Dr. Bronner’s Soap, Baby Unscented liquid

Dr. Bronner’s soap is popular. Like, really popular. It has successfully crossed the hump from fringe hippie to mainstream. Whenever I mention unscented soaps, I almost inevitably hear Dr. Bronner’s soap spoken back to me before I’ve had the chance to explain.

“Unscented? Oh, you mean like Dr. Bronner’s soap?”

Yes! Well…and no. We’ll get into that in a bit.

Dr. Bronner's soap baby unscented liquid 16 oz fragrance free guide

All the good things about Dr. Bronner’s soap

This soap does a heck of a lot of things right. To start with, it’s a simple soap, so think multipurpose: dishes, body care, laundry, etc. But unlike other companies who pitch potential uses and then leave you to figure it out, Dr. Bronner’s kindly provides a handy cheat sheet PDF with specific recommendations. It turns out dilution is the key when you’re using actual soap everywhere. This is potent stuff! It’s clear to me that Dr. Bronner’s isn’t just brainstorming ideas on how you might use their product in order to get you to buy it. Their suggestions stem from someplace real, and I like that a lot.

Another great thing about Dr. Bronner’s soap is it doesn’t dry out my hands, unlike other simple soaps I’ve tried. My fiance and I differ in this opinion; his hands hate it! At Enliven we offer the baby unscented version to guests in a foaming dispenser, diluted 50/50 with filtered water. I have seen more than one visitor express pure delight upon seeing the familiar brand available.

The ingredients list on 100% post-consumer recycled bottles is a welcome sight for sensitive and conscientious shoppers: fair trade and almost all organic, a rare find in soap these days. The range of oils is also unique: coconut oil, palm kernel oil, olive oil, hemp oil, and jojoba. Jojoba is technically a wax that’s very similar to the natural oils our bodies produce. No processed ingredients, nothing unpronounceable, nothing questionable is in this product.

…and it smells nice!

It smells. Nice?

This “unscented” soap has a somewhat strong natural smell to it when used straight out of the bottle.

Now, it is not an unpleasant smell, in fact it’s quite lovely. But it is also distinctive, which isn’t what you’re aiming for when it comes to fragrance free living. And unlike the Everyday Shea unscented soap, the odor from Dr. Bronner’s “Baby Unscented” liquid soap does not always dissipate quickly after use, in my experience. It also varies based on how you use it. For example, when diluted in a foaming dispenser I can barely smell anything. But use it to wash dishes and the aroma will definitely fill the room!

“Unscented” Dr. Bronner’s soap might not be unscented enough for highly sensitive folks.

Dr. Bronner's soap baby unscented liquid foam fragrance free guide

Makes a *very* nice foam.

My first experience with Dr. Bronner’s soap was over a decade ago when my reactions were at their most severe.  I could only tolerate limited exposure to the liquid “baby unscented” soap. If I accidentally brought my hands near my face within about 10 minutes of washing them with it, I’d react.

Nowadays I’m able to use it without problem, and happily do so when I see it in others’ homes. But I choose other options for my own daily use. As popular and “safe” as this soap is, I’d just rather not bring the smell into my space if I have other options.

More nitpicking Dr. Bronner’s soap

A few more things you should know before buying this.

First, if you like to keep your sinks pristine, you’re going to have a rough time. Drips are hard to scrub off. All soap scum shares this characteristic, but Dr. Bronner’s soap specifically leaves a residue that’s unusually tricky. Some people I know dislike using the soap because they feel it will leave a similar residue on their hands. Me? I figure it’s just oil. I think.

There’s also labeling, specifically their use of the word “Castile”. Traditionally, Castile soap was soap made from olive oil. Such was the case for hundreds and hundreds of years. Then, Dr. Bronner’s decided to start calling their soaps “Castile”. Trouble is, not only is their soap NOT an olive oil base, olive oil isn’t even the first ingredient! …or the second ingredient, for that matter. And now I see other companies claiming their soap is “Castile” soap with a mention that the term has expanded to include all soaps made from plant-based oils. Only because Dr. Bronner’s said so!

