Category
Castile Soap

Why Vinegar & Castile Soap Don’t Mix Well

Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap and vinegar can clean an entire house. They are effective, versatile, biodegradable and non-toxic. But the sole point of this post is to emphasize that these two should not be mixed directly. This is true for the Castile soap and any acid – any vinegar or lemon juice.

Since there have been several recommendations in online recipes and on TV to mix these two together, I want to address this topic. It’s not a dangerous combination, but it’s definitely moving in the wrong direction as far as getting things clean.

Here’s why.
In great part it’s due to the fact that vinegar is an acid and the Castile soap is a base. They will directly react with each other and cancel each other out. So, instead of getting the best of both (the scum cutting ability of the vinegar and the dirt transporting ability of the soap), you’ll be getting the worst of something entirely new. The vinegar “unsaponifies” the soap, by which I mean that the vinegar takes the soap and reduces it back out to its original oils. So you end up with an oily, curdled, whitish mess. And this would be all over whatever it was you were trying to clean – your laundry or counters or dishes or whatever.

Check out this picture of Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint Castile soap mixed directly with distilled white vinegar:

Dr. Bronner's soap mixed with vinegar

It doesn’t matter what else is in the solution, or in what order you combine them. If you end up with the soap and the vinegar in the same container, this reaction will occur. The only exception to this is if you buffer the soap with baking soda, which is another alkali. You’ll see this in my recipe for GIY Soft Scrub. In this case, vinegar reacts more readily with baking soda, and that reaction will take place first. For the Soft Scrub, it serves the purpose of creating that lovely, vertical clinging foam. If there is still unreacted vinegar, it will then react with the soap, which is why the ratios are important to maintain.

The mom in me has to point out that if you have kids who wonder about the purpose of science class in “the real world”, you can show them this little reaction. Of course, drinking milk and orange juice at the same time will also point out why you should know your acids from your bases.

So, for cleaning, there is a better way. Use the soap to clean and the vinegar as a rinse agent.

One common complaint with using the Castile soap, especially on hard or shiny surfaces is that it leaves a film behind. This film is caused by the soap reacting with minerals in the water. It is not actually soap itself left behind, but rather certain salts. When this builds up on sinks and tubs, we call this soap scum. Vinegar is a great way to cut this. So after you’ve handwashed your dishes with Castile soap and rinsed them, dip them in a sink of vinegar water. Or after you’ve wiped down the sinks and tubs with soapy water, rinse, and then spray with a vinegar solution (about 1 cup vinegar/quart water).

I’ll give more time to windows later (one of the things I actually really enjoy cleaning), but briefly, for dirty exterior windows, spray them with my Castile soap solution, wipe them with a chamois, then spray them with vinegar and squeegee. Works great! Better than Windex.

Also, on the hair, if you do not have our Citrus Hair Rinse, but just want to use vinegar or lemon juice, rinse the soap out of your hair first. Then apply the vinegar or lemon juice.

So Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap and vinegar are a fabulous one, two punch. One after the other. Not at the same time.

As a sidenote: This issue does not apply to combining Sal Suds with vinegar. Sal Suds, as a synthetic detergent, has a completely different chemical makeup and does not react with the vinegar in the same way. Vinegar would even add more degreasing power to the mixture.

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Deborah says:

Hi Lisa,
I love using Sal Suds for so many things including laundry and dishes. However I have flooded my kitchen with suds when using Sal suds in the the dishwasher. Is there a trick or secret ingredient to add that will reduce the foam? or should I forget about using Sal Suds in the automatic dish washer?
Deborah

Anna says:

Hello Lisa,

I followed a recipe with castile soap, vinegar, water and a bit of lemon juice for the dishwasher. As soon as I had added the vinegar I knew something was wrong as it went white and curdled, just like your picture. Nevertheless I proceeded to try it in the dishwasher. It was ok, except for water spots on everything. I have since tried filling up the rinse aid compartment with white vinegar which seems to have worked.
Unfortunately though, after a few weeks of having this concoction, now it looks worse, and the soap didn’t seem to work in the dishwasher.
I was wondering whether you had a recipe yet for dishwashers?
Otherwise, I was considering experimenting with just a solution of castile soap and water and keeping the vinegar in the rinse aid compartment for its release in its own time in the dishwasher cycle.
Any information on what concentrations to use, water:soap?
Many Thanks for all your info!

traffic says:

I noticed the ingredients of your soap actually contains citric acid so this appears to conflict with your theory all acids will produce this same effect?

