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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Kristine says:

Can the Dr. Bronner’s lavender castile soap be used on baby’s if diluted properly?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Kristine- Yes, it sure can. It has the added benefit of calming your little one to boot.

Liz says:

I was holding my 2.5 mo baby while washing my hands (one at a time) & apparently she found a spot on my arm that had it on there & apparently swallowed a drop or two of what was on my arm… is that something I should be concerned about? Like should I take her to the doctor today?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Liz- That must have been worrisome! Know that our soaps are not known to be toxic. As is the case with any soap, ingestion of larger quantities might cause an upset stomach or nausea. As always, please check with your pediatrician if you have any concerns.

Gerry says:

Dr Bonners soaps are fantastic. We have been using them for over a decade. Yet, they should come with precautions especially for babies that cannot speak. Since we had our child, we had to take measures to protect baby’s (now a child) sensitive skin, eyes, and yes, private areas. We only use unscented baby sugar or Castille soap for our child. The soaps with the essential oils sting the eyes and private areas. Definitely worth a try on adults before subjecting the babies. Something that Dr Bronners should warn customers about, especially with babies.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Gerry – Thank you for making this point. Our Unscented soaps are always the safest bet for little ones and adults with sensitivities.

Sarah says:

Hi, The article is good and My daughter is six month and and when she was 2 month she have allergic problem. Then I go to my family doctor and she recommend me Dr. Bronner’s baby mild liquid soap when I use this soap I never face again allergic problem in my daughter, it’s good for baby skin and I recommend parents to use this soap.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Maj – My apologies for not seeing your question earlier. I know my timing will not be helpful in this incident, but in case another parent has a similar question – 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. I have leaned my little one forward and cupped water in my hand to rinse. Also, I have found it helpful to put a small squirt of soap on a wet washcloth and wash them down. This helps to control where the soap goes and keeps it out of their eyes. As always, please seek medical help if you are concerned.

Katelyn says:

I was worried about this too!! It specifically says to keep out of eyes because it can cause cornea burns. Is this true?!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Katelyn- True soaps can only be alkaline and so are irritating to the eyes. Our eyes are sensitive to anything that isn’t near neutral pH. Neutral pH is not possible without synthetic ingredients. Because our soaps contain no synthetic ingredients, we cannot make a tear-free formula. However, our soaps have a very mild pH for soap, around 9.3.

Andrew Schwartz says:

Hi Lisa. In your comment on July 24, 2017 you suggested diluting the soap 1:3 in a pump dispenser.

According to the Dr Bronners Cheat Sheat it should be diluted 1:10 for handwashing dishes.

Am I understanding correctly that the recommendation is to use stronger soap on childrens’ skin than on dishes? Aren’t dish soaps usually stronger than hand/body soaps?

Thanks for all of your help! We love your products.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Andrew – I love to hear how closely you’re reading my blog! Thanks! The 1:3 ratio is for a foaming pump dispenser. If you go to a lower ratio, you won’t get as rich and creamy of a foam coming out of the pump. Also, with handwashing, usually we wet our hands first, so that throws more water into the situation. For the handwashing dishes, I was picturing squirting this directly on the dirty dishes so that it wet them and gave soap in one go. However, all these dilutions are a guide to get you started. You should definitely tweak them to what works best for you, your water, and the surfaces you’re cleaning. The soap is effective yet gentle at any concentration. Using a more concentrated amount doesn’t at all make it unsafe. You might just be using more than you need. Use my numbers as a starting point and customize to your liking. Have fun!

Robert says:

Is the idea to cover the dishes with lather and let it soak in for a while before washing?

If not — if you’re just going to wash right away — then I don’t see the point of a foaming dispenser for this or Dawn or the other products they’ve been made for. Seems to me it’d be more convenient & cheaper to lather a cloth or sponge with bar soap. If you’re going to use a cloth or sponge anyway, seems that creating a foam separately is a wasted step.

Creating a concentrated foam & applying it to a surface makes sense in a car wash and similar cleaning applications. But people are making foamers & using them for cleaning applications that don’t seem to make sense to me. For instance, they came out with foams to apply to a baby’s head for shampooing. If the child were a bit older, that’d be foam for them to play with, which is fine, but if you just want to shampoo a little one’s head quickly it doesn’t save a step, because the material has to wet their hair down to the skin. You’re not going to get away from the task of getting dilute shampoo or soap thru to the scalp, so it’s no advantage to start with a foam rather than a liquid or bar. What DOES save a little work is to pre-dilute the shampoo so you can wet the hair directly with it; it’s easier to mix it in a cup than on a squirmy head.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Robert – You can cover and soak the dishes, although you don’t need to. A drop of Sal Suds on a sponge goes a long way. As for the foam, it all comes down to personal preference – and might vary in different situations, as you point out.

