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Homekeeping · Cleaning · How To Make Your Own Simple, Grease-Cutting Homemade Dish Soap
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How To Make Your Own Simple, Grease-Cutting Homemade Dish Soap

It's actually much easier than it sounds!

dishsoap Homemade dish soap actually much easier than it sounds!

By now you probably know that I’m a big devotee of Dawn dishwashing soap. It’s a common ingredient in many of my favorite homemade solutions so I usually have a bottle or two stashed away somewhere in my house at all times. 

With my trusty Dawn always on hand, I haven’t had much need for making my own dish soap. However, over the years I’ve gotten a few emails from readers asking for a good DIY dish soap recipe. I’ll be honest that until recently I hadn’t given it much thought.

However, I really do love making and using my own DIY recipes whenever possible and I recently decided it was time to give making my own dishwashing soap a try. After hours and hours of researching “recipes,” I started to have second thoughts. Why? Because there is a ridiculous amount of advice out there! It’s a lot of information to weed through and I’m all about saving time not wasting it. 

While this temporarily made me regret starting the project, I’m not one to give up on a challenge. Instead, I became even more committed not just to find a good recipe, but to find the very best one around. I can now say in retrospect that the results were worth the effort.

dishsoap

I’ll admit I probably made this task harder on myself than it had to be for one reason in particular: I set a very high bar for the cleaning products and methods I use and pass along to my readers. When it came to dish detergent, I was looking for a recipe that met a few very specific requirements, including the following: 

  • Simple to make
  • Only a few ingredients
  • Cuts grease
  • Smell goods or at least not BAD! 🙂

I had an additional stipulation, as well. I didn’t want a recipe that makes a GALLON of soap because I just wanted one bottle. A lot of the recipes you can find out there make enough soap to supply a small army. Unless you’re working with a huge amount of space, it’s challenging to find room to store that much soap. Personally, I’d rather make less more often. But that’s just me! I’m a big believer in the “to each their own” principle so if you’re in the “make more less often” camp, feel free to double, triple or quadruple the recipe.

After much searching and experimentation and even more searching and experimentation, I could finally rest easy: I’d come up with what I’d been looking for! I think you’ll like it, too. (And again, if you’re the type of person that would prefer to whip up a big batch, you know what to do.)

Homemade Liquid Dish Soap Recipe

dishsoap

Ingredients:

*Note: Sure, you can grate your soap by hand with a box grater, but it’s pretty tough work. I prefer to make my blender do the hard work for me. I just chop the bar of soap into chunks, drop them into the blender, and pulse until the pieces are small enough. It’s much less backbreaking work with no sacrifice of quality or end result.

dishsoap

Directions:

  1. Pour the water and grated soap into a saucepan and place it on your stovetop over medium heat.
  2. Stir the mixture until all the soap has melted into the hot water. DO NOT let the mixture come to a boil. (Just turn down the heat if it seems like it’s starting to simmer/boil.)
  3. Once the soap has completely melted into the water, remove the mixture from the heat. Allow it to cool off for a few minutes before proceeding.
  4. Next, stir the vinegar and glycerin into the warm water and soap mixture. (The glycerin is optional, but it does help to thicken the mixture and make it feel less watery.)
  5. You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil at this stage, if desired. I used about 5 drops of lemon essential oil for the fresh scent and an extra boost of cleaning power offered by citrus. However, the sky’s the limit when it comes to choosing a scent. If you prefer lavender, peppermint, tea tree, lemongrass, eucalyptus, grapefruit, or something else entirely, it’s up to you!
  6. Allow the mixture to rest in the pot until completely cooled, then pour it into your preferred soap dispenser. Voila! Your homemade dish soap recipe is ready to go.

dishsoap

Using Your Homemade Dish Soap

First, I should make it clear that this soap is for use when you’re cleaning dishes by hand and not for use as a dishwasher detergent. If you’ve ever made the mistake of attempting to substitute dish soap for dishwashing liquid in a pinch, you’re probably already aware that this is a bad idea. This doesn’t mean you’re out of luck, however. Instead, just fill your dishwasher soap container three-quarters of the way to the top with baking soda and add just a few drops of this homemade soap, Dawn, or another one of your favorites. If you’ve got hard water, I recommend adding a quarter cup of salt to the mixture, as well.

I also want to stress that this is not your mother’s store-bought liquid soap. In fact, there are a couple of important differences to note between this homemade version and the store-bought stuff. 

The first difference? Bubbles, or lack thereof. You’re probably used to the extreme sudsy-ness of store-bought dishwashing soap. But as it turns out, the presence of bubbles has little to do with the effectiveness of a cleaning product. In fact, I’m going to let you in on a dirty little secret of the cleaning product industry: more bubbles don’t mean cleaner. In fact, manufacturers actually add foaming agents to soaps to give the impression that a product is working better. Even worse, these foaming agents aren’t just unnecessary, but they contain harmful chemical surfactants like sodium lauryl sulfate. It’s all just a (very effective) marketing strategy, and I caution you not to fall for it. Bubbles may be fun, but they’re just that.

