Mild soap in my baby’s hair, she put her hand in it and instantly rubbed her eye. I had a hard time doing a proper eye rinse as she was wriggling, and doesn’t understand “hold still” yet. Her eye is not bloodshot at all but it appears a bit red/swollen around the eye area. Do I assume it’ll be all right after a while since her eye appears ok or I should do something medically? She’s too young for me to know if she sees blurry or anything like that. My web search resulted in folks saying “make sure it doesn’t go in the eyes”, but what are the steps to take if it does?

    Thank you!

  7. I just wanted to note that I use the baby mild in my baby wipe solution. I mix a dash of soap with a dash of oil (coconut or Vit E) to moisturize the skin and water in a spray bottle. I spray this directly on the wipes and use it that way. We haven’t had a reaction to this at all. In fact, my son’s skin looks better than it does when using disposable wipes (not surprising, really).

  8. Hi Lisa,
    Please forgive the long winded start to my question…
    We’ve used and loved the Baby Mild liquid soap for our daughter’s baths and to make her baby wipes since she was an infant. However, I can’t find that scent in the bulk gallon size, and since I’d like to switch to Dr.Bronner’s for the whole family to use for body wash, I’m considering the scents that are sold in the gallon size: peppermint, lavender, and almond.
    I’ve read above that you believe the lavender and almond scents would be fine for a baby, which I’m glad to hear – I love the almond scent (not sure I could get my husband to use lavender ;).
    However, according to the EWG’s Skin Deep database ( the almond scent is given only a #3 rating w/ limited data available; even more concerning is the #8 rating given specifically to the almond scent used in the soap formula… Can you speak to this? For the ‘Alleries & Immunotoxicity’ score it’s between moderate to high; do you think using this on an infant could increase risks of nut/almond allergies/sensitivities? Nut allergies do not run in our family, but sensitive skin does.
    Thank you!

  9. If it’s not safe for a baby’s eyes, you shouldn’t put “Baby Mild” on the label! There is nothing “mild” about a pH rating of 8.9!!!! Thank GOD I mistrusted it when it smelled perfumy despite being unscented, and used it only on the back of my two-year-old’s head, so I only had some whining rather than all-out screaming. But now he no longer trusts water around his eyes. (I’m hopeful that’s only temporary.)

    For the record, your history is wrong. Prior to “baby-safe” shower products, people didn’t use soap on a baby. They might use un-saponified oils and fragrances.

  10. P.S.: If I find out you’re “moderating” away comments like my previous one, I’ll contact a lawyer. Suppressing information ought to be just about enough to sustain a lawsuit over the use of the term, “baby-mild,” despite the hard-to-read warning label.

  11. Hi Melissa – I do apologize for not seeing your question earlier. I know my timing is utterly unhelpful, but in case another parent has a similar question – soap in the eye does not damage the eye. With a good rinse of pure water, the soap will be gone, although the eye may still appear temporarily red. Babies and toddlers are not the best at letting you rinse out their eyes, but any rinsing you can do is helpful. I have leaned my little one forward and cupped water in my hand to rinse. That generally works better than trying to hold their head under running water, which may worsen the situation by getting water in their nose. As always, if you are concerned, seek medical help and contact us. You can always email us directly.

    Hi Lauren – The Baby Mild is made in the gallon size, so keep looking around. You can always order it on our website,, but you may find better prices elsewhere. Try Frontier Natural Products online as well. The Almond soap gets pinged by EWG because we do not use almond oil (sweet or bitter) in this soap, but rather an almond scent that is derived from the cassia flower. Because we use the word “fragrance”, despite the fact that is a completely natural fragrance, we get the ping. We don’t use the almond oils because sweet almond oil has no fragrance and bitter almond oil contains trace amounts of cyanide. Because the almond scent does not come from almonds, there is no concern for any nut allergies or sensitivities.

    Hi Dan – I am sorry to hear of your dismay. The Baby Mild soap was developed by my grandfather after a special request from the UCLA Medical Center’s maternity ward and has enjoyed a great deal of use in such facilities. However, certain sensitive skin may even find this soap irritating, as it sounds like your two year old has. A good resource for you may be the Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetics Safety Database,, to which Lauren refers above. It is a great resource for finding safe products.

