Using Castile Baby Mild Soap on Babies

Castile Baby

I use Dr. Bronner’s Baby Unscented Castile 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 9.3, 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 Unscented 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 soothing.

How to wash a baby with our Castile Baby 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.

Further reading

This use 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. 

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Mykalah says:

Hello! We are looking at switching all of our products to Dr.Bronner’s and just had a couple questions before placing an order. Would the unscented Organic Sugar Soap work for both children and adults for hair? Would the Magic Balm unscented or lotion in lavender work best for an all over body lotion for children and adults?

Thank you!


Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Mykalah- I apologies for my slow response. Yes, the Unscented Sugar Soaps can be used for any age. Keep in mind, no true soaps are tear-free, so take care to keep out of the eyes. When my three were babies, I found it easiest to use a couple drops on a wash cloth to bathe them. The key to using a true soap to wash hair is to use an acidic rinse – either ACV or the Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Hair Rinse. After I have thoroughly rinsed out the soap, I dilute a capful of the Citrus Organic Hair Rinse in a cup and then pour it over my head and work it through and rinse thoroughly. Alternatively, use about 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar diluted with 1/2 cup water as an acidic rinse. During the couple weeks of transition, especially if you’re coming from a conventional shampoo/conditioner regimen, you may need to use another crème conditioner after the rinse. Although the texture of a baby’s hair does not require an acidic rinse. I didn’t use it on my kids until around age 5 or 6 when their hair became a little coarser. As to your last question, the Unscented Magic Balm can be used all over, although it is a thicker texture than the lotion – think of a salve. The lotion is nice and light.

Sandra says:

Hi! I have a question, I use the unscented Castile soap on my son, he’s 12 months old, it’s worked great so far but I notice that his hair is getting a bit greasy, he gets a bath 3-4 times a week, should I shampoo his hair less or use a different soap for his hair?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Sandra – It’s great to hear that you’ve been using the unscented Castile. Most likely what you’re noticing is that your son’s hair is transitioning from the Vellus stage, which is the second hair growth stage and occurs after babies lose their newborn Lanugo hair, and into the Terminal stage, which is what he’ll have for the rest of his life. Terminal hair is thicker and stronger than either of the two previous stages. Generally, the soap alone works great on Vellus hair, but as hair moves into its permanent texture, it needs to be treated differently. It is more susceptable to pH differences. For smoothness, the alkalinity of a true soap like ours needs to be balanced out with a bit of acidity. Your options are to use a bit of something acidic on his hair after you wash it such as a bit of Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Hair Rinse or a bit of lemon juice (just a bit of either in your hand and run through his hair would be fine), or you would need to switch to a shampoo which would be synthetic cleanser that could have an acidic pH.

Sandra says:

Ok great! Thank you for the quick response, if I use the dr bronners citrus hair rinse do I need to rinse it out after I apply it?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Sandra – Yes, you apply it diluted through the hair (you only need a bit) and then rinse it out.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Ali- Our Castile Soaps don’t taste very good – they taste like soap – but getting a small amount in his mouth is not a concern. In fact, we have a good number of customers who brush their teeth with our soap. Likewise, swallowing a small amount of soap wouldn’t be harmful. Depending on how much was swallowed, it could cause an upset stomach. We recommend drinking plenty of liquids and reaching out to your medical care provider with any concerns.

Claudia says:

Excuse me I have a question, are all soaps suitable for babies or is there one in particular

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Claudia- We recommend the Unscented Castile Soap for babies because is the most gentle on their sensitive skin. But any of our more mild scents, including Almond, Rose, and Lavender, are safe for babies as well. Keep in mind, no true soaps are tear-free, so take care to keep out of the eyes. When my three were babies, I found it easiest to use a couple drops on a wash cloth to bathe them.

Erika says:

Hi, I was under the impression that hair washing with alkaline castile soap should be followed with an acidic rinse to smooth the hair shaft back down. I want to switch to castile soap for my 4 month old with eczema, but was wondering about this as I don’t know of I should be doing a vinegar rinse with a young babe. Thanks!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Erika- The texture of a baby’s hair does not require an acidic rinse. I didn’t use it on my kids until around age 5 or 6 when their hair became a little coarser.

