First off, let me say that this post is not sponsored by the Savon de Marseille Industrial Complex, or any of its subsidiaries.
I am simply a girl, faced with a magical cube of olive-coloured soap, asking it, “What CAN’T you do?”
Read this post to learn just some of the amazing things it can do and exactly how to use Marseille soap all over your house.
Until recently, I had never even heard of Marseille soap. I work for a Quebec-based brand and was translating their product page for it, and it piqued my curiosity. So the next time I ordered from them, I asked for some of this magical French soap.
Now, why does Marseille Soap work so well?
I can only imagine it is for the same reason that French women dress so much better than I do.
According to Wikipedia, Marseille soap is “a traditional hard soap made from vegetable oils that has been produced around Marseille, France, for about 600 years.”
According to moi, Marseille soap is now my go-to for eco-friendly, economical and effective cleaning of just about everything in my house. (Those three Es used to be my top criteria for cloth diapers, but I try to apply them to as many things we use in our house as possible.)
Marseille soap on household surfaces
So. Cleaning. I do a lot of it, but nothing ever actually seems clean.
The thing is, when we moved into our house in February 2020, the house desperately needed a deep clean. Our contract with the buyers stipulated that they pay for a “move out” clean. It was surface clean. While there were satisfying vacuum lines on the carpet, the carpet was not actually clean. The baseboards were dust and grime-laden, and I am still recovering from what I found when I moved the oven.
Alas, with four kids and a pandemic I could not deep clean. Deep cleaning is only beginning now, over two years later, with my twins finally in preschool every morning for a whopping two-and-half hours. (Into which I cram at least five hours’ worth of activities.)
Those precious hours have recently been spent with my block of Marseille soap and my trusty cleaning brush* at my side. (And a podcast or episode of Law and Order in my ears.)
*This is my favourite cleaning brush; the head is replaceable when the bristles wear out, and it contains no plastic.
For most surfaces, I simply dip my brush head in water, get it all soapy by rubbing it on my block of soap, then scrub away. I wipe off the excess with a dry cloth, and depending what surface it is may also rinse. I find a lot of rinsing isn’t necessary.
Marseille soap for walls
Who washes their walls?
Well, people without children probably never have to, unless they occasionally use them as a canvas or absentmindedly drag filthy fingers along them as they walk up the stairs, or frequently drop all manner of splashy foodstuffs in proximity to them. People with kids really would love to have time to wash their walls because they. are. nasty.
Half of my walls are clean—the top half. The half that is child-height and within the splash zone is disgusting.
Marseille soap and my brush of choice have swiftly removed the identifiable and unidentifiable smudges, stains, three-dimensional splotches and impressions on my walls. (Alas it cannot repair the paint chips, dents and scratches.) So far, I can confirm it removes blood, boogers, bloody boogers, two-year-old yogurt, toothpaste, greasy finger and handprints and various children’s colouring implements. Depending on the colour, it has also either removed or significantly lightened the dry-erase marker drawings that appeared magically while my older kids were supposedly “watching” the twins. (Note that Magic Eraser couldn’t even do this!)
Marseille soap for carpet
Now, in my dream world, I would rip out most of the carpet in this house. My dream world is essentially a world where we have money left over every month to pour into extensive renovations as well as leisure travel and backyard chickens. Until my husband makes it big in cryptocurrency, I must live with these carpets. I inherited a sturdy Hoover carpet cleaner from my Nana and my brother gave me a Bissell spot cleaner for my birthday last year (and I gave him a spin mop for Christmas), so I am well equipped to wash my unwanted carpets.
But the fancy plug-in carpet cleaning machines are no match for all the set-in stains on the carpet (likely preventable if I enforced a no food and no art supplies rule in carpeted areas). I have to go cordless with my trusty Marseille soap and brush, and they have not failed me yet. Marseille soap even removed the dry-erase marker stains that I had already tried to clean out with a variety of internet hacks, including hairspray (which was expensive, stinky and only faded the stains).
Marseille soap for baseboards
Finally having the time to clean my baseboards has been a true delight, but also a horror. Both because they were absolutely disgusting and because by spending time cleaning them, I grew increasingly behind on the day-to-day chores of dishes and laundry.
It is very possible that the baseboards had not been so much as wiped down in at least a decade, so the Marseille soap cut through a measurable layer of grime.
Marseille soap for the glass cooktop
I had already started writing this rather long list of Marseille soap uses when I decided to give it a whirl on the forever streaky glass cooktop. I used my favourite scouring and scrubbing cloth and Marseille soap, and it worked great; even better than trusty Dawn dish soap and a scrubber.
Marseille soap for backsplash tiles
The greasy tile backsplash behind my stove, the spot behind my sink that I should wipe down every time I do the dishes (but never do), and all the tiled areas under the cupboards and behind the counters in my kitchen are unforgivingly white. Using a toothbrush in the grout and my bigger brush on the tiles, Marseille soap got them shiny and bright.
