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DIY Liquid Castile Soap “Wonderful”

Avatar for Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
DIY Liquid Castile Soap “Wonderful”

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One of the really fun things I get to do is mess around with DIY cleaners.  The inner chemist in me comes out and I play around with different formulas until I get something just right.  My bloopers not withstanding, I can usually muddle my way through a recipe and make it work with minor adjustments here and there.

Today I would like to show you how to make your own liquid castile soap for pennies.  Well not really pennies but two full quarts of liquid castile soap for less than $1.50.  Compare that to Dr. Bronner’s at $14 or $15 dollars per quart and you will see why I am excited.

DIY Liquid Castile Soap - Backdoor Survival

What is Castile Soap?

Castile soap is wonderful stuff.  It is made from 100% plant oils – typically olive oil or coconut oil – and it includes no animal fat and no mysterious chemicals. It’s a true soap, not a chemical detergent, making castile soap completely biodegradable and very earth-friendly. This means it is also skin friendly unlike traditional soaps which can be extremely drying.

fThe big kahuna in castile soaps is Dr. Bronner’s which makes a great product that simply grows on you.  It comes in many wonderful fragrances (I like the Rose and the Peppermint) and the liquid version is concentrated so that a little goes a long way.  The downside is that at $14 or $15 for 32 ounces, it is expensive.  Dr. Bronner’s also makes a bar soap that sells for about $4 to $5 per bar.  I will tell you why all of this is important in a moment.

There is another brand of of castile soap that is widely available.  Kirk’s Castile Soap has been around since 1839.  Here are the ingredients: Coconut Soap, Water, Vegetable Glycerin, Coconut Oil, Natural Fragrance.  There is also an unscented version.

DIY Liquid Castile Soap - Backdoor Survival

Being a relatively new fan of Dr. Bronner’s, and of course wanting a bottle in every single one of the luscious scents, I realized there had to be a better way.  Enter Liquid Castile Soap “Wonderful”.

The Master Recipe

This is so easy it is a wee bit embarrassing but stay with me.


1 bar of castile soap
2 quarts (8 cups) of boiling water  (I used filtered water)


A large kitchen or vegetable grater
A bowl or pot large enough to hold 2 quarts


1.  Using your kitchen knife, slice and dice the bar of soap into small chunks.  Or, if you are so inclined, grate it up with a vegetable grater instead.  Castile soap in inherently soft so there is no reason to drag our the food processor or blender to do this.

DIY Liquid Castile Soap - Backdoor Survival

2.  Measure out your boiling water and place it your bowl, pot or do as I did and use a large Pyrex measuring cup.

3.  Add the chunks or flakes and walk away.  Go do something else.  Walk the dog. Catch up on Backdoor Survival.  Just do something. When you come back in an hour or so, most if not all of the soap will be dissolved into a nice concentrated liquid.  At this point, transfer your liquid castile soap to some mason jars, a squirt bottle or other container and you are ready to go.


Within 24 hours, my batches of liquid soap turned gel-like and semi-solid.  A quick run under hot water brought them back to liquid form.  In a way, this makes sense because coconut oil does not liquefy until it reaches 76 degrees.  Given the tremendous cost savings, this was something I could deal with.

DIY Liquid Castile Soap - Backdoor Survival

I tried both cutting the bar soap into chunks with a knife and grating it with my vegetable grater.  I felt that the vegetable grater resulted in a better end product.  I believe the soap dissolved more quickly and for some reason the resulting liquid was smoother.  I don’t know – hard to describe.

As will all castile soaps, there will not be an abundant amount of sudsing.  The suds in most soaps comes from sodium lauryl sulfates, a known irritant that does nothing but make suds. Be aware that you may get a few bubbles with this, but not many. Odd as it seems, it still clean very well and does not feel at all oily even though it is an oil based soap.

Those of you familiar with my Dirt Cheap Soft Soap will notice some similarities although there is no added glycerin in liquid Castile Soap Wonderful.  Castile Soap Wonderful has a completely different texture plus it is highly concentrated.

