Easy-to-Make Natural Liquid Dish Soap

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How to make your own natural dishwashing soap
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I’ve managed to tackle homemade laundry detergent, but homemade liquid dish soap for handwashing dishes has been on my DIY list for a long time. Making a natural dishwashing soap that works and is the right consistency can be tricky. Fortunately this version is natural, easy, and it really works!

It’s not difficult to pick up a natural dishwashing soap at your local supermarket, or even on Amazon. However, even some of the so-called natural ones have a laundry list of ingredients that I’m not so thrilled about. Plus, many of them don’t work nearly as well as advertised. And of course, there’s always the issue of cost. With a fairly large family to clean up after, dish soap doesn’t last for too long around here (especially when the kids are “helping” with the dishes).

Why Green Cleaners Don’t Always Work

I love my homemade cleaners, but they’re not without their downsides. I chronicle my ups and downs with DIY green cleaners over the years in this post.

Many recipes call for vinegar (powerful, but I can’t stand the smell) or Borax, which is controversial. I also just don’t have the time I used to (because kids, work, and life!). I still make natural cleaners when I can, but have found a few store-bought options like the Sal Suds featured in this recipe.

Still, I wanted to try my hand at making liquid dish soap for the reasons listed above, but most recipes I had tried in the past (not all though) fell flat. A lot of DIY recipes call for castile soap, which is great for so many things, but doesn’t have quite the same “oomph” as store-bought dish soap. For those who have hard water, castile soap can sometimes leave a film on glassware.

To get extra degreasing power, many recipes combine vinegar with the castile soap, but that doesn’t work so well either. The vinegar unsaponifies the soap, which is a fancy way of saying that the soap is no longer soap and doesn’t clean. Not something I want to use to wash dishes!

An Effective Natural Liquid Dish Soap

This dish soap recipe relies on Sal Suds instead. It’s a concentrated natural cleaner that’s produced by the Bronner family, the same company I buy my Bronner’s castile soap from. Both cleansers are equally safe and effective, but for the purpose of this recipe, the Sal Suds seems to work better.

Greasy dishes can be difficult to clean, so there’s also washing soda in this recipe to give it an extra degreasing boost. Washing soda is a staple in our home and goes into several of my homemade cleaning recipes. (This is not the same thing as baking soda, but baking soda can be baked in the oven to make washing soda.)

Conventional brands rely on synthetic thickeners to adjust the consistency, so natural dishwashing soap is often on the thinner side. There is an easy natural solution, though: plain table or kosher salt. (Mineral-rich sea salt and Himalayan salt are ideal for consumption because of their extra minerals, but the minerals interfere with cleaning power when it comes to soap.)

Clean and Fresh Essential Oils

I’ve used citrus oils here for their fresh, clean scent and antimicrobial properties. Lemon essential oil is a potent antibacterial and helps cut through grease. Grapefruit is also an antibacterial and antifungal disinfectant, and lifts the mood.

It’s possible to add almost any essential oil to this recipe, including lavender, sweet orange, peppermint, and eucalyptus. The Sal Suds cleaner in the recipe already has fir and spruce essential oil, so it’s best to pick an essential oil that will blend well with the pine scent. The additional essential oil can also be omitted if desired.

Natural Liquid Dish Soap Recipe

There are a lot of homemade liquid dish soap recipes you can find online, but I’ve found this one to work better than all the others.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a small pot heat the water and salt, stirring frequently until everything is completely dissolved. Remove the pot from the heat and pour the contents into a small bowl. Set the salt mixture aside. I used kosher salt and it wouldn’t completely dissolve, so I just strained the residual salt pieces out.
  2. Add the washing soda and 1 and 1/3 distilled water to the pot and heat just until dissolved.
  3. Add the Sal Suds, washing soda and water, and essential oils to a dish soap dispenser. If your container has a small opening, then it works best to mix this in a glass mason jar.
  4. Add 1 tablespoons of the salt water to the soap and stir. It will turn cloudy and thicken. Add another tablespoon of salt water mixture if you want it thicker. Keep in mind that it may thicken more over time.
  5. Pour the mixture into a soap dispenser.

Note: Over time this liquid dish soap may thicken a little too much. If this happens, add a little more water until it is the desired consistency again.

