What Is Non-Detergent Soap? (Inc Examples)

These days, lots of people are looking for natural alternatives to household cleaning staples. Many of these folks may be curious about non-detergent soap.

What makes this type of soap different from regular detergents, and are those differences worth the higher price tag that often comes with natural cleaning products?

what is non detergent soap

In this article, we’ll give you examples of non-detergent soap and help you figure out the difference between soap and detergent. We’ll also share some benefits of using non-detergent soaps and tell you some of our favorite brands.

What Is Non-Detergent Soap?

Non-detergent soap is a type of soap made from natural ingredients rather than manmade ones. The main ingredients in most non-detergent soaps are oil, lye, and distilled water. They can also be made from animal fat and cocoa butter. You can make soap through hot or cold processing.

What’s The Difference Between Detergent and Non-Detergent Soap?

As explained above, non-detergent soap is made with natural products, whereas detergents are made with manmade cleaning agents.

Detergents, which are included in nearly all mainstream soaps, include petroleum-based ingredients that are hard on our skin and on the environment.

Another critical difference between the two is that detergent doesn’t leave soap scum or react with hard water the way non-detergent soap does.

Generally speaking, soap leaves behind more residue than detergent, making it more difficult to use it on clothes and dishes unless you’re handwashing the items.

The soap must be rinsed thoroughly, and most appliances aren’t equipped to handle the excessive suds that come with soap.

Related: Bio Vs Non-Bio Powder.

Examples Of Non-Detergent Soap

Now that you know the main differences between detergent and non-detergent soap, you’re probably wondering which of your favorite products fall into the non-detergent category.

non-detergent examples

Here’s a list of a few of the most popular non-detergent soap products on the market today.

1. Castile Soap

Castile soap gets its name from its origins in the Castile region of Spain. This non-detergent soap was originally made from olive oil, but these days it’s often made from coconut oil instead. Coconut oil works just as well as olive oil, but it’s cheaper and easier to source. 

Castille soap is quite versatile and can be used as laundry soap, body wash, shampoo, and all-purpose household cleaner. It’s pretty intense, though, so you should dilute it before using it.

This soap is extremely gentle on the skin, but if you have any allergies, you should still check the label to make sure it won’t cause you any irritation. 

2. Lye Soap

For many people, the term lye soap conjures up an image of a lady from the turn of the 20th century or before pouring animal fat and lye water into a large kettle and boiling the ingredients together over a fire.

This type of soap was extremely harsh on the skin, but it was sometimes used to take the itch out of mosquito bites and poison ivy.

These days, lye soap often refers to homemade soap. This soap can be made through hot or cold processing and can contain animal fat or olive or coconut oil, and is much easier on the skin.

3. Aleppo Soap

Originating in Aleppo, Syria, Aleppo soap is made of just four ingredients: olive oil, laurel berry oil, lye, and water.

You may also find some scented versions of Aleppo soap that have fragrance oils included as well. This soap is excellent for the skin because the olive and laurel berry oils are both very moisturizing.

You can use it as hand soap, face and body wash, shaving cream, and shampoo.

4. Marseille Soap

Also known as Savon de Marseille, Marseille soap originates from the Marseille region of France. It’s made entirely from natural products and contains a minimum of 72% vegetable oil.

The oils used in this soap are olive oil, coconut oil, palm oil, or sometimes a mixture of all three. The lye water is made from marine ash and sea salt.

Savon de Marseille is most often used as a facial cleanser that’s said to hydrate the skin and bestow anti-aging properties on its users. 

Benefits Of Using Non-Detergent Soap

Now that you know a little bit about the different types of non-detergent soaps, let’s take a look at the benefits of choosing them over detergent.

  • Environmentally friendly: Since non-detergent soaps are made exclusively from natural ingredients, they are better for the environment than detergents. 
  • Biodegradable: The natural ingredients in this type of soap break down in a short amount of time and don’t build up in the soil or contaminate the water supply.
  • Gentle on skin: Natural products are often more gentle on the skin than manmade ones. As such, non-detergent soaps are an excellent choice for those with skin allergies or conditions like psoriasis and rosacea.
  • Non-toxic: Since they only contain natural ingredients, non-detergent soaps are non-toxic. That means if you use this type of soap to handwash dishes, you can recycle your grey water and use it to water your garden. 

Non-toxic doesn’t mean that it’s safe to eat, though. You can safely spray it on your plants if it’s diluted with copious amounts of water, and you rinse your harvestable items before eating them, but you should keep your non-detergent soap out of reach of pets and children.