All of that being said, you should know that while this homemade soap will NOT get as sudsy as the typical store-bought dish soap, it works just as well. If you’ve ever tried my favorite homemade laundry detergent, you may already be aware that while it doesn’t get very sudsy either, it also gets the job done as well as a commercial laundry detergent. An added bonus of the lack of suds in this DIY dish soap: if you do slip up and use this in your dishwasher, you don’t need to worry about a bubble-induced overflow.

The second difference between my homemade dish soap and store-bought products is thickness, or lack thereof. This soap will likely be thinner than the store-bought versions that you’re used to. Thicker soap may seem luxurious but that’s what the glycerin is there for. Adding this clear liquid oil to your concoction should help combat the issue so you can achieve the desired texture.

Lastly, the preferred soaking method for this soap is NOT filling the sink and soaking the dishes. Instead, just apply the soap directly to a wet sponge and clean away. You’ll save more water using this approach, too, especially because most people tend to overfill their sinks when doing dishes by hand. Another water-saving tip: scrape your dishes in advance to remove food residue.

dishsoap

Increasing the Cleaning Power of Your Dish Soap

While my DIY dish soap recipe works just fine as it is, there are some extra things you can do to ramp up its effectiveness. 

The fifth step of the recipe introduces the option of adding essential oils to the mixture. I’m a big fan of essential oils and use them every chance I get, including in my homemade cleaning products. So while the dish soap doesn’t need essential oils to get the job done, they can help in several ways. First, who doesn’t love the heavenly scent of essential oils? Second, certain essential oils, including lemon, eucalyptus, sweet orange, geranium, and lavender, have powerful antibacterial properties. Citrus oils, meanwhile, are great for cutting through grease.

If you’re a frequent visitor to my website, you’re probably already familiar with my enthusiasm for things like baking soda, borax, coconut oil and olive oil, all of which which serve a wonderful multitude of household cleaning purposes including everything from boosting laundry soap to conditioning wooden cutting boards. Well, it’s time to add one more use for baking soda to the list! While baking soda should not be incorporated directly into the soap mixture, it can give your dish soap a beautiful boost when added to the dishwater. For best results, I recommend at least two tablespoons of baking soda for each sink of dishwater.

One casualty of lots of time spent washing dishes by hand: dry, wrinkled skin. Another thing I love about this recipe is that it also does double-duty as a hand soap. Just add moisturizing oil — I recommend aloe vera gel or vitamin E oil — to the mixture and you’ll have a new weapon in the fight against dry skin! On that note, this can also be used as a hand soap. The only thing I love more than one excellent cleaning product is one cleaning product that serves multiple functions, and this absolutely delivers.

dishsoap

I’m happy to be able to personally attest to the effectiveness of this recipe. I have used this soap several times to clean dishes, and it did a great job! Again, I’ll warn you that it’s a little disconcerting not to see sudsy bubbles while you’re hand washing and scrubbing, but the soap obviously does a great job at cutting through grease and getting everything clean.

If you’re looking for a DIY dish soap that gets the job done, I highly recommend giving this one a try the next time you wash dishes. Whether it becomes your go-to soap for everyday dishwashing or something you whip up in a pinch, this is another of my cleaning recipes that will not disappoint!

Homemade Dish Soap

Jill Nystul
Here's a simple way of making a batch of homemade dish soap that's simple to make, only requires a few ingredients, cuts grease, and smells great!
Prep Time 5 mins
Active Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Cost $1
Yield 2 cups

Equipment

  • Blender
  • Saucepan
  • Soap Dispenser

Ingredients
  

  • 1/4 cup Fels-Naptha soap or similar bar soap or Castile soap
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 Tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable glycerin optional
  • 5 drops lemon essential oil optional

Instructions
 

  • Chop the bar of soap into chunks and drop them into the blender. Pulse until the pieces are small enough. You can grate with a box grater if you do not have a blender.
  • Pour the water and grated soap into a saucepan and place it on your stovetop over medium heat.
  • Stir the mixture until all the soap has melted into the hot water. DO NOT let the mixture come to a boil. (Just turn down the heat if it seems like it’s starting to simmer/boil.)
  • Once the soap has completely melted into the water, remove the mixture from the heat. Allow it to cool off for a few minutes before proceeding.
  • Stir the vinegar and glycerin into the warm water and soap mixture. (The glycerin is optional, but it does help to thicken the mixture and make it feel less watery.)
  • You can also add a few drops of your favorite essential oil at this stage, if desired. I used about 5 drops of lemon essential oil for the fresh scent and an extra boost of cleaning power offered by citrus. However, the sky’s the limit when it comes to choosing a scent. If you prefer lavender, peppermint, tea tree, lemongrass, eucalyptus, grapefruit, or something else entirely, it’s up to you!
  • Allow the mixture to rest in the pot until completely cooled, then pour it into your preferred soap dispenser. Voila! Your homemade dish soap recipe is ready to go.
  • I may receive compensation when you click through and purchase from links contained on this website. I always offer my own genuine recommendation. Learn more.


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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

    Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

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