Lisa Bronner says:

Regarding the citric acid, each batch of soap is individually tested to see if there is any unreacted sodium or potassium hydroxide leftover. Then, citric acid is added at a key point in the process and only in the amount needed to react with and thereby nullify the hydroxide. There would be no leftover citric acid in the soap, and it is added in such a way so as not to un-saponify the soap itself. Hope that helps clear things up!

All the best,
Lisa

hanneke says:

Thanks, I had the problem yesterday and was amazed (got the recipy from internet), now I understand.

Marci says:

What about this?

http://newton.dep.anl.gov/askasci/chem99/chem99271.htm

Question:
——————————————————————————–
My mom always cleans her windows with a solution of mostly water, and equal parts ammonia and vinegar. Since both are of equal concnecentration and of equal strengths, I claim she is just making more water. Yet she swears by this method.. So what actually does the cleaning?

——————————————————————————–
Replies:
——————————————————————————–
I think you must be thinking “OK, ammonia is a basic solution, and vinegar is acidic. So if I mix equal volumes of equal concentrations of acid and base together, I’ll just have water because the acid neutralizes the base.” Eh? But this is incorrect for several reasons. (1) to neutralize a strong acid with a strong base, you must combine equal numbers of moles of acid and moles of base. Thus, just because you use equal volumes of the two substances doesn’t mean that you’ll end up at pH=7; they could be in different concentrations in the two solutions. (2) Acetic acid is a weak acid and ammonia is a weak base. Therefore, mixing together equal amounts of these two substances will result in a solution with a pH which is not 7, i.e., you won’t have a neutral solution. (3) When you neutralize an acid with a base, one does not only end up with water. Consider the reaction of HCL with NaOH; you get H2O and NaCl(aq), which is in the form of Na+(aq) and Cl-(aq). In your mom’s economical and effective homemade window cleaner, there’s other stuff floating around than protons (H3O+) or hydroxide (OH-). There’s going to be a mixture of acetic acid and acetate (both from the vinegar) as well as other things, and NH3 and NH4+ (from the ammonia). What you’ve basically got is a buffer solution with a lot of ions floating around (which will help dissolve charged dust particles) and organic compounds (which will help dissolve organic muck). OK? Hope this helps

– topper

Doesn’t that mean that some variations on these cleaning mixtures might work? IDK. Any Chemists who can explain this better. I would like to know if I should scrap all my acid/base mix cleaners or just the ones with Castile Soap.

Jen says:

Could you not also spray your shower down with 50:50 vinegar/water? Just wondering if you’ve tried it.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Jen – Vinegar does help dissolve minerals/soap scum. However, unless you rinse the vinegar down, the minerals will still be left behind once the vinegar dries. Also, take care with the surfaces on which you’re using vinegar – it is an acid, and having it sit on surfaces regularly may cause some etching. So, definitely rinse it if you go this route. It is a good way to tackle soap scum build up. Spray on the vinegar solution, and let it sit about 5-10 minutes, but not until it dries. Then rinse it down with hot water. For extra shine, dry the surfaces thoroughly.

All the best,
Lisa

Beth says:

I wish I read this post 36 hours ago! I recently washed my elbow pads and wrist guards in a solution of water, vinegar and Castile soap. Not only did it leave an oily film, but it made my skin burn and left a rash! Does anyone have any thoughts on how I can clean them now? Should I rinse in vinegar and water to get the film off?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Beth – As you can feel, your pads are coated in oil. So you need some sort of surfactant to get it off – either a soap or detergent. You can use the castile soap by itself to wash them in water. After you’ve rinsed them, if you have hard water deposits, you could then run them through a vinegar solution. If you happen to have any Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds, that would work great, and you wouldn’t need the vinegar rinse.

