Super Easy DIY Dish Soap: 3 Ingredients (The Best “Homemade” Dish Soap Recipe)

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This dish soap only requires three (well, four with water) ingredients. And two of the ingredients are completely optional. Love the grease-fighting power of this soap.

There are so many amazing benefits to enjoying a real food lifestyle (AKA: getting back to great-great grandma’s food). While the benefits may be numerous, there’s always one big drawback to this lifestyle: dishes!

Dirty dishes, and lots of them, are just a way of life for a real food family. Sure, eating processed food means dirty dishes will accumulate in the sink, but usually this means just a few plates or a bowl (for that boxed cereal or toaster “pastry”). Enjoying “real food” means a family must stock basic ingredients and turn those ingredients into wholesome and delicious meals. This means bowls, skillets, knives, cutting boards, and whisks will be dirtied in the process.

This dish soap only requires three (well, four with water) ingredients. And two of the ingredients are completely optional. Love the grease-fighting power of this soap.

Here’s where natural living and real food merge together when it comes to tackling those dishes…

If enjoying real food means cooking and sometimes baking (PS: Did you make the blueberry muffins yet? Just one bowl is required.), a good grease-cutting, hard-working, nothing-left-behind dish soap is a major necessity. And this is where the dilemma begins…

Should I purchase the blue dish soap? It gets a D rating from the EWG.

Should I try out every “more natural” store-bought dish soap until I find one that gets the job done?

Should I try to make a do-it-yourself soap?

What about just castile soap? It seems to work on just about everything in my house.

This dish soap only requires three (well, four with water) ingredients. And two of the ingredients are completely optional. Love the grease-fighting power of this soap.

Friend, I’m not here to answer those questions for you. I hope to provide you with a little insight, through today’s recipe post, into what I’m currently using to clean my mountain-like pile of daily dishes.

The truth is, what’s best for you and your family is a decision that you need to make, whether this means sourcing a cleaner store-bought soap (check out the EWG for the best rated “cleaner” dish soap options) or making a do-it-yourself dish soap. But know this: There are effective dish soap alternatives to the low-graded (according to the EWG) dish soaps that sit in so many American homes, and a do-it-yourself soap is a great alternative option.

This dish soap only requires three (well, four with water) ingredients. And two of the ingredients are completely optional. Love the grease-fighting power of this soap.

Last year I shared a dish soap recipe on the blog titled, Easy Dish Soap. That recipe truly is easy to make, but after months and months of making that soap, I decided there must be an even easier way to make dish soap, a super easy dish soap.

The key ingredient in my first dish soap recipe is Sal Suds, castile soap’s big and super strong brother. With that ingredient, I started to experiment with different combinations, and finally discovered just about the simplest dish soap formula that can be made at home. Simple and effective dish soap that takes less than one minute to make? Yes, please!!!

Let’s take a look at the three ingredients in my simplified dish soap…

Sal Suds:  Sal Suds is Dr. Bronner’s tougher version of soap, although its chemical makeup makes it a detergent, not a soap (which is why it works so well to cut grease). Sal Suds is formulated to conquer tough cleaning projects, like sticky grease and stubborn dirt. Sal Suds is a hot topic in the natural community, so it remains a product that some people use and others stay away from. What’s all the fuss about? Sal Suds receives an A grade on the Environmental Working Group’s website. You can also read more about the big SLS debate on Lisa Bronner’s blog.

Sal Suds is highly concentrated, so it’s diluted in this recipe with water. You’re welcome to play around with a water to Sal Suds ratio that yields the best results for your dishes. I’ve found that a 1:1 ratio works best for me.

Castile soap doesn’t provide enough grease-cutting power to be considered an effective dish soap, in my opinion. If you’d like to try using castile soap in this recipe, then you’ll want to leave out the vinegar, but again, I don’t believe you’re going to get the grease-fighting power most people look for in a good dish soap.