…kinda like the original Dr. Bronner wasn’t an actual doctor. He just gave himself the title. I’m just sayin’.

When a friend is all “oh I use Castile soap and I love it!” then I ask what they’re actually referring to. Odds are it’s Dr. Bronner’s soap. Castile soap is a totally different thing! Dr. Bronner’s, stop confusing us!

Dr. Bronner's soap, baby unscented liquid fragrance free guide

Left: Dr. Bronner’s soap in foaming dispenser. Right: Dr. Bronner’s soap in original 8 oz bottle.

The Verdict

Dr. Bronner’s makes great soap. If you aren’t on the extreme end of sensitivity and want a simple soap that’s organic and fair trade from a sustainable company that treats employees well, then you’ve probably found your match in their liquid baby unscented soap.

If, however, you just want a simple soap, you might want to broaden your search to consider others. Many more simple soaps out there are equally effective and multipurpose, they just aren’t as well known. In my opinion the only reason Dr. Bronner’s soap has reached such great popularity is due to marketing rather than their product working unusually well.

As far as fragrance goes, the somewhat lingering smell of Dr. Bronner’s soap “Baby Unscented” liquid is a bit bothersome for me, but I’m in the minority. I still appreciate it whenever I see the unscented Dr. Bronner’s soap because it is such a well known “safe option” compared to mainstream products.

If you want it, get it! Chances are you’ll be THRILLED with your choice and never go back, like many other happy customers. But if you’re at all hesitant, then look around. The world of soap is so much bigger than Dr. Bronner’s.

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Organic and Nature Liquid Hand Soap and Dish Liquid Soap, Unscented

Organic and Nature has the worst “unscented” products I’ve encountered so far. By a landslide.

I purchased both their “Natural Liquid Hand Soap, Unscented” and also their “Dish Liquid Soap, Unscented”, which appear to have the exact same ingredients. Not that you’d know it because Organic and Nature doesn’t disclose product ingredients lists on their website. That’s usually not a good sign.

Organic and Nature liquid hand soap, unscented, and natural dish liquid soap, unscented

First impressions of Organic and Nature

I like to test out products by replacing our usual stuff with the testing product instead. That way it gets real life use, and I can review from a variety of experiences. Thus, I’m not always paying close attention when I use a product. When I first unsealed the Organic and Nature Dish Liquid, I was distracted and sleepy. The plan was to put it in the kitchen real quick and remove our other dish liquid before I crawled in to bed, so that we’d end up testing it out the following days.

The odor stopped me dead in my tracks. I hadn’t even put my nose close to it, but alarm bells were ringing.

I could have sworn it contained fragrance. Sickeningly sweet, floral. I called over my partner for a whiff, and his reaction was the same. “Oh, that is scented. That is definitely scented. UGH!”

I opened their liquid hand soap. Same story. Without even a single use, the smell lingered in our noses.

Neither product could be evaluated further. We both felt there was high probability it would contaminate our otherwise fragrance free environment. We couldn’t risk it.

Deceptive labeling by Organic and Nature

This labeling has so much iffiness I don’t even know where to start. It’s not “organic”, it’s not “unscented”, and its claim of “food grade” is dubious, at best. Let’s address these one at a time.

Organic and Natural dish liquid soap and liquid hand soap

Left – Dish Liquid Soap, Right – Liquid Hand Soap

1) “Unscented”? YEAH, RIGHT.

Normally when an unscented product carries a distinctive odor, I find the answer somewhere in the ingredients list. After all, most ingredients smell like something. The listing for these two products is short:

Ingredients: Plant-based food-grade ingredients including Glucoside (sugar) from US corn, Cocoyl Amide (coconut) and palm fatty acids; Organic Aloe Vera Gel and spring water.

First of all, I wish they used common terms. “Cocoyl Amide” is probably either cocamide MEA or cocamide DEA, based on the synonyms listings on EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. Cocamide DEA is said to have an odor description of “mild ammonia”, according to data shared by The Good Scents Company, so perhaps that’s it.  Their same sheet on Cocamide MEA indicates the odor is “bland” and has no strength. Whichever it is, ammonia derivatives are in there, which some sensitive people will likely react to.

