Uses for Dr Bronner soap?
September 16, 2008 1:29 PM   Subscribe

How does Dr Bronner soap work? What are the 18 uses that they claim on the bottle?

So I use the stuff as a body wash. Works great. What other uses are there for this? I've seen the FAQ on the website, but they are not very descriptive. Is the stuff really safe to use on all surfaces? They claim it can act as a toothpaste, but will it protect teeth as well as a typical crest style toothpaste?

Also, by buying this soap, I'm not supporting some hippie cult right? Some of the text on the bottle scares me a little :)
posted by ShootTheMoon to Health & Fitness (28 answers total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
We took a bottle of it with us traveling around thailand. It was used to "wash" clothes, in very diluted form to bush teeth, as a body soap, as a shampoo and whatever else we needed something with some cleaning action for.

It's not the best at any one of those tasks but does the job ok.
posted by iamabot at 1:35 PM on September 16, 2008

Long distance sailors (like my aunt and uncle, which is where I came across it) swear by it because it's not watered down and is therefore space efficient. A lot of them say it's the only thing that really leaves you feeling clean when bathing with salt water.
posted by phrontist at 1:37 PM on September 16, 2008

will it protect teeth as well as a typical crest style toothpaste

It doesn't contain flouride, if that's what you're asking.

Its soap. It cleans things. We've gotten used to the idea of "different soaps for different jobs", but it doesn't need to be so.
posted by anastasiav at 1:38 PM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

Also, by buying this soap, I'm not supporting some hippie cult right? Some of the text on the bottle scares me a little :)

From what I understand, the text on the bottles was placed there by the original Dr. Bronner, who was more of an eccentric than anything else. There's actually a sad story which, according to my hunch, kind of explains his mindset a little -- he was the son of Jewish soapmakers in Germany, and was in his late teens-early 20's during the 1930's, and kept getting uneasy about the growing strength of the 3rd Reich. He kept on urging his parents to emigrate with him, but they refused; he finally got out himself, telling his parents where he was going and urging them to follow if things got bad. They kept insisting as he was leaving that they'd be fine. ...But then in 1938, Bronner got a postcard from his parents that only said, "Dear Son: You were right." He never heard from his parents again. ...I think he kind of got a little unhinged for a while as a result.

But he never did anything with his beliefs aside from put them on the bottles. I think his attitude was more that "well, if people read it and believe it, great, and if not, well, I tried, and they still have my soap anyway." His own sons now run the company, and they left the material on there more because people were used to seeing it and got a kick out of how weird it was rather than because of any belief they personally held. There's actually a recent documentary about the guy, Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox, that gives the history of the company and the man.

The reason why the liquid soaps smell so strongly is that they use a hell of a lot of essential oil for fragrance, and with the peppermint variety, this means that there's also a hell of a lot of the natural menthol in the soap as well. And that has a cooling effect on the skin for a good while. So in the summer, I live for showers with his peppermint soap; works better than the air conditioner.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:45 PM on September 16, 2008 [8 favorites]

I use a few drops of the peppermint kind in my bleach/baking soda paste when scrubbing mildew in the shower. Smells great and I haven't seen any surface damage.

I wouldn't use it as a toothpaste, though, no matter how minty it might smell.
posted by bcwinters at 1:48 PM on September 16, 2008

They're a little hippie (they give away 70% of their profits) but not very cultish. The family has been in the soapmaking business for 150 years. There was a movie that came out recently about Emmanuel Bronner.
posted by jessamyn at 1:49 PM on September 16, 2008

FWIW, I find a mix of the peppermint soap & water in a spray bottle deters ants and/or kills them in a nice-smelling way. I tried using it as a shampoo for a while (per a dandruff AskMe IIRC), but my scalp just got way too greasy. Love it as a body wash though.
posted by epersonae at 2:13 PM on September 16, 2008

Dr. Bronners is great stuff. You cant eat it (my bad on that one) but it does clean things - everything darn near.

