For years, I researched the best eco-friendly and non-toxic cleaning products to make sure everything I brought home was safe for me, my family, and the environment. After trial and error, I started using Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds around my home and it’s now my go-to multi-purpose cleaner! See why in this Dr. Bronners Sal Suds review.
Dr. Bronners Sal Suds Review
Personally, I’ve been using Sal Suds as my go-to cleaning concentrate for several years. I find it to be a safe, effective, and incredibly affordable low waste cleaning option.
Although you need to spend a little cash (about $15) for a quart of Sal Suds, the price is a fraction of competitor cleaning concentrates!
Plus, it’s from the Dr. Bronner’s family of products that we use throughout our home.
What is Sal Suds?
Sal Suds is a cleaning concentrate from Dr. Bronners you can use for general household cleaning. It is made with a mix of synthetic surfactants that gently (but effectively) remove oil & dirt from a variety of substances.
- Biodegradable (and 3rd party tested)
- Highly effective at cutting grease without leaving residue
- Scented with fir and spruce essential oils
- Free from synthetic dyes
- Uses no preservatives
- Animal compassion & vegan (certified cruelty-free and vegan)
- Rated an A by the Environmental Working Group (EWG)
Sal Suds vs castile soap
The very first thing people ask me is: “Is Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds liquid cleaner the same as castile soap?”
Nope! Sal Suds is a cleaner made from synthetic surfactants that are safe to use and gentle on the body.
Regular castile soap is a soap made from organic vegetable oils made using traditional soap-making techniques. It is a gentle cleanser that we can use on our own bodies. but it is not as effective as Sal Suds in hard water.
You can also use castile soap to clean, but if you have hard water, you will likely need something stronger to cut through the oils and dirt. This is where Sal Suds comes in!
Is Sal Suds toxic?
Synthetic surfactants? SLS? Is Sal Suds non-toxic?
I hear you! Most of us crunchy folks avoid words like “synthetic” as much as possible. Then add in SLS and you’ve got a can of worms.
Synthetic doesn’t always mean bad or dangerous.
But, because I want to help you understand what this product is and whether or not it is safe, we’re going to talk in-depth about this issue in this Dr Bronners Sal Suds review. If you’re only using one main cleaner around your home, it’s worth taking a few minutes to investigate!
Let’s go back to the EWG rating for Sal Suds. The EWG rates this product at an A. Some of the individual ingredients are rated less highly and earn a B or a C.
You can see in the graphic why each ingredient is rated as such. I’ll admit that when I saw this the first time…I was confused. How could the EWG rate a product with SLS and C-rated ingredients as an A?
Here’s what I’ve learned from my research.
This is what the Sal Suds label says about SLS
“SLS is often confused with SLES (Sodium Laureth Sulfate), which can be contaminated with trace carcinogenic dioxanes – but SLS has no such issues. SLS does not contain nitrogen, so it cannot form carcinogenic nitrosamines either. Studies have shown that SLS is safe to use in low concentrations and in products that are meant to be rinsed off (both true of Sal Suds).”
This is what Lisa Bronner shared on the blog about SLS
“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.”
Based on my interpretation of this, Lisa Bronner is saying that this SLS is gentle to use because of the way it is created using coco-betaine and lauryl glucoside.
She also confirms that no, SLS should not be used in body care products like toothpaste or body wash as it can be irritating to your skin. This is why Sal Suds is not a product to replace castile soap in the shower or for hand soap!
It is not a soap – it is a cleaner.
Let’s learn a little more about SLS in general.
According to the Cleaning Institute, SLS is:
“SLS functions in cleaning product as a surfactant, wetting surfaces, emulsifying or solubilizing oils, and suspending soil so that they can be rinsed away. This ingredient contributes foaming properties to cleaning products.
SLS is safe for use in cleaning products. It has been through numerous reviews. There is no direct or circumstantial evidence that this ingredient has any carcinogenic potential. The studies that have been conducted on SLS indicate it is safe under proper conditions of use. “
Although SLS is not recommended in skin or body care products (despite being used commonly for that use), it is not considered carcinogenic. As a surfactant, it helps remove oil and oil to fully clean surfaces.
Let’s go back to the ewg rating
At the end of the day, I keep going back to the EWG rating. Although some of these ingredients have mild risks, they rated this product as an A. That tells me that the concentration of SLS and other ingredients is low even in the fully concentrated form.
Since we dilute Sal Suds even further to use around the home, your exposure to any irritating agents is extremely minimal.
