Homemade liquid dish soap


liqiud-soapAs part of my holiday gift giving I am making natural homemade dish soap. I have been making this recipe for a while now and really like it. I have never tried it with the vinegar because I like the lemon scent it has.

Here is the basic recipe:

Liquid Dish Soap
1 gallon of warm water
2 cups shredded bar soap (I use Ivory)
Large pot
2 Tbl. liquid glycerin
½ cup lemon juice
2-5 drops essential oil (I like eucalyptus)
5 drops tea tree oil (Antibacterial)
  • Mix warm water and soap flakes in a large pot.
  • Dissolve the soap flakes in the water on the stove over low heat. Continually stir the mix while it is heating.
  • Stir in the glycerin and remove from heat.
  • Let cool until almost room temperature.
  • then add lemon juice (or white vinegar).
  • Mix in your favorite essential oil and tea tree oil.
  • Pour the mixture into bottles and shake well.
liqiud-soap2But anyone that knows me knows that I can’t leave things alone and am always looking to make things easier. Here is how I make mine:
  • I have a large plastic juice container I use and this is the amount of water I use. I pour hot water into my pot and turn it on high to heat up.
  • While it’s heating I grate 1 bar of castile soap and put it in the pot. Stir often to melt soap into water.
  • Once it’s melted I turn off the heat and add the liquid glycerin and let it cool to room temperature.

Then add:

  • 1/2 cup lemon juice and essential oils, plus the tea tree oil.
  • Stir well and pour back into my bottle.
These are the jars I’m using for Christmas. I will cover them with a pretty piece of fabric and lace and tie on the dish cloths.
4/09 Update:
Since I first posted this I have received several questions about the liquid being on the thin/runny side. Yes, this is much thinner than a store bought variety. I find that it still works very well and I usually use about 1/2-3/4 of a cup per sink of water. Mine lasts about 1 week, we do a lot of dishes here. If let set much longer than that it will start to become moldy. It’s because of the water and lemon juice going bad. Water and lemon do grow bacteria!
I also only use enough water to fill the container I use to store the soap in, not as much as the recipe calls for.
You can also find my other homemade cleaning recipes I use every day here Under Natural Cleaning Supplies.
10/09 Update:
Well it’s been another few months and I am still loving this dish soap recipe. The one change I have made is I am now using liquid Castile Soap, I am finally able to purchase it locally, yeah!
I have been adding about 1/2 cup to the recipe and leaving out the grated soap. It is working like a charm….
Thought you all would like to know.

Posted on November 17, 2008, in Natural Cleaning Recipes and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 27 Comments.

  1. Hi Karyn,

    I tried the dish soap recipe yesterday. Is is supposed to be very ..eh..liquidy? I just want to make sure that I didn’t mess it up. Also, do you use anything else to cut grease with your dishes?

    I have some mom time coming tomorrow. I am planning on taking a trip to my favorite yearn shop to have some uninterrupted knitting time. I think I will work on those dish clothes.

    I really love your blog. So much information…

  2. Hi Karin,
    Yes the soap is very thin when I make it too. It’s works fine as is for me.

    I do not add as much water as the original recipe calls for (1 GAL) I simply use what ever my container will hold.

    I bet if you would like yours thicker you could use much less water and it would still work fine. And you wouldn’t need such a big storage container for it.

    I also was surprized by the thinness of the soap the first time I made it. I think it’s because I was used to what the store made soaps are like.

    I use lemon juice as opposed to the vinegar and don’t have any trouble with grease. But if you do, I think the vinegar would work better than the lemon. I don’t see why you couldn’t add more lemon as see if that would help.

    Have a wonderful day knitting! What a treat to have time to do what you want….That’s living a Simple Life! 🙂

    I have been trying to figure out a crochet pattern I mentioned in the post I did on the dishcloth patterns. It’s the one with the spaces around the edge, I want to weave a nice ribbon in it when i’m done. This summer I found a big bag of ribbon pieces at the church yard sale. I can’t wait to use some of it.