Marseille soap for stainless steel
My Facebook post about how to clean between the panes of my oven door solicited a great deal of response. (My favourite advice was don’t; just hang a dish towel in front of it and make yourself a drink instead.) I, of course, was perturbed by the slops between the panes while finally cleaning outside of the door with my Marseille. It did a great job on the stainless steel door and wasn’t streaky! If I could get inside the door either by disassembling (hard pass) or using some kind of thin but scrubby device through the underside, I am sure Marseille would do a great job in there.)
Marseille soap for shower doors
Blech. I know it is gross that I have lived two years with soap-scummy, mineral-stained shower glass. But I promise I have always cleaned the shower floor!
Marseille soap for the sink, tub and shower
The delightful ring of soap scum and skin cells in my tub and shower is no match for Marseille!
Do you clean your shower while you are in your shower? Do you get into your bath barefoot to scrub it? If so, you are my people.
Marseille soap for window tracks
I had to look up what to call these. You know, the tracks that a sliding window glides along? The perfect catch basin for all manner of indoor and outdoor flotsam and jetsam. Again, this is a spot in the house that was filthy when we moved in and that I just tried to ignore until I feasibly had the time to tackle. And again, Marseille soap killed it!
Marseille soap for grimy places
Think the edges of the dishwasher. That rubbery seal around the inside of the dishwasher, the hinges of the dishwasher door … disgusting. Now clean. Same for the washing machine. Every nook and cranny of the fridge? Another great candidate for Marseille soap and brush. My cupboard doors (same height as the aforementioned walls, but also dirtied by the messy cooks in the kitchen) have been Marseille-ed and while they still look dated, they’re not grubby. Doors and door jambs, now free of toe jam and finger schmutz.
Marseille soap on other things:
Marseille soap for shoes
I bought white shoes. I bought white shoes that are easy to clean. I am not the person I thought I was when I decided on white shoes. Marseille soap really gets my Vessi sneakers sparkling, which is great. But I regret my decision to buy myself shoes that require me to use Marseille soap on them if I don’t want them to be constantly greyish-brownish in colour. So yeah, Marseille soap is amazing on white shoes. But don’t buy white shoes.
Since I thrift most of my kids’ shoes, I use Marseille soap to clean the soles of those destined to be “indoor shoes.”
Marseille soap for slippers
I hate that even though I wear them strictly indoors (and trust me, it takes great discipline not to keep them on when I have to pop into the garage, the garden or even onto the deck), the soles of my Glerups get so, so dirty. And I know they’re dirty because when I am doing the dishes, which involves getting water everywhere, and then I step in said water, I leave little black footprints all over my kitchen, and I know it’s time to wash the soles of my slippers. Marseille soap works great for this purpose, but the conclusion is, I wish my kitchen floor was not white lino.
Marseille soap for the kiddie pool
I scrubbed the inside of our plastic kiddie pool for use this summer. Marseille soap got rid of three seasons of outdoor storage worth of grime.
Marseille soap for clothing
Marseille soap works as a stain remover on fabrics too! Rub it in, let it sit, launder as usual. I simply moisten the bar and apply liberally to the stain. It works on blood stains and oil stains, including set-in stains that have already gone through the dryer.
Marseille soap for dishes
I am kind of committed to my blue Dawn … but I have it on good authority that you can also wash your dishes with Marseille soap. Just rub your favourite dish brush on the block and scrub away. I’ll try it some day!
What else? Many people use Marseille soap as body wash!
Why Marseille soap?
Here’s the thing: There are entire aisles of cleaning products that clean all the things I’ve described above, except for maybe the dry-erase marker on my carpet that I couldn’t get out with anything else.
In the past, I have used a variety of spray cleaners, as well as powdered Tide, Magic Erasers and Dawn dish detergent to do most of the jobs I’ve described above.
So why am I so excited about Marseille soap?
Well, because it is superior in one very key aspect: sustainability. It contains no harsh chemicals (no dyes, synthetic adjuvants, animal fat, synthetic fragrances, preservatives). It leaves behind zero trace when you are done with it because it has no packaging and is biodegradable in 28 days. (Think about how many spray bottle pumps you have thrown away—and no, you cannot put them in recycling.)
In its delightful bar form, it is impossible to spill or waste. It is completely safe for use around pets and children, and there’s no need for rubber gloves and no choking on fumes while you do so. At $10 for a 300 g block that will last me a long, long time (even with all the cleaning I am doing), it is extremely economical. I have listed but a few of the myriad ways you can use it, but its versatility seems limited only by your imagination and by how dirty your house is!
Where to buy Marseille soap
The soap I currently have is made by a Québec company, Planette. Many local natural product stores and refilleries stock it!