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Castile Soap for You and Your Baby

Castile Soap

I often hear stories about babies, and even some adults, having reactions to something in their baby washes. Have you ever read their lists of ingredients? Many are full of ingredients that are difficult to pronounce and understand. Some of you are allergic to even coconut oil.  So, what to do? My recommendation is to use castile soap. Before we get to two recommendations I have, let’s talk about why I like them.  Are you concerned about potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide?  Read on.


First, a little history.


Castile soap originated in the Castile region of Spain. It was made from 100% olive oil.


Let’s talk about ingredients used in making castile soap.


First, olive oil has impressive moisturizing benefits. It also avoids a lot of problems people are having with allergies to nuts and seeds, because olives are neither, and do not normally cause allergies.


Note that 100% coconut oil (used in some soaps) can actually be drying to the skin, and soap makers are advised not to use more than 30%-40% of coconut oil in their soap formulations (source).


How does an oil become a soap?


It does so through the process of saponification, which involves reacting an oil with water and an alkali, or “lye.”


The saponification results both in soap and glycerin.


The lye used to make soap is not supposed to remain in the final product. Soap makers perform careful calculations to make sure that all lye gets reacted and no un-reacted lye remains in the product. If a mistake is made, the soap will be drying on the skin so we consumers will know right away.


Castile soap’s pH


Some of you might be concerned about higher pH of soap. The pH of any soap, including castile soap, has to be to between 8 and 10. If it is lower, the soap is not going to clean well. If the soap is made right, and unsaponified oil is added to the soap, the soap will not be drying at all.


What are the alternatives?


I believe knowing alternatives helps put things into perspective. Non-soap washes require synthetic surfactants instead to create lather.


While washes made with synthetic surfactants have balanced pH, some of them may create problems for the skin, health, and the environment. For example, Cocamide DEA is a carcinogen, even though it is a surfactant derived from coconut oil. And there are so many synthetic surfactants that we do not have much health information about.


All in all, in my opinion, castile soap is a safe option to use on a baby.


Where do I buy castile baby soap?


There are not many manufacturers that make true castile soap. I have two options for you: liquid castile soap and castile bar soap. I have used and liked both.


By Valenti Organics True Castile Soap Bar


I have corresponded with the owner and formulator for a few years and find her very knowledgeable and conscientious. Besides the castile bar soap, I have used many other By Valenti products (you can read more about them here). The castile bar soap generates a low creamy lather, which is the nature of castile soap.


Just as a warning, their customer service can, at times, be slow but because their products are so good, I think it is worth the wait.


Castile Soap by By Valenti Organics

By Valenti Organics website


MamaSuds Liquid Castile Soap


When my son was a baby I did not know about castile soap by MamaSuds. We use it now in a foaming soap dispenser, and I found that it does not dry the skin at all. True, it is not packaged in a cute baby bottle because true castile soap has multiple uses. You can buy it in a gallon size, which makes it economical and use it with a foaming dispenser, which makes it even more economical and eco-friendly. Because you will be adding water to the foaming dispenser, make sure you use boiled water and use it up within 2 weeks to avoid any mold or bacteria growth because there are no synthetic preservatives.


Castile Soap by MamaSuds

MamaSuds website

With the coupon IRLFY10 and you will receive 10% storewide.


Let me know in the comments if you had any experience with castile soap and which brand you use.


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40 thoughts on “Castile Soap for You and Your Baby”

  1. Do you have any recommendations on a tear-free baby shampoo? Understood that the tear-free element is a numbing agent, however this is one sacrifice I’m hoping to be able to accept. I’m having a terrible time finding tear-free without a whole host of other chemicals coming along with it however. California Baby is the best I seem to be able to come up with! Thoughts?

    1. I normally recommend real soap that is not tear-free but I see that there is a demand for non-toxic tear-free shampoo. Let me look into this and see if I can find something better than California Baby.

    1. I am a big fan of saponified soaps/shampoos. I will have another post devoted to it. Stay tuned. Thank you for letting me know what your interests are. It is good for me to know.

    1. Some of the ingredients they use are not up to my standards. However, they have some products that do not have the ingredients I do not like. Thank you for asking the question.

  2. Hi,

    i have a 15 month old son

    Without knowing about the ingredients i have used Cetaphil wash as well as daily moisturizing lotion all these days.

    After knowing about their ingredients i switched to Aveeeno baby daily moisturizing lotion and yesterday i bought Honest wash and shampoo.

    He doesnt have sensitive skin. hewas ok with cetaphil all these days.

    Can i continue using Aveeno lotion and Honest Shampoo & bodywash.
    Pls Suggest me.

