What is Sal Suds? Learn all about this non-toxic, eco-friendly multi-purpose household cleaner! Find out about the uses of Dr Bronner’s Sal Suds for green cleaning, possible safety concerns, and the difference between castile soap vs Sal Suds. This post also shows how to make 4 easy recipes for natural cleaning products, including a homemade all-purpose spray, DIY glass cleaner, goo remover and carpet cleaner.
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What is Sal Suds?
I shared a few natural cleaning recipes recently, which have Dr Bronner’s Sal Suds as an ingredient. If you are new to homemade green cleaners, you’re probably wondering: What is Sal Suds? Is Sal Suds the same as castile soap? How do I use Sal Suds? I’m here to answer all of these questions!
First things first. What is Sal Suds? Sal Suds is a natural, coconut-based multi-purpose cleaner concentrate that is bio-degradable and eco-friendly. The best part? The versatile detergent cleans exceptionally well, both in soft and hard water! It cuts effectively through sticky grease and stubborn dirt, but is mild on the skin.
Or in the words of the manufacturer, Dr Bronner:
“Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Liquid Cleaner is not a soap but instead is a concentrated hard-surface all-purpose cleaner. It is made with plant-based surfactants and natural fir needle and spruce essential oils, without any synthetic dyes, fragrances or preservatives.” (source)
By the way, this post isn’t sponsored. Some readers wanted to know more about Sal Suds. So I decided to write a post explaining what Sal suds is, and how to use it to formulate homemade natural cleaners.
I have also included 4 recipes for cheap eco-friendly cleaning products at the end of the post.
What is Sal Suds made of?
Here is the ingredients list for Sal Suds:
- Water, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS), Coco-Betaine, Decyl Glucoside, Abies Siberica (Siberian Fir) Needle Oil, Picea Glauca (Spruce) Leaf Oil, Citric Acid, Sodium Sulfate, Sodium Chloride, Potassium Hydroxide
Is Sal Suds safe?
Yes, Sal Suds is a safe, bio-degradable and eco-friendly cleaner. It is Green Certified and has the A safety rating from the Environmental Working Group (EWG source). The cleaner is also incredibly cost-effective and will last for many uses.
Errr, hold on! Why are you recommending a product that has sodium lauryl sulfate as an ingredient? Isn’t SLS dangerous?
A common ingredient in many cleaning and beauty products, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) is often misunderstood. SLS is a surfactant, a surface active agent, which means it lowers the surface tension between materials (which is a very technical way of saying it removes dirt).
On the internet, you’ll find a long list of unsubstantiated allegations about the dangers of SLS, some even link the product to caner. I read study after study and article upon article but didn’t find any scientific evidence that this is true. (source 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6)
SLS can be irritating on the skin if used undiluted at high concentrations. (source) But keep in mind that Sal Suds is not a body care product. That being said, SLS is considered to be a safe ingredient in household cleaners and does biodegrade. (source)
Here is what Lisa Bronner, the granddaughter of the founder of Dr Bronner, says about Sal Suds and SLS on her blog:
“SLS is in our Sal Suds all purpose cleaner, and here’s what we say about it on the bottle: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a surfactant that cuts grease and dirt, generates copious suds, and biodegrades quickly and completely. SLS is made by combining a sulfate group with lauryl alcohol from coconut oil, then attaching sodium. If improperly formulated, SLS can irritate skin, but our superb formula uses coco-betaine and lauryl glucoside to counter this.” (source)
Lisa’s post is very insightful, and I recommend you read it after my post!
Still don’t want to use Sal Suds? That is your right + choice, and I support it! I just want to give you the necessary information to make an informed decision.
On a side note
While I consider SLS acceptable for household cleaning, I avoid the ingredient in skincare products since SLS is harsher than any other surfactant. This is the reason why I’m working on a series of posts about SLS-free shampoo recipes and shower gel. Stay tuned for those!
Also, I understand the reasons to go sulfate-free, which I will discuss in a future post.
What does Sal Suds smell like?
Fir needle and spruce essential oil give Sal Suds a mild, woodsy scent, which blends well with other essential oils. If you need inspiration, check out the essential oil combinations in my tutorial on how to make your own dish detergent.
What texture has Sal Suds?
Sal Suds has a texture similar to thin liquid soap or shower gel.
