Soap-Free Summer Baths!

herbal baths for babies

In a previous blog, I discussed good soaps and bad soaps to use in a baby’s bath and why. Now that summer’s here though, I want to talk about baths again. When it’s all hot and gross out, I like to toss my kids in a play bath. I don’t like to use soap because I don’t want to go through all that trouble of rinsing them off when they’re not actually dirty. Also, too much soap dries a child out and just isn’t good for their skin period. Still, a play bath at the end of a sweaty night starts the day off right. Likewise, a play bath at the end of the day, helps cool the children down and relax them so they can get a good night’s sleep.

Here’s my little issue with just tossing the kids in a water bath though. A. I think it’s gross. Sometimes the cat will hop in there and sniff around. The rest of us shower in there. It just doesn’t seem sanitary. B. Why waste a good opportunity for some aromatherapy and a healthy use of herbs. Since I’m not sure when you usually bathe your child with soap, I will discuss both options for a soap free bath.

Morning Baths

If you’re looking for a soap free bath in the morning but still want the bath to be sanitary, reach for a bottle of lemon essential oil. This essential oil will have a triple purpose. For starters, lemon oil makes the water sanitary which is my ultimate goal of adding essential oil to the bath water. Secondly, lemon oil invigorates the body and mind, helping a child (or you) wake up and start the day happy and energized. Finally, lemon essential oil repels insects. During the summer, it’s good to think of multiple layers of insect repelling protection. After the bath, moisturize and protect your child further with a layer of natural bug repellent. I talk about that also in a previous blog.

Bedtime Baths

If you’re looking for a soap free bath in the evening but want the bath to be sanitary, use clove and lavender essential oils. Both of these essential oils will relax your child getting them ready for a good night’s sleep. Clove oil is one of the strongest germ fighters there is, so I also like to add this to a bath when they are sick or after a day at summer camp. It will also soothe tired muscles. This bath will, like the morning bath, smell amazing as well.

How to Use the Essential Oils

For a half full bath, I like to use around 2-3 drops of the oils, with the exception of clove. I only use one drop of clove bud oil in a bath, partly because I worship it and use it myself (I discuss how I love to use it here) and want to hoard it, partly because it’s really strong so to use more might be overpowering and isn’t needed.  I add it first to 16 ounces of water in a bottle and shake it up. Then, after the water has started I pour the contents into the stream allowing it to mix in with all of the water. Then I agitate it with my hands before putting my kids in. This is important so it’s diluted evenly. Always, always, always keep the bottles of essential oils away from children. Don’t set it on the counter during the bath because you may forget about it. Do not use any essential oils besides lavender or tea tree oil on a child under six months of age without contacting a professional naturopath. (Aromatherapists  usually say 3 months, but I like to be overly cautious with our kids.)

Pop Quiz:

Q.) What one essential oil should you not use in a bath? It may be the very one you were thinking about using.

A.)Never use Tea Tree Oil in the bath tub. I explain the concept of using tea tree oil in an over diluted concentration and why it’s bad here.

What oils do you like to use in baths and why?




  1. Tara West

    So the oils can be diluted that much and still maintain the germ fighting effects for the whole bath? Or is it more for the relaxation and invigoration of the smell?? I have never thought of using oils in the bath for my kids.

  2. Dawn Papple

    Some oils can be, some can’t be. These would fight germs at this dilution, however they would not kill an existing infection at this dilution. TTO would actually make a stronger staph (not necessarily and infection though) at this dilution, that’s why I said not to use it in the warnings area. Anyway, you wouldn’t do a soak like this for a staph infection. You would apply in a carrier oil directly to the skin for that. Does that make sense? This soak isn’t a medicinal strength, it’s a cleansing strength.

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