Image of Dr. Bronner Castile Soap Unscented blue bottle lying on its side

We tried it: Is Dr. Bronner’s All-One Magic Soap really magic?

Last Updated: May 25, 2021

Dr. Bronner’s All-One Magic Soap is a cult classic, touting 18 official uses. But what’s the story behind the suds? And does Dr. Bronner’s live up to the hype? Grove writer, Mackenzie Sanford, tried a few of the touted uses of castile soap, and she’s here to report her findings.

It’s no secret that I love cult beauty products with interesting backstories (and quirky packaging). Dr. Bronner’s Pure Castile Soap hits all these points and more. This all-natural household staple has a devoted following among A-list celebrities and trippy hippies alike.

And with eight varieties to choose from –– including tea tree, lavender, peppermint, citrus orange, and unscented –– there’s a scent for every mood. All of Dr. Bronner’s products are certified all-natural, vegan, cruelty-free, GMO-free, fair trade, and organic — and they’re free of synthetic preservatives, detergents, and foaming agents.

Dr. Bronner: The story behind the suds

Photo of two bottles of Dr. Bronner's castille soap

Emanuel Bronner was a third-generation German soapmaker who pioneered the invention of liquid soap. After narrowly escaping the Nazi occupation of Germany that claimed his parents, he moved to Chicago, where he did a brief stint in a nearby mental institution before escaping (yes, escaping!) to Los Angeles.

In 1948, Bronner started his own soapmaking company and began giving sermons on his “All-One or None!” ideology espousing unity — and slinging homemade castile soap on the side. In 1950, weary of those who stopped to buy his soap but didn’t stay to listen to his words, Dr. Bronner devised a way to send his message along with them.

The resulting packaging is a mishmash of cosmically large to microscopically tiny print, covering everything from the soapmaker’s “Moral ABC” to espousing generosity and love for Spaceship Earth and, more recently, Michael Pollen quotes mixed with calls to support psychedelic-assisted therapies to “heal the soul.” There’s a lot going on, and it’s delightful.

What is the difference between castile soap and regular soap?

Illustration of one cleaning bottle being swapped for another

“Pure-castile soap” is splashed across the front of all Dr. Bronner’s soap bottles. But what is castile soap, and how is it different from other soaps? Many natural soaps are made from lard, tallow, or other forms of animal fat.

Castile soaps are special because they’re made from plant oils — traditionally olive oil. These days, you can find castile soap made from palm oil, coconut oil, hemp oil, jojoba oil, and olive oil –– Dr. Bronner’s uses all five.

How do you use Dr. Bronner’s?

How you use Dr. Bronner’s soap depends on what you’re using it for. Some uses call for Dr. B’s straight-up, but most of the time, there’s some sort of dilution going on.

When in doubt, follow the advice on the label: Dilute! Dilute! OK! I’ll give you some tips for dilution as we go.

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The claim: Dr. Bronner’s can be used for just about everything

Yellow arm muscle illustration

Dr. Bronner’s is an all-purpose, undiluted “Magic Soap” with 18 uses that run the gamut of home and personal care. One product for everything does sound truly magical — and who could say no to a soap that claims to clean home, body, mind, soul, and spirit? I’m sure I’m not the only one out there who needs a good soul-scrubbing.

I tried six of the uses Dr. Bronner’s highlights — mostly the ones I was dubious about.

The experience: Is Dr. Bronner’s good for skin?

Dr. Bronner’s has zero synthetic ingredients and zero harmful chemicals. It’s a very gentle, hydrating soap, so lots of people use it on their skin. I tried it on my skin in three ways.

Dr. Bronner’s as hand soap

I love using Dr. Bronner’s as a chemical-free hand soap, since I wash them frequently. I’ve got one of their travel-size bottles of lavender castile soap in my handbag in case any nasty surprises happen while I’m out. It’s soft, soothing, and kills viruses and bacteria.

Verdict:I highly recommend Dr. Bronner’s as hand soap, whether you fill your bathroom dispenser with it at home or take it with you in a smaller size (or in a repurposed travel-size bottle.)

Dr. Bronner’s as body wash

I learned the hard way that a little Dr. Bronner’s goes a long way when you use it as natural body wash. Pour a very small amount into your hands, washcloth, or loofah, and lather up as usual. It’s super gentle on my dry skin, and since I’m using peppermint — which contains both peppermint and wild mint — it’s a delightfully potent brew that leaves my skin feeling deliciously clean and tingly.

Verdict: When you use too much Dr. Bronner’s in the shower, you better hold onto the grab bar or have a seat, because you’ll be slippery. But when you use just a dollop, it’s a gentle, hydrating body wash.

Is Dr. Bronner’s soap good for your vagina?

Dr. Bronner’s is often recommended as a feminine wash, but know that I’m speaking from experience when I say that if you use the peppermint variety on your netherregions, it will tingle, and it might burn.

Verdict: Dr. Bronner’s soaps are gentle on the genitalia, but it’s a good idea to test a little out before you scrub your most sensitive bits with it.

The experience: Is Dr. Bronner’s good for teeth?

I know that a lot of folks use Dr. Bronner’s Castile Soap for all of their oral care needs, but it’s something that’s never really appealed to me, given all of the excellent all-natural, dental hygiene-specific natural oral care products on the market. But I was pretty interested to give it a go anyway, just to see.

Green toothbrush illustration

Dr. Bronner’s as toothpaste

I put off trying Dr. B’s as toothpaste because I was pretty sure it was just going to taste like peppermint soap. But then I ran out of my usual toothpaste, so I took the plunge. And you know what? I was right. It tasted like soap. But Dr. B’s is fully transparent about that, because it’s soap, so it’s not like anyone should be surprised.