All the best,
Lisa

Roya says:

Hi Lisa,
Thanks. I was sure I was missing something:)

2 more question.

1-When we dilute the soap, for example 1 part soap / 3 parts water in a foam pump, only some of the soap reacts with the minerals (depending on the mineral amount in the hard water) and the rest remains as soap. Right?

2- If we rinse our hair really well after using the soap as shampoo with hard water, do we still need Vinegar or Lemon rinse (acidic rinse) to remove the minerals? Sounds like we really don’t need to since the minerals are suspended in water which can be removed by water.

Thanks
Roya

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Roya – Yes, you have that right. There will still be plenty of soap leftover, even after a very small amount reacts with the hard water. Regarding rinsing your hair, there are a couple of different factors here. The main purpose behind using a vinegar or acidic rinse has to do with the pH of the soap, rather than the mineral precipitates. The alkalinity of the soap makes the follicles on our hair stand out from the strands. It needs to be balanced by an acidic pH to get the hair smooth again. The Dr. Bronner’s Hair Rinse is specifically pH balanced for the Dr. Bronner’s soaps, but you can also experiment with vinegar or lemon juice on your own to find what works for your hair type. There isn’t so much of a mineral deposit problem with our skin or hair. You really can only notice that on shiny surfaces. On bathroom surfaces, it is important to avoid scum by rinsing any suds down the drain. However, because even “plain” tap water has dissolved minerals in it, you will always notice water spots and such on shiny surfaces unless you wipe them down after each use. This is why I keep a squeegee in my shower to clear the glass door because glass is the most unforgiving with mineral deposits. It shows everything.

Let me know if I can be of further help!

All the best,
Lisa

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Amy – There really isn’t anything quite like the Sal Suds. (not that I’m biased, but really) I think you might be right about the air drying. I didn’t try that. It makes sense, though. Glad you found the Sal Suds, though.

Hi Roya – There aren’t enough minerals in most water to react with all of the soap, so there’s still a lot of cleaning power leftover in the suds. However, this is very much a matter of how much soap, how much water, and how hard the water. One drop of soap in one gallon of really hard water – you’ll probably lose all the cleaning ability of the soap. But a squirt of soap on a wet washcloth, and there will be plenty of leftover soap to clean.

Also, regarding residue on your skin, if you dry your hands and body, this really isn’t an issue. The minerals which are formed from the reaction of the soap with hard water remain suspended in the water. When the water dries on, or really evaporates from, a surface, the minerals are left behind. However, since we usually dry ourselves after washing, you wouldn’t notice this residue. Furthermore, the residue is really only visible on shiny surfaces, which excludes skin anyways.

You can always test the cleaning power of the soap by putting some sort of oil on your hand (I’m thinking olive), and then washing with the soap. With such an intentionally dirty hand, it will take more soap than normal, but the cleaning power of the soap will be magnified.

Hope this helps! Let me know if you have further questions.

All the best,
Lisa

Roya says:

Hi Lisa
I am a big fan of Dr. B but I have a question
If your soap reacts with hard water and produces certain salts how could it clean?
Wouldn’t it immediately react with hard water and lose its cleaning property?
For example how would it clean your hand? One would
Think it can’t since it will quickly turn in to a salt and that salt is only removed by an acidic agent like vinegar
Also we never use venigar on our hands so does this mean the salts remain
On our hand ?
I am sure i ammissing something Can you explain this?

Amy M says:

Hi Lisa,

Thanks for the response. The method I tried was to fill one sink with about 1-2 tbsp of the unscented castile soap (with a few essential oils) and hot water, and to fill the other half with about 1-2 cups of vinegar and hot water. I’d wash first in the castile and then rinse, then I would put the rinsed dish into the vinegar sink. I’d rinse again, and then set them out to dry. I think our water must be quite hard, because I was only using about 1-2 tbsp of castile soap (unscented), and the whole sink would be milky white. Maybe air drying has something to do with it too?

