Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Homemade Dish Soap

One of the things I have been hoping to learn is how to make my own dish soap. I could put whatever scent I wanted in it,probably save a few dollars,and cut back on plastic consumption. I have looked at various blogs,such as Karyn's over at Lizzy Lane Farm,and Rhonda Jean's at Down To Earth. The basic ingredients seem to be the same,though there are variations.Some folks use liquid castille soap instead of soap flakes,for example. The following is the recipe I used.
You can use this one,or find another through various blogs. This one can be used for hand washed dishes or for dishwashers. I don't have a dishwasher,so I had to make sure it was hand friendly.Like any other homemade cleaning item,you have to try it out and see if it works for you.

Handmade Dish Soap

2 cups soap flakes ( I couldn't find any flake Ivory Soap or Lux,so I grated an Ivory soap bar.One bar made 2 cups)
1 gallon warm water
2 tablespoons glycerin (optional- I got mine in the First Aid aisle at WalMart)
1/2 cup of lemon juice or white vinegar
Scent if desired

Combine flakes and water over low heat,until soap is dissolved,stirring frequently.Stir in glycerin and remove from heat.Allow soap to cool to about room temperature,then add the lemon juice or vinegar and add soap scent. Mix thoroughly and put in containers. Use about 1/2- 3/4 cup per load of dishes.

The first thing you will notice is that the mixture will be very watery,nothing like store bought dish soap.There will also be no bubbles. Bubbles do not determine how clean something gets,so don't worry about that. From what I have read,lemon juice will mold if you don't use the batch in about a week's time,so I used white vinegar. Until the vinegar was added,the soap was the color of gray water.It then turned a very pale white ( you can see it in the above picture in the clear water bottle). For scent Rick picked Eucalyptus soap scent. Instead of a full gallon,I reduced the water to 14 cups,and I think I will have to reduce it more next time. Most blogs with these recipes say they wind up bringing down amount of water quite a bit,and though it won't give you as much,it will be a bit more concentrated,so you may not have to use as much in each load. The second thing you may notice is grease residue. This is also an issue I have read about-some people have a problem,others claim they don't. I did. The vinegar acts as a grease cutter,but it brings any grease or oil from what is on your dishes to the top of the water,which gets on your dishes and hands. I don't know if hard water makes a difference-we have well water,so it's hard. At first I thought it was the glycerin,which is used as a hand softener,but this AM I washed out our wok from the stir fry we had last night,and I could see an oil slick on top of the water. My only thought about that is perhaps upping the amount of vinegar a bit,and maybe using more soap ,as well as less water.

I admit,even though I had read of this possibility,I was disappointed. It got me to thinking about what folks used back in the day when they didn't have grease cutting dish detergents,which we are all so used to.They would have had to use regular soap,would they not? Grease would form in the water,wouldn't it? Am I being too critical because I am comparing this to store bought detergents with different chemicals in it? Maybe it's like comparing apples and oranges.

I hope this doesn't discourage you from giving it a shot. I think playing with the initial recipe may produce something more pleasing,and if one doesn't expect Palmolive,Ajax,or Dawn as the end result,it will be OK.

For those of you who are making dish soap,could you please send me your thoughts regarding the grease? Have you had this problem,and were you able to remedy it?


  1. I use vinegar in the rinse aid pocket in my dishwasher, so maybe if you added some to your rinse water it would help? I have no idea...just a suggestion.

  2. Thanks for the recipe and honest evaluation. My 2 cents regarding what they used "back in the day" - they used cast iron which you rarely use soap on, so their grease helped to flavor the next dish and the next.

    I appreciate your view. I love Dawn because it really cuts the grease. I may try this with the lemon juice and just make less more often. We'll see.

  3. adding KOSHER salt will cut the grease film, supposedly. I made soap twice and got so mad at the slimy film left on everything unless rinsed with boiling hot water:(.
    My understanding and research so far is that's its soley because of hard water.

  4. Hi.
    My recipe is similar, but I make my own soap:
    2oz soap flakes
    4c boiling water
    1T washing soda
    1T white vinegar
    Tea tree oil to scent

    I make my soap of coconut oil with 1% superfatted (i suppose this helps cut grease, it's harsh & perfect for dishes & laundry)
    But I still get some grease film :/

    I'm going to try adding 1/4c baking soda to my recipe... As of now I've just sprinkled it on greasy pots & pans ;)