Dr. Bronner's

What Can You Mix with Castile Soap?

What can you mix with Castile soap - Dr. Bronner's Castile Soap carton

Over the years I have received an extraordinary range of questions about mixing stuff with our Castile soaps. There’s a lot of creative thinking going on out there.

But before you get busy with your green self, let me remind you:

Chemistry happens.

As a general rule, do not mix household cleaners together, especially if you do not understand the ingredients. To the best of our knowledge the chart below outlines what we expect to happen based on tests.

I know that you want to toss together your favorite Green-It-Yourself (GIY) ingredients and hope everybody gets along. But sometimes they don’t.

I am not a fan of complicated mixtures. I don’t do complicated. Just give me some Castile soap with an occasional dash of baking soda or essential oils and send me on my way. However, just because I’m not a fancy girl, don’t let me hold you back.

Helping me here is Dr. Vartan Libaridian, Dr. Bronner’s chemistry and R&D consultant. The chart below gives you both my lay analysis and Dr. Vartan’s scientific breakdown.

IngredientLisa BronnerDr. Vartan
Alcohol (aka isopropyl alcohol, the other IPA)Alcohol is an antiseptic which is commonly used among other things to clean needle sites or cleanse wounds (ouch!). I get that someone might want to take one cleaner (soap) and another cleaner (alcohol) and put them together to make one super cleaner. Better to do a one, two punch: wash with the soap and then spray with the alcohol. This is also the CDC’s recommendation for cleaning and disinfecting.
The overall cleaning effect of soap is not affected, at least up to 5% of IPA. Above that concentration, there is a dramatic decrease of foaming, the solution becomes cloudy, and the alcohol interferes with micelle formation. Although IPA increases slightly the cleaning capability of the soap, it also kills the foaming effect of the Castile Soap. It is a fine line. I would recommend not to add more than 5% of alcohol in the blend. This applies to all alcohol containing products: vodka, cognac, Ethanol, IPA, …
Aloe Vera
If you picture “aloe vera” as an enticing green gel, you have been grossly misled. The real thing is slimy and turns mustard yellow and stains like nobody’s business. That being said, pure aloe applied to skin straight from a plant provides highly effective sunburn relief. However, when I combined the Castile with just a bit of the pulp inside my aloe frond, it gelatinized the whole amount of soap. Think “mucousy.” Very unappealing. Better to apply aloe vera after you wash. Aloe vera has at least 75 active ingredients including saponins, vitamins, amino acids, salicylic acid. However, adding this material either in powder or in solution (gel) form to the liquid soap does not give the soap any added value. The brief contact of the liquid soap with aloe vera on the skin will not leave any aloe residue, and aloe requires prolonged contact to do its work.
Baking soda
Baking soda adds a soft abrasion to the cleaning power of the soap, which makes it a good scrubber for grimy sinks and laundry. In laundry, it is a whitener and deodorizer. It also buffers the Castile Soap, protecting it from acidic substances that might affect its pH.
I don’t know why you would want to combine the Castile Soap with bleach. If you’re using the Castile in an effort to be safer, you’re undoing that effort by adding bleach, which causes everything from obstructive lung disease to burns to environmental contamination. Hypochlorite                 Soap
NaClO     +          R-(CH2)n-COOK
pH 12-13                   pH 9-9.5

When blended, Na [sodium] displaces K [potassium], thus creating R-(CH2)n-COONa. This is a hard soap formula. This doesn’t last too long, and eventually it dissolves. In summary, the soap stays as soap, with both K and Na soap coexisting, but at a higher pH. It can be irritating to the skin.
Borax is an effective cleaning agent, but I don’t like it. Combining it with Castile Soap doesn’t change this. Borax is praised because it is sustainable and biodegradable and old. But it is not non-toxic. It is irritating to the skin, dangerous if inhaled, and has been linked to reduced sperm count in men and reduced libido in women. It should be kept well away from children and gloves should be worn when handling it. Borax may have some beneficial effects when combined with Castile Soap. It has a pH of 9.3, similar to that of the soap. It buffers the Castile Soap, protecting it from acidic substances that would break it down, thus helping the cleaning process. 
Castile SoapCombining Castile Soaps is a fantastic thing to do to achieve your perfect scent. All the soaps in our Castile line have the same soap base with different essential oils added, except for the unscented, which has a higher ratio of saponified olive oil. My dad had his “Euco-Peppo Bear Wash,” a blend of Dr. Bronner’s Peppermint and Eucalyptus which he used for washing our dogs. A favorite blend of mine is Citrus & Almond.
Citric AcidUsually the thought behind adding citric acid to Castile Soap is to bring down the pH. However, acid will react with the soap itself and break apart the soap molecule. You’ll be left with an oily mess. “But your ingredients list citric acid!” Yes, we add carefully apportioned amounts of citric acid in order to catch any unreacted hydroxides from the soap making reaction. Adding any more citric acid than we’ve already added will reverse the reaction.
Coconut milk
This combo is all about making a more moisturizing shampoo. It does reduce the cleaning ability of the soap because some of the soap molecules are busy chasing the oil molecules in the milk, but there can still be some cleaning power available. See notes on “Oil” below.
Club Soda
I’m not really sure of the goal of combining this with castile. Maybe because I suggest using club soda to clean windows. Once again it’s the idea that if each are good then both together must be better. Not really though.
Total waste of money and time. The addition of carbonated water at pH 3-4 with soap will release Carbon Dioxide. Nothing else. Bubbling soap. Very unstable. 
Epsom SaltEpsom salt is magnesium sulfate and has a range of therapeutic benefits. However, it is slightly acidic, which brings us back to the idea of acid/base reactions. (See my post, A Word of Caution About Vinegar & Soap.) Soap is a base, aka an alkali. Because of this Epsom salt does react with Castile soap. It is not a dangerous reaction, but it undoes the benefit of both substances. Use them separately. Not together. Epsom salt is not compatible with Castile Soap. Magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt) has a slightly low acidic pH, around 6. The Castile soap has a pH of around 9. Adding the magnesium sulfate reverses the soap and releases the fatty acid, producing visible flakes of oil.
Essential OilsEssential oils have a lot to add to cleaning solutions both for personal care and for house care. They can give you a personalized scent and add therapeutic qualities. Avoid the trap of thinking that if a little is good, then more is better. Some essential oils are pretty potent. Do research on each type, as they have very distinctive properties.
Any essential oils can be added. They might cloud out the Unscented Baby Mild Soap.
Whether you’re looking to thicken the soap or make it smoother, keep in mind that the soap already has naturally occurring glycerin in it. More glycerin doesn’t increase the efficacy of the soap, but if it makes you happy, go for it.
Adding glycerin increases moisturization potential of the soap, but above 2-3% it decreases foaming properties.
Hydrogen peroxide
Hydrogen peroxide is a little misleading, all coy and subdued in its modest brown bottle. It’s a mild antiseptic on cuts and has an abundance of other uses. But when a chemist uses the word “explosive”…