Think about it. In their all-purpose spray concentrate, you use one tablespoon of Sal Suds to an entire quart of water. That means that Sal Suds is slightly less than 1/64th of the recipe.
Compared to other common cleaning concentrates that include fragrance, preservatives, and yes, SLS, I find that Sal Suds is a super gentle product that does not irritate my sensitive skin or allergies. I believe in the EWG rating and feel happy to recommend this product to my friends and family.
Is Sal Suds zero waste?
My main concern with Sal Suds is not the SLS, but the plastic bottle. As someone trying to go zero waste, it feels a little weird recommending that people bring home another plastic bottle.
Although you can often find Dr. Bronner’s castile soap in bulk stores, I’ve never seen Sal Suds there. This means that to buy it, you usually need to purchase either a quart or gallon bottle.
Dr. Bronner’s only uses 100% post-consumer recycled plastic and the Sal Suds bottle is type #1, which is one of the easiest to recycle plastics out there. This isn’t plastic-free but it’s about as good as plastic gets.
More importantly, I find that Sal Suds lasts me a really long time and has exceptional power. I purchased this one bottle 2 years ago and have not used even a quarter of the bottle. We mostly use it for all-purpose cleaning spray so our use is really minimal. If you use it for dishwashing or laundry, you’ll go through it more quickly.
Plus, since Sal Suds can replace your dish soap, spray cleaners, mopping solution, laundry detergent, fruit & veggie wash, and more, this one bottle actually eliminates many others.
Because of this, I consider Sal Suds to be an important member of a low or zero waste household.
Sal Suds Uses & Recipes
Although the label specifically notes 7 uses, there are so many ways to use Sal Suds! I’m going to include their price breakdown assuming your bottle costs about $15 to help you understand how affordable this product really is.
all-purpose cleaning spray
Dilute 1 tablespoon of Sal Suds per quart of water. Our small spray bottle holds 16 oz of water (half a quart) so we use 1/2 tablespoon in each.
Cost: About 25 cents per quart; 12-13 cents per 16 oz
Non-toxic dish soap
1/2 to 1 1/2 teaspoons in a sink full of water or 1 drop per pot!
Cost: About 3-10 cents per wash
Sal suds laundry detergent
2-3 tablespoons per large load of laundry (or half of that for HE machines)
Cost: About 37 cents for a HE washer; 50-75 cents for standard
1/2 teaspoon per gallon of water
Cost: 3-4 cents per clean
fruit & veggie wash
1 drop in a bowl of water
Cost: less than a penny
Add about 1/2 teaspoon of Sal Suds to your toilet bowl and scrub! We included Sal Suds in our zero waste toilet cleaning 101 post as an alternative to our homemade zero waste toilet cleaner.
Cost: 3-4 cents
See all of the Sal Suds recipes in this dilution chart from Dr. Bronner!
Where to buy Sal Suds for the best deal
I grabbed my Sal Suds at my local Sprouts grocery store. Personally, I think you should buy your Sal Suds at Grove Collaborative for a very specific reason.
First of all, you’ll likely want to get some reusable spray bottles for your Sal Suds. We like to use glass ones to avoid plastic. However, glass spray bottles are more expensive than you’d think. We spent about $20 for 2 glass spray bottles a few years ago.
Since all new Grove Co customers get a free gift, you could easily order your Sal Suds there to get 2 free glass spray bottles, a metal cleaning caddy, their cleaning concentrates, and more!
You only need to spend $20 to get all of these items for free! That’s super easy & a phenomenal deal!
Here’s what I’d do:
- Order a quart of Sal Suds for about $14
- Grab some bar soaps or liquid castile soap
Your order will ship free and you’ll get the free Move Beyond Plastic kit (worth about $45!) that includes the 2 spray bottles, cleaning caddy, cleaning concentrates, and more.
This will sign you up for the VIP Program, which earns you free perks each month. Personally, I only like to buy exactly when I need to, so I canceled the VIP Program right after ordering with no problems.
I think Grove Co’s free offer is the absolute best way to get your Sal Suds & jump-start your green cleaning routine!
Where can I buy Sal Suds?
- Order on Amazon (quart or gallon)
- Buy on Pharmaca for about $12 (eligible for discounts!)
- Pick up at your local grocer (Fred Meyer, Sprouts, Whole Foods)
How does Sal Suds compare to other natural cleaning products?