Anyway, since then I’ve switched to Sal Suds (which is indeed my new favorite cleaner) and they work like a charm!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Amy – I’m glad you turned your dishwasher-less-ness into a good green opportunity. I spent several days trying to recreate the film you describe, and you’re definitely not the first to mention this. However, to my great surprise, I couldn’t get the film. So let me list what I was doing, and we’ll compare techniques:
I filled one side of my sink with hot water and about 1/4 cup of castile soap (peppermint). I had a lot of pots, glasses, plastic containers, and dishes. After washing them, I rinsed with the faucet in the other side of my sink At this point I expected to see some film, but I didn’t. Then I dried the dishes by hand. Everything turned out film-free.

Try rinsing the dishes first, and when you see the film, use a spray bottle with a 50% vinegar solution sprayed over the dishes (this will cut down on the amount of vinegar used). You could also put a 50% vinegar solution in the sink, if you really had a lot of dishes. However, do rinse off the soap first so that you’re not running into the problem of the soap and vinegar combo. The vinegar is meant to cut the residue left by hard water minerals – not to rinse away the soap. Please let me know if this makes any difference.

I thought about trying other people’s water, but I’d have to travel outside of my water district. But going on a trip just to wash dishes seemed a little odd, and tough to justify the travel expense.

Hi Jeanne – I would cut out the baking soda. Unless your laundry really needs deodorizing or whitening, you can probably do without it. The vinegar helps cut down the residue of the hard water, but if it’s already being consumed by reacting with the vinegar, then there may not be any left to address the mineral residue. Also, up your vinegar to 1/2 c. and use no more than 1/3 c. of castile soap for each large load. Lastly, make sure you’re adding to vinegar to the last rinse cycle so that it is not mixing directly with the soap.

Let m e know how it’s coming

Hi Meghan – You’re not alone. It’s a common scenario!

All the best,
Lisa,

Meghan says:

I found this out the hard way when making my own shower cleaner. The recipe called for Dawn and I thought I’d be greener and use my castile soap with hot vinegar. UGH, I will forever remember the offending smell it produced. YUCKO!

Jeanne Simmons says:

Help! I’m getting “whitish” spots on my darks. I’m using Dr. Bronner’s Eucalyptus with baking soda in the wash cycle and vinegar in the rinse. I didn’t notice it with my first bottle of Eucalyptus, then tried the lemon and that’s when the spots starting appearing. I’ve switched back to the Eucalyptus, but still have spots. They are ranging in size from a quarter to fist size. If I rub on them they will disappear, but there is a still a little residue. I’ve tried an extra rinse, but nothing seems to help. I tried the hard water test and the water was so murky you couldn’t see through it. I live in Texas, 🙁

I hope you can help with a suggestion. I’m using 1/3 of a cup of the liquid soap.

Thanks for any help you can offer.

Jeanne S.

Amy M says:

Hi Lisa,

I’m just getting into castile soaps for natural cleaning. I had just made some castile dish soap at the same time my dishwasher broke–which means I’ve had ample opportunity to experiment with dishwashing. After definitely noticing residue on all the glassware without the vinegar rinse, this morning, my husband and I attempted to do a vinegar rinse and didn’t notice a huge difference. However, I wasn’t sure what your process looks like, and wondered if you could give me a specific guideline to follow. We filled up one sink with water and castile soap, and filled up the other side of the sink with about 3 cups of vinegar and water. After washing in the castile, we would dunk it in the vinegar solution and set out to dry. Should we have rinsed in between steps, or after steps? Also, what ratio of vinegar to water do you suggest? Thanks for any guidance you have on this issue!

Robin says:

I tried the recipe, it did indeed curdle, but I put it in the dishwasher anyway and it seemed to really work. The glasses really sparkled. Any explanation?
Thanks

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Robin – Which recipe did you try? I’ll take a look!

Lisa

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi June & Jen- Sounds like you both know your stuff! Yep, milk is a very slight acid (around 6.7), and when its pH is lowered by a stronger acid such as orange juice or vinegar or lemon juice below 4.6, it begins to coagulate, producing sour milk, and as you said, a great substitute for buttermilk. Not so great if this reaction is happening in the stomach.

