The truth about homemade dish soap is hard to come by on the net. There are a ton of recipes out there for this handmade natural cleaning product, and they all claim that it performs better than commercial versions.

diy cleaning product in a mason jar with a brush

But do they, really? Well … I suppose that depends on how it is that you’re assessing them.

So, today I’d like to share how I assess them with you. The good, the bad, and the ugly, as they say. AND, I’m going to share the recipe that I use for my homemade dish soap too.

It’s inexpensive, it’s effective, and as far as I’m concerned, it’s really the only recipe to use.

Why You Should Make Homemade Dish Soap

But first, let’s talk a bit about why you should even bother making your own homemade dish soap. After all, there are plenty of pre-made products sitting right on the grocery store shelves for your convenience.

But, the ingredients in those products are toxic. Not only for the environment but for you as well. The entire time your washing your dishes, you are submersing your hands in a sink full of chemical soup.

Commercially produced dish soap often contains ingredients that have been linked to many health concerns; including vision damage and cancer.

Formaldehyde, triclosan, sodium borate, and sulfuric acid are just a few of these ingredients.

But, before you check out the ingredients listed on your commercial dish soap bottle, know this … there are no regulations requiring manufacturers to list ingredients on their products.

That’s right. They don’t have to disclose the ingredients in their products by law. But they know that consumers like to see ingredients on the labels of the products they buy, so they use umbrella terms to satisfy them.

These terms include fragrance, preservative, surfactant, colorant, and cleaning agent.

So, considering how unhealthy store bought dish soap is for you, your family, and the environment, you really do want to make your own.

Does This Product Work The Same As Commercial Dish Soaps?

Homemade dish soap definitely does not work the same as commercial dish soap. As a matter of fact, it is quite different, and it can take a little getting used to using it.

overview of homemade dish soap in a jar with dish brush

Difference #1 …

The thing that it seems most people have the hardest time adjusting to is the fact that homemade dish soap doesn’t bubble like commercially produced products do. Because of this, many diy recipes use a product called sal suds.

There is a lot of controversy about this product, because it contains sodium lauryl sulfate. This is an ingredient that you can do your own research on, and draw your own conclusions.

I don’t use sal suds. I do, however, use castile soap. And that is another ingredient that will give homemade dish soap some bubbling action. It doesn’t give it much though, and the cost of making dish soap with it is prohibitive, at least in my opinion.

So I skip the suds, and with good reason. You see … foaming agents do not contribute to the effectiveness of cleaning products at all. They are included in the products to give the impression that the product is working, because we have been conditioned to expect them.

Not even kidding. Bubbles are completely unnecessary, and the ingredients used to create them are questionable at best.

Difference #2 …

The other noticable difference between diy dish soap and commercial brands is that they are thinner. There are ways that you can thicken your handmade products. For this post, I added salt to my recipe for the very first time.

It thickens the dish soap nicely. Although, it doesn’t get the same consistency as commercial products. It forms a gel like ‘plug’ that sits on top of the jar. So, it needs to be stirred before you use it.

I’m happy with the results, but it does eliminate the ability to put it in a jar with a pump. a little.

However, with all that said, I’m not going to try to convince you that homemade soap works as effectively as commercial brands, because they don’t.

So, you have to decide for yourself whether or not the trade off of having a chemical-free product is worth the extra elbow grease you’ll have to apply when using it.

For me, it is totally worth it. I have no desire to soak my hands in a sink full of chemicals every time I wash dishes.

Ingredients Needed To Make Homemade Dish Soap

I keep the ingredients that I use in my homemade dish soap simple and easily accessible. You likely already have them at home.

ingredients to make homemade dish soap on a counter

Here’s a list of them for you …

  • WATER – You will need water that is hot enough to melt the bar soap for this recipe. Yet, you don’t necessarily want to heat it to boiling.
  • BAR SOAP – I use ivory soap for this recipe. It is 99.44% chemical free. When I used to make my own bar soap I used that. But I am not doing that right now, and ivory is a decent option. Still, it would be better to use a 100% chemical-free handmade bar. So, if you’ve got ’em, use ’em.
  • BAKING SODA – Baking soda is used in this recipe to cut grease. It is an excellent product for that purpose. If you feel that it leaves a residue on your dishes you can substitute white vinegar for it in your soap.
  • SALT – A little bit of salt is used to thicken the recipe a bit. This is primarily an aesthetic issue. The salt is completely optional. But it’s so darn cheap that you might as well throw it in there.

Adding Essential Oils To Your Recipe

I do not add essential oils to my homemade dish soap. Although, they are a nice addition if they’re important to you.

diy cleaning product in a mason jar on a counter

They primarily provide a pleasant scent to the product. And as I’ve stated about other cleaning products that I’ve written posts on, while they have properties that could potentially contribute to the effectiveness of the dish soap, the shear volume that you would need for that to be a real thing is unreasonable.