Combining these two doesn’t boost the effectiveness of either. Another myth of thinking if both are good, together they’d be better. They’re not.
This material can be dangerous if the customer uses concentrated hydrogen peroxide (30% concentration or higher). Mixed with Castile Soap, it releases oxygen. If there is a heat source next to it, it can be explosive. Usually, the hydrogen peroxide that is used to clean wounds is at 3% concentration. In this case, the danger is minimal. When mixed with the soap, the hydrogen peroxide brings no antibacterial benefit. Hydrogen peroxide is acidic so any contact with alkaline soap will cause it to dissociate into water and oxygen. You are basically destroying the peroxide molecule. 
Lemon juiceLemon juice is an excellent addition to your green cleaning toolbox, but like vinegar (see below), not a good partner for soap. The acidity of lemon and other citrus juices quite literally undoes Castile Soap – a process we call unsaponification. The resulting goopy mess renders the soap ineffective at best, an oily mess at worst. While citrus juices are pulled from the pulp, are water-based, and acidic, citrus essential oils are extracted from the rind of the fruit, are oil-based, and are pH neutral. They do not react with the soap and are great additions.
I am intrigued by the discussion of oatmeal face masques, dry shampoo, and exfoliators. I had no idea. There is no problematic reaction in blending oatmeal with Castile Soap. My only concern is clogging the plumbing. If I do try a face masque or some such, I’ll rinse it off in the kitchen with the garbage disposal.
Oil – Jojoba, olive, or coconut The idea here is to make the soap more moisturizing. I get that. But keep in mind that soap grabs hold of oils. This is its primary purpose. So if you add too much of any oil, then the soap is going to be busy chasing the oil you’ve added instead of the grime on your body. For deeper moisturizing, wash with the soap and moisturize afterwards.Any of these oils can be added. They make the soap superfatted, which means it contains oil that has not been turned into soap. More than 0.5% – 1% is not recommended.
OxycleanThis is another effort to give the castile an added boost. Oxyclean is a combination of hydrogen peroxide (see above) and washing powder (see below). Might as well just reach for the washing powder.This is another effort to give the Castile an added boost. Oxyclean is a combination of hydrogen peroxide (see above) and washing powder (see below). Might as well just reach for the washing powder. Oxyclean contains hydrogen peroxide and sodium carbonate. Hydrogen peroxide as stated earlier will be dissociated into oxygen and water. No benefit.
Sodium carbonate will be useful in softening the water. 
Sal Suds with Castile Soap
I’m not sure why you would want to do this. Again, it’s the idea that if both are good separately, then together they must be even better. It’s unnecessary, but chemically speaking there are no adverse effects. Although there is no interaction between the 2 entities, I don’t see any beneficial effect. For sure Sal Suds is more aggressive on the skin.
Chemically speaking “salt” is a category, not a specific substance. However, most people are thinking of “sodium chloride” which is common table salt, and the base of Sea Salt. Castile Soap does not react with sodium chloride, and mixing the two together can make a great exfoliating scrub. Since salt is coarser than sugar, do not use this on sensitive skin. Great for elbows and feet, though. As a category, “salt” is the result of reacting an acid and a base. Soap itself is another kind of salt, as is Epsom salt (see above for reaction).Salt increases the viscosity of the Castile Soap to a certain extent.
Sugar is a natural humectant, which means that it draws moisture into our skin. This is why we use it in our Organic Sugar Soaps. You can make a lovely scrub by mixing it with Castile Soap.
Here’s a whole post I wrote about this one way back in 2011. Vinegar and Castile soap are great separately and terrible together. They’re like the siblings who just can’t leave each other alone. They get all in each other’s business. Vinegar un-saponifies soap. It’s not dangerous, just messy, and ruins the cleaning ability of either. The one caveat is if the soap is buffered by something like baking soda, as in this GIY Soft Scrub recipe.
Vitamin E (tocopherols)
Mixed tocopherols – aka vitamin E – is perfectly fine to mix with Castile. These are the antioxidants we use in our soaps. For personal care, vitamin E is usually recommended for anti-aging properties. For house care, mixed tocopherols is an antioxidant in GIY solutions. Either way, it’s fine to mix with the Castile Soaps to make a solution last longer.
The first time a friend told me she used vodka to clean her house, I thought that would definitely make housework more fun. However, she put in a spray bottle, not in a glass. While alcohol is an antiseptic, the concentration of drinking alcohol is not high enough for cleaning. If you decide to use it, see the above section on mixing it with Castile. I can think of better uses for vodka.
I did not specifically mix soap with vodka, since this is not a common material that I carry in the lab. (See discussion on alcohol)
Washing soda
Washing soda, or sodium carbonate, is similar to its culinary cousin Baking Soda, or sodium bicarbonate. This is a common ingredient in homemade laundry detergents. Washing soda acts as a water softener as well as a powerful scouring agent. If you are cleaning heavily soiled laundry like towels or work clothes, this will help you a lot. However, it can be a bit harsh, so I do not recommend using much on regular loads, and definitely not on delicates. It combines just fine with Castile soap.
What about a recipe calling for baking soda AND washing soda AND borax? Well, yes, this will scrub your clothes excellently but I hope you like to go shopping because this will wear down your clothes exceptionally fast.
There is benefit to adding sodium carbonate when you have hard water. In this case sodium carbonate precipitates calcium carbonate thus improving the soap’s cleaning capabilities.