Acid/base reactions can definitely work to our advantage. The vinegar and baking soda foam is one way to get kids interested in house cleaning because it’s kind of neat, and it does work great on drains: http://lisa.drbronner.com/?p=221. It also makes a great “Soft Scrub” alternative, especially when mixed with a bit of Sal Suds. I like the toilet cleaning idea. I’ll give that one a try.

The reason behind the interaction between vinegar and castile soap is more complicated than that one is a acid and one is a base. Case in point – detergents such as Dawn and Sal Suds, which are also alkaline, do not react with vinegar. Detergents and soaps have very different chemical compositions. The soap molecule is more susceptible to being split apart by the acid. Here’s the chemistry:
The molecular composition of soap is R-(CH2)n-COOK. The composition of vinegar (acetic acid) is CH#-COOH. When blended together, although acetic acid is not too strong of an acid, the ending H (hydrogen) from the acid displaces some of the K (potassium) from the soap. The soap becomes R-(CH2)n-COOH. This is a fatty acid, not soluble in water, not a soap anymore and it does not cleanse or foam. Other acids, such as lemon juice, would also have this H available to knock the K off the soap molecule. I hope that helps clear things up.

Please let me know if I can address other questions.

All the best,
Lisa

Jen says:

Acid-base theory IS the basis for this observation. The chemical reaction that occurs when you mix vinegar (acid) and baking soda (base) is the same sort of reaction that occurs when you mix vinegar with castile soap (also a base). As you said, this chemical reaction is great for unclogging drains, but this is a short-term application. The reaction eventually runs its course once the acid and base have finished neutralized each other.

Lisa is not saying that it is impossible to mix castile soap with vinegar. What she is saying is that castile soap and vinegar will neutralize each other, so the cleaning properties of each will be less effective if they are combined in the same bottle. Try the one-two punch that Lisa described: spray your counter with soap solution first, then 50:50 vinegar solution. If you do this, you can see that the vinegar immediately neutralizes the soap suds on your countertop. You can imagine why you would not want this to happen inside the bottle, before you have a chance to actually clean anything!

June Yvette says:

Milk is not a base. It has a PH of ~ 6.4 to 6.8. Baking soda has a PH of ~ 9 when mixed with vinegar (ph of ~2.4) you get a chemical reaction that can help to unclog a clogged drain and even clean a toilet. Lemon has a ph of ~ 2-3, when mixed with Milk per recipe can create a substitute for buttermilk. Dawn dish washing detergent has a ph of 9, when mixed with hot vinegar, it creates a very good cleaner. Point being, basing your answer on a simple base vs acid approach doesn’t work. I understand you have a personal and vested interest in Dr. Bronner’s soap, and I respect that. I like and do use your products. If Dr. Bronner’s and Vinegar do not mix, I will respect your word, but not based on your acid and base theory.

Penny says:

Are all juices acid? what about grape, cherry, blueberry, pomegranite, etc? My son has been having juice at breakfast every day. Real 100% juice, not juice cocktails.

Chrissy says:

I’m new to the whole “homemade cleaning” revolution that seems to be getting bigger and bigger. I started using a vinegar/water mixture then saw a recipe to add the castile soap. After reading this I’m guessing that was a bad idea. So what would be the best recipe for cleaning? I have marble in the bathroom so I can not use vinegar. Would it be best to just use soap and water for all of my general cleaning? I have the Dr. Bonner’s baby soap and plan to start using on my kids and self for bathing and for washing hands; what ratio would you suggest for a soap dispenser?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Chrissy! Yes, adding soap to that solution will not help matters. Since marble does not like acid, soap and water is perfect. Check out my Castile Spray: http://lisa.drbronner.com/?p=64. The Sal Suds spray would also be a good option: http://lisa.drbronner.com/?p=180.

For a foaming pump dispenser, dilute it at a ratio of 1:3. Do not use the castile in a regular pump dispenser.