Anecdote: While on a summer-long field project where we were excavating 20-something odd sites and camping out to boot, we would have to drive a few miles down this insane road and then hike a mile or so to the river just to bathe. So at any one time, there were two truck-loads of filthy, stinky archaeologists heading for the water and the only soap we had was Dr. Bronners. Modesty pretty much goes out the window in situations like that and the plastic bottle of soap gets passed around to naked folks desperate to get an inch of dirt and sweat off their bodies. On the drive back, not wanting to get dirty again, we'd usually close the windows of the trucks. Which turned the interior of the vehicles into a kind of absurd peppermint air conditioner. It was so strong at some points we had to open windows and hang out like dogs, gasping for breath, while we got dusted once again. So we arrived back at camp, minty-fresh, our heads just as soiled as when we left. Ahh good times.
posted by elendil71 at 2:14 PM on September 16, 2008 [9 favorites]

I use the liquid peppermint soap to shave. A dash in the mug, add a couple drops of bath oil, and whisk it into a lather with the brush. It works great, and afterward I feel like I've been kissed by the mint fairy.
I prefer the bar form for general bathing purposes.
posted by leapfrog at 2:18 PM on September 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

It's like body wash, surface cleaner, dish soap, laundry detergent and whatever else all poured out of one bottle. And some say it makes their genitals tingle in strangely pleasing ways in the shower!
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 2:19 PM on September 16, 2008

In the pinchiest of pinches, it does work as toothpaste. But I would avoid this unless your immediate livelihood depends on it, and in that case, dilute dilute dilute. It is soap. As such, it cleans, but it tastes and reacts to your mouth the way that soap would.

I was staying at my friend's house for his bachelor party back in May, and his SO was out of town, and had taken their one tube of toothpaste. He used Bronner's for shampoo, and after a night on the town, we both needed a brushing quite badly. What the hey, we thought, innocently, why not give the Bronner's a go? We proceeded to each pour a small amount, undiluted, onto our brushes.

It was awful, I tell you. We went through gallons of water and two packs of Stone Wheat Things each before the most immediate discomfort ceased. I still swear I feel the remnants of it now.
posted by SpiffyRob at 2:45 PM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

some say it makes their genitals tingle in strangely pleasing ways in the shower!

Some make a noise like Charlie Brown denied his football when such things happen, fyi.
posted by jessamyn at 2:58 PM on September 16, 2008

It's my soap of choice, dilute, dilute (don't get the undiluted stuff onto mucous membranes or your peehole). Sorry to be blunt, that's the price you pay for being a hippie/mountain person. It's awesome for camping because it doesn't have any harsh chemical detergents, so you can bathe with it in rivers, lakes and streams with a fairly clean conscience. I don't suggest brushing your teeth with it, although as others have said, you can. Dilute it and wash things with it, to your liking.
posted by Divine_Wino at 3:28 PM on September 16, 2008

I use it, diluted 1:4 with water, in a "foaming soap" dispenser - an old Dial one, to be specific. It's cheap, works REALLY well, and smells good. Also, gentle. Did I mention cheap? That's important with three boys running around the house.

We also use it for cleaning surfaces (bathroom, kitchen, floors, fridge, etc).

As everyone has said: dilute dilute dilute.

But it's heavenly stuff. Hippy or otherwise!
posted by VioletU at 3:51 PM on September 16, 2008 [2 favorites]

A tablespoon in a quart of water used as a spray will also help keep aphids and whiteflies and other insect pests off of the tomatoes, roses, etc. in your garden, and of course is organic and non-toxic.
posted by desuetude at 4:54 PM on September 16, 2008

All the answers so far have concerned the liquid soap - does anyone know if the bar soap is as versatile? (clothes, surfaces, etc)
posted by daboo at 5:07 PM on September 16, 2008

Previously on Metafilter
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:12 PM on September 16, 2008


Er, previously on Metafilter.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 5:13 PM on September 16, 2008

Another use which was once listed on the label, but is no longer, is to use it as a contraceptive douche.

The peppermint stuff also helps disperse tension headache.

