This little homemade dish soap recipe just about got the best of me…
What originally was meant to be an “Oh, I’m out of dish soap, I’ll just mix a homemade version up real quick,” turned into a 3-week long ordeal that resulted in jar after jar of failed liquid dish soap experiments sitting on my kitchen counter.
We had the thin-as-water variety, the gloppy variety, the so-thick-you-have-to-dig-it-out-of-the-jar-with-a-knife variety, and my favorite– the ones that separated completely and ended up with big, gelatinous clouds floating on top…
But I was bound-and-determined not to let the quest for perfect homemade liquid dish soap get the best of me… So I persevered.
And I am pleased-as-punch to be sharing this homemade dish soap recipe with you today after much blood, sweat, and tears. (OK–maybe not the blood and sweat, but I did feel like crying a couple times) 😉
What’s Important in a Homemade Liquid Dish Soap?
For me it came down to three things:
1. The dish soap needed to clean effectively (duh) and be able to cut grease. I tried several recipes that couldn’t cut through coconut oil residue, and that’s not acceptable.
2. The dish soap needed to be the right consistency. After my first few tries, this became of the utmost importance to me. Many of the recipes I tried were waaaay too thick, and even though the recipe suggested mixing them with water after they had set up, the end result was far too chunky. I wanted my homemade dish soap to have a smooth, gel-like consistency– not watery and not chunky.
3. My liquid dish soap needed to be as frugal as possible–the fewer the ingredients, the better.
Homemade Liquid Dish Soap Recipe
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- 3 cups water
- 2 tablespoons grated bar soap– I used my homemade tallow soap (it’s a very basic soap–nothing fancy. *Important* See note below.)
- 1/4 teaspoon washing soda (where to buy)
- 1 teaspoon vegetable glycerin (where to buy)
- 20-50 drops essential oils — possible combination ideas below (get wholesale prices on my favorite essential oils)
Mix the water, grated soap, and washing soda in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until the mixture is hot and all the ingredients are dissolved. (If it simmers or boils, that’s ok–just make sure everything is completely dissolved.)
Remove the mixture from the heat, and mix in the vegetable glycerin and essential oils. (If it’s very hot, allow it to cool slightly before adding the essential oils)
Pour the liquid dish soap mixture into a jar and allow it to sit at room temperature for 6-12 hours. It will thicken during this time. I like to give it a stir every couple hours (if I think of it), but you don’t have to.
When you are ready to use it, give it a vigorous stir (it might seem too thick at first, but should easily soften once you start stirring) and pour into a soap pump or squeezable container. (I repurposed an empty dish soap bottle)
Give it a shake, and enjoy doing those dishes with your very own homemade liquid dish soap!
I loved the consistency of this dish soap–it’s thick enough to stick to the dishes, but not chunky.
*Important Note* Keep in mind that your results may vary a bit depending on the type of bar soap you use. My homemade tallow soap is quite hard. I also tried this with a softer homemade soap (containing ingredients such as coconut oil and olive oil), and I had to tweak the ingredients a bit.
For the batch using the softer bar soap, I had to increase the soap flakes to 3 tablespoons and the washing soda to 1/2 teaspoon. You may even have to go as far as 4 tablespoons of soap flakes and 1 teaspoon of washing soda.
However, there is a fine line–and I found that adding too many soap flakes makes it too thick, and too much washing soda results in it separating into cloudy chunks.
Now that I have the basic formulation down, I plan on doing more experimenting with different types of soap–including some “brand name” bars, so stay tuned!
Essential Oil Options:
Adding essential oils to your homemade liquid dish soap can boost its cleansing properties, aid in fighting grease and odors (especially citrus varieties), and provide you with a lovely aromatherapy experience while you wash. You can really use any essential oil combination that you like in your homemade dish soap–the sky’s the limit!
Here are a few of my favorite combinations:
- 15 drops lemon, 10 drops grapefruit, 10 drops juniper berry (my most favorite!)
- 10 drops lemon, 10 drops grapefruit, 10 drops wild orange, 10 drops lime
- 15 drops lemongrass, 15 drops tangerine
- 15 drops wild orange, 15 drops peppermint
- 20 drops lemon, 15 drops eucalyptus
- 15 drops lemon, 15 drops thyme
- 5 drops cinnamon or cassia oil, 20 drops wild orange
- I used my simple homemade tallow soap for this recipe, but castile bar soap (where to buy), or other homemade soaps should work as well. I think commercially available bars such as Ivory should be fine too, but I haven’t tried it yet. I grated mine with the fine side of my cheese grater.
- The washing soda acts as a thickener and de-greaser. It is not the same as baking soda.
- A lot of DIY dish soap recipes call for adding liquid castile soap– I tried that but found it reacted with the washing soda and made things horribly clumpy.
- This recipe will not yield lots of suds. However–did you know that suds are merely an illusion? They don’t actually do any cleaning, so I figure it’s no big deal if my homemade dish soap doesn’t get sudsy.
- Too thick? Try adding 1/4-1/2 cup of warm water and giving it a brisk shake.
- Too thin? Re-heat the mixture and trying adding in a bit more washing soda or a tablespoon more of soap flakes.
- This is recipe is NOT intended for use in dishwashers–only for hand-washing dishes in the sink.
- Where do I get my essential oils? I’ve been using the same brand of oils for 3+ years and couldn’t be happier. Click here for my personal story.