Sal Suds vs Mrs. Meyers Cleaning Concentrate
Before I found Sal Suds, I used Mrs. Meyers cleaning concentrates because I liked the smell (despite my fragrance sensitivity) and wanted one product to reduce my plastic usage.
I was using the Basil scent, which the EWG rated at a D for a variety of reasons including the fragrance and ingredients that are of moderate concern for the environment. I don’t totally understand how they got the BioPreferred label after reading the rundown from EWG.
Mrs. Meyers does not share dilutions on their label so you have to dig to figure out how much to use. According to their website, you should:
“Dilute ¼ cup of this concentrated cleaner with 1 gallon of warm water.”
Since there are 4 tablespoons in a 1/4 cup and 4 quarts in a gallon, this means the dilution is the same as Sal Suds for general cleaning.
You can often find Mrs. Meyers concentrates for $8-10 per quart, so they are slightly cheaper than Sal Suds.
Despite the lower price, I will not be going back to Mrs. Meyer’s due to the poor rating by the EWG and the use of synthetic fragrances.
Sal Suds vs Puracy
Their 16 oz bottle sells for $15.99, so that is half of the size of Sal Suds for more money.
But, is Puracy more concentrated? Is it worth the extra cost?
Their dilution rate is 1 oz of concentrate to 7 oz of water. This makes refilling their spray bottles about $2 per refill (3 oz of spray to 21 oz of water).
Remember that you only need 1 tablespoon of Sal Suds for an entire quart of water (31 oz). This makes a quart of cleaning spray cost about $0.25 if your Sal Suds bottle cost $15. I paid about $12 for mine.
There’s a clear winner here: Sal Suds for the price, the safety of ingredients, and concentration
Sal Suds vs Branch Basics
Branch Basics is an extremely popular eco-friendly cleaner with cult status. They have concentrates and cleaners for every mess you might face! Branch Basics even has several EWG Verified products, meaning the EWG has given their stamp of approval that they are safe for our bodies and the environment.
But, how does the cleaning concentrate compare to Sal Suds?
Well, it’s also rated an A by the EWG with only one ingredient rated at a D (sodium phytate) and one at a C.
Branch Basics is fragrance-free whereas Sal Suds uses essential oils for fragrance. This can be a perk of Branch Basics as some people are sensitive to the spruce and fir oils in Sal Suds. Personally, I like them and they do not trigger any of my fragrance sensitivities since they are real essential oils.
Let’s talk about price…Branch Basics charges $49 for a 33.8 oz bottle. You can save 10% when you subscribe, which drops the price to about $44.
Yes, the bottle is 1.8 ounces larger than the quart container of Sal Suds (32 oz). But, is there any way that Branch Basics is worth charging 3.5 times as much as Sal Suds?
I pulled up the Branch Basics user guide to see their dilution chart for different cleaning solutions.
For their all-purpose cleaning spray, you need 1 part of the concentrate to 11 parts of water. This is a 1:11 ratio.
Let’s break down the price. One ounce costs about $1.44. If I want a 16 oz bottle of cleaning spray, I need about 1.45 oz of the concentrate. This means a 16 oz spray bottle costs requires $2.10 of the concentrate.
Again, you can make a 32 oz bottle of all-purpose cleaner with Sal Suds for $0.25. A 16 oz bottle would cost half of that – about $0.125 scents. Branch Basics costs 16.8 times as much as Sal Suds in this dilution rate.
From an ingredient perspective, Sal Suds and Branch Basics are pretty neck-and-neck. From a cost perspective…there’s absolutely no comparison.
Dr. Bronners Sal Suds Review – What do you really need to know about Sal Suds?
Hopefully by now, you can see that Sal Suds is one of the safest and more affordable cleaning concentrates on the market! Although some of us may be concerned about sodium lauryl sulfate, the ingredients in Sal Suds are safer than some other A-rated cleaning products like Puracy.
From a price perspective, there are no green cleaning concentrates that really touch it. Sure, Mrs. Meyers is slightly cheaper, but the EWG rating is a D!
That’s no comparison. The closest comparison is probably Branch Basics but for $12-15 per quart, Sal Suds is a mere fraction of Branch Basics’ $49 price tag.
We are so thankful to have such a universal tool in our green cleaning kit. IT’s a wonderful product that can handle pretty much any household cleaning task. I hope you find Sal Suds just as handy as we do!
Do you use Sal Suds? What do you think about our Dr Bronners Sal Suds review? Have you tried another product you think we’d like even more? Tell us in the comments!