Ray says:

I do wish that your soap came with a big label that said it’s not tear free. We’ve been pouring water over her head to wash out her hair and burning her eyes for a long time :(((( I wanted to get her a natural soap but she’s a baby- of course she won’t hold her head perfectly still when I rinse her hair. What product could you recommend as a baby shampoo that wont hurt the eyes?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Ray- I hope you don’t mind that I combined your questions here. There is not a natural soap anywhere that is tear-free. Soap is by nature alkaline, and while our soap is only mildly alkaline, our eyes still do not like deviation from neutral, in either direction. In addition to using only a drop or two to wash their hair, my technique with my babies was to use a very wet washcloth to rinse their hair so that the water didn’t run over their face. There are also some very helpful bathing visors that keep water and soap from babies eyes. For a tear-free baby shampoo, which will be a synthetic product, check out the Environmental Working Group’s guide to baby products:

Michele says:

Hi Lisa,

I’m confused bc I also have been reading that to have a high ph means it wears on the Stratum corneum of our face layer which in the long haul is detrimental to our skin. Our skin is supposed to have a ph between 4.5-5-5 and any higher alkalinity is supposed to be more damaging….Have you hears this as well? I’m taking a skin formulating class and this is what I keep being told…

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Michele- I totally get your confusion in deciphering all this! To verify, our skin, including its outer layer, the stratum corneum, does have a pH of 4.5-5.5. The Stratum Corneum produces the coating called the acid mantle. During cleansing, it is not the pH of the skin that is impacted, but rather the pH of the acid mantle. Going further, it is not the pH of the cleanser that is doing this impacting, but rather the cleansing action itself, which is removing debris from the skin, including parts of the acid mantle. This is what cleansers do, regardless of their pH, be it an acidic detergent cleanser, or an alkaline soap, or even pure water. Healthy skin is constantly rejuvenating the acid mantle. The only way to avoid this disruption to the acid mantle is to avoid any sort of cleansing action. A mildly alkaline cleanser is not going to damage the skin more than a mildly acidic cleanser. Needless to say, an intensely alkaline cleanser would be a problem, just as would an intensely acidic one.

Agnes says:

Is pure castile soap suitable to wash baby’s hands with? I’d like to buy a product that we can use to wash our baby’s hands before meals and as needed. (Baby is 7 months old and has delicate skin eczema prone) Thanks for your help.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Agnes- Choose a more mild scent, such as Unscented, Lavender or Rose, for baby’s hands. Likely a drop in each little hand is plenty. Or, mix up in a foaming pump dispenser – 1 part soap to 3 parts water.

Jochebed says:

Hi Lisa! I just want to say that I LOVE this soap, it has helped clear my eczema. You guys should definitely look into creating a lotion that is unscented. This soap is amazing!!!!!!!

Lisa Bronner says:

Thank you for sharing your experience with our soap, Jochebed!

Dianne says:

18 in 1 help lavender pure castile soap got in my 15 month old granddaughters eyes. What should we do?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Dianne- Soap in the eye does not damage the eye. With a good rinse of clear water, the soap will be gone, although the eye may still appear temporarily red. As always, please seek medical help if you are concerned.

Nicole says:

Hello, I have a couple questions:
1) there are lots of baby shower and shampoo 2-in1 products in the markets said soap free and tear free, and we can simply add a bit in a small bathtub of water to clean baby without further rinsing with water again, which is easier to handle with a little baby. Can I do the same with this Baby Unscented Pure-Castile Liquid Soap? Just add little bit in a bathtub of water to clean my baby without further rinsing with water afterwards? Will it be harmful or simply not clean to leave some residual soap on baby?
2) My friend give me a bottle of lavender and peppermint pure castile soap. Can I use them on my baby? Or it is better to buy Baby unscented one? Or the Sugar soap? I am a little bit confused here and don’t know where to start.
3) Do I need to dilute the soap to wash baby clothes in washing machine? Lavender/peppermint/Baby Unscented, which one to use? Do I still need to add baking soda and vinegar?
4) Can I use it to clean the milk bottle and related utensils like bowl, spoon, sippy cup, etc when she started eating solid? How to dilute?
Thank you very much

