How to Make Natural Dish Soap – My Favorite DIY Toxin-Free Recipe

October 16, 2018 Leah Rackliff 14 Comments

How to Make Natural Dish Soap

 

Let’s talk dirty dishes. We all have them and most of us dread the menial task of washing them. This daily duty doesn’t always have to be so daunting. It can actually be kind of fun. It just depends on the way you approach it.

Making your own dish soap can really amp up your dish washing experience. How? Well, making your own dish soap allows you the freedom to choose your own ingredients that are specifically tailored to your life and what you want out of your dish washing experience. Not only that, but you can WASH easy knowing that you’re having a minimal impact on the environment.

I decided to switch to using all-natural ingredients in my home a few years ago. This was a personal decision that was mainly based around my battle against Eczema, but also had a lot to do with the current status of our planet. Today, I am going to share with you my recipe for an all-natural dish soap, along with loads of information around what I have learned through this process.

This is an all-natural, toxin-free, homemade recipe for dish soap that will help you clean up that never ending mountain of dirty dishes in no time! This recipe is bubbly, cleans well, and rinses with no nasty residue or odor left behind.

Why Make Homemade Dish Soap?

Toxins

Did you know that the skin on our bodies is semi-permeable and can absorb toxins through our skin’s pores? I hope you did, but if not, now you do! These chemicals can go straight into our bloodstream and have many known and unknown effects on our health. Most of us hand wash dishes regularly, so it should come as no surprise that the chemicals in the dish soap we use can enter our skin’s pores and our bloodstream as we wash our dishes.

Some toxins that are commonly found in generic dish washing soap include: formaldehyde, silicone, synthetic fragrances, acrylate, genetically modified organisms, preservatives, foaming agents and coloring agents. Research has shown that phthalates and parabens found in dish soaps have been linked to reproductive disorders and cancer. For more information regarding this topic, I recommend checking out our post Best Natural Organic Eco Friendly Dish Soaps — So Fresh and So GREEN.

One way to avoid the nightmare of finding an all-natural dish soap that is actually all-natural, is to MAKE YOUR OWN dish soap. By making your own soap, you will know exactly what ingredients you are using. This DIY recipe has NO toxins in it, when using the ingredients that I have listed.

Please refer to the ingredients list later in this article to find out more about the specific ingredients used.

Environmental Impact

 

This homemade recipe uses all-natural ingredients and promotes reusing/recycling containers for dispensing your soap. By using all-natural ingredients, this soap is biodegradable, safe for grey water systems, is free from animal testing, and is vegan. When you reuse or recycle containers for dispensing your soap, you are also reducing your carbon footprint by keeping them out of landfills. If you buy a new bottle of dish soap, every time you run out, they add up quickly. Say you go through one bottle of dish soap per month, that’s twelve in a year! If you reuse a glass jar and put a pump on it, then you can simply refill that jar every time you run out of dish soap. This recipe has a minimal impact on the environment and can help you greatly reduce your carbon footprint!

Benefits of Homemade Natural Dish Soap

 

When you make your own homemade natural dish soap, your body and the environment will be very happy. Natural dish soaps clean effectively and leave your hands feeling soft and smooth (maybe even pleasantly scented if you use essential oils or scented Castile soap). This recipe contains no synthetic ingredients, meaning that your are less likely to experience dryness, itchiness, or allergic reactions when using this soap.

Not only is homemade natural dish soap safe for your body, it is also safe for the environment. The natural ingredients found in this recipe are non-toxic, so this soap is grey water and septic system safe. You can drain your sink knowing that it will not cause damage to any plants or animals that it interacts with along it’s path.

Why I DIY Dish Soap

Photographic evidence of the “mountain” in my father’s kitchen. Photo credit goes to my sister. Date: 10-15-2018

There are many reasons why people choose to make their own dish soap. Personally, I choose to make my own because it is cost effective, easy, and I enjoy making things. I also find it difficult to find many all-natural and toxin-free dish soaps where I currently live and the ones that I do find are super expensive. Therefore, I make my own.