Sal Suds vs castile soap – Is Sal Suds castile soap?
And speaking of soap, is Sal Suds the same as castile soap or are they different? Castile soap is a wonderful product for skin and body care, but not so much for homemade cleaning products. The reason is that soaps and detergents (Sal Suds) behave differently in water.
Here is everything you need to know about the difference between castile soap and Sal Suds:
Soaps need a warm water wash after application, or they leave a greasy film. This effect will be even more noticeable with hard water: Hard water turns the soap into soap scum, and your dishes, countertops, floor, or laundry will never feel clean, no matter how much you wash or scrub!
Sal Suds isn’t a soap but a detergent, which means the natural cleaner is free-rinsing, doesn’t leave a residue, and performs well in any level of water hardness and temperature.
Can I use castile soap if a recipe says Sal Suds?
If you can substitute Sal Suds with castile soap depends on the recipe. In some recipes, it may be possible to swap Sal Suds with castile soap and achieve a similar effect. But in other recipes, a substitution may lead to very different results.
Can I use Sal Suds as soap or in personal care products?
No, I don’t recommend because Sal Suds is drying. Sal Suds isn’t soap and, unlike soap, doesn’t contain any re-fatting oils or moisturizing agents. Soap and other skin cleansers will serve you much better in DIY beauty and bath products.
Sal Suds uses
What is Sal Suds used for? Sal Suds is very versatile can be used to wash and clean a variety of hard and soft surfaces. Here are some ideas for how to use Sal Suds:
- dishware, glass, pottery and cutlery
- floors, countertops, and tiles
- windows, doors, and knobs
- fabrics, including clothes, towels, and sheets
- painted walls
- paint & makeup brushes
- your grill and other outdoor items
Is Sal Suds safe on granite? What about Sal Suds on marble? Yes, Sal Suds is safe a cleaner for many surfaces, including finished wood, granite, marble, and stainless steel.
4 Easy natural cleaning products with Sal Suds
Okay now that you know what Sal Suds is, let’s try 4 super simple natural cleaning recipes with Sal Suds! These green cleaning products are so simple that everyone can re-create them, even if you are new to the benefits of green cleaning.
As I already mentioned, Sal Suds is a concentrated cleaner. To use it safely, Sal Suds has to be diluted, usually with water or vinegar.
3-ingredient Sal Suds All-Purpose Spray
First up is a super easy 3 ingredient all-purpose cleaner. I use this natural cleaning spray to clean and wipe down everyday dirties on all most all surfaces in my household, including countertops, finished wood, plastic toys, painted walls and much more.
- 16 oz spray bottle
- 2 cups / 475 ml / 16 oz water (distilled or boiled + cooled)
- 1 tbsp Sal Suds
- 1 tsp Optiphen Plus
How to make
- Pour the water into the spray bottle.
- Add Sal Suds and Optiphen Plus.
- Gently shake the bottle to combine the ingredients.
Easy Sal Suds Window Wash
This easy Sal Suds window wash recipe is similar to the all purposes cleaner but includes distilled white vinegar to ensure windows and glass are clean and streak-free. You can use this DIY glass cleaner for windows, mirrors and tiles, but avoid calcium-based stones (marble, limestone, travertine, and granite).
- 16 oz spray bottle
- 1 cup / 240 ml / 8 oz water (distilled or boiled + cooled)
- 1 cup / 240 ml / 8 oz distilled white vinegar
- 1 tbsp Sal Suds
- 1 tsp Optiphen Plus
How to make
- Pour the water and vinegar into the spray bottle and shake to combine.
- Add Sal Suds and Optiphen Plus.
- Gently swirl the spray bottle to combine the ingredients.
DIY Goo Remover
Think of this gunk remover as DIY Goo Gone. The product cuts through any sticky mess and makes them easier to remove. I use the homemade goo remover with Sal Suds to clean sticker adhesive, tape residue, tree sap, make up smears, crayon markings, and pesky wax drips. To avoid damage, don’t use it on leather, fabrics, unsealed stone and unfinished wood.
- small glass jar
- 1/4 cup / g / oz baking soda
- 1/8 / ml / oz cup Sal Suds
- 1 tbsp coconut oil (softened)
How to make
- Add the baking soda and coconut oil into a small mixing bowl. Stir with a fork to combine.