Vinegar:  Yep, good ol’ white vinegar. Unlike castile soap, Sal Suds may be combined with vinegar (another reason why Sal Suds is a great cleaning ingredient). We have really hard water, which means we deal with a lot of spotting on our dishes, even when we used the blue dish soap. I’ve found the vinegar in this recipe works like a rinse-aid to reduce some of the spotting that may occur from hard water. You’re welcome to leave this ingredient out of the recipe, but I personally prefer to add it.

Moisturizing Oil:  This is another optional ingredient. Since this dish soap sits next to our sink, it’s also used as a hand soap on occasion, and particularly when Dustin’s been working in the garage (hello, dirty and greasy hands). I like to add a skin-loving oil to this soap to help take away the harsh soap feel since it’s being used on our bare hands. Water and oil don’t mix, so this oil rests on top of the dish soap until we shake the soap dispenser.

The color of your oil will change the color of your final product. If you use a deep yellow oil, like jojoba or olive oil, then your soap will have a slight yellow hue. If you use something like fractionated coconut oil, then your soap will remain clear. In the future, I’d like to play around with adding aloe vera gel (probably a couple of tablespoons) or vitamin E oil (probably a teaspoon) instead of the oil.

This dish soap only requires three (well, four with water) ingredients. And two of the ingredients are completely optional. Love the grease-fighting power of this soap.

I may not be able to help you tackle that pile of glorious dishes (just think of the amazing food that you’ve made with those dishes!), but I can share my dish soap recipe to help you get those dishes squeaky clean.

Super Easy DIY Dish Soap: 3 Ingredients
4.67 from 9 votes

Super Easy DIY Dish Soap: 3 Ingredients

Here’s where natural living and real food merge together when it comes to tackling those dishes.

Course DIY
Cuisine Body
Keyword Dish Soap
Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Servings 1 cup
Author Kristin Marr


  • 1/2 cup distilled water
  • 1 TB white distilled vinegar optional
  • 1/2 cup Sal Suds This ingredient is also available at most health food stores.
  • 1 TB jojoba oil or other moisturizing oil: sweet almond, fractionated coconut oil, or olive oil, optional

Special Equipment:


  1. Pour the water and vinegar (if using) into a soap dispenser (I purchased my soap dispenser in the bath section at Target--you can find the same one here). Shake the bottle to combine the ingredients. Add the Sal Suds and oil (if using), and gently shake the bottle again to combine the ingredients. There may be bubbles at the top of the dish soap after shaking the bottle. This is completely normal.

Recipe Notes

Distilled (sold in stores) or boiled and cooled water is best to use for water-based do-it-yourself projects. Tap water should be boiled for 15 minutes. From my personal experience, clean tap water is okay for short-term use products. Please use your discretion and think about how long you’ll be using a product before adding the water.

Just using Sal Suds and water will make an awesome dish soap. The vinegar and oil are completely optional, depending on if you need an extra something to conquer hard water (vinegar), or if you'll be using the soap on your hands (oil--also see my note about experimenting with aloe vera and vitamin E above the recipe). Some folks may find Sal Suds is a bit too tough on the skin, even with the oil addition.

This dish soap only requires three (well, four with water) ingredients. And two of the ingredients are completely optional. Love the grease-fighting power of this soap.

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Join the Conversation


  1. says: Laurie

    I cannot use SLS (terribly allergic after years of exposure). My skin cracks within minutes. Is there another degreasing alternative?

    p.s. Thank you for assembling your knowledge for the rest of us!

  2. says: Natalie

    I’m new to the “following”, but I have been reading your blog for the past month. I love love love your hand soap. I use Dr. Bonner’s Eucalyptus (had some left over) added Jojoba oil, tea tree oil, water, Vitamin E oil, Nag Champa essential oil (I have already have). It just fragrance the whole room. Your liquid laundry detergent…love it too! I use Sal Suds. Cleans better than store bought.

    I was just thinking about making a dish soap. And, here I see you have one! I’m so stoke! Thanks Kristin!

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Natalie, It’s so great to “meet” you. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog and the recipes! The Eucalyptus Castile Soap sounds amazing; I’ll have to pick some up. Enjoy the dish soap :).

