Those were the two words I heard as I walked from the hallway into the bathroom where the kids were taking a bath.
“What happened, Piper?”
“I dumped out your shampoo!”
I looked at Piper and Londyn splashing around in the tub now filled with shampoo bubbles, “Why did you dump out the shampoo?”
“We wanted bubbles, but it’s okay, you can make more, Mama!”
It was at that moment that the act of Piper dumping my expensive, store-bought (more natural) shampoo in the bath-tub quickly fled from my thoughts as I chuckled about his comment, “It’s okay, you can make more, Mama!”
I chuckled about this simplified life that’s become so normal to him. One where toothpaste comes in a clear, reusable tube and body wash comes from a mason jar. I’m excited (and if I’m honest, a bit nervous) about his first year of kindergarten next year. “Mrs. Jones, why is this hand soap blue?” or “It’s okay, Mrs. Jones, my mom can make some hand sanitizer for you!” You know, totally normal five year-old stuff. Maybe Mrs. Jones and I should have a talk before the big first day?
Now, on to the DIY or as Piper would say, “You can make more, Mama” project of the day.
I think you’re going to love today’s DIY as it’s become one of the most requested homemade recipes around Live Simply. Today is finally the day for DIY Dish Soap! So gather the supplies and fire-up the stove-top, we’re going to make an effective homemade dish soap that’s tough on germs and grease. In other words, this stuff actually works!
First, let’s take a look at the ingredients…
1. Washing Soda: Just like baking soda, washing soda has the cleaning power to cut tough dirt, stains, and even grease. Not only does this ingredient take care of the unwanted stains and grease, it also deodorizes. That Tupperware of two week-old spaghetti is no match for this stain-fighting and deodorizing ingredient.
2. Borax: This ingredient has been highly debated in the natural community. Some believe this ingredient is toxic, while others, like myself, hold strong to the belief that borax is just as natural as baking soda. If you’re on the fence about this ingredient, I highly recommend reading this well-researched article from Wellness Mama. Then, add this ingredient to your homemade dish soap for its grease-fighting power. Borax also helps to fight against hard water spots and residue.
3. Sal Suds: One of my favorite multipurpose DIY ingredients. Castile soap is a concentrated vegetable-based soap with easy to recognize ingredients. I use castile soap for everything from homemade laundry detergent to hand soap and face wash. While I love castile soap, I purchase castile soap’s cousin, Sal Suds, for tough cleaning jobs. Sal Suds is tougher on grease and stubborn stains than castile soap.
4. Essential Oils: Peppermint and tea tree essential oils are known for their natural cleaning power (antibacterial and antiseptic) which is why both are added to this recipe. Peppermint essential oil also adds an amazing fresh scent to this soap.
5. Optional Ingredients: I like to add glycerin and a nourishing oil to this dish soap recipe for moisturizing benefits. Trust me, your hands will thank you! You can add these ingredients or skip them, either way you’ll still create an effective dish soap.
This DIY Dish Soap can easily be doubled or even tripled, if desired. I suggest first trying this recipe and testing it out to see if you like homemade dish soap, as we all have our preferences when it comes to cleaning products.
Before I leave, remember, if your kids decide to enjoy an afternoon of bubbles in the sink, “You can always make more, Mama!” thanks to this super easy DIY Dish Soap recipe.
Easy DIY Dish Soap
- 2 TB borax
- 1 TB washing soda
- 1 1/4 cups water
- 3/4 cup Sal Suds
- 15-20 drops peppermint essential oil
- 15-20 drops tea tree essential oil
- 1/2 TB skin-nourishing oil jojoba, almond, olive oil, etc. If you'll be using this soap with bare hands.
- In a saucepan, heat the the water just until it reaches a boiling point. Turn off the heat and add the washing soda and borax, stirring to dissolve. Let the mixture cool for 3-5 minutes, just until warm, but no longer hot.
- Add the Sal Suds and and essential oils to the water mixture. Vigorously whisk the ingredients together.
- Use a funnel to pour the dish soap into a soap dispenser (I found one at IKEA). The soap may separate after sitting for 24 hours. If this happens, vigorously shake the soap bottle until the ingredients are combined.
When you introduce water into a product without a preservative you always run the risk of introducing bacteria, so use water-based products quickly.
Don’t want to “cook” your dish soap? I love this no-cook recipe as well.
Hard Water Note: If you have hard water, like myself, this soap will clean and remove all the germies (including grease), however, it’s not a 100% spotless formula. This means when you hold up glasses in the light you may see some dry water spots (although the Borax helps to reduce the amount you would see with other homemade dish soap recipes). Ah yes, the curse and blessing of mineral-rich, hard water. Even with store-bought soap I have an issue with water spots.
After making a batch of your laundry detergent recipe, I was excited to try the dish soap! I made a batch using Dr. Jacobs castle with almond and honey. It congealed and I can’t pump it out! Help!
Hey Belinda, I haven’t used that castile soap before, so I’m not sure if it would be the soap itself interacting with the other ingredients. The soap should get thick, but remain pumpable. Maybe try diluting the soap even more? If that doesn’t work, will it pour from the bottle (without the pump)? I know that’s a pain, but would be usable.
Thanks for your quick reply!
Can i add hydrogen peroxide to dish soap to make it antibacterial?
Hey Joe, My only concern is that the hydrogen peroxide isn’t effective once it’s left out in exposed light.
Thanks for the recipe!! I added citric acid to mine which is a wonderful natural preservative in everything from detergent to tea to food!