The verdict: If you’re looking for an all-natural toothpaste that’ll deliver that Dr. Bronner’s clean without the soapy taste, well, you’re in luck — Dr. Bronner’s All-One Toothpaste delivers just that. No need to put up with that soapy taste.

Illustration of red-orange lips with a green leaf over the top lip and blue sparkles

Dr. Bronner’s as mouthwash

To use Dr. Bronner’s as a natural and disinfecting mouthwash, place one drop of liquid soap in a small glass of water, and shoot that baby back — but not all the way back! Just swish it around in your mouth, then rinse. I tried this out, and while it did taste exactly as soapy as you’d think it would, it actually left my mouth feeling pretty refreshed without a terrible aftertaste.

The verdict: Using Dr. B’s as mouthwash isn’t something I’ll be making a habit of, but it’s a good trick to have up your sleeve in a pinch!

Dr. Bronner’s to freshen your breath

Need a quick little freshening up after that everything bagel with scallion cream cheese? Dr. Bronner’s to the rescue. Fill a small spray bottle with water, and add a couple drops of the soap. Whenever you’re in need, spritz a little freshener in your “bagel hole” to keep your mouth fresh and prevent nasty bacteria from living their best life on your gums and between your teeth.

The verdict: The spritzer experience is very similar to the mouthwash experience — not bad, but not something I’m going to adopt hereafter. Plenty of better and more targeted options are out there for fighting bad breath.

The experience: Can you use Dr. Bronner’s for laundry?

I’m a big fan of non-toxic laundry detergents, been using them for years. So one day, I gave Dr. B’s a go in the washing machine, and it worked like a charm. For a medium load, I added ⅓ cup of Dr. Bronner’s straight to the load, followed by ½ cup vinegar during the rinse cycle. (Use half those amounts for a high efficiency machine.)

Verdict: I really loved how minty fresh my laundry smelled after pulling it out of the dryer. My clothes were soft and clean, except for a slight bit of soapy residue left on my mom jeans — but it wasn’t anything a wet washcloth couldn’t take care of.

What else is Dr. Bronner’s soap good for?

In addition to the six uses I tried, Dr. Bronner’s lists these uses for their castile soap.

Foot soak

Dollop a tablespoon of your fave Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap scent into a foot bath, and let the bad vibes melt away. Don’t have a foot bath? Fill a bucket or your tub with hot water instead.

Shaving balm

Lather 5 to 10 drops of liquid Dr. Bronner’s in your hands and apply to your skin before shaving. Interested in other natural shave products? Check out Dr. Bronner’s Shaving Soap.

Pet wash

Unscented Bronner’s makes a great pet shampoo. Wet your pet’s fur, then massage in a small dollop of full-strength soap until you get a good lather. Rinse well, and repeat if your pet is extra filthy.

Certain scents are toxic to cats and dogs, including eucalyptus, tea tree, lemon, and orange oil –– and if the peppermint gives you the tingles, imagine how it’ll make your pets feel, especially if they have sensitive skin.

Play it safe, and only use the unscented Bronner’s for your pet-washing needs.

Fruit and vegetable rinse

Clean your fruits and veggies with a ¼ teaspoon of Dr. Bronner’s in a bowl of water. Submerge your produce, and give it a good swish or two. Rinse and eat.

Hot towel massage

Emmanuel Bronner loved hot towel massages. Add a dash of your chosen scent to a bath towel in a sink full of hot water. Wring out the towel, lay it over your face and scalp, and massage with your fingertips. Enjoy a hot towel massage on your shoulders, back, arms, or legs too.


Stinky pits, be gone! Try Dr. B’s for a natural deodorant. Add a tablespoon of soap and a teaspoon of Himalayan crystal salt to a small spray bottle filled with water. Shake it up, and spray.

Baby wash

Add a couple of drops of Dr. Bronner’s castile soap to a washcloth or to your baby’s bathwater. Baby unscented is an excellent choice because it has the fewest ingredients, making it the gentlest option and the least likely to cause an allergic reaction.


Pour a drop or two of peppermint, eucalyptus, or tea tree Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap into a spray bottle filled with water, and spray it on your face after shaving to prevent razor burn. Or get yourself a tube of Dr. Bronner’s Organic Shaving Soap.

Household cleaner

Switching to all-natural cleaning products is good for your health and for the environment. For an easy, all-natural, all-purpose cleaner, add ¼ cup of liquid castile soap to a quart of water in a spray bottle. For an antibacterial boost, add a few drops of tea tree oil. For a little more kick to your household cleaner, try Dr. Bronner’s biodegradable all-purpose cleaner.

Shampoo: Is Dr. Bronner’s good for hair?

Conventional shampoos often contain harmful chemicals and stripping sulfates. For an au natural cleanse, try Dr. Bronner’s — use it just like shampoo, except use about half your normal amount. Keep in mind that there might be a two-to-three week adjustment period as your scalp acclimates to chemical-free hair products.

Pest spray

Just add spice! Banish pesky pests from your garden by diluting 1 to 2 tablespoons of lavender or citrus soap in a quart of water with a dash of powdered cayenne pepper. Add the solution to a spray bottle, and spray your garden for bugs. Don’t use tea tree soap — it’ll burn your precious plants.

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About the author: Mackenzie Sanford is a writer and musician feeling the tingle in the Midwest. She's been writing for Grove since 2020.

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