Cleaning House With Dr. Bronner


A few years ago, I noticed that, not only did I seem to spend a little more cash than I was comfortable with on cleaning products for my house, but I was having a sort of reaction to them: headaches, sudden fatigue and a weird taste in my mouth. At first, I wasn’t sure what it was; but I eventually made the connection between the various chemicals I was using around the house and these symptoms.

I started reading about some of the products and cases of compromised immune systems, skin irritation and respiratory problems in some people. Of course, I knew that furniture polish may smell “lemony” (or, to paraphrase George Carlin, doesn’t contain any actual lemons) but probably doesn’t make good mouthwash, and that bathroom cleaners will release a bunch of talking, mustachioed suds that will leave the room sparkling – but probably shouldn’t be added to my overpriced latté.

You get the idea.

I had 2 cats and lived near a busy street. I’m no Felix Unger, but I don’t like dust, grit, etc.

Cats + street = dust x (grit + dander).

So I typically purchased, on a semi-regular basis, disposable dusters, the aforementioned citrus-scented furniture polish, glass cleaner (why is it always blue?), bathroom cleaner, an “all-purpose” cleaner (for… well, I don’t know, actually. It just sounded good to have) and a few other things like air freshener spray and various laundry items. Sometimes I really went crazy and bought something to turn the water in the toilet blue for a month.

Wild times, I know.

I noticed that it added up to a lot, over time, so I started looking at the alternatives. A Whole Foods opened near me and I started shopping there, out of curiosity. Before anyone jumps on me about how expensive a lot of their stock is, I’ll say this: I know, I know.

One day, I picked up a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds. The bottle says that Sal Suds will clean everything in your house – wood floors, laundry, dishes, and cars. Sounded like a good alternative to the stuff I was using; but, really, it caught my eye because –surrounding the list of natural ingredients (each defined for clarity), various uses and pledge that it was not tested on animals – was written an entire philosophy of life.

Granted, the bottle seemed a little pricy for just one cleaning product, but I found that it would last me for, literally, months. Just a little bit mixed in water, applied using a spray bottle, will tackle just about any job. And, as promised, it did a great job on both my laundry and my car (even the inside).

I also checked out liquid soap for the shower and found that, not only did they smell great, but worked out, in the long run, to save me some dough that I’d have spent on whatever was available at the supermarket.

So, the symptoms I’d experienced were gone, I felt better about using products produced by a company that seemed to actually care about both the quality of its soaps as well as the well-being of its customers and, admittedly, reading the words on the bottles is actually very thought-provoking.

For both the uninitiated as well as existing fans of Dr. Bronner, hopefully you can catch the documentary that’s now being screened. Also, check out the NPR interview with the film’s director, Sara Lamm.

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Guest's picture

I did an entire post on this as well. I have gotten rid of all my store bought chemically enhanced cleaning products and am using vinegar and water on almost everything from soap scum in the shower to glass & mirrors!! I am saving a lot of money on cleaning products and no more having to "come up for air" when I clean my bathroom! I love it!!

Guest's picture

I'm definitely a fan. Whenever I travel, I take along one bottle of the peppermint soap and use it to do laundry, dishes, take a bath, whatever. It is great stuff. I've also found, after going crazy with 409 at home, that I have some issues with chemical cleaners.

Guest's picture

I see this at Trader Joe's and wonder if it really works. We are trying to sell our house (almost 18 months now) and have plenty of showings. Because of this I have to keep the house perfectly clean all the time. I have a toddler at home I have been wanting to use a more health friendly cleaner. I will have to check this stuff out next time. Thanks!

Guest's picture

It's the organic gardener's best friend - spray a little Dr. Bronner's peppermint soap and water spray on leaves and the bugs disappear.

Mama Says

Ed O'Reilly's picture

Cool tip. I didn't know that... sounds like a good idea.

Andrea Karim's picture

I see a lot of soaps on that site that seem to be about bathing - are those the same soaps you use for cleaning?

Ed O'Reilly's picture

I've actually used the body soaps for cleaning and they work well, but Sal Suds is probably best for household use.

Guest's picture

I use Dr. Bronner's as a body wash! Even the most "hypo-allergenic" products would still make me itchy, but castile soap never has at all. It's awesome!

Guest's picture

Dr Bronner and Organic Consumer Association have been producing a lot of noise about the use of the word organic in personal care products... What I found interesting is: in order to make Dr. Bronner soaps they use CAUSTIC SODA (very, very corrosive) and of course not a natural or organic product... and at my best knowledge it is not included in the allowed synthetic ingredient list of USDA NOP. So it should not be part of a formula of a product named "made with organics"....

Also in their labels they just state saponified organic oils, without stating how they make those soaps nor the INCI names (a FDA requirement) of the ingredients used to make those shower gels, soap, and others.... So as Dr. Bronner said once, they should perfect their selves first and then go after other pointing out their fingers....

Guest's picture

You can't make soap without caustic soda. It is part of the soap-making process. However, if made properly, the alkali is completely used by the saponification process. None remains when the process is complete. It is perfectly acceptable to use in organic soap products. Soap cannot be made without a strong alkali.

You really seem to have no idea what you are talking about, so maybe you should just shut the hell up.


Guest's picture

Are you serious? Maybe you should read up on how to make soap...that's how soap is made you dumbass.

Guest's picture

I am not all that sensitive to "chemicals," but I too have noticed that 409 seems to bother me.

I bought a bottle of Sal Suds last week and have been very impressed with how well it works for dishes, floors, countertops/bathroom, and as a laundry stain treatment. I think I'm in love!

Guest's picture

My friend and I've been cleaning home professionally for almost two years now. All along we've been using natural or "naturally sourced" products. Several months back we discovered Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds and have never looked back. Awesome! Mirrors, sinks & faucets, showers & tubs, tile, linoleum, wood floors of all finishes... everything comes shiny clean with Sal Suds! We love it.