Let me know if you have any other questions!
Lisa

Anny says:

Hi Lisa,
Thanks for replying. I read that you can wash your produce with only vinegar. What is your thought on it? Thx

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Anny – Vinegar definitely cuts grease and is non-toxic. It is an acid, though, and would probably affect the taste of the produce. It also doesn’t have the dirt-transporting ability of a soap or detergent. Bottom line – it won’t hurt it, but might not do as good a job as Sal Suds or another produce wash.

Take care!
Lisa

anny says:

hi lisa
thank you for this post! this is just what I am looking for. I am planning to buy dr. bronner’s unscented baby mild soap to be used as baby wash / shampoo for my 2 yrs old. my question, can I use dr B’s baby mild for handwash, produce wash, floor cleaner just like that without leaving the film residue like you mentioned above? by the way should I go for lavender version instead of the unscented one for all the uses I describe above? regarding sal suds, r they better or the same as dr B’s?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Anny – The castile soap is great for the body (handwashing or shower, etc.) and works very well around the house (mopping, sinks/tubs, etc.), but I don’t recommend it on produce. You could use the lavender if you prefer for body washing or cleaning the house. The scent is a matter of personal preference. Sal Suds has a slight advantage for around the house. It is a detergent instead of a soap, which means it is slightly more powerful, more clean rinsing, and more concentrated. You will need less Sal Suds than castile soap. It works well as a produce wash as well – add 1 drop to a bowl of water and dunk the produce in the bowl. A quick rinse and you’re good to go.

Let me know if you have further questions!

All the best,
Lisa

Michael MacLaren says:

Hi Lisa. Thanks for posting this. You are absolutely correct about this and there are far too many people posting homemade concoctions on the web that don’t realize this. For laundry, I shred 1 bar of Dr. Bronner’s soap with a cheese grater and mix the powder with 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of washing soda. I use 1-2 Tbs. per load at the laundromat with front loading HE washers. A trick is to sprinkle the powder in the tray while the water is flowing into the machine for the wash cycle. Otherwise, the powder can clump up in the tray and not flow down to the basin. Then, I add a fair amount of vinegar to the softener compartment AFTER the rinse cycle has started. I don’t want any disturbing my wash cycle.

For washing dishes I’m going to try dilute Sal Suds with a little vinegar.

I came across an automatic dishwasher recipe that combines Borax, washing soda, citric acid, and coarse salt. This seems to have the same problem of combining a base and an acid. Now, it’s added as a powder, so maybe the exothermic reaction of the acid and the base helps scour dried food off of the dishes. However, once it’s all dissolved and mixed, it seems as though the remaining solution is just a salty, slightly basic buffer. I guess a salty buffer in hot water might actually work in combination with the high powered spray of a dishwasher. I may just try 1:1 Borax:washing soda with vinegar as a rinse agent on the highest dispenser amount. Do you have any thoughts? I’ll let you know how it works.

Lisa Bronner says:

@Michael – I think your dishwasher ratio is definitely worth trying out. Everything takes experimentation. You might want to mix this up and add a little hot water in a bowl to see what happens. You can also use it to wash a few dishes by hands (really oily ones) to see what happens before you load up your dishwasher. I’ll give it a shot as well. Let me know how yours turns out!

All the best,
Lisa

Casey Angelova says:

Thank you for this post! I have been racking my brain to figure this out. I made my own Castile soap from 100% olive oil and I have been really frustrated by the vinegar issue.

Queen of Green says:

Interesting cause I also took chemistry. But I’ve never had a problem with film or effectiveness when mixing the two, Lindsay

Lisa Bronner says:

Hey Lindsay! Thanks for weighing in on this. Would you be up for sharing your method/recipe? If there’s a way around this, it would be great to know.

All the best,
Lisa

Jen says:

You are ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. I was worried about my little concoction because your explanation made so much sense. When I checked on it tonight, the solution was no longer milky–it had cleared; and when I shook it up, there were NO suds. The vinegar completely neutralized the soap. I am now a believer in the ‘one-two punch’ method! It is more wiping, but it’s so much more fun to clean when I understand the science!

