Homemade Dish Soap

Do you ever wonder if you can make homemade dish soap? Yes you can. It is actually quite simple. Here are two easy dish soap recipes for you. They will leave your dishes sparkling.

Homemade Dish Soap Recipe #1

  • 2 cups of Castile soap
  • 1 tsp lemon juice or white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup of warm water

Pour all ingredients into a cleaned out old dish soap bottle and shake until well combined. Give it another good shake before each use. The lemon juice or vinegar helps cut through the grease on your dishes.

Homemade Dish Soap Recipe #2

Making Dish SoapThis version takes a little longer to make, but is even more frugal

  • 1/4 cup soap flakes or soap shavings (any bar soap will do)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1  tsp lemon juice or white vinegar

Get out a sturdy sauce pan. Pour the water and soap fakes in and slowly heat it over medium heat. Stir the mixture and keep heating it until all the soap flakes melt into the water. DO NOT let the mixture come to a boil. Turn down the heat if needed.

Allow the soap  mixture to cool a bit, then stir in the lemon juice or vinegar. Keep it sitting in the pot until it is completely cooled, then pour it into an old dish soap bottle.

With either of these two homemade dish soap recipes you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to make them smell better. I find that if I use the lemon juice, I don’t need the essential oil. Bottled lemon juice works just fine.

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  1. Mrs_Koehn says

    I’ve tried similar things and wasn’t thrilled with the results. I’ll have to try this one and see how I like it. I usually just get the Palmolive Free and Clear.

    • kelly says

      I to have made my own and wasn’t really satisfied. What i found worked it I fill my old soap bottle 3/4 full with my homemade and then the rest of the way up with store bought, you can change the ratios to what works best for you.

  2. Debra says

    I will have to try this I too, have tried something else if I remember right it was like receipe #2 and i was not happy. I will try #1 and see. I would really like to have homemade dish soap on hand when I run out and not have to run to the store.

  3. says

    I am going to try these recipes for dish soap. I am not able to use anything other than dawn because of sensitive skin. i will let you know how it works. this might give me something to do with the left over tiny bars of soap that are to small to wash with.

    • Sheila says

      Another way to use the leftover bars of soap is to attach them to the top of a new bar of soap that is wet. It will “meld” into the new bar as it is used.

  4. Maura says

    I tried the second recipe, but it made very little suds. I just used bath soap, though, so not sure if I should have used something else. Is there something to add that will make some suds? It’s probably just psychological, but I don’t feel like it’s cleaning without seeing some suds.

    • Marc says

      suds have nothing to do with cleanliness. it is totally a perception issue. The chemicals that most manufacturers add to their products to create suds are fairly harmful and irritating. They are the SLS or sodium lauryl/laureths and should be avoided.

      • dotte says

        What are you going to use to saponify the grease and oil?
        One alternative is sodium stearate made w/ lard and lye
        or sodium glycerate made w/ glycerine and lye.
        There will not be any lye left, it reacts w/ the fatty molecule to form water
        and add an ionic sodium to the fatty molecule so that the fatty end can stick into the grease drop and the sodium end/ head will stick out and help it dissolve in water.

        • says

          I have tried both & regualr washing it does okay. I am not looking for suds but a good grease cleaner dish soap. Dotte where can I get these item you say would help with grease. ALso are they safe for our enviroment?

  5. says

    I have well water,hard and smells like rotten eggs most of the time. Nothing i wash with makes hardly any suds.Laundry,no big deal,dish soap I have to squeeze out a lot more just to see a few suds. A heck more than when I lived in town/cities with their water,so I’m going to give these a try.If it works the same I’ll still be saving more money than I’m now!

    • christine says

      I also live in the country and have well water. The smell of rotten eggs is coming from your hot water tank.
      You have to take out the rod inside the hot water tank to get rid of the smell. Trust me we don’t have that smell anymore.

      • Jane says

        Not necessarily so. My cousin’s water smells like rotten eggs, too. It’s not just the hot water, it’s the cold water, too – so, it’s not the hot water tank, it’s the water itself. I’ve been told that their well isn’t deep enough because the neighbors don’t have the same problem.

        • The Hillbilly Housewife says

          Also a high concentration of iron in well water can make the water (cold and hot) smell of rotten eggs – a sulphur smell.

      • Vanessa says

        The rotten egg smell is most likely sulfur from natural deposits in the ground area where your water is coming from. there is nothing to get rid of the smell of the water itself, but you can stop the smell in your house by simply using baking soda and vinegar in all your cleaning solutions, very small amount of baking soda and a generous portion of soda. Also, this type of water is great for the skin and kidneys/bladder. Sulfur is what doctors prescribe for kidney infections so if you drink this water it should help to keep your body healthy. Hope this helps some.