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Nicole- It’s great to hear you’re giving our Castile Soap a try! Castile Soap is primarily designed for the body, but because it is so simple, it cleans many other things amazingly well! For little ones with sensitive skin, the Peppermint can be a little intense. Instead, use Lavender or another mild scent with your little one. A bath water rinse is fine with our soaps. Keep in mind our soaps are not tear-free, so take care to keep soap out of eyes. For laundry, use 1/2 cup Castile Soap with 1 cup vinegar added to the rinse cycle (use half these amounts in HE machines). Baking soda is not necessary, but does whiten and brighten extra grimy loads. Use 1/2 cup, or 1/4 cup in an HE machine. Use a small squirt of soap on a scrub brush or in a sinkful of water for dishes. This Castile Soap Cheat Sheet lists all the uses and dilutions in one place:

Robert says:

When it comes to the liquid products Nicole referred to at #1, whether it’s a soap-free, tear-free 2-in-1 or the soap-full, non-tear-free Bronner’s liquid, if you’re mixing with bath water to wash with, how effective could either type of product be that way if it needs no rinsing? If you were washing dishes in a sinkful of water that was soapy enough to clean them, would you skip rinsing them? On the other hand, if the soap was dilute enough to not require rinsing, would it clean better than plain water?

60 years ago they promoted bubble baths for children that way, and from what I read online it’s common practice in Britain now to bathe babies in a dilute baby bath solution like that without rinsing, but I doubt the efficacy of such products either way. To me they look like just ways to somehow convince yourself simultaneously that you’re getting the kids clean because you see them in suds water AND that they don’t need to rinse because it’s just bubble bath water. Something doesn’t add up.

When you squirt something into a tub of water and make suds, that’s not the same as using it on a wet cloth to wash with and then rinse in the tub. The same water can’t be both the wash and rinse water. There’s enough water in the tub to rinse off soap you’ve lathered directly onto yourself; the wash water was on your washcloth or just the lather on your hands, the bath water is a much larger volume. If you added just that amount of soap directly to the tub, it’s not strong enough in the bath water to clean you. If you add enough soap to the bath water to clean you, then you need fresh water to rinse with. I don’t care whether it’s Bronner’s or anyone else’s, there’s no way around this situation.

Anna R says:


Apologies if this question has already been asked. I skimmed through the comments and questions but couldn’t find an answer in particular to the 18-1 Almond Hemp Castille Soap. Can I used that on my baby? We have that for the household and wasn’t sure I can also use it for the new baby as well. If so, is there a particular dilution method I should follow.

Thank you.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Anna- Any of our more mild scents, including Almond, Rose and Lavender, are safe for babies. As the post says, no true soaps are tear-free, so take care to keep out of the eyes. For the body, there’s no need to predilute, but rather just use a couple drops on a wash cloth for baby.

D T says:

I would like to try using the pure castille soap for my 2 and 5 year old, as a body wash/shampoo. My 5 year old has eczema and I hear this would be OK to use for his sensitive skin.
How would I dilute it for body wash and shampoo? I hear it will sting the eyes? Or should I get the organic sugar wash instead?


Lisa Bronner says:

Hi D T- The Unscented Castile Soap our most gentle soap and we hear positive things from customers with eczema, sensitive skin and such. The Organic Sugar Soap is also safe for children. It contains shikakai powder and organic sugar to make it more moisturizing. Neither of these are “tear free” because that can only be done with detergents or numbing agents, so you do want to take care to keep it out of their eyes. The best thing is to put a couple of drops on a washcloth. That’s all that is needed.