Jen says:

Take a look at this recipe:

3 cups water
1 tbsp liquid castile soap (I used unscented Dr. Bronner’s)
1 cup vinegar
1 quart squirt bottle or similar

When I tried this the first time, I mixed everything quickly and used cold water, and the soap curdled instantly. Then I tried GENTLY mixing the soap with HOT tap water FIRST, and then SLOWLY added the vinegar. The soap didn’t curdle; rather, it produced a nice, homogenous milky liquid. (Try it!)

My question for you chemistry types (and castile soap experts) is this: is the soap still effective in this solution? In other words, if I manage to mix these ingredients together without curdling, do I still retain the beneficial effects of both?

Lisa Bronner says:

@ Jen – I really hate to be the killjoy here, but this still doesn’t work. It doesn’t work in theory, and I tried it, and it doesn’t work in practice. I found, like you, that the hot water did eliminate the curdled-ness, and I had the smooth, milky mixture. So I tried to see how effective it was. First I just put some on my hand to try to lather up some bubbles – no go. Then I rinsed that off my hands, and my hands were still oily. I had to wash them with regular soap to get them clean. (This is because the oils are leftover after the vinegars splits the soap molecules back apart.) Then I put some canola oil on my hand to see what the solution would do, and it had no impact whatsoever at getting the oil off my hands. Castile soap and vinegar can’t be combined.

On the plus side, I am so glad that people are giving safer cleaning solutions a try and figuring this all out. Don’t be discouraged! Keep on going!

~Lisa

Rosanna says:

Hi, I got a bottle of Castile soap from a friend yesterday, and I became so curious after having red everything on the bottle. Therefor I have been reading quite a lot about your soap and family today. I live in Norway, the vinegar we buy can be 35%, 7%, when you recommend the doses, what kind of vinegar are you referring to? Thank you for sharing many interesting issues. Light and joy from Rosanna (Oslo)

Lisa Bronner says:

@ Rosanna – Great question! I hadn’t thought of the differences. The vinegar I’m using is 5% acidity. If you have one that’s stronger, dilute it more. So, if you’re using a 7% vinegar, use half the amount of vinegar. If you’re using the 35%, use 1/7th the amount of vinegar – or about 2 Tbsp. for every cup I recommend.

All the best,
Lisa

Jenn says:

Oh thank you for this information so much! Chemistry class was years ago and with all these recipes online it seems that a lot of other folks forgot about it, too. This “one-two punch” actually simplifies things for me as I don’t have to have multiple bottles of stuff for different things – I can just have this combo for just about everything. 🙂

Lisa Bronner says:

@ Joy – Regarding rinsing after using the castile soap on your floors, it all depends on the hardness of your water, and what the floor looks like after you mop. If you don’t have hard water, then there is a much smaller chance of having any residue on the floor. Also, if you don’t notice any residue on the floor, then don’t bother rinsing. Using the Sal Suds cleaner avoids this problem all-together. It doesn’t leave a residue in hard or soft water. You can check out my post about mopping with it here: http://lisa.drbronner.com/?p=299.

I have a couple foaming hand soaps going, and I don’t notice a particular build up because of them.

Let me know if you have any further questions.

All the best,
Lisa

Joy says:

I am new to the Dr. B’s soaps and am looking forward to using them. Our house has a lot of wood floor. Can I use the castile soap on it without having to rinse it after? I was planning on making a foaming hand soap mix in our dispenser for our family to use when handwashing but does it really leave a film in the sink? I am not sure I want to try it then if it does. Thanks.

Becky says:

Finally! Someone who actually knows something! I hate trying all these recipes that I find that don’t work because someone thought the combination sounded good rather than actually knowing the science behind it. Thank-you for your very educating article. I have a better idea of things to look for now. 🙂

Gina says:

Which is better to use on tile floors, Sal Suds or vinegar water? Also, if I use Sal Suds on my floors, must I rinse afterwards? Can I use a little borax in with Sal Suds to clean floors?