  6. jenny in CG says

    When I was a kid, a family I knew just grated Ivory soap into the sink as it filled with hot water. It worked great for cleaning the dishes but didn’t suds a bunch. They also added a 1/4 cup of white vinegar to the rinse water.

    One thing to remember when using bar soap, don’t use a deodorant soap as this is more likely to leave a soapy build up.

    • Cindy Ryder says

      thanks, I always use Ivory soap in the bath room so I’ll try it for dishes. And I use white vinigar for a lot of cleaning and things!

  7. Kathy w/9 says

    I don’t make my own dish soap because I really only like the grease cutting ability of Dawn. But what I do is take an empty bottle and pour about 1/2 inch in the bottom and fill with cold water. This is still strong enough to do what I need it to and it keeps the kids from running through a whole bottle of the regular strength stuff in just a few days. I also only buy the Dawn when it is on sale at our local Fred’s Dollar Store.

    • The Hillbilly Housewife says

      I’m chuckling right now reading your comment, Kathy. It’s a great idea, for sure, but what has me chuckling is the idea that you’ve gotten your kids to do the dishes. That almost escaped me… I had to read it twice! I just had to let you know that tickled my funny bone. Great job!

  8. Sarah says

    I am trying the 2nd recipe today. Extremely easy to do. The bar of soap I used was called Rosa Venus and I found it in the laundry aisle at my local Save-A-Lot store. It gives it a great rose smell. I cant wait to try it. I also make my own laundry soap so the left over flakes I will use next time I need to make more laundry soap.

  9. says

    I’m making Recipe #2 right now. I have a water softener, and with it, got tons of bars of glycerin almond-scented soap. I’ve used it in my last 2 batches of laundry detergent, so I decided to try it in this recipe, too. I only used 1/2 a bar (I used 2 bars the last time I made laundry soap), so I’ll see how it works. I don’t have any lemon juice on hand, so I’ll be using vinegar & hoping the almond scent covers the vinegar, at least somewhat. Time to go put that vinegar in and let it cool some more!

  10. Julie Williamson says

    Just by chance I did this. On this site, I think, I found a recipe for a general cleaner using 2 TB of Baby Shampoo and a qt of water. Oh My, does this stuff work great! Anyway, I had it in a spray bottle and one of my kids broke the squirt handle. Not wanting to throw it away, I simply poured a little of the mixture on our scrubby sponge and it did a wonderful job! I bet I can get gallons of dishsoap using this and there is no cooking to it! Thanks for the other recipes!

  11. Becky says

    My need has nothing to do with frugality–mine is primarily a search for something that won’t give me a headache. Most of what is available on the shelves, even some “free and clears” still affect me adversely. Homemade is really the way to go!

  12. jessica says

    Hi there!
    trying this recipe for the first time. Wouldn’t it be easier to make it in a large measuring cup in the microwave? -wouldn’t have to clean the big pot and could pour more easily into the bottle. Anyone tried that? I think i’ll try it next.

  13. jessica says

    and mine is pretty liquid-ey is that normal? I’m wondering if it would work in one of those foaming pumps. Anyone tried that?

    • Sue says

      For the foaming soap, just boil water and dish soap, quantities depend on how soapy/sudsy you want it to be. I usually do 4 to 1 but that is pretty sudsy. My friend does 7 parts water to 1 part dish soap.

  14. Jane says

    I’ve never tried the homemade dish soap but I regularly make my own laundry detergent. We have very hard water where we live in Florida so we have a water softner. This makes dish liquid stretch a lot because just a couple drops does a sinkful of dishes. Problem is, the dish soap bottle opening allows too much soap out. I solved that problem by getting a glass bottle with a pourer top – the kind you would use for oil or vinegar – the kind of pourer with a cork around it. What I do is use about 1/4 C. dish soap (usually palmolive) in the bottle then fill with water and swirl it around till it’s combined. Yes, it’s watery soap but it comes out of that pourer very slowly and still only takes about 1/4 tsp. to do a sinkful of dishes.
    I may try to make my own next time – I’m curious as to how it will work. I love trying new things.

  15. Christine says

    Mine turned solid the next day. What did I do wrong?? Also, I’m finding it leaves a horrible film on my dishes… Ugh.