Castile Soap Wonderful

This is the fun part.  With a simple dilution and the addition of essential oils, I was able to make up multi-purpose household cleaners just like I do with Dr. Bronner’s.  The addition of 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of essential oils results in such a useful cleaner that I started calling them “You Name It” Wonderful.  I now have Tea Tree Wonderful, Lavender Wonderful, Orange Wonderful and Peppermint Wonderful.  This is so fun.

After much trial and error, I came up with the following dilution:

3 TBL Liquid Castile Soap
1 quart (4 cups) filtered water
1/8 to 1/4 TSP Essential Oils

Shake everything together in a repurposed bottle or juice jug and use your premade brew to fill individual spray bottles  (These spray bottles I purchased at Amazon work great.)

How to Use your Liquid Castile Soap

For the past three weeks I have been keeping a list of how I use my various castile soap wonderfuls.  Amazingly, I have I found that a single dilution, poured into a spray bottle, does it all.  So far I have not found any reason to use the soap undiluted or in a stronger or weaker dilution.

Household Cleaner:  Depending on your mood, pick your favorite version and spray away.  I use in on my black granite counters, wood floors, stainless appliances, everything.  The Orange Wonderful seems to work best on really greasy things which makes sense because orange essential oil is made from orange peels and we all know what a good solvent orange can be. (By the way, a drop or two of orange essential oil neat – right out of the bottle – works just as good as petroleum based goo gone.)

Window and Mirror Cleaner:  For some reason, my castile soap wonderful cleans windows and glass just fine and without leaving a residue while Dr. Bonner’s tended to streak on me.

Washing Hands:  Instead of using soap in the pump bottle, spray your hands with a generous amount of Tea Tree Wonderful, rub your hands together and rinse.  The tea tree serves as an effective anti-bacterial and sanitizer.

Body wash:  Spray your favorite scented wonderful on a washcloth and give yourself a “sponge” type bath.  (Does anyone even use that term anymore?)  Anyway, for extra moisture, you could add a bit of vitamin E oil or even olive oil to your spray bottle – just make sure you mark the bottle “body wash”.  While you are at it, add a few extra drops of essential oil so you smell heavenly.

Facial cleaner/facial wipes:  Spray your Lavender Wonderful on to a microfiber cloth or plain old washcloth and use it to clean off every bit of makeup, even mascara.  Your face will feel nice and soft afterward.

Toothpaste:  I kid you not.  Spray some Peppermint (or other) Wonderful onto a toothbrush and brush away.  I do prefer regular toothpaste but if there were non available, this would work just fine.

Eyeglass Cleaner:  Castile wonderful will make your eyeglasses sparkle.  Because you are cleaning with soap, you do not have to worry about ruining your Transitions lenses (never use a vinegar solution on them).

Clean fruits and veggies: Spay and wipe to remove gems and pesticides from non-organic produce.

Doggie Shampoo:  I used a combination of Peppermint and Lavender Wonderful for Tucker’s bath this weekend.  After wetting him down, I got out the spray bottle and sprayed away.  Are you detecting a common theme here?

DIY Liquid Castile Soap - Backdoor Survival

Clean Your Shoes:  Spray and scrub.  My 5 year old Clarks sandals came out looking nice and fresh and ready for another summer.

Clean Makeup Brushes:  For those of you that wear makeup, spray your brushes every few days then wipe them clean with a microfiber cloth.  The bristles stay nice and soft and smell great.  No more built up makeup goo.

Dusting Spray:  I have been using this spray for three weeks on my wood furniture and most notably my desk which get very grimy.  I have also used it on my iPad and laptop screens and almost anything else you can think of.

One thing I did not try (but want to) is making a homemade soft scrub by combining 1 tablespoon liquid Castile soap and 1/3 cup baking soda in to a scrubbing paste.  Just thinking about it, it seems to me I could sprinkle some baking soda on my crusty pan or gunky sink and just spray and scrub without making the paste.  Even though it only costs pennies, using an undiluted tablespoon seems wasteful.  Again, I have not tested this.