But this doesn’t smell like ammonia. It smells like perfume. Cheap, BAD perfume.

In its website description, Organic and Nature claims:

“Our unscented formula is ideal … for people sensitive to scents and perfumes”

BULLSHIT. In blind sniff test, I guarantee you every single person would identify these two products as scented. It is that obvious. I just wish the labeling indicated an ingredient that explains the odor.

2) Is it really “Food grade”?

I don’t now about you, but when I read “plant-based food-grade” I have the expectation that it’s semi-edible. After all, Organic and Nature has only listed corn sugar, coconut and palm fatty acids, aloe vera, and spring water. Each of those ingredients are literally food!

Of course, this is soap. SOAP. We know it’s not food. Whenever an obviously inedible product claims it’s food grade, that means it’s been approved for incidental food contact. It gets an NSF certification that companies are usually proud of enough to flaunt and is listed in the White Book Nonfoods Compound Directory.

Do you see Organic and Nature on that list? Me neither.

3) Organic? NOPE.

By the name “Organic and Nature”, you would think their products are organic, right?

It turns out they aren’t. Having just one organic ingredient doesn’t mean you get to call your product organic; at least 70% of the ingredients need to be organic before you can claim that for your product. Instead of actually making their products organic, they just made it their company name. They aren’t *technically* saying the product is organic, they’re just putting their trademarked brand name on the product–which happens to say “organic”–to trick your brain into assuming that their stuff is organic!

Organic and Nature isn’t the only company misrepresenting themselves. Back in 2011 the Center for Environmental Health sued a bunch of companies for mislabeling their products as “organic”. Organic and Nature wasn’t one of them. It should have been.

Conclusion: I HATE Organic and Nature

Few companies find a spot on my blacklist, but Organic and Nature has done it. Between the very strong artificial fragrance-y odor that lingers and deceptive labeling on multiple fronts, I’m done. I find no redeeming qualities and I see no point in trying any more of their products.

To put this in perspective, I’ve tested dozens of “unscented” hand soaps and dish liquid detergents so far. Several come off as having more of a natural smell than others. Some are quite distinctive, like Alaffia’s Everyday Shea foaming hand soap or Babyganics foaming hand soap. Many have aloe vera gel as an ingredient. I’m comfortable recommending these products to folks who want to live fragrance free, with the caveat that they are somewhat “fragrance-y” and might not be suitable around highly sensitive folks.

I would never recommend Organic and Nature products to anyone interested in any semblance of the fragrance free lifestyle.

AVOID THIS ONE!

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Seventh Generation Dish Liquid, free & clear

I use Seventh Generation dish liquid free & clear as a benchmark to compare all others to.

Seventh Generation dish liquid free and clear soap

Maybe it’s because I see it in so many sensitive peoples’ homes. Or maybe it’s because it’s the first soap I switched to after using liquid coconut oil soap on dishes for over a decade and my mind was BLOWN. And ’cause it’s cheap? Whatever the reason, I have imprinted to this dish “soap” and doubt I will ever prefer anything different as my go-to.

Why I like Seventh Generation Dish Liquid

We don’t have a dishwasher, so we’re always washing dishes. By hand. This dish liquid makes the process notably faster than others I’ve tested. It addresses grease well, saving me the trouble of adding more soap halfway through a sink full of grossness like I need to with Ecos. And my fiance swears that dishes soaked in Seventh Generation dish liquid wipe down easier compared to others we’ve tested. For me, anything that saves time on chores is a win.

Then there is the matter of odor. Dirty dishes STINK. My partner also has a specific psychological trigger linked to the smell, which makes it almost impossible for him to be around the kitchen sink when it’s full. Yet, Seventh Generation dish liquid helps significantly with dirty dish odor. Who’d have thought? It’s not like their free & clear version has any fragrance covering up the stench. After testing another dish liquid for a few weeks I switched back to Seventh Generation, and suddenly he was doing dishes again! Score!!