    • Heather says

      Christine-You did nothing wrong. Sounds to me like you used recipe number two. Give it a good shake and it won’t be solid anymore. Both of these recipes are chemically wrong. You can not add vinegar to actual soap. It de-saponifies (unsaponifies?) the soap. I won’t go into the long chemical process but in a nutshell, here it is: When they make soap, they pour lye and fat together and cook it until the fat and the lye “saponify” which is an entire chemical exchange that creates a whole new chemical= your soap. If it is uncooked soap (cold press) it is the same process, it just took longer. When you add vinegar, it de-saponifies the soap. That’s bad. Make the soap with grated soap and water, add a tablespoon or two of washing soda if you like (it’s close to the same pH as the soap) and then add the vinegar to your RINSE water. That will help with the film. Watch the pH of your ingredients. You don’t put a pH 10 (soap) with an acid like vinegar or lemon juice and expect good results. They simply counteract each other. This is 9th grade chemistry.

      • Alean says

        You cannot de-saponify soap any more than you can unbake a cake. You can lower the ph of soap. When you do it is no-longer a true soap but that doesn’t mean it has no surfactant action. That small amount of such a mild acid would not have enough of an impact on the total ph value.

  16. J. Ball says

    Ok I know this might sound a little weird, but I was given this sponge thing that you insert a bar of soap into it. I didn’t want to use it in the bath so I tried it in the kitchen with a bar of castile soap. Works like a dream. The friction works up a great lather and a bar of soap lasts a long time. You can buy these sponges in the soap section of Wal-mart for about a dollar.

  17. kaitlin pectol says

    just made this because we where out of dish soap and flat broke lol seems to alway sbe that way when we really need something luckly i always go to our local outreach center that gives away food and tolietry items they make this wonderful homemade soap with mentholatem in it works wonders just added a little lemon juice AND ZAP the grease and grime was gone from my dishes in seconds the only other product that i have used with the same kind of power is palmolie oxy completely amazed !! there was no suds but i could instantly tell the dish where clean because i hadnt done dishes in 3 or 4 days and the stuff was stuck on!!!

  18. chelsie buchanan says

    Hi i just found this recipe so i haven’t tryed it yet i was just woundering if it was ok to add bleach to it just make sure they r sanetized and clean. I was going to do the 2nd recipe.
    Thank you for your time

  19. patti says

    These recipes also work great for an all-purpose cleaner. I own a home cleaning co and we use nothing but these recipes for our bottles. We add essential oils and we’re good to go.

    Window cleaner; Fill a bottle 50/50 with vinegar, water and a teaspoon or 2 of the homemade dish soap. Shake bottle with each use. Quick tip, never clean a mirror when the light has been on. It will streak the mirror and break the light bulbs.

    All -Purpose; spray and wipe as usual.

  20. Karen says

    I had a leftover 16 oz. plastic soap dispenser and decided to make good use of it-I fill it with Ajax liquid dish detergent from the 64 oz. container. One little tap does the trick, and no more waste! We were going through a big bottle once a month-now, one bottle lasts 4 months! To be fair, we do have a dishwasher, but it fills up quickly, and I wash the rest of the dishes in the sink while it’s running. I use the tabs, and I buy them 80 at a time from the Big Box Store. I save money this way, beleive it or not-My husband and my son pour too much out of the regular boxes, but the tabs are premeasured.

    I have made liquid dish detergent from soap slivers-I just save them in a container, and they stay soft. I blend up what I need, along with some of the container water, and thin it out as I go. Sometimes I have to add a little more water to the soap dispenser and shake it up if the mixture gets too thick. I also use these softened slivers when I wash whites with hot water, to stretch the detergent- I keep some slivers in a container next to the washer, and just pour some in, along with the water. I refill my container from the water pouring into the washer.

  21. Melanie says

    Please, please tell me where you find the castile soap? I have looked all over for it! I might b looking in the wrong section of the stores. is it with the soaps or cleaners? any help would b appreciated!!

    • says

      Try Kroger or Hy-Vee, if they are in your area. I am able to find Kirk’s Castile bar soap at both of those stores. Dr. Bronner’s is available in most health food stores and also on Amazon. Vitacost offers a great deal on Kirk’s if you want to buy it online.

  22. says

    If you really want a natural product, you should use a bar soap with no scents – it’s those pleasant smelling additive that are killing us! I like using kirks castille. Also, I add a little bit (maybe 1/4 cup) of borax to the water. REALLY helps with streaks (eliminating them!).

  23. crikit says

    I have alot of Fels-Naptha around the house cause i make my own laundry soap so I’m gonna give this a try!

