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What's so great about Castile soap, anyway? A (skeptical) beginner's guide.

by The Nitty Gritty Team

Chances are you've come across that busy blue bottle with all the writing on it. Or, perhaps you have a friend who's been hardcore Castile for years. Maybe you've even washed your hands with it in said friend's bathroom, and walked out, squeaky clean but slightly baffled.

Whatever your level of knowledge, setting out on your own Castile soap journey can be daunting. Do you start with your hair, or your French Bulldog’s? Wash the floor, or your body? DIY some laundry detergent? Make your car sparkle? Let's take a step back and start with:

What is Castile soap?

Castile soap originated in—where else?—Castile, Spain. It comes in liquid or bar form, and is made solely from plant oils. No animal fats or byproducts. Which makes it vegan.

Olive and coconut oils are the most commonly used in Castile soap. Cove uses both in its formulas, along with a blend of certified organic argan, jojoba, and hemp. Many Castile soaps also use palm kernel oil. Cove does not. The cultivation of some palm kernel oils leads to the destruction of rainforests, and we would not feel good cleaning our homes with something that destroys the home of others. Nope. No thank you.

Back to plants. Thanks to olive, coconut and friends, Castile soap is an all purpose cleaner and is also biodegradable, non-toxic, and more gentle than soaps containing added detergents and harsh foaming agents. Safe to use on your pets and kids—that's two pretty great things right there.

But what can I actually do with it? is probably what you're wondering now.

Well, Castile soap is like the Beyonce of household cleaning and personal care products. There's virtually nothing it can't do.

You can: clean your counters, sinks, tub, floors, and toilet. Clean greasy grimy pots and pans. Wash your windows. Replace your laundry detergent. Save your houseplants from insect infestation. Rinse your vegetables. Wash your hair. (Follow with this super simple rinse to balance the pH.) And even add your own favorite essential oils to an Unscented formula to create your own signature organic liquid soaps.

So let's recap, soap skeptics. Here are some of the things that are, indeed, "so good" about Castile soap:

  • Plant oils only. Nourishing for skin, nice to the environment.
  • No animal fats or byproducts. Thank gourd.
  • Originated in Spain. Loose relation to Sangria. Not a bad thing.
  • No added detergents. Because harsh.
  • No artificial colors, fragrances or foaming agents. Because irritating.
  • No parabens, phthalates, SLS or SLES. Because health.
  • No palm oil. (In Cove Castile soap, at least.) Because rainforests.
  • Biodegradable soap. Break it down, soap.
  • Non-toxic. Pet and kid-friendly.
  • Multi purpose cleaner. Use it on all the things.

In closing—is a soap swap going to change your life? Probably not. But will it give you one less thing to worry about, knowing the one product you’re using to clean your home and your body is natural and void of known irritants and endocrine disruptors? Yep. It will. Also, it will make monkeys happy.

Keep clean simple, friends.

Are you just getting started with Castile soap? We'd love to hear your wins, woes, recipes and revelations below.

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