Chris says:

Many DIY baby wipes recipes recommend Dr. Bronner’s unscented castile baby soap as an ingredient when creating a natural DIY baby wipe product. Wouldn’t soap residue be left on the skin if you don’t rinse with water after using these DIY baby wipes?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Chris – It entirely depends on the concentration of the soap in the solution. I have a recipe that’s going to post in a video soon that calls for 1 tsp. of Unscented Baby Mild Castile in 1 1/2 c. of water, as well as a small amount of coconut oil and essential oils. Because of the water also present in the situation, the soap is going to attract to that on one side, as well as grabbing the grime on the other, and be able to be wiped away easily. At such a low concentration as is here, there shouldn’t be excess soap left on the baby’s skin. However, if you would like, feel free to leave the soap out. I’ve seen other variations that use witch hazel, or even just rely on the essential oils.

Heidi Johnson says:

I used to have random break outs on my face until I started making my own face wash with Dr. Bronner’s baby mild soap. My face has never been so clear for so long (almost 2 years). I use a 1:3 ratio (soap:water) and add vitamin E oil, tea tree and lavender essential oils to a foaming pump bottle. I exfoliate twice a week and use hemp seed oil as a daily moisturizer. I hope this helps someone that may have the same issues I did.

Lisa Bronner says:

Glad you shared, Heidi! I’m sure it will help other readers.

Robert says:

I’m certain Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile would still work in the old institutional dispensers. I’m also surprised you didn’t know your great-great grandfather developed that liquid soap for use in the large factories that had been constructed around that time. When it made sense to bring together a large number of hand laborers, it made sense to have hand washing facilities for them, and liquid soap dispensing made the operation more efficient and cleaner. (If you look online most people cite a later patent from elsewhere for a thickened liquid soap, which is strange because the same blurbs claim the problem with previous liquids had been clogging. I think someone goofed the history.) I don’t know who invented the dispenser, just guessing it might’ve been your great-great grandfather too, or it might’ve been some type of plumbing adapted from some other use. Clogging can happen only when there’s air space as part of the machinery, as can be the case with fancier pump dispensers these days. If there’s no air for the solution to evaporate into, it can’t thicken.

Traditionally soaps had been soft, made from ash with a variable mixture of potassium and sodium. When processes were developed to produce pure sodium hydroxide, that made seriously hard soaps practicable, and they were preferable for most purposes in commerce. Apparently it took your great-great grandfather to see the use of the opposite where large numbers of users needed to be served: pure potassium soaps, which could be made into stable solutions. But until your grandfather, nobody thought there’d be much market for that for home bathrooms.

As long as I raised the issue of your father’s equipment used in the Magic Foam Experence, I’ll point out that although that superficially resembles foam parties, there’s an important difference: The equipment and non-soap solutions used for foam dancing produce a relatively large-bubble dry foam that in many cases you can stand to have in contact with your skin and the clothes you’re wearing for long periods before it starts to itch. The foams produced at your events are heavy lathers, suitable for washing with, preferably naked, and have to be rinsed promptly. However, I’ve gotten even denser foam for similar use with an upholstery shampooer attachment meant for Kirby vacuum cleaners, using a dilution of the Liquid Ivory Soap that was made from the middle 1970s to the middle 1980s; Bronner’s makes a looser foam in the same equipment. Sometimes I added food coloring, which tinted the foam when the Ivory product was used, but Bronner’s foam wasn’t opaque enough to make the tint easily visible unless I used a lot of coloring.

Jessica says:

Is the unscented baby Castile soap safe to use to clean baby toys? If so, what is the ratio to mix with water?

Lisa Bronner says:

HI Jessica – Yes, the unscented Baby Mild CAstile would be a great option for cleaning baby toys. You could either do an All Purpose spray with 1/4 c. of soap in a quart of water to spray and wipe toys, or fill a tub with a gallon or so of water and add a couple cap fulls of soap to dunk the toys in and rinse.

