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Handwashing Delicates with Dr. Bronner’s

Yes! Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap or Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner works great for handwashing delicate fabrics, even washable silks and wool.

That’s an FAQ right there. Now you know!

A capful of Castile Liquid soap or a half a capful of Sal Suds in a bowl of cold water cleans delicate fabrics beautifully. You can even put it directly on stains. So long as the garment can get wet (i.e. it doesn’t say “dry clean only”), then Dr. Bronner’s has you covered. Because machine-washing and drying our clothes is often the harshest thing we do to them, handwashing is worthwhile for delicates and those much-loved items.

Yes, I’m talking about the soap you already have on hand. The Castile soap that is sitting conveniently by your sink and in your shower. I keep a small bottle of Sal Suds in my bathroom cabinet just for this purpose. I am all for any little bit of time-saving, so if I don’t have to head off to another room to find the specialty laundry detergent, that’s a few moments of my life saved right there. And those moments add up!

Next time you’re about to shower, take that blouse, sweater, or scarf you’ve been neglecting and fill your sink with cold water. Add that small squirt of Castile or the Sal Suds, dunk the garment in and swish a bit. By the time your shower is done, the garment is ready to be rinsed. It couldn’t be easier.

Or how about during bath time for your little ones? Here’s a Mom Confession: when my kids were littles, I used to get so very, very bored when they were in the tub. They loved their bath time so much, and it certainly kept them occupied and out of other mischief. But since I couldn’t leave the room lest they stand up and slip and crack their heads (Castile & Sal Suds also cleans up blood, BTW), I felt like a prisoner in there, or like an ogre if I did a quick bath and pulled them out.

I’m not implying that handwashing laundry is a scintillating activity, but it is productive and keeps you occupied while they’re splish-splashing beside you. With the very same Castile soap, wash the kid and wash the clothes. Why stop there? Wash the tub, wash the dog, wash the sink, wash the rug… Maybe I’m getting a little carried away here. But then again, why not? This soap works on all that and more.

The Method – As shown in the video

Add 1 capful (about 1 Tbsp. or 15 mL) Dr. Bronner’s Liquid Castile Soap OR ½ capful (1/2 Tbsp. or 7.5 mL) Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds to about 1 gallon (1 L) cold water. Swish gently. Let soak 10 minutes. Swish again to release loosened grime. Rinse with clean water. To condition natural fibers like silk and wool, add 1 cup (240 mL) white vinegar to cold water. Swish garment and rinse once more. In a towel, gently press excess water out of fabric. Lay stretchy or heavy fabrics flat, or hang lightweight fabrics to dry. Check out the video for a few more handwash tips.

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Anne-Marie McMurray says:

Can I use Dr. Bronner’s on delicate lingerie like bras that have elastic or should I use a specific lingerie detergent, such as ‘Forever New’ or ‘Ivory Snow’? I use Dr. Bronner’s for practically everything and love it.
Thank-you,

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Anne-Marie- I use both Castile Soap and Sal Suds – whichever one’s within reach – on lingerie, swimsuits, workout wear, and so on, all without issue.

Tom says:

This doesn’t address rinsing clothes and getting the soap out. If you don’t believe me: wash a batch and repeatedly rinse them in hot water in a sink. After each hot water rinse you will be able to feel soap residue on the edge of the sink. Remove this residue and then rinse again. It will be there for many rinses. Rinsing in cold water leaves all of the soap in the clothes. We need a safe chemical to add to the rinse water to aid in detaching the soap from the clothes during rinsing.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Tom- Does your water happen to be artificially softened? I have noticed when I have visited houses with water softeners that I have difficulty rinsing soap out, even off of myself. This is a case where hard water might be better. Another option is to add a spoonful of baking soda to the water for buffering. It might bind with the minerals in the water instead of the minerals binding with the soap. Let me know if either of these ideas are on track.

Karen Nesbitt says:

I would use less than a TBSP per gallon. I squirt my diluted Dr. Bronner’s onto the garment or stain, then a few squirts into the sink. Let it soak, then rinse in lukewarm water.

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Rae Sippel says:

Thank you for the video, definitely need different music next time…something calmer. Haha.

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Jenylyn Smyth says:

I really needed this as I just recently purchased underwear that are made with 100% pure organic cotton from Cottonique and I was thinking of using Dr. Bronners to wash them. The fabric is very delicate and made with natural fibers that is why I wanted to do some research before proceeding. This was a very helpful post! Thank you!

Dawn says:

Won’t clothes get a white film residue from the combination of castille soap and vinegar?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Dawn- Because the soap is rinsed out before the vinegar rinse, there will be no interaction.

Joyce Kellett says:

I have been a Bronner Gal for many years and Always felt safe using ALL the products. A SPECIAL THANK YOU TO THE BRONNER FAMILIES.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Joyce- That’s awesome to hear! And thank YOU!

Abigail says:

Hi Lisa,

I’ve recently been researching ways to eliminate chemicals in my home and found Dr. Bronner’s etc.
In specifically looking at laundry detergent, I found lots of conflicting research – some people are saying that using Castile soap as a laundry soap is not good for the fabric? They say that the way soap molecules react with the fabric and actually make them weaker, and that soap doesn’t clean fabric properly. I.e it does not rinse out, and leaves behind an undetectable grime in the fabric which only comes out by chelating? Also that as soap isn’t a detergent, it is better to use something that is a detergent (Which would be Sals Suds in this case I’m guessing).
I guess what I’m trying to find out is, is this true? Or is Castile soap really okay for your clothes?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Abigail- Castile soap does work in the laundry, but there are some pros and cons. In hard water, it reacts with the minerals in the water which then cling to fabrics, reducing the absorbency of towels and such. But this is easily counteracted by adding vinegar to the rinse cycle (via the fabric softener compartment). Castile soap is also not quite as effective in cold water. I’ve not heard, nor experienced, that it weakens fabrics. Sal Suds is my go-to for laundry. It doesn’t have the same interaction with hard water, rinses exceedingly clean, and is equally effective in cold or hot water. My most recent blog post covers the topic of laundry more in-depth: https://www.lisabronner.com/green-laundry-care-with-dr-bronners-video/.

Barbara D Ledig says:

Love, love, love this soap. Are use it for everything and also wash my delicates with it. It doesn’t dry out my hands and lives close and body nice and fresh. Thank you for a great product.

Lisa Bronner says:

Thanks for the love, Barbara! And you are very welcome!

Grace says:

Is Sal Suds tougher on fabrics versus the regular castile blends? I have stopped using detergent and only use Sal Suds in the wash machine. But I am curious if I should use the castile on delicates?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Grace- Both are equally gentle on fabrics, but if you have hard water you may prefer Sal Suds over the Castile soap.

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Ginger ACC says:

I live at a house where there is a water softening system and it makes Castile soap clean like a magic genie. We have a pool and it makes life easier by lathering up with some dr. B’s while I have my swim suit still on. I take it off while it’s still a little soapy and put it in a bucket. I give it a quick rinse after I am done showering and carry it out to drip dry and it comes out clean every time.

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