Emanuel Bronner had a simple goal: To create a revolutionary moral philosophy that would forever upend every aspect of society—through pure castile soap. To spread his "Moral ABC," Bronner used an eye-catching bottle design that differs from your focus-grouped, corporate soap packaging in two key ways: It features approximately 10,000 more exclamation points, and it promises an amazing 18 uses. It's like a Leatherman tool of personal cleanliness—if the CEO of Leatherman had telegrammed Franklin Roosevelt more than 200 times about a peaceful end to WWII and campaigned against water fluoridation.
So I tried to use Dr. Bronner's Pure-Castile Liquid Soap for everything—including most of the 18 recommended by the official Dr. Bronner's website, "killing ants and aphids" excluded. I improvised where needed, and in doing so, I joined the ranks of the countless customers who "have told us over time about many more uses they have found for our soaps."
Washing Your Face, Body, Hands, and Hair
I picked up a bottle of Dr. B's popular peppermint scent—and by "picked up," I mean "picked up the bottle I'd had in my shower for the past six months."
Efficacy: 8/10. I dare any of you to come up to me and tell me I don't look and smell fucking fantastic. I do. Good work, Dr. B.
What the hell is "bathing" if it's not washing your face, body, hands, and hair? That's all bathing is! Am I literally supposed to take a bath? My bathtub is too dirty for that. And I've been using Dr. Bronner's for a long time now, so any dirt that built up in my tub is the soap's fault, not mine.
Efficacy: 0/10 or 10/10, depending on how you look at it.
I use an electric razor because I have the facial hair of a 13-year-old boy who won't hit puberty until he's 20. You don't need a shaving lubricant when using an electric razor, but I rubbed some Dr. B's on my face anyway. The shaving results were identical, though the peppermint caused my face to tingle, which is also a symptom of multiple sclerosis.
Efficacy: 5/10 for making me feel like less of a man.
Brushing Your Teeth
I was sure this one was going to be gross. Here are some of the thoughts I was prepared to write:
• "Now I know what my armpit tastes like after a shower."
• "Fuck me—I just ate soap."
But I was wrong! Using a single drop of Bronner's on my toothbrush worked shockingly well. My teeth got just as clean, and my mouth felt just as fresh as using real toothpaste.
Efficacy: 10/10. I'm a convert to organic oral hygiene. I'll never again support Big Toothpaste's (alleged) army of child slaves, toiling feverishly in Colgate's (alleged) underground paste mines. (PS I am the one alleging those things, for the first time, right here.)
This added a lot of work to my normal fruit-rinsing routine of not rinsing my fruit before I eat it. But rinsing grapes with Dr. Bronner's worked fine. I think I detected a slight peppermint taste, but that might have been a remnant of my recent tooth-brushing.
Efficacy: 10/10 if you're one of those namby-pamby types who likes to make sure your food doesn't have any dirt or poison on it before you put it into your body.
Aromatherapy is listed on Bronner's website as one of the 18 uses, but I couldn't find any specific aromatherapy recipe or usage. I tried pouring some of the soap into a dish and lighting it on fire to make a homemade Air Wick, but the soap snuffed out the match instantly.
Efficacy: 4/10. I suppose you could sniff yourself after a shower, but I wouldn't really count that as aromatherapy.
This worked well, as expected. But using the same soap you just cleaned your genitals with to wash your dishes feels like something out of an 18th-century erotic novel called, like, The Chambermaid's Peccadilloes, or something.
Efficacy: 5/10. It worked—but I didn't like it.
This is like "Bathing" all over again! What is "all-purpose cleaning"? This is a blatant attempt to pad the number of Dr. Bronner's uses, and although I'm still only about halfway through Bronner's Moral ABC, I would bet L stands for "Lying—Don't Do It."
Now we're back on track! Dump a half cup of Dr. B's in a bucket with some hot water, grab a mop, and you're just a few minutes away from Shimmer Town, population: Your Floor.
Efficacy: 11/10. Afterward, my kitchen floor may have been too shiny and smooth!
Frying Up Some Potatoes O'Brien
At this point, I started feeling pretty great about this overall experiment. Immediately after this point, I started feeling incredibly sick. Do not use Dr. Bronner's as a replacement for olive oil. The peppermint scent will throw off the flavor profile. Also, you will throw up everywhere because of all the soap you've just eaten.
Efficacy: 3/10, because the soap did technically fry the potatoes.
I got the perfect chance to try out this use after I turned my bathroom into a putrid hellscape of mint, bile, diced onions, and soap-coated potatoes. Dr. B's made the cleanup process simple, though I had to scrub pretty hard and left the bathroom feeling extremely woozy.
Efficacy: 4/10? 9/10? Again, I was pretty woozy.
All-in-all I was pretty impressed with Dr. Bronner's pure castile soap and its versatility. Clearly some of the 18 uses suggested on the label are duplicates, but my apartment, body, teeth, hair, toilet, and floor have never been so clean. The downside: I fear the smell of peppermint is just a permanent part of my life now, and that it will never leave my nostrils. I can't taste food. I constantly tingle. My home makes my eyes water. I am ruined.
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