Ever tried making your own liquid dish soap? How’d it turn out? Share your experiences below!

How to Make Natural dish washing soap

Sources
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. WellnessMama.com is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.

Comments

75 responses to “Easy-to-Make Natural Liquid Dish Soap”

  1. Debbie Avatar

    I found Sal Suds on Amazon, but can I use Dr Bronner Castile soap instead?

  2. Malinda Avatar
    Malinda

    For some reason, I cannot get my salt to dissolve at all. I’ve tried tap water and distilled water. It will not dissolve!!

    1. Jenn Avatar

      Hi there, I just made this today. I used filtered water from a Clearly Filtered pitcher. I live in a place with very soft water. I used Morton’s iodized salt, and I too could not get it to dissolve. I added more water (about another tbsp for a total of 1/4 cup water) to give myself more to heat and mix, but finally gave up, poured it into a bowl per the instructions and worked on the water and washing soda mixture next. I ended up pouring all of the (undissolved) salt water mixture into the dispenser with the other ingredients, and the dish soap thickened perfectly. I’d just go for it and see what happens. If there isn’t a chemistry-related reason not to dissolve the salt and the washing soda together, I’ll probably try that next time for efficiency’s sake. Overall really pleased with this recipe because I had run out of dish soap that I usually refill from the bulk section at the store, and had some washing soda laying from a failed DIY dishwasher detergent recipe. I don’t know if I’ll take the time always to make my own liquid soap with so many other things on my to do list, but I was very impressed with the results and it foams up really well for me.

  3. Laura Whitney Avatar
    Laura Whitney

    Soaponification doesn’t get rid of the soap. The process of soaponification is what happens when fat and lye is mixed together to make soap.

  4. Regina Avatar

    Have been using this recipe for almost 3 years now and love it – thank you!!

  5. Jackie Avatar

    I need some help with this recipe. When I add just 1 1/3 cups of water and the sal suds it is already very, very thick. No reason to add salt so thinking the water ratio is not right for this recipe. Especially when it says to use a large pot. Please help. Thank you.

  6. Bella Avatar

    I used the dish soap recipes mentioned but I don’t see any foaming!!
    Am I missing something?
    How can get more foam?

    1. Jamie Larrison Avatar

      Many brands add ingredients to make soaps foam, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they work better. This should do the job even if there aren’t tons of suds 🙂

    2. Jamie Larrison Avatar

      Natural soap foams less if there are naturally more minerals in your water (aka hard water), and they often foam less than conventional detergents. As long as it’s cleaning the dishes though it should be fine.

  7. Jana Stevens Avatar
    Jana Stevens

    Could I use this recipe in an automatic liquid soap dispenser?

  8. Robin Avatar

    This is a great dish soap recipe for hand washing dishes! You get the desired gel-like consistency which lets you better control how much dispenses from the squeeze bottle. One squirt cleans a fair amount of dishes. One batch lasts a pretty long time in our house (where we have to hand wash everything – no dishwasher). Thanks for a great recipe!

  9. Deeanne Edwards Avatar
    Deeanne Edwards

    I’m not particularly worried about the SLS in Sal Suds, but I’m trying to avoid plastic. That’s why I’m making the soap to begin with. If I want to try this with solid castile soap, can you tell me how much to use? Thanks.

  10. Sheila Avatar

    Sal Suds? Looks like these are American products and we can’t buy them from your Amazon.

  11. Rebecca Avatar

    Hi I couldn’t get mine to thicken. Is it because I made the mistake of just mixing sal suds and water together then dumping salt into it? Or do I just need to wait longer? I made it last night.

  12. Heather Avatar
    Heather

    I’m surprised you would recommend a product containing sodium lauryl sulfate (the second ingredient listed on the Sal Suds bottle after water). According to the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, SLS is a “moderate hazard” that has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation and endocrine disruption. I originally started using castile soap to get away from SLS in my liquid soap. I’ve always been very disappointed that Dr. Bronner’s sells a product containing sodium lauryl sulfate.

    1. Anna Claire Avatar
      Anna Claire

      The EWG has updated the hazard related to SLS. It is known as a skin irritant.

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