  3. says: Pat

    Thanks for sharing all of your knowledge and research! Can essentials oils, like lemon or a protective blend, be added to the dish soap?

  4. says: Linda

    Hi! I’m glad I found you because I’m enjoying your recipes for soaps and food!
    Is there anything that you can add to the dish soap that will make it not as runny, like say, glycerin? I’m used to the more gel like soap.

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Linda, Welcome to Live Simply! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the recipes. GLycerin will probably make the soap a bit too runny. Unfortunately, I don’t really have a recommendation to make it more of a gel :(. You could use less water in the water.

    2. says: Shelly Irwin

      I have not tried this yet but xanthan gum is a great thickner.

      Xanthan gum is a plant-based thickening agent while guar gum is a thickener in cosmetic formulations. Add ½ teaspoon of xanthan gum to ¼ cup of room temperature distilled water. Then, use a mixer or use your hands to mix thoroughly for 5 minutes. It is important that you mix it thoroughly with the water or else it may clump up. We find giving the bottle a good shake will often do the trick.

  5. says: Julia

    Hi Kristin;
    Just wondering about the Sodium Lauryl Sulfate in Dr. Bronners Sal Suds. According to Dr. Mercola, Sodium lauryl sulfate, is a surfactant, detergent and emulsifier used in thousands of cosmetic products, as well as in industrial cleaners.

    It’s present in nearly all shampoos, scalp treatments, hair color and bleaching agents, toothpastes, body washes and cleansers, make-up foundations, liquid hand soaps, laundry detergents, and bath oils/bath salts.

    The real problem with SLES/SLS is that the manufacturing process (ethoxylation) results in SLES/SLS being contaminated with 1,4 dioxane, a carcinogenic byproduct.

    Is this not a problem then to use Sal Suds?

  6. says: Kimberly

    5 stars
    Hi Kristin, thank you for your detailed post, sharing your thought processes and clear instructions.

    I’m new to the world of homemade items, but open try. I’m glad I did! Managed to find the ingredients in Singapore :)) — works perfect!

    I’ll go on to try other of your recipes when existing stock runs out. Please keep up your good work!

    Quick question: I read that I could add essential oils, what would the measurements be?

  7. says: Jane L.

    5 stars
    Are the suds supposed to dissipate quickly. I am having lots of fun trying your other recipes. You do a great job coming up with the recipes. Keep up the good work!

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Jane, Yes, the suds will dissipate much faster than traditional dish soaps. You can use a bit more if this happens, or just use it without the suds. Thank you :).

  8. says: brooke

    Hi Kristin,
    Love your blog! I’m in the process of starting to make several of your cleaners. I live abroad though, and can’t get Sal Suds where I am. Does regular castile soap work the same as a substitute?

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Brooke, Thank you! Castile can’t be combined with vinegar and it doesn’t quite have the same power as Sal Suds when it comes to tackling grease. Other than that, castile soap can be used in any recipe as a sub for Sal Suds.

  9. says: Lori

    5 stars
    I love love LOVE this dish soap!! It’s simply and oh so effective! I also have hard water, super hard water and have found this soap cleans very very well! Thanks Kristin for all of your awesome recipes! And most importantly, for sharing!

  10. says: Sharon Wesley

    I am ALLERGIC to SLS, and can not seem to find anything at all to substitue the Sal Suds, to make my own dish soap….I have been searching, and come jup with nothing, or buying other peoples products, that don’t contain SLS, and it is expensive.

      1. says: Dana Chiu

        I have a homemade dish soap that adds salt to warm distilled water to dissolve and is said to increase the sudsing…wonder if that would be good addition if we don’t use sal suds but use castille soap instead. Thoughts??

  11. says: Melodee Weidmann

    2 stars
    Hi, I made this dish soap according to the recipe and it is not waning my dishes at all! Grease and stains everywhere, help!

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Melodee, Hmmmm, I’m not sure why the grease and food isn’t being removed. Sal Suds is super tough stuff. Maybe try applying soap directly to a sponge and washing the dishes if they’re really greasy. How are you using the soap?