    Please let me know if I can be of further help.

    All the best,

    • The issue was getting it in my baby’s eyes. Most “baby-mild” soaps are pH balanced to match the pH of a baby’s eye. Yours is very caustic. Any baby would shriek in pain if you get it in his eyes; try it yourself.

  12. Hi, I am just wondering, would the instruction change for a 7 week old and using hard water?

    • All I know, Leona, is that when I took Pediatrics 35 yrs. ago at Cook County Hosp., using Chicago’s water, from Lake Mich., which is considerably “harder” than here in NYC, albeit “softer” than the ground water in the western suburbs of Chi., the neonatal ward had bottles of liquid castile soap (I don’t remember what brand, but certainly not Bronner’s consumer packaging). Of course it’s possible that its major use was washing hands between examinations as I did, but I’m sure they had it there for the babies, who were less than 7 weeks old.

      It’s possible that if the water is hard enough and the washcloth holds enough water, it could require more soap. If the cloth feels slippery or is sudsy, that’s enough.

    • Hi Leona, I have moderately hard water as well, and have not found any special accomodations are needed for it. I know there are places with extremely hard water which I haven’t experienced. Can anyone weigh in from such a region?

  13. Is the rose soap safe for babies I am wondering to use it to make baby wipes?

    • Yes, the rose is safe for babies. That would smell great in wipes! The only soap of ours I would avoid outright for babies would be the peppermint, as the tingly nature of the essential oils might be too much for a baby. It can also be drying. The baby mild is definitely our most sensitive, but the rose, almond, lavender, and citrus are also very mild. I have not personally made baby wipes, but I have certainly heard many stories of other moms doing so with Dr. Bronner’s castile soaps. I don’t have a tested recipe for you, but there are certainly many online.

    • I remembered this recipe one friend sent me. If you try it out, let me know what you think:

      Lavender ‘n’ Tea Tree
      Lavender and Tea Tree are popular EO choices for wipe solutions.
      1/8 cup olive oil
      1 tablespoon lavender castile soap
      4 drops tea tree oil
      8 drops lavender oil
      3 cups water

  14. Well, I don’t have a baby, but I am a Minnesota boy with eczema, and extremely sensitive skin in general. Anyone who’s been through a MN winter, knows the toll it takes on skin. On days like today, when high temps are in the teens and the air is incredibly dry, I’m extremely thankful for Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild. With this soap, I don’t need any additional lotion or moisturizer, even in the dead of winter, yet I can still use it in the summer without feeling “overly moisturized” or “greasy”. It keeps my skin clean, but soft, year round, and has, by now, saved me hundreds (if not thousands) I would otherwise have had to spend on body lotion and moisturizer. I swear by this soap!


  15. Hi Lisa,

    I have just purchased the Unscented Baby mild pure castile soap to use instead of commercial baby wipes. After looking around the internet, it seems the way is to dilute some soap with water and put it in a spray bottle to use with cotton wipes. Which is what I plan to do.
    However, can you tell me the best ratio to use? I’ve seen all sorts of ratios, and on the bottle it says 1/2 oz : 2 gallons (soap:water)…but what is ideal so that the baby’s poo is removed nicely but it’s not too strong to be irritating?

    Any thoughts would be helpful.


    • Hi Claudia – I haven’t made my own wipe solution, and no longer have occasion to do so as my kids are well past the need. However, my friend sent me this recipe. If you try it, let me know what you think:

      Lavender ‘n’ Tea Tree
      Lavender and Tea Tree are popular EO choices for wipe solutions.
      1/8 cup olive oil
      1 tablespoon lavender castile soap
      4 drops tea tree oil
      8 drops lavender oil
      3 cups water

  16. I agree with Dan Marsh that the product is way too harsh on a baby’s eyes. Unfortunately I just had to realise this the wrong way when some got into my son’s eyes. He was screaming in pain and his eyes became very red. Thankfully he’s asleep now and I’m going to monitor it throughout the night. Lisa, other than his discomfort should I be worried of any other side effects? He seems ok now but I’m worried.