  24. Stephanie says

    I used Fels-Naptha and added 1 TBS washing soda to the mix while it was heating up(recipe #2), then I put the saucepan in the sink to catch possible spillage and slowly added 1/4 cup white vinegar directly to the pot. It bubbled a bit, but it settled down quickly. Now when I use the soap to do my dishes, no streaks whatsoever! Granted, I’m not super scientific, I know that my additive helped and the soap is amazing. Thank you so much for posting the recipe!

    • laura says

      Thanks Stephanie I am going to try your suggestion. I use vinegar quite often in my rinse water to prevent streaking but I may be able to save on the vinegar with your recipe.

    • Connie says

      Hi Stephanie! I was wondering….how much of the the Fels-Naptha did you add? Were you substituting it for the the castile soap in recipe #2? I’ve been making the home made laundry soap with Fels-Naptha and love it. This recipe sounds like it might be great too.

  25. pmomie2003 says

    I have tried about four other recipes similar to this. I used castile bar soap and then ivory bar soap. I have yet to find a recipe that will work for my hard water. But I am willing to give this a try. My issue always seems to be the clumping after adding the vinegar to the recipes and then I get films left behind. Let you know this works out, thanks.

    • kathleen says

      pmomie- have you tried adding salt to your recipe? to aid your hard water issue….
      you could always omit the water, and keep it in powder form. try 2 cups salt, 2 shaved fels naptha or 1 Zote Soap bar, and 1/3 cup citric acid (canning isle, or I have also heard it can be found in the pharmacy at Wal-Mart).

  26. alwaysblessed says

    I used Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap and made dish liquid but there’s a film on my dishes, baby cups etc..
    When I added the vinegar, all the ingredients turned into water like and there’s no suds WHATSOEVER. The vinegar killed the suds totally, de saponified ( i suppose).
    Please let me know how and what you used?

    I also made another one with 1/2 cup castile liquid soap, /12 cup of water and 5-6 drops of lemon essential oil. Still to no avail, there’s a film in my dishes and no suds whatsoever. :(

    I’ve been making dish liquid (not dish washer) and no luck. Thank You

  27. Heather says

    I had my first attempt at making homemade Liquid dish soap using recipe #2 above, also Liquid hand soap. The problem I am having is that when it sits, all the “soap” sinks to the bottom of my jar! I have to give it a shake before using…does anyone have a suggestion on how to “thicken” it up so it does not separate?

  28. Jennifer says

    I tried recipe two. I found that it was very thick and almost solid. I then added a few more tsp of vinegar to break it up and now I make it like that all the time my husband loves it because it cleans the car grease off his hands and I love it because I know its a natural way of cleaning my dishes and leave such a pleasant smell.

  29. shanna says

    i’ve made #2 several times and learned to tweek it a bit from other soap recipe tips. i make according to the directions and the add a little liquid glycern (just a few drops) to the cooling liquid. after completely cooled, i use a hand mixer to break it up and make it easier to put into the bottle. it makes it more like a “hand soap” consistency, (and the hand mixer makes it ‘silky’) but works just the same and i find i don’t usually have to shake the bottle as much or have all the seaperation problems. i’ve also added a bit of borax or washing soda (just a tbsp per batch while cooking) to help with the grease. just make sure you are rinsing the dishes really good

  30. pepper says

    I’m using octagon soap to make recipe #2. Fingers crossed.I have 4 daughters who use entirely too much liquid soap when they do dishes and we are a one income family of 6. Trying to stretch every penny.

    • Jane says

      Pepper, Try putting your dish soap in an old pump dispenser (like liquid hand soap comes in) – the kids may not use as much. I find that one small squirt does a ton of dishes!

  31. lucrieta says

    just wondering if the dish soap recip made with the alcohol works… I use alcohol foe a lot of things… like head lice. when i need to spray my house I spray it down with rubbing alcohol after treating the lice. do this 2 times a day for about 3 days and it makes everything all better. I know it stinks but i put my alcohol on an old fabric refreshener bottle so the smell is sonewhat maksed. just wondering if this recipe works… please reply.

  32. Debbie says

    hi, my cosuin &I made recipe #2 for liquid dish soap. We used Fels Naphta soap, water, vinegar and processed as recipe instructed. What resulted was a beautiful yellow soap, it smelled wonderful and cleaned very well. HOWEVER, as it cooled it became like pudding. We reheated it, added water and then used the mixer to break it down. It looked like it diidi the trick, but the next morning we had creme brulee!

    What can we do to, to keep it from solidifying?

    Thanks for any helpful hints!


