3 GIY Castile Soap Scrubs

Castile Soap Scrubs

Whether as a gift to another or to yourself, these GIY (Green-It-Yourself) scrubs are so easy to make, with handy ingredients, and are so useful during the dryer months.  

These scrubs surprised me. I didn’t think I’d particularly like them or use them. I’m not one to have a bunch of different products in my bathroom. Probably no surprise considering my Bronner roots: one soap to rule them all! And I already have and like my Coconut Sugar Scrub

But I discovered the soap-based scrubs have an advantage over oil-based. They rinse more thoroughly. Coconut oil is intensely therapeutic but leaves a film on your skin. This is desirable if you’re going to bed where the oil has all night to soak in. However, not so great in the middle of the day when you’re touching your phone, computer, kids, steering wheel. 

These soap-based scrubs are now my morning scrubs. 

The purpose of exfoliation is no secret: to get rid of excess dead skin. It might seem counterintuitive that you need to remove skin in order for your skin to be more intact. However, this is exactly what is needed. Dead skin does not stretch. And it holds on to the live skin beneath it, preventing it from stretching as you move. This causes the skin to rip or crack.  

We need to remove the dead skin so the live skin can utilize its elasticity.  

All three of these look fantastic in a glass jar with a bit of raffia or ribbon: an easy, consumable, and very useful gift for any occasion – or a gift for no occasion at all!  

Simple Sugar Soap Scrubs

It doesn’t get any easier than this one. 

Castile Soap Scrubs



  1.  Place the soap in a bowl and then gradually add organic sugar, mixing with a fork to blend uniformly. 
  1. Store in an airtight container. Yup, that’s it. 

Jessica’s Sugar Soap Scrubs

Jessica Harvey, our Marketing Project Manager, developed this fantastic scrub that’s a step up from the Simple Sugar Scrub. You can substitute in coconut oil if it’s handier, instead of the grapeseed or avocado, with the possible downside that it may solidify in cooler temps. Avocado oil is super healthy for the skin, but does give the scrub a slight greenish tinge. Grapeseed oil, while a little less common, is a nice lightweight liquid, colorless, scentless option. 

Castile Soap Scrubs



1. Pour organic coconut sugar into glass or stainless steel bowl, breaking up any lumps with a whisk or fork. 

3. Alternate adding the oil and the Liquid Soap gradually to the sugar, mixing well after each addition. Stop when you’ve reached your desired consistency. If you prefer a more liquid scrub, add more oil and soap, or if you prefer a dryer scrub, add less. 

4. Add organic vitamin E oil, if desired, and mix well. 

5. Store in a glass container with a lid. 

Personalize it: Use any combination of Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid soaps, so long as the volume adds up to 4 Tbsp. Or use the Unscented Pure-Castile and add 15-20 drops of your favorite essential oils to customize your scent.  

Coffee & Bar Castile Soap Scrub 

Making a scrub with bar soap has a few advantages: It’s dry (doesn’t spill in travel or transport), it’s concentrated (bar soap is 95% soap vs. 67% soap of the liquid), and it uses no plastic packaging. The hardest part of this recipe is the prep of the ingredients. This recipe calls for used coffee grounds, but you can use fresh if you prefer. 

Castile Soap Scrubs



  1. Toss the two ingredients together and store in an airtight container.  

* I used my box grater, but I think a rotary cheese grater would be much easier if you have one. 

** Types of Exfoliant

The exfoliators in these recipes are interchangeable. You can swap out one exfoliant for another to make it gentler or more intense, or for the therapeutic benefits of a particular ingredient. Finer exfoliants are gentler on skin, best for the face or other sensitive skin. Coarser exfoliants are best for tough, built-up skin like heels and elbows.  

If you use a finer exfoliant in one of the liquid scrubs, you’ll need more of the liquid ingredients in ratio. If you use a coarser exfoliant, you’ll need less of the liquid. Adjust to your preference. 

Baking soda: Baking soda may reduce itchiness from a variety of conditions and soothe inflamed skin. It is a fine powder with very gentle abrasion.  

Sugars: Sugar is a humectant which draws moisture into the skin. The range of sugars go from superfine to rock crystals. Fine sugar is less abrasive than fine salt. Here are sugars in order of increasing coarseness: caster or baker’s sugar, granulated white sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, turbinado or raw sugar. 

Salts: Salt may provide a deep clean for pores, detox skin, and reduce inflammation. Because there is such a range of salt crystal sizes, keep in mind that the larger the crystal, the more abrasive the salt.  