My journey to a toxin-free, DIY, lifestyle began five years ago when my skin drastically changed -for the worse. Throughout my childhood and teen years, I had “oily” and “sensitive” skin. My entire family and I used ALL generic products (we never read the labels or even questioned what was in these products). Our go to dish soap was Dawn Ultra Dishwashing Liquid.

Later on while in University I began noticing that my hands would become very dry and would often crack after doing the dishes. Seeing as I went to University in Mississippi, where it is very hot and humid most of the year, I found these skin issues strange. My skin was usually happy, hydrated, and clear in humid climates yet my hands were often dry and irritated. When I graduated from University and returned to Vermont, with its cold and dry climate, my skin issues worsened.

My hands had become constantly dry and cracked. I was living at my dad’s house and was often washing mountains of dishes. My family cooks almost every meal and tends to leave the dishes in the sink or scattered around the house for days on end watching them pile up and attempting to ignore them. It wasn’t until the dishes began to stink up the whole house or until it became a safety hazard that someone would get sick of it and dive in to clean them all. We had a dishwasher and somehow that ‘dish mountain’ was always there. It’s gross. I know.

*As a side note, I am not this way anymore. Dishes get washed regularly in my house. We have to hand wash everything and we don’t like dirty dishes in the sink.

At this point my skin was dry, very dry. So dry in fact, that I developed Eczema that I’ve been battling ever since. When my issues became incredibly uncomfortable, I reached out to my family and to my doctor. My doctor told me to try many different “Eczema” products which were packed full of chemicals. None of these made my skin better. My sister, who had recently become very passionate about toxin-free and environmentally friendly products introduced me to Dr. Bronner’sproducts.

Dr. Bronner’s Castile soap has a ton of uses! I was using it to wash dishes, clean the house, and as my shampoo/body wash. My skin was finally happy again. When I used it to wash the dishes, however, I was finding that it wasn’t quite doing the job on it’s own. I would add the liquid Castile soap to a sink full of water and dirty dishes, but it would never become sudsy enough. After a few rounds of that, I put the soap on a sponge and I had bubbles again. That’s when I decided to make my own dish soap to jazz it up a bit. I wound up trying a few different recipes that I found online. This one is my favorite and has been my go to ever since.

You may have similar or different reasons to DIY. Whatever the reason, I am happy you are here learning how to make your own dish soap! Thank you, and I hope you enjoy this recipe.

Homemade Natural Dish Soap Recipe

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 cups boiling water Image
  • 1/4 cup (tightly packed & grated) Castile bar soap
  • 1 Tbsp washing soda (adjust amount for thickness)
  • 1/4 cup liquid Castile soap
  • 10-30 drops essential oils (optional-but highly recommended)
  • 1 dish soap dispenser (reused or recycled)

Instructions:

1. Combine grated Castile soap with boiling water and stir until completely dissolved.

2. Add washing soda. Stir.

3. Add liquid Castile soap. Stir.

4. Let mixture cool.

5. Add essential oils – be creative and play with different oil combinations.

Here are some seasonal combinations that I love:

Spring – lavender & eucalyptus

Summer – sweet orange & lemongrass

Fall – pine & rosemary

Winter – cinnamon & sweet orange

6. Move the mixture to a re-purposed soap dispenser.

7. Shake the jar to get it bubbly.

8. Tackle the mountain of dirty dishes!

How to Use:

  • Rinse dirty dishes in hot water.
  • Add a squirt or two of dish soap to a wet sponge.
  • Wash/scrub dirty dishes.
  • Rinse and dry clean dishes.

*Due to this soap’s high concentration level, don’t add soap to a sink full of water. You will not get those lovely bubbles that you desire. I have found that using the rinse, sponge, rinse method works best. This also saves water!