Lisa Bronner says:

@ Gina – The Sal Suds definitely cleans better, but if you have a tile floor that doesn’t get much use (like a spare bathroom, or something), then the vinegar water would probably be fine. Both are fine options. The difference is that vinegar cuts grease and dissolves mineral deposits. Sal Suds attaches to dirt and bonds it to the water to be lifted away. I am not a fan of borax because of its toxicity, and I don’t think it would improve your floor cleaning solution. If you use Sal Suds, you do not need to rinse afterwards, so long as you don’t see bubbles left on the floor. It is a case of not using too much Sal Suds. I use about 1/2 tsp. in my mopping bucket. If you do find that you have leftover bubbles, do the vinegar rinse: 1 c. vinegar in your mop water. I usually add my favorite essential oil (right now it’s sweet orange), if I do the vinegar water.

Hope that helps! ~Lisa

Lisa Bronner says:

@Everyone – Glad this is helping! Thanks for mentioning me, Brandy!

@Gina – You can mix the Sal Suds and the castile soaps. There would be no reaction between them. You might not get any different/better results, though, than with using them individually. If it is the scent of the castile soaps that you are looking for, you could use pure essential oils added to the Sal Suds. I do that with my mop bucket and sometimes with my spray bottle of Sal Suds. You still wouldn’t want to add vinegar to any combination that contains the castile soap. Hope this helps!

Lisa

Brandy says:

This is great Lisa! I have a page on FB titled “Recipes for Natural Living” and we always talk about Bronner’s. I’m definitely going to share this with them.

I also appreciate you mentioning the “scum” because I make my own shampoo w/ your plain Castille and feel like I tend to have a film on my hair afterwards. It makes sense that it could be reacting to the minerals in the water because some people agree with me and others don’t have the same problem. I’m going to try the vinegar rinse after I wash my shampoo out to see if that helps.

Thanks so much for a great article and for great soap!

Gina says:

I found this searching for an answer to my question. Can you mix the Soaps with Sal Suds? It seems for a lot of household cleaning you recommend either or (or vinegar) but I want to use both on dishes and laundry, for instance, but I just wanted to know if it would work as well.

Mellisa says:

Lisa,
Thank-you so much for this article. I have been searching websites for days wondering what I did wrong. I have really thick hair and thought the residue was just from my texture. I will try using the ACV and DB in seperate containers, and let you know the result.
Mellisa 🙂

Lisa Bronner says:

@ Christine – I haven’t come across a good one yet. It’s something my brothers have been working on for some time. I assure you, when we have it figured out, I will share it with you all! ~Lisa

christine says:

Can you recommend a homemade solution using Dr. Bronners liquid soap to use in an automatic dishwasher? I just tried a recipe I found online and got the result above which is how I ended up at this site 🙂

Lisa Bronner says:

Glad this post was so helpful!

@Cameo – Anything with an acidic pH is likely to do this. Other than that, I am not aware of any other types of common natural cleaning materials that would be problematic when mixed with the castile soap.

All the best,
Lisa

Cameo says:

Thanks for the info! Are there any other ingredients you see people suggesting you mix with castile soap that shouldn’t be?

Paulo says:

This post should come first result on google.

Because there are so many online recipes telling you to mix castile soap with vinegar. I guess they never tried that and only copy the information from somewhere else.

Mix vinegar and castile soap, and you destroy the soap.
This is the truth. You cannot use both at same time. Period.

Basically by using castile soap you have a pH 10. You can clean everything except your hair (it will damage your hair, because the hair requires acid conditions). Washing it with vinegar is good however. Do all shampoos with it. You will have to mix the vinegar with a synthetic and mild detergent such as decyl glucoside, or for something natural, shikakai or soap nuts (do very little foam)

Thes says:

Thanks for writing this article to clarify the interesting facts to us. I love your castile soap.

Bex Jones says:

Well that explains a lot! I just tried an online recipe for dishwasher liquid which recommends castile soap, water & vinegar. Yuck! It looked just like your picture. There are so many online recipes which use them both too – I guess people haven’t really tried them or understood the science of the situation. Thank you so much for explaining this properly! It will save me so much time 🙂

Sarah says:

I learned this the hard way last week when I wanted to use both vinegar and Dr. Bronners on my hair together!!

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Lisa Bronner

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