How to Make Homemade Dish Soap

A jar of homemade dish soap in a bowl with a spoon resting inside it.

Adapted from Paul Lowe | Sweet Paul Eat & Make | Rux Martin/HMH, 2014

This homemade dish soap is a godsend for home cooks who get a little giddy about something that’s gentle on the hands, natural and free from chemicals and unpronounceable preservatives, and relatively inexpensive. Seriously, this liquid dish soap is going to change your life. Well, sorta. It’s only mildly sudsy compared to standard dish soap. But don’t let that fool you—it still does the trick. It’s particularly perfect for delicate china and glassware, although it’s effective at everyday dishwashing as well. (If you’re about to tackle a crusty lasagna pan or brownie baking dish with lots of baked-on chocolate goodness, you may find it necessary to reach for an extra squirt of this soap and a scrubber. And we swear our hands have gotten softer since we started using this natural alternative. –Renee Schettler Rossi

Homemade Dish Soapquick-glance-dish-soap

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INGREDIENTS

Container to hold your soap (a Mason or other vintage glass jar with a screw-top lid works nicely)
6 tablespoons unscented liquid Castile soap (such as Dr. Bronner’s)
2 teaspoons vegetable glycerine (available online and in pharmacies)
5 drops essential oil of your choice (optional)
2 cups water

DIRECTIONS

1. In the container, combine the Castile soap, glycerin, and essential oil, if using.

2. Top with the water and gently mix. Keep at room temperature. You may need to stir to recombine prior to using and when scrubbing messy pots and pans you may need to use a touch more soap. Originally published July 15, 2014.

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Ingredients


Directions

In the container, combine the Castile soap, glycerin, and essential oil, if using.

Top with the water and gently mix. Keep at room temperature. You may need to stir to recombine prior to using.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

What a nifty little recipe this homemade dish soap is! I'm certainly benefiting from this dish elixir since I'm an enthusiastic home chef without a dishwasher. The scent is very subtle, so I'd double the essential oil to 10 drops next time. While it works like a charm on wine glasses or dinner plates, working with this detergent requires some elbow grease on crusty pans. That's to be expected from a natural detergent, though.

Also, I found that I used more detergent than usual, and I suspect it's because this version doesn't lather up like the commercial brands. I prefer using this over store-bought stuff, though I'll keep the Ajax under the sink for eggy skillets. Also, I did the math, and this recipe only costs about $1.50—a nice little savings!

Last thing: It's so nice that I can go gloveless if I feel like it! This stuff doesn't dry out my hands.

This homemade dish soap recipe intrigued me since I love to sort out the puzzle of how so many things are made.

Assembly was a cinch, but it was so watery that I was really skeptical. I filled a squirt bottle, tackled some really dirty dishes with no real optimism, and found, to my great surprise, that it worked great. It was plenty sudsy, had great grease-cutting ability, and I used the same amount as I would have with a concentrated soap. Unfortunately, the only essential oil I had at home was lavender and that was not my favorite choice for detergent. I will definitely make this again with a different scent.

The ingredients were easy to find; glycerin was the only semi-tricky one, as no one at my two grocery stores had even heard of it. I eventually found it myself, much to their embarrassment since they'd told me they didn't carry it!  (Look in the pharmacy area--near the Q-tips.)

Comments

  1. I very much prefer homemade solutions compared to the big box products. Your recipe reminds me of something I would see at the local Botanical Gardens. Great!

    1. So do we, Lori. So do we. Let us know if you try it. We’re quite smitten with this recipe and have been making it in big batches and stashing the extra in a large Mason jar beneath the kitchen sink. Swell stuff!

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