    • Hi KLovegrove – I do hope that my previous responses to this have helped you. Soap in the eye does not cause damage although it will irritate until it is flushed out. I can see it’s been many weeks here, and I do apologize for not contacting you sooner to see how your little fellow was faring. Feel free to email me if you would like,

  17. Lisa… maybe you should just change the name from “baby mild” to “pure unscented double olive oil”!!! Would save you a lot of headaches :)

    • This is interesting. What it suggests is that standards change. The soap didn’t change. The phrase “baby-mild soap” was also used in advertising Ivory Snow. The propensity of soap to sting eyes was just taken for granted, and therefore since “soap” was part of the description, the fact that the product could sting eyes was not understood to detract from its being “baby-mild”. (Ignore for the moment that the Bronner product, baby version, is probably objectively milder than Ivory, due to its having a higher ratio of oleate to laurate soap.)

      But if people now consider baby shampoo to be the standard of comparison, maybe no soap can legitimately qualify as “baby mild” any more.

      A similar question arises as to whether soap & similar toiletries can be considered “non-toxic”. It depends what toxicity is, and how big a standard “dose” would be. Anyone swallowing even a few grams of soap or other surfactant is going to get diarrhea. Is acute diarrhea an illness?

    • I’m confused, Robert. Are you comparing a product poured over a baby’s face with a product in which their laundry is cleaned? Castile’s baby-mild soap is marketed as suitable for a shampoo, yet there are pH-balanced baby shampoos which do not irritate babies’ eyes. Castile markets their soaps as suitable as shampoos, and most “baby washes” serve as both soaps and shampoos, so if their “baby-mild” soap is not suitable as a baby shampoo, they should make clear that it is not intended for use as a shampoo, or remove the “baby-mild” label from it.

    • Yes, because they were both soap. Ivory Snow was a granulated form of the bar soap, plus fluorescent dye instead of titanium dioxide. And of course babies’ hair was washed with Ivory soap. Even the babies who got baby shampoo got their faces washed with soap. So why not compare them?

    • Laundry detergent and baby wash are not at all the same product, despite the fact that you call them “both soap.” Besides, any claim about product safety presumes you are using the product as directed. Children’s aspirin certainly would be unsafe to feed to a child as an entree!

      I looked this up, to be accurate: Ivory soap is made of sodium-reduced tallow, coconut oil and palm kernel oil plus glycerin, salt and a few minor additives (the other 56/100 of 1%?) (“soap” is reduced fats.) Ivory Snow contains protease, cellulase, lauramine oxide, propylene glycol, alcohol, citric acid, water, and a lot of non-specified surfactants. They are completely unrelated products, chemically, besides their tendency to dissolve oils. And that’s why one is called a “soap” and one is called a “detergent.”

      By saying “baby-mild,” the makers of Ivory Snow were in no way suggesting you could use it as a shampoo, in spite of your false claim that it was largely granulated bar soap.

    • That’s what’s in Ivory Snow NOW, but at the time I was referring to it was granulated soap, which is why I wrote “was”. Yes, it was laundry detergent, meaning it was a cleaner (that’s what “detergent” means) intended for laundry, but it was made of soap, as were Ivory Flakes. So were Ivory Beads, which was powdered soap (without the fluorescent dye) sold not directly to consumers but for institutional & other use (such as to go with children’s crafts & handwashing toys). Ads would refer to Ivory Snow as distinct from “floating Ivory”, indicating that the product was essentially the same in all but form.

    • “Soap” and “detergent” are not synonymous, Robert. There once was such a thing as “laundry soap,” which typically came in a block, and was used to scrub laundry. Soap doesn’t dissolve well in hard water; granularized, it would form grit and not wash clean. As I noted, soap is ion-reduced fat or oil; detergent can consist of enzymes (proteins), or alkylbenzenesulfonates. (It’s such a broad term that dissolved soap could be called a detergent, in the most general of senses.)

    • Who said “soap” & “detergent” were synonyms?

      “Detergent” as a noun means a cleaning substance — ANY cleaning substance. It’s a functional category, not a chemical one. “Detergent” as an adjective means cleansing, having cleaning properties.