    Some of it is hand croched lace one of the church ladies made and I’ll have to find a special project for that…I’m thinking of adding it to a set of hand towels…

    Not having much luck just yet. I have had to change the instructions given, it’s better but not right yet. The edge on one side isn’t the same as the other side. The picture shown with the pattern both sides are the same. Don’t know what I am doing wrong yet but I will figure it out.

    I’m sure you know much more about yarn than I do, but I found at our local yarn shop a brand called Peaches and Cream. It’s 100% cotton 4 ply, and MADE IN THE USA. I like it. Inside the lable is a dishcloth pattern:) What luck

    Have a great day and a wonderful day tomorrow!


  3. Thanks, Yes, my peaches and creme will be coming with me tomorrow. I found some on sale this past summer for a 1.00 a skein. Oh Fugal Joy!

    For a couple of close friends I am going to make a hanging hand towel to go with the soap and dish rag.

    I have also seen dish cloth patterns where you crochet some strips of plastic shopping bags to create a scrubby in the cloth. I have tried it before in a granny square but wasn’t pleased with the results but I might try again using a different pattern.

    Thanks for the dishsoap tips. Back to the drawing board

    Have a good weekend.


  4. Karin,
    Oh you smart gal’! I see you know much more about this yarn stuff than I do. Hope you stalked up on the yarn. 🙂

    What a great idea to add the towel. Wish I knew how to make those, but one project at a time. They will make lovely and thoughtful gifts.

    If you dish soap is to thin for what you want how about trying this:

    2 cups of the soap you already have (what you made yesterday), heat it up then add another 2 cups of shreaded soap, the glycerine and lemon juice.
    I have never tried it but I don’t think it would hurt. It might thicken it up a bit….

    Next batch try just 4 cups of water????

    Let me know what you decide and how it turned out.

  5. Hello Karyn,

    Just found your blog after someone mentioned your dish soap recipe. I use ivory to make my laundry powder and like it (as long as I add some Oil of Bergamot!)

    We have no dishwasher and wash LOTS of dishes. How does this hold up and wash for you? Do you hand wash lots of stuff or mostly use the dishwasher? I’d love to get away from Ivory Dish Detergent (price and who wants to use detergents if they don’t have too?)

    Hubby tried washing dishes with just Ivory and wasn’t happy….it just didn’t get the grease out. Since I have all the ingredients, I’ll have to try this later in the week.

    Thanks for posting this. Someday I’ll have time to knit and crochet again!


  6. Hi Kristen,

    I mostly use my dishwasher but also do my share of them by hand. I like the recipe just fine.

    I use lemon juice and don’t seem to have any problems with grease. BUT Karin (who posted above) was asking the same question, I think she might be having grease problems and not quite used to how thin this recipe is…

    I would suggest you try a small batch and see how you (hubbie) like it. I don’t add all the water any more. I am still using the ivory soap but am going to change as soon as i come up with some home made castile soap.

    I use maybe a cup in my sink of warm water. maybe a bit more or less, I use the give the bottle a quick pour method…

    Hoping you find time to knitt and crochet again soon. This is a new found skill for me and I find it very relaxing (as long as I can follow the pattern :))

    let me know how this turns out for you.


  7. Thanks for your recommendations, Karyn. I will experiment with them. BTW, why do you add glycerin to your dish soap? For the moisturizing properties or does it help clean the dishes somehow?

    I don’t have a problem using Ivory. It is a real soap (albeit, made by a big corporation I don’t care for) and made with tallow, a product that would otherwise go to waste if it were not made into soap.

    Castile soap is nice and I have tried it for dish soap and not cared for it for that purpose. It is also something that must be made with imported oils (particularly olive oil) and I would rather use a soap I can make with fats I can grow myself or find locally.