- Mix in the Sal Suds.
- Transfer the mixture into a small glass jar and store with a lid.
- To remove stickers and labels, smear a generous amount over the area you want to clean. Let the mixture sit for 15 minutes. Then scrub off and rinse.
Sal Suds Carpet Cleaner
The Sal Suds carpet cleaner recipe is intended for a pressure washer or carpet cleaning machine. You can also fill the solution into a small spray bottle to have at hand for spot cleaning. Don’t be tempted to add more, 1 drop is enough, more will only leave a residue.
- glass bottle
- 1 qt / 1 l / 32 oz warm water
- 1 drop Sal Suds
How to make
- In a large pitcher or measuring cup, mix the water and 1 drop Sal Suds.
- Pour into the compartment of a pressure washer or carpet cleaning machine.
- Alternatively fill in a spray bottle and use for spot cleaning.
Please note that any product containing water needs a preservative to inhibit the growth of mould and bacteria. I use Optiphen Plus, a natural paraben-free preservative, in the easy homemade cleaning recipes.
Sal Suds is a great and safe product for green cleaning. If your are looking for eco-friendly ways to clean your home and want to create plastic free cleaning products, add Sal Suds to your list of non-toxic household cleaners. I hope you see the benefits Sal Suds for making homemade natural cleaning products and give it a try!
More green cleaning recipes
If you like using Dr Bronners for cleaning, try my other DIY natural cleaning recipes:
- homemade all-purpose cleaner
- Sal Suds dish soap recipe
- disinfectant cleaning wipes
- Sal Suds laundry detergent recipe (coming soon)
- DIY dishwashing liquid (coming soon)
Over to you!
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Can you elaborate if I can exclude the Optiphen Plus when making the all purpose cleaner?
Thank you for your insight.
Hi Cat! Since the all-purpose cleaner is water-based, I decided to add Optiphen Plus as a way to protect the product from bacteria. Water is a breeding ground for bacteria and microbes – adding a preservative is useful to inhibit that.
You could also add a citric acid or vinegar as a preservative. Just keep in mind that some natural surfaces (e.g. granite or marble) react sensitive to anything acidic.
A third idea is to skip the preservative entirely and prepare only a small amount of cleaner. I recommend storing it in the fridge and using it up fairly quickly (within a week or so.)
I hope this helps you out and happy making!
Great information! I use Sal Suds to clean my toilet and sinks. First I sprinkle in a generous amount of Bon Ami powder. Then I squeeze on a little bit of Sal Suds and scrub. It works great and couldn’t be easier.
Hi Claudia! Thank you so much for sharing your tips with us!
Hello. I appreciate your research on Sodium Lauryl Sulfate. Whereas the evidence shows that SLS in small concentrations is not harmful to humans, it is harmful to our environment. It is toxic to aquatic organisms. Microorganisms (be it in our soil or water) are essential to life on this planet – animals and plants. Your reference #2 EWG.org states “Suspected to be an environmental toxin”. With that said, Dr. Bronner is a Certified B organization. If I’m going to buy products it will be with a certified B company or a certified Green company (greenamerica.org).
Hi Terrie! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts on the topic.
I appreciate the review of Sal’s Suds, but can a cleaning product be considered “eco-friendly” if, 1) it comes in a plastic bottle which is highly unlikely to be recycled as less than 10% of plastic is recycled, and 2) it contains palm oil derivatives (SLS, which can also be made from petroleum) when palm oil farming is responsible for more than 8% of the world’s deforestation and destruction of tiger, elephant, rhino, and orangutan habitats, and is the primary driver of orangutan extinction. I hope you can find a powdered, palm oil free product with biodegradable packaging to review in the future. Thanks for listening.
Hi Kathy! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I understand and share your concerns and have been working on a series of DIY cleaning products that can be entirely made from scratch – without plastic and palm oil-based ingredients. And please tell me if you know of any eco-friendly pre-made cleaning products.
Thank you so much for this information! I have hard water, and what you said about castile is so true. I’m definitely looking for sal suds to use instead.
Thank you, Cari! I’m glad that you find this post helpful! Sal Suds is the better cleaning option if you have hard water.
We have been using Sal Suds for years…so many wonderful uses! Have to try the goo remover next!
Same here! Sal Suds is so versatile and I use it in many cleaning recipes.