      “Soap” IS a (mostly) chemical term, not a functional one, although its current technical meaning isn’t the same as it’s always been. Originally “soap” was the name given to the whole product of the alkaline hydrolysis of fats. Later people discovered glycerine/glycerin/glycerol as a separate component, and started to refer more narrowly to only the fatty acid salts that were in the original mixtures. Of course we also refer to a product whose chief component is soap as “soap” even if it includes additives such as perfumes, coloring, and sometimes even other detergents as minor components, as well usually as water or other solvent, whipped-in air in floating soaps, and byproduct salts.

      However, although most people think of soaps only as those fatty-acid-salt products that are useful as detergents, fatty acid salts that are not at all detergent are called “soap” too. These are materials that are insoluble or barely soluble in water, but have application in lubricants, anticaking agents, skin protectants, and other uses. They also include the nuisance lime soaps of bathtub ring.

      Not only that, but since the term “fatty acid” has been extended to carboxylic acids that aren’t very fatty, such as acetic acid, that means such salts as sodium acetate, which aren’t “soapy”, qualify as soaps too, when the term is used technically.

      To sum up, not all soaps are detergents, and not all detergents are soaps, but all the soaps you usually think of as soaps are detergents, because of what they’re used for.

      Unfortunately there’s been a tendency to fuzz the terms, so that colloquially and even in trade to consumers, detergents of various sorts are called “soaps” if they rely for their action primarily on surface-active agents, and sometimes even if they don’t. Meanwhile biochemists refer to various surfactants useful in research as “detergents” even if they’re not interested at all in any cleaning properties they might have. Possibly their reticence to use the more appropriate term “surfactant” for such materials stems from the tendency to narrow that term in medicine to mean specifically pulmonary surfactant, and I guess “surface active agent” (the NLM category) is too much of a mouthful.

    • The only relevant point is that Ivory Snow is a laundry detergent, and not a soap, and so no-one but a complete idiot would expect that “baby mild” laundry detergent meant that it was fine to put in kid’s eyes… unlike “baby mild” baby wash, which you (normally) rinse off a baby’s head.

    • But as I said, Ivory Snow was essentially granulated Ivory soap, which people did wash babies’ heads with. And the cake form was advertised as “baby-mild” too —,811187&hl=en I just happened to first remember that phrase used for the powder, but clearly they used it for all forms of the product. I’m guessing they did use the powder, beads, or flakes for convenience for making the bubble bath in the photo. The suds stop well below the model’s eyes, but soap was the standard for shampooing then too.

    • You asserted that Ivory Snow detergent was merely granulated Ivory Soap, but you were hilariously wrong. And are you now arguing that people used Ivory soap bars as baby shampoo? The ad plainly says it’s “baby mild” on “skin,” not in your baby’s eyes! My whole problem with Castile soap is that people don’t realize it should never be used as baby shampoo.

    • What do you mean, hilariously wrong? The only difference in composition between Ivory Snow & the bar was the use of fluorescent dye instead of titanium dioxide, and then later they used a different perfume. It stayed that way until 1993.

      And I had MY hair washed with Ivory Soap when I was a baby! And I resumed using it when I got to about 12 YO. And I’ve shampooed with one of Bronner’s liquids too, and with another liquid from Stahl soap. I’ve even shampooed with my own homemade bar soap.

      Even once we had baby shampoo, we still got our faces washed w soap. So it was going to get near our eyes anyway. The only time as a child I cleaned my face w anything else was when I was in a play & had to use cold cream to get the makeup off.

  18. Baby shampoos that don’t sting the eyes have a numbing agent put in it so it doesn’t sting. It IS possible to wash your babies hair without getting shampoo in their eyes. Of all the crappy chemical laden products the FDA approves as safe for children I find it interesting, Dan, that you are using so much energy bashing this product. Surely you have more constructive ways of spending your time?

  19. I used Natures Gate shampoo (pomegranate or herbal variety) with my babies and never a tear or irritation. It has a nice bunch of ingredients too. Not all of their varieties are good though – only use the ones with coco products – nothing with sulf- in it. Also, REMEMBER to always test a new product on baby’s foot before dunking him in. You don’t want to experience chemical burns or massive allergies. (Note, this happens a lot with mints and with Burt’s Bees lotion).

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