Evaluation Criteria

Cost:

Uses:

  • Primarily intended for washing dirty dishes, although it could be used for multi-surface cleaning.
  • Wash dishes with a wet/soapy sponge. DO NOT fill your sink with water because this soap will lose it’s suds if more water is added to it. I know what you’re thinking… this is crazy talk! We all do it. Fill the sink with hot water, add soap, let the dishes soak, then wash. When I made this soap the first time, that’s exactly what I did. I was so frustrated that the suds disappeared and my dishes weren’t getting clean. I wound up using WAY more soap than I needed to. All you need to do is get your sponge wet, add a squirt or two of soap, and wash away! What I like about this method, is that it saves water and makes your soap last a lot longer.

Ingredients:

  • Dr. Bronner’s — Pure-Castile Liquid Soap (Hemp Baby Unscented)
    • No added fragrance.
    • Concentrated.
    • Biodegradable.
    • Made with organic and certified fair trade ingredients.
    • Packaged in a 100% post-consumer recycled bottle.
  • Dr. Bronner’s — Pure-Castile Bar Soap (Hemp Baby Unscented)
    • No added fragrance.
    • Concentrated.
    • Biodegradable.
    • Made with certified fair trade ingredients and organic hemp oil.
    • Packaged in a 100% post-consumer recycled wrapper.
  • Pure Organic Ingredients — Natural Washing Soda
    • Safe on skin.
    • Hypoallergenic.
    • Non-toxic.
    • Naturally occurring – Mined from Green River Wyoming – Made in U.S.A.
  • Lunaroma — Pure Essential Oils
    • Organic Lavender = $7.75 per 2mL.
      • Origin: USA
      • Part Used: Flowering tops
      • Extraction Method: Steam distillation
      • Aromatic Notes: Lightly floral and herbaceous
    • Organic Eucalyptus Blue Mallee = $3.65 per 2mL.
      • Origin: Australia
      • Part Used: Leaves and twigs
      • Extraction Method: Steam distillation
      • Aromatic Notes: Fresh, medicinal, woody, earthy
    • Organic Sweet Orange = $4.85 per 2mL.
      • Origin: USA
      • Part Used: Rinds
      • Extraction Method: Cold pressed
      • Aromatic Notes: Fresh, sweet, soothing
    • Organic Lemongrass = $5.60 per 2mL.
      • Origin: India
      • Part Used: Leaves, grass
      • Extraction Method: Steam distillation
      • Aromatic Notes: Sweet, lemony, slightly grassy and herbaceous
    • Wild Crafted Pine Needle (Bulgaria) = $5.30 per 2mL.
      • Origin: Bulgaria
      • Part Used: Needles
      • Extraction Method: Steam distilled
      • Aromatic Notes: Fresh, crisp, balsamic and piney
    • Organic Rosemary Camphor (Spain) = $5.30 per 2mL.
      • Origin: Spain
      • Part Used: Flowers, leaves and twigs
      • Extraction Method: Steam distillation
      • Aromatic Notes: Sharp, herbaceous and aromatically stimulating
    • Organic Cinnamon Leaf = $5.40 per 2mL.
      • Origin: Madagascar
      • Part Used: Leaf
      • Extraction Method: Steam distillation

Quality:

  • Cost effective.
  • Easy to make.
  • When the jar is given a good shake before use, it becomes bubbly. In turn, it lathers and cleans your dishes beautifully!
  • There is no leftover filmy residue or odor.
  • Dishes are left squeaky clean.
  • Concentrated (use on a sponge for suds (don’t add into a sink of water – no bubbles).
  • Adding essential oils to the recipe allows you to choose fragrances that please you. Many essential oils provide moisturizing benefits as well.
  • Does not dry out or irritate the skin.

Packaging and Sourcing:

  • Reduce, Reuse, Recycle
    • Reduce the amount of waste by reusing or recycling something you already have.
    • Reuse an empty dispenser with a pump (body wash, shampoo/conditioner, dish soap, etc.).
    • Recycle a mason jar and add a pump.
    • Be creative and have fun creating something of your own!

Sustainability:

  • Safe for grey water and septic systems.
  • Biodegradable.
  • Ingredients are free from animal testing.
  • Vegan.

Pros:

  • Natural Ingredients.
  • Environmentally friendly.
  • Concentrated.