<---learned this stuff at Hippie College.
posted by Riverine at 5:24 PM on September 16, 2008

I think this is no longer on the label of any of the soap varieties, but once upon a time, one of the advertised eighteen uses was as part of a wacky birth control scheme. The active ingredients in the scheme were Vaseline and lemon juice; the soap featured in a douche the next day that was supposed to return you to your natural pH. This quote, which I found elsewhere online, matches up with my memory:
11th: Essene & Chinese birth controls must reduce birth or Easter Isle type overpopulation destroys God's Spaceship Earth! God's law prevents all conception below pH3. Therefore, Essene contracepted for 400 years with rosehips, pH2! So, absolute clean, apply vaseline, oil, butter or cream, insert teaspoonful juicy lemon pulp, pH2. O.K.! Next day, douche with qt. soapy water, pH8, restoring pH5 balance God made! Eggwhite is pH9, Dr. Bronner's Soap, pH8, guaranteed the mildest made; below pH8 soaps biodegrade, synthetic-sulfides cannot. At conception, 10 grams contain 100 million humans! or... 10 humans in 1 invisible microgram - smaller than dust! Absolute cleanliness is Godliness! Then, who else but God gave man Love that can spark mere dust to life! The Moral ABC, uniting All One, brave, all life. Who else but God! Who else!
posted by redfoxtail at 5:34 PM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

My scalp craves acidity. I used Bronner's once as a shampoo. Never again. It is mildly alkaline, which was not to my scalp's liking.
posted by yclipse at 5:42 PM on September 16, 2008

VioletU writes "I use it, diluted 1:4 with water, in a 'foaming soap' dispenser - an old Dial one, to be specific. It's cheap, works REALLY well, and smells good. Also, gentle."

Seconding this. One of the quart-sized bottles lasts approximately forever, and makes damned fine shaving cream in the foamer.
posted by mullingitover at 6:32 PM on September 16, 2008

Nobody's said they use it as stain remover, which surprised me because that was ALL I used Dr Bronner's to do for a long time. Now I also use it in the shower on my bod, and use baby mild scent to clean my menstrual cup, but if I ever get a stain on anything I reach for Dr Bronner's. Caveat: It may take out all other color in the fabric too.
posted by crinklebat at 8:59 PM on September 16, 2008

I swear by my gallon of Dr bronner's, much like everyone else here. Just a note about laundry detergent: Don't use it with clothes of a lighter color or clothes you particularly care about because I've had oil stains on some of my shirts. Diluting the soap helps with this but YMMV.

Also, now that things are a little relaxed, I give you: A Dr. Bronner Magic quote generator. It's real text from the old bottles, I believe...
posted by saxamo at 10:11 PM on September 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

No one's mentioned the 18 uses -- I'm very curious myself. I can never find eighteen distinct uses on the bottle. Anyone know?
posted by changeling at 10:27 PM on September 16, 2008

No one's mentioned the 18 uses -- I'm very curious myself. I can never find eighteen distinct uses on the bottle. Anyone know?

Its a question on the FAQ on the official site. Their answer is:

1. Always dilute for Shave-Shampoo-Massage-Dental Soap-Bath!
2. Peppermint is nature's own unsurpassed fragrant Deodorant!
3. A drop is best Mint Toothpaste; brushes Dentures Clean!
4. A dash in water is the ideal Breath Freshener & Mouth Wash!
5. Peppermint Oil Soap for Dispensers, Uniforms, Baby, Beach!
6. Dilute for ideal After Shave, Body Rub, Foot Bath, Douche.
7. Hot Towel-Massage the entire body, always towards your heart.
8. Pets, silk, wool & body tingles head to toe - keeps cool!
9. 3 dashes in water rinse most Sprays Off fruit & vegetables!
10. 1/4 oz in qt H2O is Pest Spray! Dash, no rash Diaper-Soap!

I assume the 18 are: 1-Shave, 2-Shampoo, 3-Massage, 4-Dental Soap, 5-Bath, 6-Deodorant, 7-Dentures Clean, 8-Breath Freshener, 9-Mouth Wash, 10-After Shave, 11-Foot Bath, 12-Douche, 13-Pets, 14-silk, wool (ie: Laundry Soap), 15-keeps cool! (??), 16-Sprays off fruit & veg, 17-Pest Spray, 18-Diaper Soap
posted by anastasiav at 7:49 PM on September 17, 2008

Here's an interview I did with Sarah Lamm, who directed a film about Dr. Bronner and his soap. Should answer your q's re: Hippie Cult. They are actually a very nice family from the northern midwest.
posted by YoungAmerican at 8:59 PM on September 17, 2008

« Older Need book titles.....   |   Can you recommend a great online-article on... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.