5 Of The Most Popular Non-Detergent Soap Brands

If you think using non-detergent soap sounds like a great idea but are unsure where to start, check out these popular brands.

You’ll even be able to find some of them in your local superstore, alongside the traditional detergents.

1. Dr. Bronner’s

This company is dedicated to providing its customers with organic, fair-trade products that are entirely cruelty-free and primarily vegan.

They make all of their soaps in traditional methods and use independent certification to make sure their products all meet their own high standards for sustainability. 

Dr. Bronner’s is best known for their Castile soap, but they also offer organic hand sanitizer, toothpaste, sugar soap, shaving soaps, and much more. Their Sal Suds all-purpose cleaner is an excellent biodegradable alternative to commercial cleaners.

2. Grandma’s 

The Grandma’s brand is manufactured by Remwood Products. Their best-selling soap is Grandma’s Lye Soap, but they also sell other handcrafted soaps, lip balms, and non-detergent laundry soap.

They leave out all the unnecessary ingredients found in other soaps, like fragrances, foaming agents, and other additives. They are also a cruelty-free company.

3. Zote

Zote is a brand of laundry soap that originated in Mexico. It’s made from beef tallow, coconut oil, and citronella.

Many people swear by it for stain removal in the laundry, but you can also use it as a shampoo and body wash. The high citronella content also makes it an effective, non-toxic bug repellant.

4. Fels-Naptha

This laundry soap and stain remover was formulated in 1894 and is made from sodium palmate, sodium tallowate, sodium cocoate, talc, and water.

Fels-Naptha is an excellent degreaser, but it can be hard on your skin, so make sure you wear gloves when handling it. 

5. 20 Mule Team Borax

Borax is another non-detergent option that’s traditionally used as a laundry additive. It’s a natural mineral compound made of sodium, oxygen, and boron that can be found in dry areas like the salt plains of Utah and Nevada.

It’s very safe when used as intended. That said, you should never use Borax without diluting it first. You should also never put it in your eyes or swallow it.

Be sure to treat it like any other cleaning product and keep it out of reach of children and pets.

Non-Detergent Soap For Plants

Sometimes even plants need to be cleaned. Unfortunately, soaps that contain detergents can kill them. Some bloggers say that you can spray your plants with diluted Dawn dish soap, but in reality, the detergent in this type of soap can damage or kill them.

You can buy insecticide soaps, but they aren’t great for the environment, and if you use them on fruit, herbs, or vegetables, you’ll have to rinse your harvest thoroughly before eating them. 

If you want to use soap on your plants, the best choice is a homemade solution using a non-detergent soap dilution. Here’s a quick, easy recipe and guide for insecticidal soap that you and your plants are sure to love:

  1. Put one cup of oil and one tablespoon of Castile soap in a bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. You can use any type of oil you like, including olive oil, peanut oil, or vegetable oil.
  2. Fill a spray bottle with one cup of warm water and add two teaspoons of your soap and oil mixture, then shake the bottle to combine. Only mix up enough solution for one day and discard any leftovers.


Is Borax A Non-Detergent Soap?

Yes, Borax is a non-detergent soap made from disodium tetraborate. It’s a non-toxic cleaner that has many uses, from homemade laundry soap to a great additive in slime creation for kids.

Is Dawn A Detergent or Non-Detergent?

Dawn is a petroleum-based detergent. It’s milder than many other detergents and has a reputation for being safe for use on animals.

Is Palmolive A Non-Detergent Soap?

No, Palmolive is not a non-detergent soap. It contains ammonium lauryl sulfate, which is a mild detergent. 

Is Mrs. Meyers A Non-Detergent Soap?

No, Mrs. Meyers is not a non-detergent soap. It is, however, one of the mildest and closest to natural detergents on the market today. The company is also very transparent about the ingredients in each product.

Is Woolite A Non-Detergent Soap?

No, Woolite is a mild detergent. It’s formulated to be gentle on the skin and delicate fabrics in the laundry. Its natural pH help to keep colors from fading when you wash your clothes.


If, like many of today’s consumers, you’ve chosen to move away from traditional detergents in search of natural cleaning solutions for your home and body, you’ve probably wondered what non-detergent soap is.

The main difference between detergents and non-detergent soap is that soap is made from natural ingredients rather than manmade ingredients in detergent. 

Although some non-detergent soaps can be harder to find and are a bit more expensive upfront than their detergent counterparts, there are a lot of benefits to choosing this natural option. These soaps are

  • Environmentally friendly
  • Gentle on skin
  • Biodegradable
  • Non-toxic
Shauna Stone