For exfoliation, stick with the sodium chloride variety – which is common table salt and the basis of sea salts. There’s still a big range within this from fine salts to super course rock salt. Start with finer salt and increase as needed. If you’re mixing salt with liquid soap, make sure your salt does not contain anti-caking agents, which causes the soap to clump. If you’re mixing it with the bar soap, the anticaking might be helpful.  

Do not use Epsom salts for these soap scrubs. Epsom salts are an acidic salt, which means that when dissolved in water (which liquid soap contains), they form an acidic solution. Acids react with the alkaline soap and makes a gloppy mess. If you really want to make a scrub out of Epsom salts, make a coconut oil-based scrub.  

Coffee: May have antioxidant and antiaging properties. Does not dissolve in water, so keeps exfoliating ability longer. And for the coffee lover, what better than coating the skin in the enchanting elixir? 

The grind of coffee determines the degree of exfoliant, but even the finest espresso grind is still going to be a fairly intense exfoliation. Reserve coffee scrubs of heels and elbows that need the tough treatment. Even so, you can decide between a fine espresso grind or a coarse French Press grind.  

Making these scrubs give you the satisfaction of homemade without a whole lot of fuss. I certainly won’t tell your recipients how easy these are to make! That’ll be our little secret!   

Further reading

This recipe and many more are in my book, Soap & Soul: A Practical Guide to Minding Your Home, Your Body, and Your Spirit with Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, available now in hardback on or at your favorite bookseller, and as an eBook and audiobook (read by me!) from wherever you download or listen.  

Download Now!

Body Scrub Recipes

Download all 4 GIY scrub recipes & find your favorite!


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Wendy says:

On this site we are talking about cleaning without chemicals. Yet, you post a scrub with coffee in it and coffee growers use tons of chemicals on the production of coffee. Personally, I would never use a scrub such as this one with coffee. May I suggest that you at least alter your recipe to recommend to use organic coffee only?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Wendy- Thanks for that excellent suggestion! I’ve made that update.

Joanna says:

They all seem so wonderful my resistance is though i am afraid the grinds will simply clog my bathtub ? How to clean bathtub to ensure the coffee or shredded soap does not clog my pipes ?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Joanna- Not very much of the Coffee & Bar Soap Scrub should be used at a time. A teaspoon or so is plenty. It is pretty intense scrub, and a small amount will prevent clogging. I’d love to hear what you think of it!

Shana McCarthy says:

I love all of these! I just wondered is there any concern with the coffee grounds going down the drain? Thank you!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Shana- There’s no concern if a it’s a reasonable amount going down the drain. With the scrub, you’d be using a very small amount of grounds at a time, and between the soap and the water, they’ll be pretty well diluted.

Rosemary says:

So fun!! I’m starting to collect and dry our used coffee grounds, and plan on making the Coffee Scrub for family members. Thanks for these recipes!

Carola says:

My apologies! I see that this question has already been answered! Thanks!

Michelle says:

I mix organic almond meal and or oat flour in my scrubs as exfoliants as well. The almond meal is very moisturizing and both oat and almond have a soothing effect for my sensitivite skin that is both dry and oily at the same time. Adding Dr. Bronner’s sounds amazing!!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Michelle- Those both sound like excellent exfoliant options! I’ll have to give them a try.

Donna says:

Lisa, I have a dumb question: can the GIY body scrubs be used to wash my hair also?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Donna- This could benefit dry or oily scalps. I think the simple sugar scrub or Jessica’s Scrub would both work well as a scalp exfoliant. Concentrate on the scalp – the hair strands would not benefit. Exfoliate gently so as not to dislodge hair. Rinse well. Regularity of exfoliation depends on your needs. Perhaps try once every 3-4 weeks and see how it goes.

Patti says:

I was wondering if you can suggest a body scrub to help lessen crepey
Skin. Especially the arms.
Thank you,

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Patti- Crepey skin is a result of loss of lipids or collagen in the skin. Exfoliation with a scrub might make it worse. I would recommend deep moisturizing – such as coconut oil or Dr. Bronner’s Magic Unscented Balm – after every bathing and before bedtime. There is a mountain of advice on what to do about crepey skin, so this is just a beginning.