Further reading

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

Download Now!

Castile Soap Cheat Sheet

Dilute! Dilute! OK! But how much? Print this guide!


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Sherril says:

How about adding zinc gluconate in very small amount to the peppermint Castile soap that I already put a few drops of rosemary and lavender essential oil to. The powdered zinc I have is 13%.
Thank you

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Sherril – Zinc gluconate is an acidic salt, which means when it dissolves in water, it forms a slightly acidic solution. Since soap is alkaline, the two will react with each other and the zinc gluconate will unsaponify part of the soap. You’ll lose the benefit of both the soap and the zinc gluconate.

Debra says:

Hi Lisa, just have to say I am SO glad I came across this blog …. though I don’t know why I didn’t find it sooner.

I have been on my ‘going chemical free’ journey for nearly two years now. This has included making my own face/body wash, shampoo and face creams due to a number of autoimmune conditions. Thanks to this blog I now know why my face/body wash stopped soaping up … I was adding too many extra oils in the hope of making it ‘better’.

I do add dried herbs to the water phase.

Thank you from Australia 🙂

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Debra- I’m so glad this was helpful to you!

Vernice Cania says:

My husband stirred me on to your soaps and I love them! I’m all about safety and chemistry also becuse I mix the Castile soap with my favorite body wash brands like Dove and Caress. I feel so clean afterwards and the lather is unbelievably comforting. It’s feels amazing!! I’m just concerned that it might be too much! Is it safe? Thank you.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Vernice- It’s great to hear you’re enjoying our soaps. We’ve not tested mixing our Castile Soap with conventional brands. I’m not aware of any interaction, but it’s not necessary to use both. Detergents such as Dove and Caress, and a true soap like Castile Soap work in the same manner, which is to latch on to germs and grime and carry them away when rinsed.

Rachel says:

I didn’t see any questions regarding household ammonia. I want to make a heavy duty cleaning solution for walls stained by some ventless heaters and was thinking adding ammonia may be the way to go. Any idea if it would be ok to mix with the castile soap?

Also, are some scents better for other jobs than others? Obviously tea tree would be great for disinfection, but curious if some are better for floors, windows, deep cleaning, etc.?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Rachel- While there is no reaction between ammonia and the Castile Soap, I am not comfortable suggesting to use it, as ammonia releases a good bit of fumes, and still poses a dangerous reaction hazard if it were to come into contact with some other substances. Try the Castile alone, or the Sal Suds if you have it. Magic Erasers are another great way to clean stained walls.

Claudia says:

What do you suggest to add to castile soap to make it less greasy? I find that it leaves a greasy feeling on items that I clean with it. I have tried using it in a very diluted strength, but still find that it leaves things “greasy” feeling.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Claudia- I suspect what you’re noticing are the effects of hard water. Try using distilled water in your All-Purpose Spray (1/4 cup Castile Soap in a quart of water), and drying surfaces after wiping with a damp cloth. You can also give Sal Suds, our biodegradable household cleaner, a try. It doesn’t have the same reaction with hard water as the Castile Soap.

Una says:

I just want to make an observation about the oatmeal. Believe it or not the small amounts used in a face mask shouldn’t be a problem on your pipes. Oatmeal absorbs water and forms a slimy mucilage. This mucilage lubes things up and helps things pass, which is why oatmeal is good for our personal pipes. 😉 What would cause a clog is if very little water was run down the drain and it dries up clogging the drain, think crusty oatmeal bowl. This is why we have to drink water with our fiber to keep or personal pipes clear.
Why I am curious about is how oatmeal dry shampoo fairs in the rain. 🤔

te says:

Can I add honey with castile soap and water? Would I need a preservative? I’ve found conflicting information online as I have been recommended a body wash recipe containing these three ingredients. I am looking for a solubilizer to use when adding oils to my liquid castile soap hand wash (made with water). Would solubol dispersant be okay to use with castile soap? If not, how about Decyl Glucoside?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Te- I hope you don’t mind I combined your two comments. Adding honey to the Castile soap is fine. If you use the dilution up regularly, every week or two, you won’t need a preservative. Use distilled water for best results. Adding oils to the Castile Soap will not have the moisturizing benefits it sounds like it would. Soap is designed to bind to oils – that’s how it cleans. So if you put the oils in the solution with the soap, you’ll lose both the cleaning power of the soap – because it will be chasing the oils – and the moisturizing power of the oils – because the soap will have attached to them. Dispersents are used to hold oils in suspension in water, such as making a spray of essential oils in water, so that the spray can be evenly applied to the body. Decyl glucoside, which is a surfactant as is soap, would have the same impact as soap.