    I’ve been busy having kids (#5 is on the way) and have not had much spare time since we got the cow back in 2006. Managing cows (and the other animals we’ve gotten since) is not something I’m used to doing (vs. someone who grew up on a subsistence farm) so my time management isn’t the best. I’ve also had little time to sew. But this, I’m sure will change as the kids get older.

    Thanks for posting this info!


  8. Kristin,

    I think the glycerine some how helps with the lather/bubbles.??? I have made it w/o the glycerine and it didn’t seem to bubble much.

    You are right about the castile soap, I should have thought more about it…Thanks for bringing it to my attention. I will rethink this….

    Congrats on baby #5, I LOVE large families and wish mine was larger…:)


  9. Karyn,

    Oh, now don’t give up on your castile soap just because of my opinion! I really do love the stuff. I just tend to be a bit obsessive about doing everything from scratch with stuff I can grow myself. Being obsessive about anything is not always a great way to be! LOL!

    Glad you love large families. I never thought I’d have any children let alone this many….and all so far born at home! Once upon a time, I had a “big” career (shopped at Ann Taylor, etc) and thought I’d want one of those “long distance” marriages if I married at all. Who knew?! 20 years later and I’m working on my 5th!!

    Enjoy your soaping. Another one of those things I’ve read lots about but haven’t had the time to try. One of these days….


  10. Hi Kristin,
    No I am glad you pointed the olive oil out to me. I’m not much for not buying local if I can help it.

    One exception is my horse brass from England! I love them….

    I did purchase a few bars of Kirk’s Original Coco Castile Soap. Ingredients are water, coconut oil, vegetable glycarin, natural fragrance. I’m going to give this a try. I’ll do a follow up post when I have had time to make the laundry soap and have used it for awhile. This won’t be until sometime in Jan. my soap bucket is still full….

    You must have a wonderful family and be very proud of them all. When my 2 boys were younger all their friends would come and stay sometimes for weeks at a time and I loved every minute of it. I often think back at how full the house was with love, laughter, and family. Enjoy every day you can it will all to soon be gone… I do get this joy all over again with my Granddaughter who lives with us. I can find myself playing with her all day long and not getting much else done… Hey, someone needs to do it and I raise my hands. 🙂

    Happy Holidays


  11. years ago my grandmother crocheted small square s that made a base for weaving or making soap turtles. the slivers or a whole bar of soap were inserted and a draw string tied in a bow at the top held in the soap. left on the bath tub or sink it mad a good heel and dirty elbow scrubber use your creative imagination and you will never have to worry with slivers again.

  12. Hi Sharon,
    Those sound so cute. I will have to keep my eye out for a pattern in my travels. Isn’t it so nice to have such great memories of our grandparents. Thanks for sharing this with me.

    Have a great day!

  13. This is wonderful!

    I’m forever running to our local market to get dish soap that runs out all too quickly. I am thrilled to find a recipe that I can have ingredients on hand and just make up a batch when I need it, rather than waste a car trip.

    A suggestion on cutting grease in the dishwasher (someone asked about that above): turn up your hot water heater! Yes, you are going to use some energy for it, but nothing cuts grease like a boiling pot of water. Certainly you don’t need to have boiling, but I can’t live without a good ole sink of steaming water that I can barely put my hands in!!! It does the trick with hand washing dishes, it’s bound to work just as well in the dishwasher!!!

    Thanks for the great recipe :o)

  14. Hi Julie,
    I hope you like the dish soap, I use it every day, and you are right nothing beats hot water for grease. I have taken to using 1/3rd of the water called for in this recipe. It fills my jug and I make it often enough that it doesn’t go bad.

    Let me know how you like it.
    Have a great day!