Debbie says:

My 5 month old granddaughter is really suffering with eczema had cradle cap that has improved. Obviously very sensitive skin, very fair. Do you think it could possibly help the eczema? Have tried a variety of things and I guess the next move may be to consult a pediatric dermatologist, but would love if this could be the simple solution! Thanks!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Debbie- I’m sorry to hear your granddaughter is suffering with eczema. We hear from many customers that our Unscented Castile can be helpful with eczema and other skin sensitivities. In fact, the Unscented Castile Soap was first requested from us by the UCLA Medical Center Maternity Ward for use on their newborns. It is designed for baby’s delicate skin. Even though it is gentle on skin, it is not “tear free” so do take care to keep it out of eyes.

Stephanie says:

Hi Lisa,
Do I need to predilute your sugar wash too before apply to my daughter when I am washing her hair and body? She is 2.
Also, when washing her body with the sugar wash, is the soap too strong if it happens to get on her private part?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Stephanie- No, you do not need to predilute the Organic Sugar Soap. It is a lower concentration than the Pure-Castile soap, and it would be fine for sensitive areas.

Autumn Domingues says:

Accidently got into my 18 month olds eye and hes been upset for over an hour and this has really scared me. Ive washed it out and rubbed with a wet cloth but its still red. Hes so sad and so am I. This was very traumatic for us! Switching to tear free soap not this brand

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Autumn- I’m sorry to hear that happened! 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, please seek medical help if you are concerned.

Courtney Cowan says:

Can I use this as a shampoo for my baby? I have been using Dr. Bronner’s as my only soap for over a decade and I use the baby castile on my baby, but am having a difficult time finding a ‘clean’ shampoo. She has beautiful curly hair (thanks mother-in-law!) and I want to keep it as beautiful as I can. I don’t wash her hair more than once a week unless it’s necessary but I’d still prefer a clean product .

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Courtney- Castile soap works great on kids hair. I used it on my three until they were 2 or 3. The Organic Sugar Soap is another good option. Whichever you go with, take care to keep soap out of your little one’s eyes.

stacy jones says:

I just tried this soap (baby kind) I got scared after I wash up with it. I don’t want to catch a yeast infection. I this soap okay for women that’s sensitive down there??

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Stacey- Yes, Castile soap is safe for sensitive areas. The Unscented is an extra gentle option.

Misato Aki says:

But a humans ph is slightly acidic around 5.5 and if you use an alkali soap on a childs skin which is already delicate they are prone to eczema and yeast, because it strips our skin. Im not quite understanding the point in using a soap that is used as a household cleaner on skin.

Lindsay says:

Does the bar soap version of the unscented baby soap contain twice the amount of olive oil as well? What about the baby unscented sugar soap? Same thing? Thanks so much for your help.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Lindsay- With the Unscented Castile Soap, the essential oils are replaced with olive oil. Since they Organic Sugar Soaps start with the Unscented Castile Soap base, they have double the olive oil. While the bar soap does not have the double amount of olive oil, the jojoba and hemp oils are processed differently in the bar soaps which makes them more available to nourish skin.

Ashley McCall says:

So I noticed this soap doesn’t lather. How do I know it’s truly cleaning my baby? Also how should I dilute this to make it last longer and not so concentrated on her skin?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Ashley- The Baby Unscented Castile does not suds up as much as our scented soaps because it contains double the amount of olive oil. This makes it extra moisturizing on babies’ skin. As much as we’ve been trained to think otherwise, bubbles are not an indicator of cleaning ability. Your little one is getting clean. To use, just put a few drops on a wet washcloth. The soap is diluted that way so it’s not too strong on baby’s skin. You’ve probably noted this in my post, but bear in mind that it is not tear-free, so keep it out of your little one’s eyes.

Nikki says:

Hi I would love to say that it’s been life changing to put a small amount of dr bronners and some water in a foaming soap dispenser! It’s changed my life. I absolutely love it and it gets it lathered. You can buy decorative ones but I just got a couple of 99 cent ones at discount stores that already had a soap in it and replaced the soap.

About Lisa Bronner

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

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