Lynnette says:

How can I make a glycolic acid shampoo and also a glycolic acid face wash? Do you have a recipe or suggestions?

Thank you

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Lynnette- Adding any form of acid to a true soap such as Castile will cause a reaction between the acid and the alkaline soap. They don’t coexist side by side. Chemistry happens and they get all separated and reattached. You will not have either soap or glycolic acid at the end.

MapleX Naturals says:

Interesting to know of the various ingredients one can mix with castile soap… Quite an exhaustive and informative read!

Ariyana says:

Can I make a shampoo with castile soap for washing my hairs after applying hair oil?
Previously I tried to wash my hair with it but it left my hair too much greasy and sticky. Now can I make a side effects free shampoo for cleaning oily or greasy hair with it?? Please reply.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Ariyana – I wash my hair regularly with the Castile or the Sugar Soap (whichever strikes my fancy that day), but the key is to follow up with an acidic rinse. The soap has an alkaline pH which makes our hair kind of tacky/sticky feeling. The acidic rinse smooths everything down. Dr. Bronners makes the Citric Hair Rinse for this, or if I don’t have that on hand, I use Apple Cider Vinegar cut in half with water.

Diane says:

Having never taken chemistry, I foolishly followed a recipe intended to reduce soap scum by adding epsom salts to Dr. Bronner’s. Now I have a very thick lotion. Is it alright to use as lotion or will it be too harsh? Is water softening the only way to reduce soap scum in a very hard water region?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Diane- That is a very interesting question. The acidic pH of the Epsom salt has broken down the soap into some of its originally oils, so yes, theoretically this could be used as a moisturizer. My curiosity though is whether Epsom salt (aka magnesium sulfate) draws moisture out like table salt (sodium chloride) does. If it does, then that would be counterproductive to moisturizing. Personally, I’d try it and see, but if you’d rather not experiment with your skin, I totally get it. Just throw it out then.

Jojo says:

Hello there, I would like to add tumeric and honey to the unscented Castile liquid soap to help with hyperpigmentation. What would the ratio be?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Jojo- Honey and turmeric both are fine to mix into the Castile Soap. However, unfortunately, I don’t have a ratio to recommend for this purpose. You can do some experimentation to see what works best.

Fenny says:

Hi Lisa,

Is there any mix recipe of using the castile soap for dishwashing machine?



Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Fenny- Unfortunately we do not recommend our soaps in the dishwasher. They bubble up too much and can leak through the seams. The Environmental Working Group ( ranks products by ingredients, environmental impact and such. It’s a very helpful resource for finding products.

Nichole says:

I had the idea to mix 4oz liquid castile soap with 4 oz skin so soft bath oil. When I shook it, it turned white thickened like a lotion. I loved it and the wY my skin felt. However,as the days passed, it continued to thicken until I had to hurry and squeeze it all out of fearing it would get to hard. I shaped the contents into small personal soap squares. It hardened a bit more, but was so nice my husband bought molds and asked me to mix up more for the molds. Why did it harden like that?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Nichole – There was some sort of interaction happening between the Castile and the Bath Oil. I don’t know exactly what since I’m not familiar with the properties of Skin so Soft. My guess is that the soap is doing what it is meant to do: chase down and bond to oils. The Bath oil is full of them. So over time, you might be finding that the soap is attaching more fully to the oils in the Avon product to create the solid substance.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Destiny- Without knowing the specific ingredients of the African black soap you have, I can’t comment with 100% certainty, but knowing in general what’s in African black soap, it should be fine.

Laura says:

I’d like to infuse the castille soap with dried rosemary for the benefit to the scalp… One herbalist recommends infusing shampoo with the dried herb for two weeks and then using as usual. Of course, one would need to infuse before dilution. Your thoughts Lisa?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Laura- I don’t see any problem with infusing the soap with Rosemary. As with adding anything to the soap, this will impact its shelf life, so perhaps infuse the amount you would use up in 4-6 weeks.

Midge says:

So, i have unwittingly exposed my hair and scalp to a mixture of Magnesium sulfate* Hair & Scalp are now a gummy mess! Any Suggestions? *took epsom salt bath then washed hair with castille soap. Thank you, Dr. Bronner’s all the way!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Midge – I’m sorry I’m just seeing this now! I think another round of soap should wash the magnesium cocoate (which is what the epsom salt/soap makes) out of your hair. You may need to use some coconut oil in your hair for a bit of extra moisture.

Dar says:

Regarding compatibility, is a bar of Dr. Bronner’s compatible with liquid Dr. Bronner’s in the washer? Is the bar compatible with Sal Suds? I sometimes use the bar to spot treat/soak laundry items, and I’d like to know if these items can go directly into the washer if I’m using liquid for the load. Thank you for such great, reliable products.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Dar- Yes, that would be fine! There’s no interaction between the Castile Bar Soap and either the Liquid Castile or Sal Suds.

Evelyn Barney says:

I have a spray bottle of 1/2 vinegar and 1/2 distilled water in my shower. I spray it on my hair to detangle and get the last of the shampoo out. Now you have me wondering if I should do the same to my skin!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Evelyn – That’s an interesting point. The spray bottle with vinegar and water is a great idea. Once you’ve rinsed the shampoo or soap out of your hair, the vinegar spray would smooth it. Since our skin is mostly covered with hair as well, it makes sense that spraying with a light mist of the vinegar might make that smoother, too. However, since the hair on most of our body is not very long, we might not notice either way. I don’t see any problem though if you’d like to give this a try.

I also realize I never responded to the comment above from Soap, so I’ll do so here. I’m not entirely sure the intent, but let me give a little rundown on soap scum. Soap scum is not unrinsed soap, but rather the product (or precipitate) of a reaction between the soap and minerals in hard water. When water with this precipitate is left on surfaces, the water evaporates and leaves the precipitate behind giving bathroom fixtures that frosted look, but not in a good way. A couple ways to prevent soap scum are to dry surfaces with a towel or squeegee, or to rinse surfaces with something acidic. When it comes to our skin, soap scum is not an issue for a couple of reasons. Usually we dry our skin with a towel, thereby absorbing any potential precipitate off our skin. Then the clothes we put on and other fabrics we brush against (such as sheets) would further wipe off any precipitate. Secondly, our skin constantly produces something called the acid mantle, a slightly acidic coating made up of our bodies secretions and the secretions of everything that lives on our bodies. (Don’t be grossed out by that – the acid mantle is a good thing. Read about it here.) This slight acidity would be enough to bump off any of the precipitate (which is alkaline) lingering on our skin. All these are why you never see people with that slightly frosted look that soap scum on bathroom surfaces get.

Ken says:

Hi Lisa. Can I make a probiotic body wash using the liquid soaps? I am diabetic and my gut biome if off and I am assuming my skin also as I have dry patches and lately redness like psoriasis on my face. Dandruff has been a problem for years even before my diabetes diagnosis. I recently picked up a probiotic body wash which is very expensive for 8 oz. But nevertheless, it has eliminated my dandruff after 2 uses and greatly reduced the dry skin and red patches. Wondering if you have any recipe for DIY probiotic body wash to mix small batches. Also wondering how I might make a shaving cream/lotion with the soap and probiotics?
FYI, recently purchased Sal Suds for cleaning my CPAP headgear and love it. Used some also to clean grease off the kitchen cabinets and wow it works great. Will probably be using DR Bronner soaps more and more in our house.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Ken- Im glad the Sal Suds has been so helpful around the house! I’m sorry to hear of your discomfort, though and I hope I can help. The idea behind probiotics is that they deposit good bacteria in order to keep harmful bacteria at bay. Probiotics generally come up in regards to something you can eat, as you mention, especially when antibiotics may be wiping out bacteria and you want to repopulate it. As you mention, our skin also has a microbiome made of beneficial bacteria. My thought with using cleansers to replace bacteria on the skin though is that this may be more of a marketing ploy than an active strategy. Cleansers, whether soaps or synthetic detergents, function by removing bacteria and other deposits from the skin. Cleansers cannot discern between good and bad bacteria. It removes them equally. So if the probiotics – or good bacteria – are in the cleanser itself, they would not get deposited on the skin. The cleanser would carry them away. I’m glad to hear that the cleanser you’ve been using is helpful, but it is not likely because of the probiotics claim but rather because of the cleanser ingredients.

Our Sugar soaps are super mild cleansers that are great at healing damaged skin. The Unscented, the mildest of all, or Tea Tree, which is great at balancing skin, would be very good options for you. We also have the shaving soap which is a thicker version of the sugar soap. The Organic Sugar Soap is here on our webstore:, and here is the Organic Shaving Soap:

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Mary – I would not recommend this. Castile soap is alkaline, and adding an acid to it would unsaponify it – break down the soap.

Wan Si says:

Hi. Thank you for the very informative article.

Can I mix castile oil with hydrosol made from a steam distillation? Any advice on what to use when making a no-rinse cleaner using Dr Bronner’s Castile oil?

Thanks in advance.
(I’m a 10 year Dr Bronner’s soap user from Malaysia)

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Wan- Thanks for being such a long-time customer! I believe you might be referring to the Castile Soap? If this is the case, yes, it is fine to combine with a hydrosol of your choice. However, there is not a way to make a no-rinse cleaner with the soap. Soap must be rinsed off to be effective. It grabs hold of dirt and grime, but it needs the rinsing action to carry it away. Even a rinse with a wet cloth is enough to accomplish this if running water isn’t available.

Wan Si says:

Thanks for the reply. And yes it is Castile Soap 🙂 My next question is, if I mix Castile Soap with any hydrosol, can potassium sorbate or sodium benzoate make it last longer? Thanks in advance.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Wan- Glad the info helped! I am not familiar with synthetic preservatives as we don’t use them. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database ( is a great resource for learning more about specific ingredients.

Char says:


If I add distilled water to Castile soap …would I need a preservative especially if I want to share my concoction with family and friends ?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Char- Diluting the soap does lower the shelf life. If the solution is going to be used in a few weeks, it shouldn’t matter, but if you want to extend the shelf life, you could add some vitamin E oil to the solution. If the solution ever looks or smells off, it’s best to toss it and mix up a new one.

Horrified says:

Yes, you do. Adding water means you’ll get microbial growth without question. It won’t always be detectable by sight or smell. LB doesn’t know what she is talking about. Vitamin E is NOT a preservative. Frightening advice.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Horrified – Thanks for clarifying! You are correct – vitamin E is an antioxidant, not a preservative. It slows down oxidation which is what leads to microbial growth. It is what we use at Dr. Bronner’s in the form of tocopherols to protect the shelf life of our products. I’ll double check what I’ve written to make sure I’ve used the right terminology.

Jodie Enochs says:

I have been looking & looking for more information on how to use Castile soap in my carpet cleaning machine. I keep seeing how you can use this soap for EVERYTHING, yet any small mention of full carpet cleaning is skimmed over so vaguely I’m left still wandering how to use it for this particular purpose. If this is useable for carpet cleaning please state whether one should use distilled water, vinegar, how much soap to water, etc. in a machine (mine is a Bissell, no warranty left so I’m not concerned about that). I don’t care to use the “Suds” soap, just the regular unscented Castile. It seems so many things have to be ‘mixed with’ or ‘rinsed off’ after using this product it’s got me wandering if I should even go this route! I love the thought of it being all natural and would love to clean my carpet with it as I have small dogs that, of course, lay on that carpet. So please be *detailed* in how one can use this in a carpet cleaning machine. It would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Jodie- While generally I do recommend the Sal Suds in a carpet cleaner, the Castile would work with some modification. If you have hard water, use distilled water instead of tap water in the machine. Dilute 1 Tablespoon Castile in water to fill the solution compartment. In the rinse compartment, do not use vinegar as that will react with the Castile soap, but still use hot water.

Raleigh says:

Hi, What can be added to help offset the effects of hard water for hand soap? Would sodium carbonate or sodium citrate be okay, or too harsh for hand soap?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Raleigh- I have not added either to the soap/water combination. I think sodium carbonate would be too harsh. Sodium citrate might be ok. It dissolves well in water. Try adding just a bit to the water before adding the soap. Another option is to use distilled or filtered water to make your hand soap.

Mary says:

Thank you for the great article/info! I’m trying to make a cream wash, do you know if you can mix castile soap with a ready made lotion? Or, is this a chemistry disaster waiting to happen?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Mary- It’s not so much a disaster as it is pointless. Soap is designed to latch on to oils. Lotions are usually made from oils. Therefore the soap would be focused on chasing the lotion, rather than on cleaning the skin. And the lotion would get bound up in the soap. It would be more effective to use them separately.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Giselle- I have not done this and have found conflicting information online. The issue with combining ingredients often comes down to pH. An acidic pH will react poorly with the Castile soap. You can try adding a little powder to the soap and see what happens. I can also not comment knowledgeably about any benefit combining these two might bring. I’m sorry not to be of more help.

Leah says:

I just wanted to mention that I’ve been making a face/body cleanser for years with dr bronners liquid soap.
My main goal was to have it super hydrating, anti aging. It’s been quite successful and have had a lot of positive feedback. I use green tea infused fractionated coconut oil, a small amount and I use a few more oils including vit e and essential oils. I thicken it a bit with kelp powder and I do use a little citric acid, not to lower ph but to add the benefits because citric acid is very good for yr skin. If I’m doing something wrong please tell me. It seems to work great and leaves skin feeling clean, refreshed and so soft. It also bubbles up nice I might add

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Leah- If it is working for you, stick with it! As you anticipate, the only reaction I see is between the soap and the citric acid, but depending on the amounts, the soap could be buffered by the other ingredients. It sounds like it’s a good thing! I bet you’re going to get folks on here asking for a more specific recipe!

Mary says:

Hi – Great article! I was wondering if Castile could work as a surfactant if used along with an oil/water emulsion, specifically with an emulsifying wax, oils and water, to make a cream wash? Or, if added to an already existing lotion to make it a creamy wash? I know this involves some chemistry so, hopefully someone knows the answer. Thanks!!!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Mary- Soap is a surfactant as well as an emulsifier, binding oil to water. However, when used as such, the soap is too occupied with forming micelles around the oils, and is not then available to clean the skin. Better to do a two-step cleanse then moisturize process.

Donna J Gurley says:

can I use Castile soap and ethyl alcohol to create a scented disinfectant for viruses?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Donna- The CDC recommends a two-step process for disinfection: wash with a cleaner such as the Castile soap, and then spray with a disinfectant such as alcohol. Combining the two will not work as the alcohol impacts the soap itself. You can add a couple drops of essential oil to the alcohol if you want to scent it.

Autumn says:

I’m looking for a thickening agent to add to my Hippie Juice ( a blend that includes Dr. Bronners Castile soap base and essential oils so far ). I’m trying to create a safe for “curly girls” shampoo and conditioner. Please help, I’m not a chemist nor do I have a degree in science but I am a licensed cosmetologist and I want to offer something better for my clients of ALL curl types and straight hair too.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Autumn – The only way to thicken the soaps is to use a foaming pump dispenser. Oddly, you’re thickening the solution by adding air. Start with a ratio of 1:3, soap to water, and adjust it to your preference. It’s great to hear you’ve incorporated the soap into your line of work! I need to add, though, that for liability reasons, we don’t authorize selling reformulations that include our products.

Breanna Adams says:

Hi Dr Bronner,
So happy to come accross your blog. I appreciate the useful information knowledge you have here. 🙂
Just curious if you can dilute castile soap with coconut water or is it best to use regular water that is distilled??
Also, if you can add aloe vera leaf juice as a mixture to the soap.
A lastly if you can mix emulsifying wax with castile soaps in the event you are trying to mix certain oils, or honey that seperate from water??

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Breanna – I’m so glad you’re finding this useful! I haven’t tried mixing the soap with coconut water, but it looks like coconut water has an acidic pH of around 4.8-5.7. Because soap is alkaline, the two would likely react with each other. I don’t think you should mix those two. Aloe vera is at the top of the chart in the artilce – there’s no benefit to mixing it with the soap. Better to apply it afterwards. There are too many types of emulsifying wax for me to give an overall answer. Some already contain a detergent, so mixing them with soap would be a duplication. Both essential oils and honey can be added to the water. Honey will dissolve but the essential oils would need to be shaken to disperse before each use. It sounds like you’re busy making all sorts of interesting mixtures! Good luck with them! We encourage people to use the soap for their own personal combinations, but unfortunately do not permit reformulations that include our products to be sold.

Melissa says:

Hello, I want to use Dr Bronner’s unscented soap as my green soap for tattooing. The typical green soap used for tattooing contains 30% alcohol. That soap is then diluted with distilled water to either a 1:8 or 1:10 ratio – there are little to no bubbles at those ratios but it maintains a clean & safe surface to tattoo. I read in the blog that using more than 5% alcohol is not recommended – if I use more than 5% how will that effect the efficacy of the soap? And should I use a lower distilled water to soap ratio? I’m basically looking to make a “water free” wound wash. Any insight you could provide would be greatly appreciated! Thank you!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Melissa – I apologize for my delay here. I had to dive into some research myself and I have learned a good bit. I’ll need to update my chart in this blog. While alcohol will cut the foaming of the soap and turn it cloudy, it will not affect its ability to clean. I came across a concentration of 39% ethanol in green soap, close to your 30%. That would be like 1/3 c. ethanol to 2/3 c. Castile (I’d use the Unscented Castile). From what I’ve read about green soap, this comes pretty close to what is generally sold. What do you think?

andhita zhafarina says:

hello, can I dilute/mix liquid castile soap with rice milk and any other essential oils to make a brightening face wash? Thank your if you answer this!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Andhita- Keep in mind that the primary purpose of soap is to grab onto grime and oils and wash them away. Adding rice milk will reduce the cleaning ability of the soap because some of the soap molecules will go after the rice milk and oil molecules.

Tamell says:

Hello is it ok to add vitamin e to the unscented baby castile soap

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Tamell- Vitamin E – aka mixed tocopherols – is perfectly fine to mix with Castile soap. These are the antioxidants we use in our soaps. For personal care, vitamin E is usually recommended for anti-aging properties. For house care, mixed tocopherols is an antioxidant in GIY solutions.

ASHA says:

Can i add tumeric powder to liquid castille soap ? Or would tumeric essential oil do the job?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Asha- The ground tumeric wouldn’t react with the soap, but it wouldn’t dissolve either. Instead it would settle to the bottom, so give it a shake before using. Alternatively, you can add tumeric essential oils. You may find this floats to the top, in which case, give it a shake.

melinda gaertner says:

Hi Lisa,

I’m making bath salts w/ essential oils and would like to use castille soap as the carrier. I goofed and used epsom salts only to quickly learn that wasn’t a good idea! Can you recommend a salt that is compatible with castille soap? Thanks!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Melinda- Sea salts would be a great option for this. Sounds relaxing!

Paige B says:


I would like to mix Castile Soap with Bentonite Clay for a facial cleanser. Do you know if the soap would deactivate the properties of the clay? Or any insight to any other reactions?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Paige- This is not something I have done, but in examining the properties of bentonite clay, it has a high concentration of calcium and magnesium. Soap tends to react with these two minerals, swapping out their own sodium and potassium. So I think you might be right that soap might decrease the benefits of the clay. Perhaps use them separately – a clay masque followed by a soap wash, or vice versa.

Virginia says:

Hey Lisa I was thinking about adding the organic sugar soap to my African black soap to make it more moisturizing. Is it anything that I need to know or is it a go??

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Virginia- Without knowing the specific ingredients of the African black soap you have, I can’t comment 100%, but knowing in general what’s in African black soap, it should be fine.

ALO says:

Hi Lisa, came across this concoction and was wondering if adding castile soap would be beneficial? Thanks.

“TOMATOES along with potatoes, capsicum and chilli peppers, aubergines, tamarillo and cape gooseberries are members of the ‘nightshade’ family. Their foliage contains toxic compounds called alkaloids. These alkaloids are handy for controlling aphids when applied in the form of a spray made from soaked leaves. Not only does tomato leaf spray kill aphids it is also said to attract beneficial predatory insects that ‘home in’ on the smell of tomato and potato plants as they look for prey.
2 cups of chopped tomato leaves
2 cups of water
strainer, muslin or coffee filter to strain solution
spray bottle

How to make:
Soak 2 cups of chopped tomato leaves in 2 cups of water overnight.
Strain liquid the next day (discard leaves).
Add 2 more cups of water to the solution
Fill spray bottle. ”

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Alo- That is a very interesting idea! I have noticed that my tomatoes are always my last plants standing when I’ve had an invasion of pests – be it bug or snails. I really don’t know what the reaction would be between the tomato essence and the soap. If what’s coming from the tomato leaves is an oil, than the castile soap might just bind to that and prevent it from doing its good work. Maybe make this solution and alternate it with insecticidal soap ( to spray on the plants. Let me know how it goes!

Jasmine says:

Hello, I’d like to mix my unscented liquid Castile soap with jojoba oil and Manuka Honey. I see that you recommend adding no more than ¼ – ½ tsp of jojoba oil per 1 cup of soap. What about honey? How much honey can be added to provide benefits and not decrease properties of the soap? Thank you!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Jasmine- Honey is mostly sugar. As is the case with our Sugar Soaps, sugar and soap coexist just fine. I don’t know a recipe or amount to recommend specifically here though.

Jeffrey says:


I love your articles!

I have two questions:

1. Do you have any DIY recipes using Castile soap for laundry and hand washing dishes (to include a separate one for the dishwasher)?

2. With regards to dishwashing recipes – noted already in question #1: Can add Lemon essential oil, instead of Lemon juice, to breakdown and clean grease and any remaining scum from dishes?
– Lemon juice does a good job of cleaning grease and scum from dishes however, as you already noted it does not go well with Castile soap.

Thanks for any recommendations you have!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Jeffrey- Thanks for reading! For laundry, use 1/2 cup Castile soap per load, with 1 cup vinegar in the rinse cycle. (Halve for HE machines.) Use a small squirt of Castile soap for hand-washing dishes. More for greasy pots and pans. Or, pre-dilute 1:10 in a squirt bottle. You can add lemon essential oil for scent, but it won’t increase the efficacy. Because our soaps are so bubbly, we don’t recommend them in the dishwasher. My cheat sheet has lots of other uses for Castile soap:

Bianca says:

Hello, I like your article a lot. But could you explain to me what will happen if I combine washing soda, Na2CO3 with water and castile soap/soap on olive base? because if you dissolve na2co3, you get NaOH, (i believe) which is also used to make soap. So do you not make the soap stronger or increase the pH of the existing soap if you put these 2 together? I tried to make my own dish wash soap, but first it was really solid but after a few days, it turned white and thicked. it also hurted my hands because the pH was really high. So i try to understand what had happened. i heated the soap with water and added the soda. I am not really strong with chemistry. Thanks in advance for answering my question, greetings from bianca

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Bianca – When washing soda dissolves in water, the molecule does not react with the water nor the soap. Chemically speaking, the combo of washing soda, castile soap and water is stable and non-reactive. However, as you noted, washing soda has a fairly high pH around 11. That is pretty harsh on your hands, and it makes sense that your hands would hurt after using this. Though natural, washing soda is a fairly intense cleaner. It is primarily recommended for laundry, although I think it’s too harsh for regular use there. It’s other recommended uses are more for deep cleaning. For regular dishwashing, it’s a bit much. As you’ve noticed, it’s wrecking havoc on your hands. If you do want to add something to the Castile soap for scrubbing extra dirty pots, use a sprinkle of baking soda. You don’t need to pre-mix it. Just sprinkle a bit on the pots as needed.

Valentina Diaz says:

Hello! What about Percarbonate? And I would love this list but with Sal Suds

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Valentina- Functionally, Percarbonate is OxyClean, which you can refer to on the list. I’ll have a “What Can You Mix…” post about Sal Suds later this year. Keep an eye out for it!

Rebecca says:

I’m trying to balance the pH level for a castile soap shampoo (castile soap diluted) and make the mixture more acidic. Will Aloe Vera and citric acid/juice mixed with the castile soap and water do the trick? I do not want to damage my hair by using alkaline and then stripping it down to an acidic solution with a rinse afterwards. Kind of looking for a two in one, I guess.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Rebecca- It is not possible to bring the pH of the Castile Soap down, because the soap will unsaponify. The Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep database ranks products by ingredients, environmental impact and such and would be a good resource for looking for something that meets your needs.

Maria says:

Does mixing coconut oil make the soap spoil after some time? Does it need to be refridgerated?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Maria- When you dilute the soap, you also dilute the preservative (Vitamin E in the case of our liquid Castile soap), which does shorten the shelf life. It’s best to mix up only what you would use up in a couple of weeks. Storing a coconut oil and soap mixture in the fridge, will cause it to turn solid.

Kristen Elizabeth Rosasco says:

Has anyone asked if you can add activated charcoal to make a detoxifying / cleansing shampoo?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Kirsten- I have not done this. If any readers have, please feel free to chime in.

Ashely says:

I’m late to this party – but better late than never :D…what about manuka honey? Could that be safely added to castile soap? Thanks!

MJ Lee says:

Hi Dr. Bronner,
I added Neem oil to Castile soap in my Ortho Dial-N-Spray container, and the mixture turned into a gelatinous mess with the consistency and appearance of caulk. Ruined my Dial-N-Spray plus I lost about $25 of oil and soap. I was trying to kill bugs on my lemon tree.

It was not until I read down through the comments on this page that I realized a lot of people had similar problems when they mixed in various oils. I think your instructions need to be more up front and tell people to exercise a lot of caution if they try to mix in oils, rather than tell them that oils are ok.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi MJ- I’m really sorry that happened to you! Pure neem oil with a neutral pH shouldn’t have this reaction with our Castile soap. I’m following up with our chemist on this one. In the meantime, was the neem oil you used pure, raw oil or was it blended into something?

Corey says:

Sounds like you used too much oil.
I use the same mixture in the garden sometimes.
With pure neem oil (not extract) for a gallon of water use 25ml of neem and 10-15ml soap.

I shake the soap, neem and a little warm water in a mason jar, then add bto the rest of the water.

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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Castile Soap Cheat Sheet

Dilute! Dilute! OK! But how much? Print this guide!