I am sure there are lots and lots of other uses – these are just the ones I have tried.

Magic versus Wonderful

In the past I have referred to “Rose Magic” and “Peppermint Magic”.  The only difference between Peppermint (or other) Magic and Peppermint (or other) Wonderful is that “Magic” uses Dr. Bronner’s and “Wonderful” uses the DIY liquid soap make with Kirk’s.  Same dilution, no difference.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

There are lots of websites that have similar instructions but as you will find, everyone has their own dilution and their own way of doing things.  This is my way and it works for me so I have a high degree of confidence that it will work for you too.

The Final Word

Shop around and you might find a deal on Kirk’s bar soap.  I initially picked some up at Safeway when I was in the Seattle area but by far, the cheapest place I found online was at  I paid $3.79 for 3 bars and since I also purchased some other products, shipping was free.  I am told that some Wal-marts carry Kirk’s at a similar price so it is worth checking locally.

I have now stocked up on Kirk’s and will put some in deep storage.  At this price, having the ability to make my own scented liquid castile soap any time I want to sounds like a good proposition.  Not only that, I am convinced that being armed with vinegar, castile soap, spray bottles and microfiber cloths, I can clean anything!

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

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In addition, when you sign up to receive email updates you will receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-book The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

Bargain Bin:  Below you will find many of the items mentioned in today’s article.  As always, check your prices and for heaven’s sake, don’t get tricked into buying a single bar of of Kirk’s castile soap for $5.

Kirk’s Original Coco Castile Bar Soap:  This is a great price at $3.79 for 3 bars from iconAmazon also sells Kirk’s here – Kirk’s Castile Soap Original (3pk) .

Amazon Basics Microfiber Cleaning Cloth, (Pack of 36): I just noticed that Amazon is selling their own brand of Microfiber cloths.  They are not as “fuzzy” as the Z-wipes.  I have both types.  Whatever you choose, they will last for years and will allow you to replace paper towels forever.  I color code using green for glass and windows and the other colors for everything else.

NOW Foods Peppermint Oil: I favor peppermint essential oil (okay, I like Lavender essential oil  too) so this is what I get.  There are many types of essential oils to choose from.  Take your pick.  One thing you will find is that a little goes a long way.

Soft ‘N Style Clear Spray Bottles I happen to like these smaller bottles and you can not beat the price for a set of 6.  Likewise for these Pump Dispensers.

Box-style Hand Grater:  As easy as it was to use a kitchen knife, it just felt “better” to grate the bar soap by hand using an old fashioned grater.

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127 Responses to “DIY Liquid Castile Soap “Wonderful””

    • Yes pure Castile soap with 100% olive oil or avocado oil or either 90% olive oil/avocado oil and 10% castor oil ( for bubbles)

  1. Using the dollar sign and the word dollars together makes you look like an idiot. One or the other, but not both together in conjunction.

  2. Made this yesterday to begin the wonderful in my home. Still watery. I put it in the fridge and am waiting for thickening. I already made another quart jar of dog shampoo. I used 3 tables. Of soap, 1/4 cup coconut milk, 4 drops lavender, 1 drop tea tree, and filled the rest with water.

  3. OK I’m new to making things at home.. I’ve messed up some and something’s turned . my question is I tripled the batch … Fist mistake… Then I just used fauset water….second mistake I live in Philly PA. Hard water…. Now I have all these bottles and there are long snotty flotters in my bottles… Now the question lol…is it ruined? Can I fix it? Is it considerate? Or can I just use it as is? I have all this soup I think lol I don’t know what to do with it .thank you Kate.m.

    • I don’t have any definitive answers but will share what I would do. I would take 1/4th or 1/3rd of what you have made and re-cook it. Bring it to a simmer for 20 or 30 minutes. After that, turn it off and let it sit undisturbed for 24 to 48 hours. (Other readers have had luck putting the pot in the fridge but I have not tried it).