The negatives of Seventh Generation dish liquid

It does have a faint chemical-like soapy odor.

Some people react to the synthetic preservatives used. Others just don’t like them. Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) has been associated with allergic reactions, skin sensitization and also may be neurotoxic, according to EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database. Benzisothiazolinone isn’t off the hook either, for similar reasons. The good thing is they are used in extremely low concentrations, as indicated in the Seventh Generation dish liquid safety data sheet. For comparison, consider that bleach is used to disinfect drinking water. The dose makes the poison!

And while a single ingredient may be irritating to skin, this product as a whole is officially not, according to a Human Repeat Insult Patch Test. Personally, I wear gloves when washing dishes and always rinse thoroughly. Even plain old soap will do a number on your bare hands and give you a stomach ache if ingested!

I’ll admit some other processed ingredients in Seventh Generation dish liquid earned major side-eye from me, too. Sodium lauryl sulfate has a bad rep, and even my eyes glaze over at some of the other lengthy names of “do I even want to google this?”. I get it! In my opinion, these objections are the only reason to pass up on a product this great.

Seventh Generation dish liquid free and clear soap

Is Seventh Generation Dish Liquid right for you?

Only you can decide which factors to prioritize. Here are a few more:

  • Low cost – $3 for 25 oz, or less when on sale!
  • Readily available in stores
  • Biodegradable – USDA Certified Biobased 95%
  • Vegan & not tested on animals (applies to all Seventh Generation products)
  • Recyclable container
  • Company has sustainable business practices (certified B corp)
  • Made in America

It’s “The One” for me!

After 8 months of testing alongside other brands, Seventh Generation dish liquid has earned a permanent home by my kitchen sink. It works so well, every time we run out I find myself annoyed that I have to switch to other stuff I’m reviewing, because dishes will take longer and smell worse and UGH.

If I ever find another dish liquid that rivals it, you’ll know!

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Soap that’s just coconut oil.

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

Ready?

There’s liquid soap that’s just soaponified coconut oil.

Nutribiotic organic coconut oil soap unscented fragrance free

This product has been my go-to soap for over a decade. I use it for dishes, hand soap, laundry, and general purpose cleaning. Back when my MCS was most severe, I became desperate to find even one soap I could use. I tried so many different possibilities to no avail. Life without soap sucked! Then I discovered this one. Not only is it fragrance free, but it also literally has no smell to it, not even the natural scent prevalent in Dr. Bronner’s and many other brands of “unscented” soaps. It became my lifesaver.

There are two brands I know of that make it: Tropical Traditions and Nutribiotic.

Tropical Traditions unscented liquid coconut oil soap

The Tropical Traditions soap is slightly more expensive, and only available from their website. They seem to use a higher grade organic coconut oil than other companies. I’ve never experienced their soap going rancid. It contains only soaponified coconut oil, with no other ingredients whatsoever. The soap is offered in foaming dispensers, which have limited refills before the pump begins sticking so bad you can’t use it anymore. You can buy it here.

Nutribiotic unscented liquid coconut oil soap

The Nutribiotic soap is more readily available. You can find it on Amazon or possibly on the shelf of your local health store. It does not come with foaming dispenser, but is compatible with them. Nutribiotic adds ascorbic acid (vitamin C) as a preservative. Like Tropical Traditions, the coconut oil it uses is organic, but in my experience the soap can go rancid if left for a couple years, even unopened. You’d know by the yellow color and rancid odor. This generally isn’t a problem so long as you rotate through what you have. You can buy it here.

They’re both kick-ass soaps.

I’ve used both for YEARS and notice absolutely no difference in smell or use. As with all coconut oil soaps, they are drying so you probably want to consider using lotion alongside it. Some people even add coconut oil to the soap itself to give your hands a bit more moisture. Also note that because these soaps are so minimalist, with no gelling or thickening agents, they have a very thin consistency, like water. Foaming dispensers are a great way to go, providing a rich lather.

Personally, I’ll always have some of this stuff on hand.

~ No affiliate links were used in this post or any others on FragranceFreeGuide.com. Click here to read more. ~