  33. Christine says

    I’ve tried similar recipes with grating ivory bar soap and adding it hot water till it melts. I added essential oil as well. I got a gloppy, overly thick product that didn’t clean very well. I suppose we’ve all gotten used to the high sudsing detergents. After reading all the commentary on this website tonight, I’ve decided to give a shot at an adaptation between recipes #1 & #2. I just bought a gallon of Dr. Bronners castile soap online at Amazon. After shipping and handling I paid about $52, which is a lot. So tonight I put 6 cups of water in pot and added to it about 3/4 C. shredded ivory soap and 1 cup liquid castile soap. I just can’t seem to make myself overly use that expensive soap so hope it comes out okay. After I’ll add about 3 T vinegar. I’ll post tomorrow how it came out.

  34. Karen Williams says

    Hi. I’m new to this site but it was interesting to read all the comments. I found a recipe for laundry detergent in our local Rural King ad. Of course, they were trying to sell their products, but the results are great. I save so much money and the laundry is clean, doesn’t have a purfumy (if that’s even a word) smell. It takes 1/3 bar of fels naptha bar soap, 1/2 cup of Borax, and 1/2 cup of Arm and Hammer Washing Soda. Shave small pieces into a dutch oven with 4 cups of water. Heat until the soap desolves. Then add the Borax and the washing soda and mix well. Pour this into a 5 gallon bucket (I used an old drywall mud bucket) then add 6 cups plus 1 gallon of water. Let sit for 24 hours until it gels. Mine is a little lumpy but when it goes into the washer it thins right out in the water. I always add the soap first, then the clothes. It works great and costs much less than store bought. I poured a smaller amount into a store bought detergent bottle for easier handling, It was a bottle for 80 loads of laundry and I have much more left. I figured out that at $1.49 for the bar soap, $2.49 for Borax and washing soda. I can get 3 batches for $2.15, with a whole lot of Borax and Washing soda left over for more. That’s about 240 loads of laundry for 1/4 of what I pay for 80. That’s my kind of savings.
    I have read so much about homemade dish soap and nobody seems to like the results. Wish I could find something that works like the laundry detergent. By the way, it’s great for baby clothes, too. It’s very mild.

  35. Kellyann Kio says

    I made dish soap before in a few different ways. However, I kept running into problems. Therefore, I almost thought I would never get to have homemade dish soap. Then one day I was really brainstorming about it and God said, “Why do you need to grate the soap and add anything?” It was an Epiphany. I took the natural coconut bar soap which is like a $1.??; put it in a dish, got my wet sponge,lathered it up and did some dishes. Wow! They were squeaky clean and it did everything I needed it to do. 1. Not have ingredients in the soap that I can’t pronounce and some article tells me it’s dangerous to the health of humans 2. Wash dishes squeaky clean. 3. not cost an arm and a leg. Now all I have left to perfect this experience is make my own coconut soap and I’m all homemade. The soap I buy is Kirk’s bar soap which is at walmart, and some grocery stores. However, it’s not at every Walmart. Although, I have found it at some grocery stores and other stores it’s simply either going to the store and seeing if they have it, cold calling the store and asking if they have it, researching their website ; where there is a will there is a way! I had to share!

  36. Kellyann Kio says

    Okay this is strange apparently sometimes I feel this oily feeling on the dishes and my hands whenever I clean with “Kirk’s castile soap,” however at time I feel squeakiness. Therefore, I’m going to experiment with different bars of soap. I am still holding true to the simple bar of soap for dishes:)

  37. andy says

    or just do what restaurants in the old days did with bar glasses and tables… just add a couple of tablespoons of bleach to your hot water and suds up your sponge with your bar soap and wash … much cleaner and the glasses sparkle much better than any store bought liquid…. bleach is completely harmless to people(same idea as sea water), but the process in which they make it can produce a toxic waste.. so use sparingly … everything we do creates an environmental footprint, this a good way to keep that print small.

    (Use gloves if you hands dry out easy, just like sea water, bleach water will dry out your skin.)

  38. Kathryn Warren says

    I tried recipe #2 but used lemon juice instead of vinegar. I ran out of dish soap this morning and my husband takes the car to work so as a mother of 3 kids in home not doing the dishes is a good way to get behind on your day. Having said that I do dishes in a plastic tub in my sink so I can change water frequently without wasting it. The recipes did what I needed it to do, cleaned my dishes well even the greasy ones. I used really really hot water to rinse to avoid residue. It had plenty of suds, not long lasting but that’s not an issue for me. I used a jergens soap bar about 1/2 cup instead of 1/4. I probaly used 1/2 cup of soap mixture per tub of dishes. Not the frugal way to do it but it worked well for me. I prefer Dawn and am fine with paying the price for it but this recipes does work in a pinch. Thanks!

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