      Also, note that some of us (myself, for example) end up with a very thick, gel-like product. It still works and dilutes just fine using the same ratios as Dr. Bronners. Others end up with a more watery product. My guess is these differences are due to the mineral content of the water. Regardless, the end product cleans just fine. Plus, it is dirt cheap.

      Good luck!

  4. My soap turned out very watery:( I used distilled water and it been 24hrs. I am doing another batch with 4 cups of water instead. Are you sure your ratio is right?

    • The ratios are correct. What I have learned is that the water makes a huge difference. My DIY Liquid Castile Soap is thick and gel-like whereas others are watery. Where do you like and what is your source of water?

      That said, you can try to re-batch by adding more soap flakes.

      Let me know how it goes.

    • It finally thickened up! It just needed more time. Thanks for this recipe! I’m so pumped up to start using it????

  5. I just found a recipe I want to try and make for dusting spray and it says to use 1/2 a tsp of dr. bronners liquid. How would that translate to your recipe?

    • It is a 1:1 substitution. BTW, I have a fantastic dusting spray I use. I really need to put it out there. As I recall, though, it does not use soap. It uses a bit of Olive oil and vinegar plus water.

  6. You might have already answered this question and if you did, please forgive me for asking it again! 🙂 But, I was wondering if I can use the homemade liquid castile soap in foaming soap recipes. Thanks for all of your wonderful information! I made your recipe above and it turned out wonderfully!

  7. Hi Gayle, I’m excited about using my new batch of liquid soap. I’m a little disappointed though because after I made it I read the ingredients on my newly purchased Kirks Castile bars: Sodium Cocoate (variant of coconut oil), water, glycerin, sodium Chloride (salt), sodium gluconate (another salt) and fragrance. It may be the same ingredients, but couching it in chemical terms made me think I wasted my time trying to go natural.

    Have you seen/felt any differences in the new formula? Thanks

    • Laura – I dug the extra bars I had out of storage so I could check the ingredients. Mine shows:

      coconut soap
      vegetable glycerin
      coconut oil
      natural fragrance

      The label says Kirk’s Original Coco Castile. So I went to the website and saw this:


      Sodium Cocoate, Water, Glycerin, Sodium Chloride, Sodium Gluconate, Fragrance

      Kirk’s Original Coco Castile Soap is a heritage product dating back to the 1800’s. We recognize that over the years our consumers have more desire to understand what is in their products.

      In 2015, Kirks Natural made the decision to offer full disclosure for ingredients in our Kirk’s Coco Castile Soaps. In an effort to be transparent, we want to bring this to your attention. The new wrappers that you will begin to see on your store shelves will have a simple and straightforward label.

      Please be assured that there have been NO changes made your beloved soap! We’re happy to tell you what’s in ours!”

      So all these years they have been fooling us? I thought it contained pure coconut oil and not a chemical cocktail. I am going to use Bronner’s bar soap in my next batch. I will still save money; just not as much.

    • As far as the ingredients, what concerns me most is the glycerine. It appears as though the glycerine originally specified it as vegetable derived. Now it does not specify to it being vegetable so it could be petroleum related. I’ve been trying to stay away from petroleum products. Yuck.

    • SOOOOO, are you saying NOT to use the Kirk’s now? Wanting to make next weekend so I am gathering my ingredients now.

    • I am on the fence relative to Kirk’s. When I called them, they told me the change to the label is simply “clarification” of the existing ingredients. WTF? I know it costs more but I am now using Bronner’s bar soap instead. On my to-do list is to try the coconut based soap from Tropical Traditions.

    • I researched the ingredients and they are true to what they are. All natural. Sodium Cocoate (generic name for the mixture of fatty acid salts (acid salts) of coconut oil that is used in soap making,Water, Glycerin, Sodium Chloride (common salt.), Sodium Gluconate (fermented glucose), Fragrance. So I will definitely be using this.

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