Jordan Nicole says:

Hi Lisa,
I was just wondering about using the bar soap in place of the liquid soap? My husband and I use the bar soap to wash our bodies and hair. I would assume they are very similar. Would a bar soap rubbed on a wash cloth be the same as a couple drops of the liquid?
I prefer the bar because I find it easy to over use the liquid. In every pump bottle I have found it clogs, do you by chance have any solution for that as well?
Best wishes!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Jordan – The bar soap is a great option, and yes, a few swipes on your washcloth will clean you from head to toe. The liquid has never worked in regular pumps. It always clogs, or worse, partially clogs and shoots out sideways. You probably know what I mean. It only works in foaming pumps, diluted at a 1:3 ratio.

Robert says:

The liquid’s viscosity was made for the types of institutional (rest rooms, shower rooms) dispenser I haven’t seen for a while, gravity fed from a reservoir. Pushing inward or upward (depending on design) fed the next aliquot in handy measure. They were nearly clog-proof, although they sometimes developed an icicle of solidified soap around the mouth. An ancestor of Dr. Bronner developed that soap — maybe the dispenser too — long before he took up the soap business, maybe before he was even born. It was his idea that some people would want such a liquid for home use, at a time when industry trends were not in that direction at all.

The physical characteristics of the liquid product make a big difference with equipment. A few years ago someone in the company engineered the foamer to be used for the promotional appearances of Dr. Bronner’s at summer festivals for revelers to bathe in. Existing machines used for foam dancing (foam parties) were optimized for non-soap liquid formulas, and those aren’t always interchangeable in the equipment either.

Lisa Bronner says:

It’s great to hear your interest in the history of our products. I enjoy sharing our roots. My grandfather’s grandfather developed the liquid castile soap in Germany in 1848. I’m not sure what put it into his head to develop the liquid, but it was the first of its kind. Prior to that soap was a bar or cake. I’m curious to know whether the Castile would work in those industrial dispensers. We’ve never tried it.

The Snofoam has a different story. My dad, Jim Bronner, who was Dr. Bronner’s youngest child, was also a chemist but did not work with his father until late in his career. He held many patents of his own, in particular for a foam fire retardant that could be dropped from an airplane and would cling to trees and vertical surfaces, unlike water which would fall straight to the ground. It provided better protection of unburned areas during forest or wildfires. It also looked a whole lot like snow when it was clinging to the trees. With that thought, he removed the fire retardant chemicals out of it, leaving behind the foaming structure. He named it Snofoam and marketed it to the special effects industry for use when snow was needed for filming but was hard to come by in sunny southern California. He also created a special machine that created the foam. He held patents on both. My dad has passed on, but in his memory we have employed his technology in our Magic Foam Experience which we bring to community events and schools. You can read more about it here:

Abbe M says:

Hi Lisa!
Is the baby mild a good alternative to baby laundry detergent, or does the double olive oil make that a bad idea?
Additionally, does baby need a hair rinse if using the baby mild on hair?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Abbe – The Baby Castile soap would work well for baby laundry, but I do recommend a vinegar rinse. 1/3 c. of soap in the wash and 1/2 c. vinegar in the rinse. The only thing that has a slight edge is the Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds. It is slightly tougher on stains. It doesn’t have any dyes or fragrance and is exceedingly clean rinsing.

You do not need a hair rinse on baby hair. The texture of their hair does not require it. I didn’t need to use it on my kids until around 5 or 6 when their hair became a little coarser.

Ashwini M. Shetty says:

Hello Lisa,I recently got my sister to buy a bottle of the baby mild liquid soap to make some baby wipe solution out of it. I had 2 doubts:
1) the number etched on the bottle reads 16273 4513…can you tell me what it means in terms of date of manufacture?
2) Can we adults use it to bathe without diluting it?if so what is the quantity needed for the body/hair?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi there – the first 5 numbers indicate that it was made on September 29, 2016. (The Julian date indicates the year first – 16 – and then the day 273.) Yes, adults can definitely bathe with the unscented Castile. Many adults who are sensitive to scents prefer this, or some people like to add their own essential oils to it and use the unscented Baby Mild as the base. I don’t dilute it for myself. I just squirt a little bit on to a wet washcloth in the shower. For my long hair, I use about 1 to 1 1/2 teaspoon, or 5-8 mL. For my body I use about the same.