  15. Saffron Meyers

    Hi there! I just want to tell you how great your blog is!! I also wanted to tell you I tried this recipe, and threw my own twist on it!! I have been making all my own cleaning products for several years, but have never tried dish soap! I have been using Ultra Dishmate for some time, but it gets spendy. Anyhow, I used 1 bar of Kirk’s castile soap (THE best soap in the world), 1/2 cup vinegar, 1/4 cup borax, instead of adding the glycerin…..I used 1/2 cup Ultra Dishmate liquid dishsoap. I also used about a teaspoon of EO’s ….mostly lemon and orange which are natural grease fighters…then some tea tree and rosemary for that anti-bacterial effect! I added the borax (a natural water softener) after the soap melted…then I removed it from the burner and added the dish liquid, and then the EO’s.

    Anyhow….it turned out awesome!!!

    I washed some very greasy pans just a bit ago…and it worked fantastic!!! For those that are new to using castile soap…it takes a while to get used to the feel of it. It can feel like it is not getting the grease off your dishes, but it actually is. It just leaves your hands so soft, that it feels odd when you aren’t used to it.

    I hope this helps you all….happy homemaking all! Thanks so much for the great forum!!

  16. All,

    Right, glycerin is needed for better sudsiness. NOTHING cuts grease better than vinegar. I use straight vinegar to erase one year old axle grease off my motorcycle rims every spring ! Put some in your soap, it will cut grease like a charm.
    It sounds like the recipe needs less water and I would leave out the lemon juice – bacteria, mold ? – ick. It might smell nice for a week, but then ? No Thanks.
    I think I’m going to make some Ivory liquid soap as well. I usually use Dawn – but they now use unsafe chemicals, which have been proven to inhibit sex hormones ? – Imagine that on your plates, etc. ? I’m sure we’re ingesting some of that on our dishes. It’s just NOT worth it to me. thanks for the suggestions and nice site.

  17. Calamity Jane

    hey, i just found this dishsoap recipe. cool! did you read my posts about my homemade dish soap? i just used the melted dilluted bar soap, and it worked. sort of. any remotely big load of dishes would leave a ring of dirty grease around the edge of the waterline on the sink, and my hands would feel greasy too. does yours do that?
    i have just gotten a dishwasher, so i guess this is a moot point for me, but the whole dishsoap experience really got me curious….

  18. Good day to you! Washing soda is also sodium carbonate or pool soda or pool ash found in the pool cleaning aisle. It is still cheap and usually available all year long.

  19. I have a bunch of bars of english lavendar I bought real cheap, can I use them in this recipe?

  20. Can I add both borax and glycerin to the recipe posted by Saffron Meyers?

  21. Hi there – I just made this yesterday using plain Ivory. I ended up with a thick goopy white residue that rose to the surface as it cooled. I removed it (there was maybe a 1/2 cup or more), but then I wondered – is that an essential part of the soap? Am I washing with just lemon-water now? If so, is there a trick to keeping it from separating next time? Can I re-introduce the residue back into the liquid if I heat it up? Am I the only one that had this issue?


  22. i think instead of using the lemon juice, i’ll use vinegar, i use it all the time in my hair, i tried the recipe for lemon juice, it went bad {for the hair recipe} but the vinegar never goes bad on me.. but i do like your recipe from the looks of it. i use the vinegar all the time to make homemade laundry detergent and rinse. its a heck of alot cheaper!! :’}

  23. I look forward to trying your recipe. I am converting to natural cleaning products. I am currently using homemade laundry detergent. It is great and a wonderful value as well.

  24. The love family

    Hi Lizzy:

    Like your page, I been trying and would like any suggestion. I been making my homemade laundry soap for a while now and love it but with having 4 boys and not counting my husband is becoming more difficult on getting the dirt stained out of the white clothes. I have been leaving it for couple of hours to sometimes over night depending on the amount of laundry to do. Can you suggest anything else to try instead of bleach?


  25. The love family

    Heather you have to mix it every time you are going to use and the top part white stuff that you took out was the soap. if you dont have it you can mix some more and everything you are getting ready to use it mix it before and the longer it sits the better it mix and better is. Good luck

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