The Cult-Favorite Soap That Ruined Me for All Others

Clue: You can use it 18 different ways.

October 11, 2018

I was always skeptical of two-in-one shampoo-and-conditioner, so it’s somewhat ironic that I now swear by an 18-in-one soap, which supposedly can clean everything from your face to your dog. Even if you haven’t used it yourself, you probably at least recognize the label:

There’s a lot going on with Dr. Bronner’s bottles. Like, thousands-of-words a lot. Besides telling you the scent, that the product is certified fair trade, and made with organic oils (like olive, hemp, and jojoba), the label also shares a slew of religious and philosophical content, from an adaptation of “If” by Rudyard Kipling to “A Psalm of Life” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

We could talk about this forever, as well as the company’s environmental footprint, employee compensations, and donations to social causes. But none of these are the reason Dr. Bronner’s is the only soap I buy.

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The real reason is: It makes my life easier.

Which brings us back to that 18-in-one thing. Here are the 18 ways you can use it: face, body, hair, bath, shaving, teeth, feet, congestion, dishes, laundry, floor, house, windows, toilet, produce, dogs, plants, ants. Whew.

I haven’t tried all of them. Just face, body, hair, shaving, floor, house, and windows. Which means, instead of using seven products—face wash, body wash, shampoo, shaving cream, floor cleaner, all-purpose cleaner, window cleaner—I now use one.

This simplifies a lot of things. It means no more forgetting to buy this or not realizing I’m out of that. It means worrying less about which household products are unsafe for my cat. It reduces my eczema flare-ups, since I’m not using a different scented product for every task. And, best of all, it takes my shower from a hot mess to a mini spa: just my lavender Dr. Bronner’s, some conditioner, and a loofa.

Sometimes, simple really does it.

Do you use Dr. Bronner’s? Which of the 18 ways? Tell us in the comments!

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Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.


Claudia T. December 9, 2018
I love Dr Bronners for house, body, laundry, but I've never had good luck with it in my hair. I know they make a hair rinse too, but I just use shampoo that's meant to be shampoo! I do love to bring Castile soap if I'm traveling, especially for a long trip- it works well as your body soap and hand soap AND washing a little laundry in the hotel sink!
Mary L. October 25, 2018
We've had trouble with Dr. Bronners coating, then clogging, our plumbing. The oils were just too much in comparison to the amount of hot water that would have flushed it out. Bummer.
breff M. October 16, 2018
I think that you mean "it ruined all others" for you not that it ruined you. -:)