Lindsay says:

Could this be used for kids/babies hair as well? I haven’t heard much about using it as shampoo, but does it work well for this too? Thanks1

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Lindsay – I used it on my kids’ hair while they were babies. It seemed that with the silky fine baby hair, I never needed a rinse of any sort. It was still beautifully soft and smooth. When they’re kid hair came in, two of my three needed a rinse aid such as apple cider vinegar or Dr. Bronner’s Citrus Hair Rinse. One of my sons, who likes his hair super short, just uses the castile with nothing else. My other son with longer hair needs a rinse.

Maria says:

I just bought the almond hemp soap, is it safe for baby?? What r uses for it, and measurements?? I have a foaming hand pump also.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Maria – The Almond Castile is safe for babies. As the post says, no true soaps are tear-free, so keep them out of the eyes. For the body, I don’t predilute, but rather just use a couple drops on a wash cloth for baby or a squirt or two for myself. This versatile soap can be used to clean much more though, and this Cheat Sheet has some more ideas. For a foaming pump, use 1 part soap to 3 parts water.

Nadia says:

Can you please help me with how much soap I should use with a 750mL bottle of water. My daughter is 3 months old and her daycare requested I bring some soap on case they need to bathe her. Please let me know… thanks ☺

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Nadia – I am very sorry not to have seen your question from March. If it’s still helpful, consider using a smaller bottle. When you dilute the soap, you’re also diluted the preservative, and if this bottle isn’t going to get used often at the daycare, it might end up sitting around for a couple months. Perhaps just sending in a 2 ounce bottle would be better. However, if you’d still like to predilute, do a 1:3 ratio – one quarter full of soap and 3 quarters full of water.

Stewart says:

First let me say I am a huge fan of natural REAL soaps. After reading a lot of threads about the soaps, I am going to put something in perspective. I have used soaps since I was a baby. My Mom always used soaps, not special baby cleansers. I ALWAYS got it in my eyes!! YES it stings! You rinse them out and you’re fine! To this day, I get soap in my eyes! IT STINGS! I rinse it out and I am FINE! To me THAT IS PERFECTLY NORMAL. Of course I try to avoid the eyes, but not always successful. If you have REAL soap, there is no way to get away from this. Real soap is going to have a PH roughly, of 9. If it is neutral, it WILL be ineffective as a cleanser, period. The choice is so simple. Use soap or use these cleansers that are full of petroleum distillates and chemicals that cause cancer, dermatitis, dry skin, liver disease, and the list goes on and on. For me the choice is clear. The healthiest you can get is PURE unadulterated SOAP.

The soap in the eyes thing is NOT unique to Dr. Bronner’s soaps. All REAL soaps will be uncomfortable in the eyes. I consider that a fact of life. It has always been that way! Keep up the good work Lisa!

Kerry says:

Hi! I just bought some lavender Castile soap. Have you heard of anyone using this on babies? Maybe I can make a very diluted solution?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Kerry – The Lavender Castile is an awesome option for babies. The lavender essential oil is very soothing for them. And for you! Diluting it is good, or just put a drop or two on a washcloth and wash them down. You’ve probably noted this in what I said above, but bear in mind that it is not tear-free, so keep it out of their eyes.

Lisa Schoolfield says:

Dear Lisa,
Bronner’s soaps were my introduction to mild and safe skin care many, many years ago. I love your products! I am so pleased that your family continues to make them. I will occasionally add an additional drop or two of an essential oil to a bottle,( my favorite is to add Rosemary to the lavender soap) just for a change of pace, as your liquids soaps make a lovely base for hand soaps.

Lisa S.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Lisa – Wonderful! Thank you so much for your kind words! Adding your own essential oils to the soaps is a great way to personalize them. Rosemary sounds wonderful!

Carol Favorita says:

My local store only has the baby Dr. Bronners. Is it as strong as the tea tree or other Dr Bronners for using on people and cleaning?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Carol – The Unscented Baby Mild is the same soap base as our scented soaps, with a slightly higher ratio of olive oil in the olive/coconut/palm kernel combination. It will clean just as well. The only loss is the benefits you get from the essential oils themselves. Tea Tree oil, for example, has strong inherent antimicrobial properties. Peppermint is energizing and Lavender is calming. However, you can add essential oils yourself. You can buy a 1 oz. bottle of your favorite essential oil (just make sure it says “pure essential oil” or else it’s actually diluted in an unscented oil). Add a few drops at a time to your soap until it smells the way you’d like.