  12. says: Jan Jones

    I just found your blog, and I am excited to try some of your cleaning recipes. I happen to have some Sal’s Suds in my cabinet, so I am going to try my hand at the dishwashing and laundry detergent recipes. I saw in the comments someone else has really hard water, so I hope these recipes work well for me too!

  13. says: Ticia

    second time making t his, and I’m hooked! It’s official! I’ve left the blue stuff behind! The only change I made to this recipe is changing out the oil for vitamin E and adding some orange essential oil! Wonderful! Thanks Kirsten!

  14. says: Kayla

    Hi I was wondering if in the dish soap I would be able to put essinal oils in? Thanks and I really enjoyed this article. 🙂

  15. says: Gloria Phillips

    I’m wondering what is the cost of this compared to store bought. I am trying to switch to all homemade soaps. What is joejoba oil and where do you buy it

    Thank you

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Gloria, The only real extra cost is the Sal Suds. That will depend on where you buy it. I suggest leaving out the oil, or going with olive oil to keep it budget-friendly. Jojoba oil is just another oil used in skincare. You can find it online or at health food stores.

  16. says: Chris

    A great substitute for Sal Suds and does not contain SLS would be Soapnuts liquid made from soapnuts. You will not have the same sudsing power as with Sal Suds, but it is very very effective on grease. To make soapnuts liquid, use 4 soapnuts and 2 cups distilled water. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer for 2 or 3 hrs. Add additional liquid as it evaporates to keep it at about 2 cups liquid. Use in place of sal suds in the above recipe. Can still use the vinegar as it does not adversely affect the cleaning power.

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Thanks for sharing, Chris. Also, looking into the differences in SLS and how it’s formulated is really fascinating and makes the fear associated with all forms of SLS not so scary.

  17. says: R KLB

    5 stars
    Hi Kristin,
    I was using castile soap, Marseille soap and all sorts of bar soaps, but none of them really work that well with grease. Then, I came across with your site and gave it a try. This is the soap I’m going to use for dishes forever from now on. It cleans grease really well and so easy and cost efficient to make, and, the best of all, very eco-friendly. I bought a gallon of Sal suds, so I’m set for a long while. 🙂

    Thank you for sharing this recipe!

  18. says: Amy

    5 stars
    Hi Kristin,
    Thanks so much for this effective, cost efficient recipe? I’m just wondering how many squirts of liquid you use for each washing? I want to be sure I’m using enough and not too much.

  19. says: Melissa Rowell

    Hi can you explain/help me with the oil always rising to the top? I followed your recipe but the jojoba oil keeps rising to the top. So I just shake it but wondering if I did something wrong or if this is normal.

  20. says: Rita McKenzie

    It looks like Sal Suds is in a plastic container. I’m trying to eliminate using plastic so do you have an alternative to Sal Suds in a natural container.

    1. says: Chardea Singer

      Hi Rita,
      Yes, your best option is to find a reusable shop in your area that sells castile soap, laundry soaps, and Sal suds in bulk. Then you can bring your own containers to fill up. Another option is to buy the soap in bulk so you’re using less plastic.

      LS Team

  21. says: Anna

    This may be a random question that doesn’t really relate to this recipe (which I am DEFINITELY going to make once we run out of soap) but do you mind telling me what the best oil to use for diy products please? When you can use different types like jojoba or sweet almond I don’t really don’t know the difference. Also, the dish soap that we use is hard on our hands is this one softer and better for your hands? Thank you!

    1. says: Kristin Marr

      Hey Anna, All of them work equally well in cleaning recipes, IMO. That’s why I give different options, I recommend using what you have. You can even use olive oil. Where it becomes really important is in skincare recipes, some are lighter than others and work with different types of skin. In this recipe, grapeseed would be the lightest option, then sweet almond and jojoba and olive oil.

  22. says: Bella

    I add diluted castile soap and water in the ratio of 1/1. The result is terrible. There is no foam any more!! Any idea how I can have more foam?

  23. says: Heather

    Hello! Very new to your recipes but interested in trying them. I was wondering if you did your experimenting with moisturizer oil? How much do you add with your recipe?

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