Cons:

  • It tends to solidify over time, so give it a good shake before each use to combine the ingredients again.
  • The soap gets very thick in cold weather, so use a little less washing soda in the winter months.

Try it Out

Everyone and every body is different. I have tweaked this recipe over the years to how I like it. My advice is to try it out by following this recipe, but alter it based on you, not me. For example, I stick to the base recipe, but I switch up the scents of Castile soap and Essential Oils, based on what I’m in the mood for. There are also a ton of other recipes for DIY dish soap out there. Try a bunch, do your own research, and use what you like

Thank you reader for sticking with this post and for learning how to make your own dish soap. I would love to hear your thoughts (questions, comments, why you want to DIY, etc.), so please feel free to leave a comment below.

With Love and Kindness,

Leah Rackliff

Co-Founder — Green Roots Living

 

 

 

14 People reacted on this

  1. Hi Leah. Many thanks for sharing details of your personal journey. I am lucky enough not to suffer from eczema, so am not motivated by obvious health problems. However, I am aware of the toxic nature of the majority of the household cleaning products on the market and do not purchase them because healthier alternatives are available. Yes, our skin is permeable and we do absorb many of these nasties into our system which leads to the general downturn in health that we see in modern societies today. If we are stupid enough to continue to use these toxic substances we get what we deserve. However, the environment has not given us permission to dump all of these toxic chemicals into our waterways and atmosphere. And yet we continue to abuse nature at an ever-increasing rate. This is our home people! Please consider how what we do affects the environment, as, without a healthy environment, we humans will not survive.

    1. Hi Andrew,
      Thank you so much for your comment! It is truly astounding how many harmful ingredients are used in the products that we interact with every day. Even products that say they are “organic” or “toxin-free” can often contain toxins. With all that I have learned on this journey, I now read every single label and educate myself on what is safe and what is toxic. You are so right in saying that humanity has made a mess of this planet. Earth has allowed us to inhabit it and the longer we go destroying it, the harsher the outcomes will be. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves and make change in order to reverse the damage that has been done. If we do not, then unfortunately, life as we know it will not be the same. I and I am sure many others can feel very discouraged by this. We think, “I am only one person. What could I possibly do to help?” My advice to those in doubt is to start small. Make your own dish soap, educate yourself in what is toxic, conserve energy and water, hang dry your clothes, etc. Change takes time, but if we all make a concerted effort to live a more “green” life, then we can reverse the damage that we have caused.
      Best Wishes!

  2. Wow! I can only imagine what’s in my dish soap now… I wish I had the time to make homemade soap. Me and my girlfriend always try to use the best quality things that’s going on our bodies. We use the dish soap from Trader Joe’s and I wonder what’s in it. I know it’s better than then dishsoap bought at Walmart, that’s for sure. Do you have any dish soap brands you can recommend that are good quality?

    1. Hi Nate! Thanks for your feedback, happy to help! Although it can be a really great experience I totally understand that making things at home can be time consuming in just not in the cards for our busy lives. I would bet you could find out about the ingredients in your Trader Joe’s soap on their website, or you could look up specific ingredients using the Environmental Working Group Website. For some suggestions I will refer you to another article I created reviewing widely available natural dish soaps with links to order them. My favorite is a brand called Yaya Maria’s but you can check out the article (10 soaps review in total) and see what works best for you! You can access the dish soap article by clicking here

      Cheers! 🙂

  3. What a really interesting article – I had no real idea the sort of toxins that simple soap liquids could have in them, and the fact that our hands can absorb them so well. 

    I love the idea of your homemade and natural version of this dish soup, but I am wondering, what is it like at cleaning the more stubborn grease-based oven dishes? You know the type that nearly always needed a scouring pad etc?

    1. Hi Chris!

      It wasn’t until I began this journey with GreenRootsLifestyle when I discovered how many horrible and scary toxins there were in the products we use every day. We have another helpful article on our website that reviews many different types of natural dish soaps. You may find it helpful in learning more about this.