Annette says:

I use the Baby-Mild Soap for my 6 month old baby since she was first washed and I love it! Her skin is silky smooth and people often comment how good she smells even though the soap (and everything else I use) is fragrance free!
I currently use the peppermint toothpaste for myself and now that my baby has 2 teeth I am wondering if it is OK to use a teeny, tiny bit of it for her when I brush her teeth and gums.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Annette – Wonderful! Sounds like your baby is a better “spokesperson” than anyone we have here! As far as the toothpaste goes, the peppermint might be a little zingy for her. The cinnamon, according to my kids, is the spiciest of all. The Anise, however, is very mild, and is my kids’ favorite. A very little bit of that should get her well on her way to good oral hygiene!

Nikie says:

Hi, i’m interested to use soap bar to my baby, anyway, i heard pH for baby should be 5.5-6 but soap pH is around 8-10, then can i still use it to my baby or change to use liquid soap?

thank you

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Nikie – The pH of all soap is alkaline, and both our bar and liquid soaps have a pH of around 8.9. It is a very safe and gentle soap to use on babies. I always like to remind parents, though, as I say up in the post, that our soap is not tear free.

Robert says:

It’s been pointed out for, like, a century that skin pH is several points lower than that of soap, but nobody’s ever shown that it matters. In fact when it’s been studied, it doesn’t. It’s not as if you’re replacing the acid mantle on your skin with soap, as if you were leaving the soap on all day as a lotion. Whatever you use to wash with, it’s going to wash off a layer of material from your skin that is acidic, whether the wash is alkaline or not.

Dan Marsh says:

Most soaps and shampoos — including Castile — are very irritating to eyes, but a high pH doesn’t mean it will irritate skin. You want a wash that won’t dry out the skin, and be sure to rinse well. I’m not sure what benefit you expect from a bar soap, but if your baby wash isn’t tear-free, it might make sense to get a bar soap, so you don’t confuse it with a tear-free shampoo.

Many of the ingredients in tear-free shampoos, like Johnson & Johnson, sound scary because they don’t use common English names. For instance, citric acid is used to lower pHs… but it’s what makes lemons and oranges taste tangy. However, Quarternium-15 is actually a potential problem: it can cause contact dermatitis in some children, and could potentially release formaldehyde if not treated properly. Tetrasodium EDTA would be very bad to chug, but is probably harmless… yet it doesn’t degrade in the environment very well, so kudos to environmentalists seeking to avoid it.

Christina says:

Hi Lisa!

After washing my kids’ hair with the unscented Castile soap, do I use the citrus rinse or vinegar water mix?
I’m not sure if they will get the residue from the Castile soap alone that I did when first using the product (before I knew about the citrus rinse/vinegar rinse.)

Thank you for your help!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Christina – This depends on the child’s hair. One of my sons has very stiff coarse hair. It’s pretty short. He washes with the castile soap and doesn’t use any rinse. His hair is softened by it. My daughter has finer, long hair. If she uses the castile soap, she needs an acidic rinse or else it is very tangly. It isn’t a residue on the hair, but instead is due to the pH causing the follicles on each hair strand to stick out. This causes the strands to feel sticky (kind of along the lines of velcro) and the hair easily entangles.

ana septix says:

I recently purchased the baby mild soap and i am excited to use a chemical free soap, and really hopeful that it will clear up my three month old daughter’s eczema. However i must agree that it would be helpful to clearly state “keep out of eyes” because like the others, i had to learn the hard way by my baby screaming hysterically. It would just be a considerate thing to do to put a warning on a baby soap.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Ana- Thanks for giving the Baby Mild Castile a try. I am very sorry to hear that it got in your daughter’s eyes. Although the warning on the bottle has always said to keep out of the eyes, we have added a more prominent line to the Baby Mild to remind parents that it is not a tear-free product. The line now reads: “True soap has a slightly alkaline pH and is not tear-free – so keep out of baby’s eyes!” This is on bottles shipping from our warehouse this month, and will make their way to store shelves soon after.

True mild soap is still the best thing for babies’ delicate skin, but it is impossible to be tear-free. Only the baby wash detergents can achieve that, but those aren’t as good for their skin. Let me know how the eczema goes.

All the best,

natacha says:

Hi there,

My son is 20 months and has some mild eczema/sensitive skin. Which Castile soap would be best for him?

