I’m Obsessed with This Magical Multipurpose Cleaner That’s Been Around Since 1858

updated Feb 26, 2021
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Apartment Therapy

I’m in love with a doctor. He invigorates me every morning, soothes me when I’m feeling stressed, is kind to plants and animals, and even does the dishes. Oh, and he always smells amazing. Jealous? Don’t be: There’s plenty to go around, and I don’t mind sharing. I’m talking about Dr. Bronner’s, the company behind the ever-popular 18-in-1 Hemp Pure Castile Soap.

I first locked eyes with Dr. Bronner’s a few years ago when I was staying with a friend. I spotted the 32-ounce bottle in his bathroom, and as I squinted to read the label’s notoriously fine print, I learned that I was holding a plastic container made from recycled materials and filled with hemp-based, certified organic, Fair Trade soap. I popped open the cap, and I was hooked from the moment I breathed in the refreshingly minty aroma — and it only got better from there. I soon discovered that unlike other organic soaps I’ve tried, this one works up a silky lather that’s plenty bubbly but with a much softer feel than “traditional” brands — although how much more traditional does it get than a family-run business that’s been operating since 1858?

After that first encounter, Dr. Bronner’s replaced my old body soap and shampoo (it’s important to use conditioner afterward, and Dr. Bronner’s has that covered too). But it wasn’t until about a month ago that I decided to take our relationship to the next level and try out some of its 16 (!!) other applications. Each typically involves diluting the liquid to different extents, depending on the use.

I started by mixing it with the prescribed amount of water in an empty squeeze bottle to create an eco-friendly dish soap. Since this concoction is less viscous than its mainstream counterparts, there’s no residue on my pots and pans. The same goes for produce — I added a few drops of Dr. Bronner’s soap to a bowl of water, agitated it, and used it to clean fruits and vegetables. Again, no leftover buildup. And I was pleasantly surprised to find that, while the soap leaves me smelling amazing after a shower, neither my fruit nor my dishes retained the peppermint scent.

Next, I replaced my all-purpose spray cleaner with a combo of Dr. Bronner’s soap and water. Wiping down my countertops and tables is easy, and everything looks and feels sanitized but without the harsh chemical smell. I did have to scrub for a few extra seconds to remove grease from the stovetop, but that’s hardly a deal breaker. Pro tip: If you see any residue — or if you have hard water — a quick wipe down with white vinegar should do the trick. But do not combine the two! Clean with soap first, then follow up with vinegar as a rinse.

Since then, I’ve used Dr. Bronner’s to do laundry (adding vinegar during the rinse cycle), shave my legs, and shampoo a friend’s dog. I even keep a spray bottle filled with the soap, water, and a dash of cayenne to combat pests in my garden — always keeping the spritz light to avoid damaging the natural coating of any leaves. The Doc and I still have plenty of chores to tackle together — maybe he’ll make mopping a little less grueling? — and I’m sure I’ll find plenty more that its founders might not have envisioned.

By replacing such a wide range of cleaning products, my bottle of Dr. Bronner’s not only saves me money and space, it also creates less plastic waste. But I must admit I want to see more of Dr. Bronner’s, and explore scents like Citrus, Tea Tree, and Almond as well as products like hand sanitizer, lip balm, and toothpaste. I have a feeling I’ll be hooked on those soon enough, too, because if there’s one thing I know about my man, he always satisfies.