That’s great, Tara! Good idea.
Well, I just whipped up a batch. I look forward to trying it out. I did use castile soap as that is what I have and I try to avoid SLS when possible. I am working towards living zero waste so figuring out ways to make things instead of buying things in plastic bottles is always fun.
Awesome, Abbi! I look forward to hearing your experience with it. I agree about avoiding SLS. Here’s a great article about SLS that’s helped me know what to avoid, too: http://www.lisabronner.com/there-is-no-cancer-risk-from-sls-sodium-lauryl-sulfate/
umm- the whole idea of making stuff at home is not just for the fun of it. you want it to be economical. buying a bunch of products to make a product is not my idea of economical. so how would i make my borax dish soap sud up without going out and spending money on other additives???
Hey Penni, My goal is always eliminating the number of toxins we’re exposed to, and then saving money. Many times both are possible.
All of the ingredients can be used in a variety of ways when it comes to cleaning, so they aren’t one-time use ingredients. If that’s going to be the case, I’d recommend just purchasing a more natural dish soap from the store to save money. But if you’re already using these ingredients to clean your home, then combining them for a dish soap is a bit more economical. I’m not really sure how to answer your question–I don’t think that can be done without a soap. For this particular soap, you could just do Sal Suds (or castile) and borax.
I’d like to make a bigger batch of this dish soap. How would the amount of the ingredients change? Do I just double/triple each ingredient or is there a separate formula for each?
Hey Raj, No separate formula. Just double the recipe :).
Hello!I tried this recipe and the results are amazing.Thanks for sharing!I have only one question.If i add few drops food coloring will it change the results?
Hey Dora, I don’t believe so. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the dish soap!
This is great! I live nearby a society who are into streamlining self-help group and I guess they follow your exact formula. Time to try out.
Oh wow, that’s interesting, Kelly. Enjoy!!
Since sodium lauryl sulfate is a chemical surfactant, i would include that on the paragraph about sals suds. Im trying to find natural recipes without all those commercial chemicals and always appreciate full disclosure on ingredients. I assumed this was all natural until i looked up sals suds ingredients. I know you mentioned using castille, but you didnt include the part about the toxic ingredient in sals. this seems more like a commercial diy recipe and not so much an all natural.
Hey Cathi, Thanks for checking out the post. I’m sorry to hear that you felt it was misleading. It’s never my intention to keep ingredients silent, which is why I discuss Sal Suds many times on the site, and in my cleaning book. I encourage you to check out this article about Sal Suds: http://www.lisabronner.com/there-is-no-cancer-risk-from-sls-sodium-lauryl-sulfate/. The article is directly from Lisa Bronner.
From my experience, there is no way to make a grease-cutting “DIY” kind of soap without more of a detergent composition, and Sal Suds provides this without the nasty ingredients found in so many commercial dish soaps. It’s a personal choice everyone needs to make, which is why I also list castile soap as an option. Although castile soap just doesn’t work like Sal Suds–it won’t cut grease. Sal Suds receives a good rating according to the EWG: http://www.ewg.org/guides/cleaners/496-DrBronnersSalSudsLiquidCleaner. I don’t gain anything from someone choosing to use Sal Suds, it’s just the best option I’ve found for a do-it-yourself kind of dish soap, and that’s my number one goal for the blog: to share more natural recipes that actually work!
PS: I’ll make sure I update this post to discuss Sal Suds as I do in my other dish soap (https://livesimply.me/2016/06/09/dish-soap-homemade/) and in my cleaning toolkit post: https://livesimply.me/2015/10/29/must-have-ingredients-to-clean-your-entire-house-naturally/. Thanks for mentioning this!
Salsuds has sodium laurel sulfate. Even though it is sourced naturally, it is still a harsh ingredient, which nullifies any health benefits you are trying to achieve by going natural with a homemade soap. A safer alternative would be to buy one of the “All Natural” (they’re not really all natural and some will have trace amounts of chemicals, because the gov’t allows them to say they are when they’re not) commercially sold dish soaps.
Hey MikeA, I personally feel more comfortable using SalSuds than “all natural” soaps on the market. Here’s more information about the SLS concern: http://www.lisabronner.com/there-is-no-cancer-risk-from-sls-sodium-lauryl-sulfate/. I would encourage you to use a product that you feel most comfortable with :).
I have made this and it clogs my dispenser. I am wondering if my cooler climate (Germany) is causing the once well homogenous mixture to precipitate. I get a sandy substance clogging the tube of the pump. Any suggestions
Hey April, It definitely could be from the cooler climate. In this case, I recommend adding more hot water and gently shaking the soap to help dissolve the powder that’s causing the issues. Let me know how it goes!
I think it gets totally solid so I might try lowering the borax and washing soda. I made more but it was completely solid and hot water did nothing but dissolve the top layer of the soap. I even tried boiling water inside the container. I did switch containers to a very large Jason’s shower gel empty container so that it has tons of extra room, I have to experiment.
Hey April, Hmmm, I’m not really sure what’s happening. Let me know if you find something that works out! Did you try increasing the water content? Maybe even doubling the water to prevent the issue from occurring?
I was wondering if you knew where you purchased this glass soap dispenser and those labels? I love them both! Thanks so much! 🙂
Hey Katie, I purchased the soap dispenser from IKEA (Target also sells a similar style in the bath section), and the labels came from Micheal’s Craft Store. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog and recipes.