Kelly Swan says:

I would not like to use 2-3 drops on a washcloth. Rather, I would like to mix up the soap with a lavender essential oil, then dilute and put in a pump bottle.
Can you give me the recipe for Dr. Bronner’s Unscented baby castile oil, ie. how much of it to mix with water and put in pump bottle?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Kelly – I know this is from a while ago, but others may have the same question. Our castile soaps do not work well in traditional pump dispensers. They will clog it, even if they’re diluted. However, a foaming pump does work well at a dilution of one part soap to three parts water. Dr. Bronner’s does have a lavender castile soap made with pure essential lavender oil, if you’d rather not blend your own. But I do understand that there are many scent options with lavender oil and you may have your special one!

Josh says:

Is this safe to use on my beard? I made a shampoo with 4 ounces of distilled water, 2 ounces of mild Dr. B. 1tsp of almond oil 1tsp of apricot oil, a smidge of citric acid to bring the ph to about 5.5-6 and xanthan gum…feels good so far to me..

Lisa Bronner says:

Yes! I have a good testimonial around here somewhere from someone with a beard. I’ll find that and post it.

Robert says:

Safe, of course, but I’m surprised it would WORK if you got the pH down that low.

Daisy says:

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).

Bonnie says:

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?

Dan Marsh says:

False. The reason Dr. Bronner’s is so painful is that it is extremely caustic (high pH).

And the reason I am bashing this product is that it burned my child’s eyes.

Lisa Bronner says:

Out of the alkaline range of 7-14, the castile soap is 8.9. Slightly higher than egg whites and lower than toothpaste or baking soda.

Karen says:

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

Robert says:

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?

Daniel Marsh says:

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.

Robert says:

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?

Dan Marsh says:

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.

Robert says:

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.

Daniel Marsh says:

“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.)

Robert says:

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.

Dan Marsh says:

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.

Robert says:

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.

Dan Marsh says:

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.

Robert says:

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.

KLovegrove says:

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.

Lisa Bronner says:

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,

Claudia says:

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.


Lisa Bronner says:

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

Evan says:

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!


ARabbitt says:

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

Lisa Bronner says:

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.

Lisa Bronner says:

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

Leona says:

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

Robert says:

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.

Lisa Bronner says:

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?

Lisa Bronner says:

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,

Dan Marsh says:

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.

Dan Marsh says:

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.

Britt says:

nothing is being suppressed. You should have researched the product before subjecting your baby to it. Don’t you dare blame dr. bronner’s product because of your negligence.

Dan Marsh says:

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.

Lauren says:

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!

Sara says:

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).

Melissa says:

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!

Kate says:

Thanks robert – gee do I feel stupid! How did I miss that?

Kate says:

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.

Michelle says:

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.

Dan Marsh says:

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

Robert says:

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.

Lisa Bronner says:

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,

Marifel says:

Hi Lisa, please enlighten me on how to use the baby mild soap for kids. I have 3 kids aged 8, 7 & 3 yrs old. Do i need to dilute it in the water in a seperate container? For myself, I fall in love with your peppermint soap… its really great and thankful to finally have this soap. Im really interested in using this soap to my whole family.



Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Marifel – I’m so glad you have been enjoying the Peppermint! For children, the unscented Baby Mild, or any of the milder scents such as Almond or Lavender, are great. I don’t predilute them. If they’re taking a bath, I just squirt some (probably about a capful) into the bath water and let them soak in that. Otherwise, I just put a few drops on a wet washcloth. One other option that might be easier for them to do themselves, is to dilute the soap in a foaming pump dispenser at a ratio of 1:3. Then they can pump it out themselves and not get too much. Too much is not dangerous, just unnecessary and wasteful. And kids really like foam.

Laura says:

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?

Dee Tree says:

The warmth may cause bacterial growth on natural pure things instead of a wipe that is processed. Just a thought

Mary Ellen says:

My family dilutes the dr bronners by about one to two DROPS of soap in about a 1/2 cup of water. We use a little spray bottle filled with that and spray baby’s bottom after a soiled diapers and use a dry washcloth to remove soil and soap. My children have very sensitive skin and we have used both the lavender and peppermint soaps in this way with NO issues.

Larissa says:

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?

Dan Marsh says:

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.

Haley Bain says:

Be safe and use the baby one. Always be safe with your child. Peppermint will be drying and the light blue literally says baby on it girl.

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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