      This DIY dish soap recipe actually does really well with those greasy dishes. I suggest rinsing and soaking the dish in hot water. After it has soaked for a little while, then wash it with the homemade dish soap. Add the soap to a sponge and scrub away. You may still find that you need to use a scouring pad, it just depends on how tough the job is! You will find that this soap will last you longer and will clean your dishes leaving no residue or odor. If you decide to try out this recipe, let me know how it goes and I hope you find it useful! Thank you so much!!

      Sending You Green Vibes! 🙂

  4. Hey there! I’m squealing right now because I’ve been searching for a natural dish soap recipe for YEARS. Well, now I found an actual dish soap that I can use. A few years back I had a miscarriage that made me have skin allergies. No one believed me so it was really hard, and still is hard, to find anyone to help me when I tell them my story. There aren’t a whole lot of people familiar with this sort of thing in the area where I live either. I am bookmarking your page because I need all sorts of things like cleaning supplies, detergent, shampoo, and pretty much everything soap and fragrance related. I’m legit excited to find this site. Its been such a struggle to deal with for the passed few years.

    Thanks so much and I can’t wait to try this!!

    Marlinda

    1. Greetings, Marlinda!

      You’re comment has truly made my day! I am so excited that this article has been so helpful for you. Our site is new, but stay tuned for many more posts to come on natural and organic alternatives. If you are looking for anything in particular or want us to write a specific post, please don’t hesitate to let us know!

      I know that skin allergies can be frustrating, often painful or irritating, and confusing. It is even more frustrating when people around you don’t understand what you are going through. I have been there and battle my skin allergies every single day. Just know that you are not alone and our hope through GreenRootsLifestyle is to create a supportive and positive environment in which we can learn about natural ways to care for our homes, the planet, and our bodies.

      Please let me know how this recipe goes for you and if there is anything else I can do to help!

      With Love and Kindness! 🙂

  5. Thanks for this recipe. I’m going to seriously consider making my own dish soap, especially as store bought soap also tends to dry my hands out. Only for me, this happens during the winter rather than the summer. I like the fact that the recipe doesn’t call for ingredients or equipment that would be hard to find. It’s also nice that you can pick your own scent for it by using essential oils.

    1. Hi There!

      You are very welcome! Thank you for commenting! It is very common for skin to become more dry in the winter months. The same is true for me. If you live in a dry and cold climate during the winter and then are using a toxic dish soap, then your hands could become very dry. The ingredients in this recipe are definitely easy to find and you can swap out the Castile soap or Essential Oils for any scent you like. Dr. Bronner’s liquid and bar Castile soaps come in many different scents. These soaps can be found in many different places including: each companies website, Amazon, and your local shops.

      Thanks again and please let me know what you think about this recipe if you decide to give it a try!

      Best Wishes! 🙂

  6. Thank you for this valuable information. Today, we have no idea what companies are putting out soaps, food, or hygiene products. It is vital to our bodies that we understand all ingredients that are in the products we use. Just to know that there are alternative to better healthy for us and our children. 

    I am a visual learner and would love to see a video of how to make this natural soap. It would really help me follow step by step to provide my family with a healthier soap. Lets be real we clean everything i would like to have the peace of mind knowing that im using a safe natural soap.

    Thank you 

    -Bill 

    1. Hi Bill!

      Thank you for your feedback! That is such a great idea about providing a video tutorial for our DIY posts. I will definitely create a video specific to this post and for others to come. We are living in China at the moment, so finding these ingredients have been tough. However, we just found a site here that sells these ingredients. We will be creating a video to go along with this post in the next couple of months, so stay tuned!

      Stay Green! 🙂

  7. Hello Leah,

    I have been making citrus enzyme for a few years now, and use it for washing dishes and floor cleaning. All because not to waste the fruit peels. I wasn’t used to it at first due to the foamless washing especially when doing the dishes. But the outcome weighs in. The dishes are squeaky clean. I do agree with you the unpronounceable ingredients are spoiling our well-being and MOTHER NATURE.

    Now, you have shown me an alternative way of making dish soap which sounds interesting to try. Thanks for sharing!

    Sharon

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