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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