However, when it comes to this particular recipe, they can be a pleasant addition. They emit a nice fragrance when they are added to hot dish water. And there are no other ingredients in the recipe that drown that fragrance out.

So, choose your favorite fragrance, and add them if you like. Lemon, eucalyptus, and lavender are just a few of the many choices available out there.

How To Make Homemade Dish Soap

You’ll need to grate the bar soap to make this homemade dish soap recipe. And then place it in a saucepan with the water, and put it on the stovetop over medium heat.

stirring grated soap and water in a pan on a stovetop

Stir it consistently, and don’t allow it to come to a simmer. If you have to remove it from the burner for a bit to prevent it overheating, go ahead and do so.

Allow the mixture to heat until all of the soap is melted. And pour it into the vessel you plan to store it in, provided the mouth is large enough to continue to add ingredients.

pouring diy cleaning solution into a jar

Then stir in the baking soda and salt, and allow the mixture to cool. Place the lid on the container and you’re all set, you’ve got a batch of chemical-free dish soap.

pouring ingredients into a batch of homemade dish soap

How To Use This Product

You can get the most out of your homemade dish soap by following a few simple guidelines when using it.

First, don’t allow your dishes to sit and develop stuck on food residue, wash them right away. You may even want to rinse them before you begin to fill your sink with wash water.

overhead view of homemade dish soap in a jar and a dish brush on a counter

If your dishes do have a considerable amount of stuck on food residue, consider soaking them in a sinkful of water with some white vinegar added to it. This option works well, but can get pricey if it becomes a regular practice. I generally only use this method when dealing with dishes from large gatherings.

Second, don’t fill the sink all the way when using this diy cleaning product. Put just 4 or 5 inches of water in the sink at a time.

I find that this is often enough to wash all of my dishes. And when there are more dishes than usual, I simply repeat the process when the water gets too dirty.

And finally, you will find that using a dish brush to scrub your dishes may sometimes be necessary when using this soap.

A dishcloth may not be effective enough. And a sponge will work, but they tend to harbor a great deal of bacteria. So, it’s really best to just pick up a dish brush and avoid all those messy germs.



pinnable image homemade dish soap

If you try this natural cleaning product and love it, please give it 5 stars! It supports my work more than you may realize, and I appreciate that a great deal!

You can also show your support by tagging me on Facebook and/or Instagram @sustainableslowliving when you post a pic of your finished project.

diy cleaning product in a mason jar with a brush
Yield: 1 PINT


Active Time: 4 minutes
Total Time: 4 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Estimated Cost: .50

This homemade dish soap is quick, easy, and inexpensive to make. It works well, and keeps your sink chemical-free.


  • 2 c water
  • 1/4 c grated bar soap (chemical-free)
  • 1 tbls baking soda
  • 2 tsps salt


  • Kitchen Grater
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Saucepan
  • Spatula/Wooden Spoon
  • Jar w/Lid


  1. Place the water and grated soap in a saucepan and heat to steaming on the stove top, stirring constantly. Do not bring to a simmer.
  2. When all the soap is melted remove from heat.
  3. Pour into a wide mouth jar.
  4. Add the baking soda and salt.
  5. Stir until dissolved.
  6. Allow to cool.
  7. Stir before using.

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  1. YT just “recommended” your video on homemade dish soap. In that video, you commented that you don’t have glycerine/glycerol around the house and never use it. It kind-of surprised me to hear that coming from someone who’s into DIY, more-natural alternatives. A very simple and effective hand “lotion” can be made by mixing 1 part (vegetable) glycerin with 1 to 2 parts (distilled) water. I use that for dry skin, and if it’s really bad, after I rub the glycerin mixture in, I’ll rub in a tiny bit of coconut oil over the top of it.

  2. Thx for a recipe without Sal Suds, Castille, essential oils, or any of the other additives – for simple dish soap! I have a dishwasher that I use a lot, but like to wash items in between when I’m using them. I also really liked your explanation as to why “bubbles” aren’t necessary! Awesome – thx again!

    1. Perhaps one day Caitlyn. Right now I am not making any soap using lye because I’m not living in my own space. It’s a messy business and the lye can easily cause damage to surfaces if you accidently get it on anything. Thanks so much for asking though. There are so many sources for soap making instructions online. Simply google ‘how to make soap with lye’.

    1. Hello! No, I don’t think this dish soap would work in a dishwasher. I don’t have a recipe for detergent for a dishwasher. I haven’t had one for so many years that I’ve never experimented with recipes for one.

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