Castile Soap: The Easiest Way to Go Green & an RVer’s BFF

I am going to get right to the point here…you need castile soap.  Why?

Number 1. As an RVer, you need to be very specific and critical of how you use every inch of the space on the RV. Castile soap has so many uses, that you will be able to whittle down your cleaning and washing supplies to save a lot of space.

Number 2. As a reasonable human being, you have had that nagging voice in the back of your mind that says you must clean up your act and go green; but you are looking for a budget-friendly way to do it.

Number 3. As one of our valued readers, I know that you are interested in Living Abundantly & Lightly, just like our tagline. Castile soap takes the complication out of diy products like body wash, liquid hand soap and so much more. You are going to learn how in this article. Viva the simplicity!

Number 4. As my friend, you trust me, or are at least willing to read the rest of the article and decide for yourself.

What is castile soap?

Castile soap, or at least its name, originates in Spain. One of my favorite countries, have I ever mentioned that I lived there for five months in college? I was in Sevilla, the land of orange and olive trees. Castile is a region of central Spain, and you may have heard the Spanish language referred to as castellano or Castilian. If you go to the central region (or most parts of the country), the castellano sounds much different than what is spoken in central and south america, or what is taught in most American high schools.

Castile soap is thought to have had its start in Spain as a white soap that was created from olive oil. It has been used for centuries.

Natural Soap

Today, castile soap is typically made with several different oils. I use Dr. Bronner’s, and the ingredients on the label for the unscented version include the following: water, organic coconut oil, potassium hydroxide, organic palm kernel oil, organic olive oil, organic hemp oil, organic jojoba oil, citric acid and tocopherol (Vitamin E). The only ingredient that may make you curious is the potassium hydroxide. In order to make soap, the fats of oil are mixed with a strong alkali which creates a chemical reaction that produces soap. In this case, the potassium hydroxide (potash) is the strong alkali. Strong alkali is bad for the skin and can burn it, which is why the soapmaking process takes delicacy. I have made soap with a Mennonite friend, and we are always very careful with the lye reaction. It takes serious caution and adherence to the proper steps to avoid problems. As part of the chemical reaction, the alkali no longer exists in the final product. On Dr. Bronner’s bottle, they note that the potassium hydroxide does not remain in the product after it is saponified (the process of turning the oils in to soap).

Since we have explained the potassium hydroxide, if we now read back through the other ingredients, it is easy to see that castile soap is a natural soap. That is what sets it apart from the majority of soaps that you can find at your local store. It does not contain the chemicals, harsh detergents or other things we want to avoid that are found in many common soaps. No need to worry about endocrine disruptors, nuerotoxins or carcinogens with castile soap!

Castile soap is gentle enough to be used on babies. Its mild cleansing action does not remove the natural oils on our skin, so we can get clean while keeping our skin moisturized. Castile soap is also biodegradable – a bonus since it can be used outdoors if necessary for us RVers.

Where to buy Castile Soap

As I mentioned, I use Dr. Bronner’s, which seems to be the most popular castile soap. It is not the only one on the market, but I have tried another brand and quickly returned to Dr. Bronner’s. I used to only be able to buy it on Amazon, then I noticed that it popped up at Targets several years ago, but it was only in the tiny sample bottles. Due to more people understanding and desiring natural products, it is now available in more stores. I typically buy in bulk on Amazon to save money and have access to the unscented version, which I can’t always find in stores. There are plenty of scented versions, and they smell amazing. But, I prefer to have it plain, and then if I want to add essential oils to it, I can.

Uses for Castile Soap

Here comes the fun part, let’s dive in to some of the great uses for castile soap, so that you can see what a difference this product will make.

A key to remember when using liquid castile soap is that it is 2-3x more concentrated than most leading liquid soaps. A little bit goes a long way, and it lathers like a white, billowy dream.

Liquid Hand Soap

Due to the strength of castile soap, I use a foaming soap dispenser. I fill it 1/3 of the way with castile soap and the rest of the way with distilled water. You can use water from your Berkey if you do not have distilled; but I would avoid tap water. Boom! Done! How is that for a simple, all natural hand soap you can be proud of?! See below for adding essential oils.

castile soap hand soap

I have one of these at my kitchen sink and my bathroom sink. It has completely ruined me for life. Now, when I use the hand soap in public or at someone else’s home; I can not stand how drying and stinky it is! Those synthetic fragrances do not go away! My hands will smell for over an hour. And once you change from synthetic fragrances to real essential oils; the synthetic fragrances smell like what they are made of. Synthetic chemicals. They wreak. Sparkly Plum Sugar now smells like a fruit cocktail gone bad. So, make the hand soap knowing that you will not be able to turn back. You have been forewarned.