Katherine says:

what a great idea! and I learned a lot just from reading. I’m surprised that salt draws moisture INTO the skin; I thought just the opposite since salt is used on meats & fish to help preserve it. That seems to dry out the meat/fish. I’m allergic to coffee – so I’m afraid to try it as a scrub (besides, I can’t tolerate the smell). And sugar is something I avoid in my diet (I’m completely off sugar & flour, even gluten-free flours…they’re trigger foods for me. So, again, I’m leery of putting them on my skin. How much sugar would my skin absorb? What I’m looking for most is (1) something for extra sensitive facial skin because I have tiny bumps sometimes – I need something to help clean out pores; (2) something for my legs & feet which seem to always be too dry. In the winter my leg skin flakes! I wash my feet before bed every night using a mostly aloe wash that adds moisture. Then I use unrefined coconut oil with a little witchhazel toner to help spread it. (I know the witchhazel toner by itself can be a little drying, but there’s no alcohol or other drying ingredient in my toner.) (do you know why some people’s feet seem strongly odorous?) I love reading your tips and uses for y’all’s GREAT castile soaps – especially the almond and lavender scents! And I love peppermint, but have learned not to use it for sensitive feminine areas in my shower. One more question – my skin reacts negatively to tannin widely used in hard soaps. I don’t drink wine, but when I did, I had negative reaction to tannin used in that also. Do any of your hard soaps use tannin or other animal products?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Katherine – I’m glad you enjoyed the article! I hope I can help you with some ideas for your skin. It is sugar that is the natural humectant, drawing moisture into the skin. Salt does not have that effect. Salt can help detoxify skin, though, by drawing toxins out of the skin. Regarding putting sugar on your skin, unless you have a skin allergy to sugar, the sugar will not impact your metabolism, even if some were to absorb through the skin. I’m hesitant to recommend salt for a facial scrub, because even fine sea salt is a pretty rough crystal. What do you think of a baking soda scrub? Combine baking soda with a little bit of soap and water and massage gently into your skin. Rinse thoroughly.

For your legs, perhaps try the coconut sugar scrub instead of the soap scrub. Use granulated white or brown sugar: Unfortunately, I don’t know the cause of feet odors. I know keeping them dry is important, though.

None of our soaps contain tannins or animal products. Let me know if I can be of further help!

Nancy says:

Look up jojoba beads you can make a gentle scrub with them instead of suger.

Cora says:

Great recipes. THANKS!

One suggestion for these types of blog entries: I just wish there were a “print” option, most food recipes have that option so you can then either print just the text or save it as a PDF.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Cora- Excellent idea! There’s a great new feature on my blog where PDFs can be added off to the side of the article for easy download. We’re working to create and add printable recipes for these scrubs, so check back in a few weeks. Keep an eye out for printable files on other posts in the coming months too!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Cyndy- Aren’t these fun? I purchased these online. There’s a surprising variety of shapes and styles out there.

Susan says:

I pick up jars in resale shops. Cheap, recycled and reused! If they don’t come with a lid make a cute reusable cloth beeswax lid.

Siew Yeng says:

Hi there, for these Castile based scrub, is it necessary to add in preservative?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Siew- Both the sugar and salt are self-preserving at these concentrations. The scrubs will last for a good long while, but you might notice a change in consistency over time. In which case you can add a bit more soap.

Dee Hoendervanger says:

You hit it out of the park Lisa! Great redesign and love the recipes.

Kirstin says:

They all sound wonderful and I’m excited to give ’em a try. Although, I think I would be a bit hesitant to use coconut oil (or other oils). Wouldn’t there be danger of clogging your drain?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Kirstin- I’m glad you like the sound of them! Because of the combination of soap, there isn’t a chance for the coconut oil to stick to your pipes. The soap will grab on to the oil as it is designed to do and will carry it all the way through.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Gloria- Wow! What an interesting idea. I think the coffee/bar soap scrub could probably be reformed into a bar, but I haven’t tried it. I think you might need to flip the ratio, with 2 parts soap to 1 part coffee. And then you would have to have some sort of way to press it all back together. I did stumble across many homemade scrubbing bar soap recipes when I was doing research for this. You might be able to find other ideas on this, too.

Ellen Kerley says:

I love these!! we started using the DYI Soft Scrub years ago and even my husband said “what is this stuff – it works great!” LOL — Have loved Dr. Bronner for 40 years – Definitely going to try all of these!!

About Lisa Bronner

My grandfather was Dr. Bronner, my family makes soap, and I share ways to use it plus tips on greener living.

Learn about my book, Soap & Soul!

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Print Now!

Body Scrub Recipes

Download all 4 GIY scrub recipes & find your favorite!