    Thank You,

    1. I do not recommend Aveeno lotion. Please see this post for much better options – organic and truly natural. As for Honest Shampoo and Body Wash, it is okay but I do not really see a reason to start your baby on synthetics that early (please see this post here). There are great bar soaps such by Valenti Organics (see them here) that work perfectly on baby body and hair. I do not use any lotion on my baby because the soap does not dry the skin to begin with. I am glad that your baby does not have sensitive skin but we should make sure that we keep it that way. Some synthetic ingredients over time irritate the skin and eventually the skin may become sensitive. It is called sensitization. So I believe using great mild natural soap is the key. You will save a lot of money down the road.

  3. I’ve been using Earth Mama Angel Baby organic angel baby shampoo on our daughter. What do you think? Any other recommendations for shampoos?

    1. Hi, Tammy! There is nothing wrong with Earth Mama Angel Baby except that it is in plastic and you are paying for water because it is liquid. My strong recommendation is a true castile soap by Valenti Organics. I have a link to the website in this post. It is very mild, lasts forever, there is no water/preservatives, and it works. Earth Mama Angel Baby shampoo’s pH is higher too. You might think that it is strange to use bar soap as a shampoo. But it is the same thing but better. Thank you for asking the question. Let me know if you have other questions.

  4. Thanks for the info! And what about when she needs a conditioner? So far, so good, but she has curls and she’ll probably need it at some point. And on another topic, the coffee maker that you mentioned is made in China . . . do you happen to know of any good USA brands? I was looking for a stainless steel french press made in the US, but only found those made in China. Thanks for your wonderful resources!

    1. How old is your daughter? Let me look into shampoo/conditioner a little more. I think I am on to something really special. As for China, it is tough. As you know, most products are made there. Will keep my eyes open though for not made in China french press.

  5. Hi! Is the Dr. Bronner’s the only liquid baby wash you recommend? We are currently using the Honest Company’s shampoo and body wash.

    1. Hi Lori,
      If you have not yet, please read my post about Honest Co. Shampoo and Body Wash here. Besides Dr. Bronner’s, among liquid washes, I also like Vermont baby wash. I included it in the organic newborn gift basket I put together. Take a look at it here. Let me know if you have other questions. Thank you for joining my blog!

  6. Hi! My 8 month old son has mild eczema on his face and we have been using Aquaphor body wash for eczema for baths. Is he better off with Dr. Bronner’s????

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Lauren, thank you for asking the question. I am seriously at a loss why Aquaphor body wash is marketed to babies with sensitive skin. If you look at the ingredients closely, you will see that it is laden with chemicals that may cause skin irritation for people even with healthy skin. Here is an example – Cocamidopropyl Betaine. It was named Allergen of the Year in 2004. In your case, I would skip soap every other time (babies are not that dirty) and use By Valenti true castile soap made with only organic olive oil (see the product link in the post).

  7. Hi dear
    I must say you are doing a great job
    I have a question, olive oil does not work for my three year old ever since he was a baby, so I massaged him with coconut oil only. He has dry and very sensitive skin. What other Castile soap would you recommend, coz Valenti organics has olive oil

    Thank you

      1. So mamasuds Castile liquid soap has distilled water & Castile soap listed as ingredients, in that order. So you mention diluting it more into a foaming soap- but needing to dispose of it within 2 weeks because of adding water…. so what’s their shelf life of a gallon when it’s already water based? Wouldn’t it expire fairly quickly as they have no other ingredients (preservatives) listed? I see Valenti has some preservatives & they even comment on this aspect on their website, but economically mamasuds works better for my budget, unless they’re hiding ingredients or I’d need to toss stuff quickly…. I appreciate your research & time, if by chance you see this I would be soo grateful for a reply. Thank you.

        1. Hi, Brady: saponified soap has a higher pH, which keeps it from going bad… In my research of a variety of true soaps, By Valenti is the only one who uses preservatives. So in my experience, you won’t be able to find others. Feel free to contact MamaSuds directly too. Have a beautiful weekend. ~Irina

  8. Pingback: Considering the Hidden Dangers of Baby Products - Orgasmic BirthOrgasmic Birth

  9. Nathalie Giroux

    Hi Irina,
    Thanks for your Castile soap article. You selected two brands in your article. What about Unscented Baby Mild Castile Liquid Soap by Dr. Bronner’s? Is it a goid product? If not as good, why?
    Many thanks.