Body Wash

I keep a bottle of the castile soap in our shower to use as body wash. Chris uses it on his hair too, but that is not saying much, since he doesn’t have much! I have used it as shampoo, but after repeated use, my hair starts to get too greasy. It is worth a try though. For body wash, we use it straight from the bottle, but just a tiny amount. It lathers great, and only a little bit is needed.

castile soap body wash

You can also see our loofah cloths in the photo. They are great for being able to reach your entire back, and they make an incredible lather.

shaving lather

Due to the great lather, Chris and I both use castile soap for shaving. Simple and effective.

Face wash

Chris and I both use it directly from the diluted hand soap bottle to wash our faces. We also occasionally do oil cleansing on our faces, and I like to exfoliate every once in a while too.

Laundry Soap

Click here for my diy laundry soap recipe made with castile soap.

All Purpose Cleaner

Click here for my diy cleaner recipe made with castile soap. Also, if I notice my bathroom sink is particularly yucky, and I want to quickly clean it – I just grab a squirt from the hand soap dispenser (conveniently located for last minute sink cleaning), and wipe out my sink.

Dish soap

Castile soap can be used to wash dishes. It will not cut grease like your typical dish soap, because it is not a surfactant, and it is not a detergent. It is a soap. But, it is much safer to use on your dishes since it is so natural.

A Note on Adding Essential Oils

Yes, you can add essential oils to the castile soap if you prefer. Try tea tree or lavender for a great face wash or hand soap. Lemon or sweet orange would be great at the kitchen sink. Peppermint is a great option too. Start by adding just a few drops to your hand soap mixture and add as needed from there. If you are using plastic containers, it is better to use PET plastic with essential oils. Learn about PET plastic here.

Well, that covers a lot of separate products that can be replaced with castile soap! So, what do you think? This is one of the simplest ways to take a green step in your household for your health and for your family’s health. I hope you give it a try!

Thanks for joining me, and check out my other Self Care Sunday articles!




About Jen

I love travel, which led me to become a fulltime RVer. I love wellness, which I can talk about 'til the cows come home. I love being self-employed, which means I get to dabble in what interests me from essential oils to RV planners. But most importantly, I love my husband and our life together on the road!

6 comments on “Castile Soap: The Easiest Way to Go Green & an RVer’s BFF

  1. Thanks so much for this article, Jen. I have recently started castille soap for washing my hands in the kitchen and bathroom. I hadn’t gotten around to using it for laundry or as a quick cleaning agent. Thanks for the recipe. I will have to put it to good use.

    I hope the house building is going well. Can’t wait for the updates!

    • Hey, Sandra! Glad to hear you have made the switch! That is great! The house is coming along really well. Our heads are spinning with all the decisions, but we have enjoyed the process. I have a bunch of videos and photos, and I hope to be able to start publishing them soon. Thanks, Sandra!

  2. I’ve been using Castile for ages in the laundry. I grate a bar of plain castile soap, add some baking soda and borax and mix well for my everyday soap. 1 Tablespoon does the trick in my front loader. I went back and reread your liquid laundry soap recipe. I add washing soda to dirty clothes, kitchen towels etc.
    I like powder laundry soap best as for me it makes less mess. I always seem to drip or spill. Love it for travel since you use such a small amount it weighs less and in a zip lock bag fits anywhere. At home I add 2-4 drops of EO, usually peppermint or maybe tea tree or orange/citrus, right on top of the powder in the dispenser. Smells nice for a little while.

    • Hi, Candace! Thanks for sharing your great tips! It is so nice to have these convenient recipes at our fingertips that are healthier and take up less space. Thanks so much!

  3. Hi Jen
    Thanks for the uses for Castile soap, going to try the laundry soap recipe! But the obvious question for me is what do you use for dish washing in the RV? When I use Castile it just feels slimy!

    • Hi, there! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, castile will leave a filmy feel on dishes, that is because it is not a surfactant – it does not cut grease. That is what makes it great for our bodies, because it will not strip our skin of its natural oils, but it also makes it no so great for dishes. It is safe to use on dishes, and I use it in a pinch, but I prefer more of a grease-cutter for dishes. I have a tried a bunch of different “natural” dish soaps through the years – I do like Seventh Generation, but I feel like I use more of it to get the same results, so it seems wasteful to me. Look for one with no sulfates, no phosphates, no dyes, no scents/perfumes. I use the Young Living Thieves Dish Soap: It fits my criteria and also gives me the benefit of an immune boost with the essential oils that are in it. I buy my essential oils from Young Living, so I take advantage of their rewards program, which means I get the dish soap at 49% off. Dish soap was one of the more difficult switches for me, and it is something I typically have on my skin three times a day, so it is important. Keep up the good work, making better choices really does make a difference in your health. Stick with the laundry soap. It will be different because it does not create suds, and there is no fragrance. Unfortunately, we are all so accustomed to those fake, harmful perfumes that we think they mean something “smells clean”, but it is not the reality. So, it takes some time to get used to not having the fragrance or the suds. I think I mentioned it in the recipe post, but if I have a stain, I will just put a little bit of the laundry soap right on the stain before washing. Also, make sure not to put too much in – stick to the recipe amount per load. Hope this helps & best wishes!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *