Castile Soap Vs. Murphy’s Oil Soap: Which Is Better For Cleaning?

When it comes to choosing the right soap for cleaning, two popular options are castile soap and Murphy’s oil soap. But what are the key differences between these two cleaning staples?

And which one is better for different cleaning needs?

Let’s take a deep dive into the pros, cons, and uses of castile soap and Murphy’s oil soap.

A Brief Comparison Table

FeatureCastile SoapMurphy’s Oil Soap
IngredientsVegetable oils like olive, coconut, jojobaMineral oil, vegetable oil, sodium salts, detergents
Natural FactorAll-natural, biodegradableContains some synthetic detergents
Cleaning PowerMild, gentleStronger degreasing due to salts and detergents
UsesAll-purpose cleaning, personal hygieneSpecialized for wood surfaces
On SkinMoisturizing; can be used as body soapDrying with frequent use
PriceVery affordable, around $0.15-$0.20 per ozSlightly more expensive, $0.20-$0.30 per oz
AvailabilityWidely available at major retailersLess availability than castile soap
Best SurfacesTiles, counters, dishes, laundry, petsHardwood floors, wood furniture, cabinets
Avoid OnHardwood floors, leather, vinylStone, aluminum, brass, painted walls

What Is Castile Soap?

Castile soap has been used for centuries as a gentle, versatile cleaning agent. The term “castile” refers to the Castile region in Spain where this olive oil-based soap originated.

Authentic castile soap is made from vegetable oils, often 100% olive oil. It contains no artificial foaming agents, fragrances, colors or preservatives.

The main benefits of castile soap are:

Castile Soap
  • Gentle on skin – The lack of harsh detergents makes it suitable for sensitive skin. Many people use it as a body soap too.
  • Biodegradable and eco-friendly – Castile soap breaks down easily without polluting waterways. Olive oil and other plant oils are renewable resources.
  • Versatile uses – Can be used for household cleaning, personal hygiene, as a pet shampoo, and more. It’s an all-purpose cleaner.
  • Economical – Castile soap is very concentrated so a little goes a long way. It’s more affordable compared to many commercial cleaners.
  • Non-toxic and safe around kids and pets when used correctly. Does not contain toxic chemicals found in many cleaning products.

Potential drawbacks are that undiluted castile soap can be drying on skin. It also doesn’t produce as many suds as commercial soaps. But it can still effectively clean with the proper dilution.

What Is Murphy’s Oil Soap?

Murphy’s Oil Soap is a popular household cleaner that has been around since the early 20th century. It’s made from vegetable and mineral oils to create a gentle, residue-free cleaner.

Key features of Murphy’s Oil Soap are:

Murphy’s Oil Soap
  • Cleans without leaving residue or accumulating buildup like waxes. Makes it ideal for finished wood.
  • Contains sodium salts that help lift dirt from surfaces. More cleaning power than plain oil and water.
  • Versatile for use on finished wood floors, tile, countertops, appliances, walls, and more.
  • Available as liquid or spray, making application easy.
  • Safe for older children to use with supervision. Free of toxic fumes.
  • Economical concentrated formula.

Potential downsides are that it can dull some surfaces with repeated use.

The formula also contains some synthetic detergents in addition to oils.

Differences Between Castile Soap And Murphy’s Oil Soap

Now that we’ve covered the basics of each cleaner, let’s directly compare castile soap and Murphy’s oil soap:


  • Castile soap contains vegetable oils like olive, coconut and jojoba. authentic versions contain no synthetic additives.
  • Murphy’s Oil Soap has a petroleum oil base with added surfactants like sodium laurel sulfate. Not 100% natural but still biodegradable.

Green Factor

  • Castile soap is generally more eco-friendly and natural. Olive oil is renewable and makes up most of the formula.
  • Murphy’s Oil Soap contains some synthetic detergents but breaks down readily without toxic chemicals. A moderately green choice.

Cleaning Power

  • Castile soap has milder cleaning abilities. It works with consistent scrubbing but doesn’t contain strong solvents.
  • Murphy’s Oil Soap can break up oil, grease, dirt and grime more quickly due to sodium salts and detergents. More potent grease-fighting ability.


  • Castile soap is extremely versatile for household cleaning, personal hygiene, pet care and more.
  • Murphy’s Oil Soap specializes in cleaning and caring for wood surfaces. Also used for general home cleaning.

On Skin

  • Castile soap is gentle and moisturizing on skin making it a popular body bar soap.
  • Murphy’s Oil Soap can dry out skin with repeated use. Best for cleaning applications only.


  • Castile soap is very affordable, costing around $0.15 to $0.20 per ounce.
  • Murphy’s Oil Soap costs slightly more, averaging $0.20 to $0.30 per ounce.


  • Castile soap is widely available at health food stores and major retailers like Target and Walmart.
  • Murphy’s Oil Soap can be found at supermarkets, hardware stores, Target, Walmart and Amazon. Less availability compared to castile soap.

When To Use Castile Soap Or Murphy’s Oil Soap?

Based on their different properties, here are recommendations on when to use castile soap and Murphy’s oil soap:

Castile Soap Uses

  • All-purpose household cleaning of tiles, countertops, floors, baths, toilets etc.
  • Washing dishes and produce by hand. Safe for cleaning cookware.
  • Bathing and showering. doubles as a body wash. Gentle enough for babies.
  • Pet shampoo and cleaning cages, crates, litter boxes. Won’t irritate animal skin.
  • Laundry detergent alternative – effective on most clothing stains.
  • Car cleaning including interior, tires, windows.

Avoid Castile Soap On:

  • Hardwood floors – can dull the finish over time. Use Murphy’s oil soap instead for wood.
  • Leather, suede, vinyl – castile soap can discolor and damage these materials.

Murphy’s Oil Soap Uses

  • Cleaning and protecting hardwood and laminate floors. Helps maintain the wood grain.
  • Polishing wooden furniture to revitalize shine.
  • Cleaning kitchen and bathroom cabinets and drawers.
  • Washing walls, baseboards, doors and trim. Removes grime.
  • Cleaning appliances like refrigerators, ovens, microwaves.

Avoid Murphy’s Oil Soap On:

  • Granite, marble and other stone – sodium in the formula can etch natural stone.
  • Painted walls – can react with paint finishes leading to bubbling or discoloration over time.
  • Aluminum, brass, copper – sodium salts corrode these metals.
  • Leather, vinyl, plastic – can strip protective coatings.

DIY Recipes and Substitutions

You can make DIY versions of both soaps using natural ingredients:

Simple Castile Soap

  • 3/4 cup liquid castile soap
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 10-15 drops essential oil (optional)

Basic Murphy’s Oil Soap

Murphys Oil Soap
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or mineral oil
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 tsp liquid soap
  • 4 cups water

Don’t have either soap on hand? Here are some possible substitutions:

  • For castile soap – try unscented liquid hand soap, Sal Suds cleaner, or vinegar with water.
  • For Murphy’s oil soap – try white vinegar with olive/vegetable oil, or liquid soap with baking soda and water.

Safety Tips When Using Castile And Murphy’s Oil Soap

Here are some important safety tips to follow:

  • Always spot test soaps on an inconspicuous area first. Check for any damage or discoloration.
  • Follow label dilutions instructions carefully. Using too strong of a solution can damage surfaces.
  • Don’t mix soaps together – only use one product at a time.
  • Wear gloves to prevent skin irritation and dryness, especially with frequent cleaning.
  • Rinse surfaces thoroughly after cleaning. Don’t let soaps residue accumulate.
  • Keep soaps out of reach of young children and supervise use by older kids.
  • Avoid eye contact – flush immediately with water if product gets in eyes.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Why not to use Murphy’s oil soap?

Murphy’s oil soap is formulated specifically for cleaning wood and shouldn’t be used on other surfaces it could damage like natural stone, aluminum, painted walls, and leather. It also contains some synthetic detergents, so it’s not as natural and eco-friendly as a plant-based castile soap.

When should you not use castile soap?

Avoid using castile soap on hardwood floors or furniture as it can gradually break down finishings and lead to dullness. It’s also not ideal for tougher degreasing jobs that require a more potent solvent like Murphy’s oil soap provides.

Can castile soap be used on hardwood floors?

It’s best to avoid using castile soap on hardwood floors. The oils in the soap can lead to streaking and gradual breakdown of floor sealants. Instead opt for a hardwood floor cleaner or Murphy’s oil soap which is designed to clean wood safely.

What happened to Murphy’s Oil Soap?

Murphy’s Oil Soap is still widely available today, but some consumers feel the formula has changed over the years. Original Murphy’s oil soap contained 86% vegetable and mineral oils. Current formulas have a higher concentration of synthetic detergents. But it can still be an effective wood cleaner when used properly on sealed finishes.

The Bottom Line

Castile soap and Murphy’s oil soap are both versatile cleaners that are useful to have around the home. Castile soap is extremely multi-purpose and gentle enough for personal care.

Murphy’s Oil Soap excels as a wood cleaner and polisher. Determine your specific cleaning needs, then choose the right soap for the job while following safety tips.

With proper use, both castile and Murphy’s oil soap can effectively give surfaces a deep clean and shine without harsh chemicals. Have you tried using either soap for home cleaning?

Ralph Wade

Hey...Ralph is here! So, did you find this article useful? If so, please leave a comment and let me know. If not, please tell me how I can improve this article. Your feedback is always appreciated. Take love :)

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