    1. Hi, Nathalie: this post is about true castile soap, which is made of only olive oil. Dr Bronner’s is a good soap (although some complain that it is drying) but it is not true castile soap because besides olive oil other oils are used. Does it make sense? ~Irina

      1. Nathalie Giroux

        Yes! Thanks! Unfortunatly, I leave in Canada and the two product you are recommanding are not available. 🙁

    1. When it comes to babies, I want the safest products for them. I find that castile soap would be the best. Babies may have reactions to synthetic surfactants, preservatives, and essential oils. Shea Moisture seems to be doing a lot of things right but yet contains these. Does it make sense? ~Irina

  10. I have received my MamaSuds Castile soap per your recommendation. I have a foaming soap dispenser, so do I use boiled distilled water? Or can I is regular distilled water? Also I will be using this soap in the bathroom which gets really hot and humid during showers so will this cause mold in the soap dispenser? And in the leftover bottle of the Castile soap? Also, I am going to use this on my baby but can I use it as a shampoo for her head too?
    I don’t see any post for baby shampoo and conditioner as you mentioned in earlier posts on this article, were you able to? Thank you so much!

    1. Hi, Cynthia: Boiled water is better especially if you are going to use it on your baby in the hot bathroom environment. Make sure you use it up within 2 weeks and check your soap dispenser for mold. Yes, you can use it on your baby’s head, just make sure it does not get into her eyes. I have been using soap to wash my son’s body and head/hair since he was born for over 5 years now. Let me know how you like the product. Thank you. ~Irina

    1. Hi, Shana: It is nice to hear from you! As far as I know, they do not accept phone calls. I just emailed the owner to confirm that products are made in a nut-free facility. This soap is not tear-free. Actually, no soap can be tear-free. The washes that are advertised “tear-free” are made without soap, with synthetic foaming agents. Thank you for reaching out. Talk to you soon! ~Irina

  11. Hi Irina!
    I’ve recently tried out your reccomended Fits Organic for laundry as well as Mamasuds. Worked very nicely. The second time I tried ordering fits organic internationally my order would get cancelled. So I looked up other brands on iherb and found “indigo wild zum” claiming to be all natural. No petrochemicals, synthetics, dyes, chlorine, phosphates.It lists “potassium cocoate (100% saponofied)” and “essential oils” plus glycerin and sodium bicarbonate on the laundry.I did not see anything bad in it? I also know you like saponified stuff. But on the granite & countertop cleanser it had “fragrance” listed in the ingredients. It does not state what the essential oils nor “fragrance” are.. besides “frankincense and myrrh” on the front label of the bottle itself. Infact, the “eucalyptus citrus” version of the granite & countertop cleanser does not state “fragrance” at all in the ingredients! Should I steer away from this simply because it is not openly admitting what that fragrance / essential oils really may be? Thank you!

  12. Hello, and thank you so much for what you do! Your posts have been VERY helpful literaure.

    Here is what I’m dealing with:

    My baby (4months) has allergies (both consumption and contact) to dairy and nuts (tree nuts and peanuts, not coconut, and prob not shea, apricot,etc)

    I want a naturally derived skin care regimen for him, bc I am a very holistically minded person who feels strongly about putting chemicals on my babies biggest organ.

    Most naturally derived products are using milk ingredients for its moisturizing properties, and they are hidden behind scientific names so I have no clue what I’m looking for. I am also worried about nut content (like almond) for this same reason.

    I’m overwhelmed by all the info, options, and the task of finding something natural that is also top 8 allergen free (just to be on the safe side)

    Johnson s Baby soap works fine for him but I don’t want to use it. The bar had him screaming in pain from the soap he rubbed in his eyes and of course he responded by rubbing more in his eyes, so I’m afraid of bar soap now. For the came reason I would like to find something that is made for babies so that it is tear free (this is the one sacrifice I’m willing to make as far as chemical ingredients goes, I know it’s a numbing agent but for now while he’s so little and I can’t tell him not to touch his eyes I want that for him)
    Aveno, and Honest Co irritated his skin (I don’t really want to use Aveno anyways but I’ve gone through almost every ramble we’ve been given) (I agree woth you on your review of honest co products, it was a helpful read)
    Seventh Generation baby foaming cleanser has worked well, but the pump keeps getting stuck….. It’s annoying but I could always fall back on it bc I feel like it’s decent (your thoughts?)
    Just having trouble finding a soap/shampoo that is safe and that I want to use on him. Have you looked into Dr. Bronners baby products? (Interested in your thoughts, are they gentle on the eyes?)

    Thank you for your time

    1. Hello KJ:

      Dr. Bronner’s baby products don’t contain ingredients that may increase risks of long-term health issues. Whether they work for your baby’s skin, we will have to figure that out. They are soap-based, which means that they are not tear-free. I think it is best to address your concerns and devise a plan that works for you and your baby in a private consultation. Let me know what you think ~Irina

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