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Homemade Dish Soap: How to Make Your Own Health-Friendly Cleaner

Updated on September 28, 2017
Athlyn Green profile image

Athlyn Green has tried to reduce the chemical footprint on her property and shares tips and insights about safe and natural alternatives

Homemade Liquid Dish Soup

Nothing Beats Safe-for-You, Environmentally-Friendly Dish Soap.

If you are trying to "go green," one of the first places you'll want to start is in the kitchen. Daily, we expose our skin to chemicals in dish soap. Is there reason for concern?

Dish soaps contain a veritable cocktail of questionable ingredients: chlorine, alkyl phenoxy ethanols, phosphates, DCM, DEA, sodium lauryl sulfate, to name a few. And to add to the chemical onslaught, dishwashing liquid may contain synthetic fragrances that mask the chemical odor and make them smell more appealing.

You wouldn't bathe in chemicals you can barely pronounce, so why put your hands in them on a daily basis?

These chemicals do more than just cause skin irritation. A number of chemicals found in common household products are poisonous and carcinogenic. Do you really want these chemicals being absorbed through your skin? And unless you rinse, very, very well, chances are, chemical residues are left over on your skin, on your dishes and on cutlery. If you are using commercially-produced dish soaps, there is really no getting away from the chemicals.

You can protect yourself and your loved ones by switching to a safer products. It may help to start with products you use each day in your kitchen, then eliminate products used to clean your bathroom, then tackle the products you use to clean the rest of your house. When you finally achieve a chemical-free home, you'll have peace of mind, knowing you no longer come into contact with chemicals that can make you and other family members sick.

While we can't control the chemicals in the environment, certainly, we can take steps to reduce our exposure--and the first place to start is on the home front.

If you would like to try making your own, this article discusses ideas as to how to make your own dish soap. The process doesn't have to be convoluted or expensive. Much depends on the ingredients you use to make either a liquid or the dry ingredients you use to clean your dishes.

Three Ideas for Using Ivory Soap to Make Dish Soap

Idea #1: Homemade Liquid Dish Soap: Grated Ivory and Water

It's easy to make your own homemade dish soap and it takes just minutes. This first batch of dish soap can be used if you are reacting to your regular dish soap and encountering skin irritation or rashes. This makes a thick mixture and you may opt to further refine the recipe to change the consistency by adding additional water.

I would suggest using this dish soap if you want to switch right away to a safer dishwashing mixture; however, while Ivory is a purer soap, because it comes in a bar, it likely has thickening ingredients to turn it into an actual bar. I've found that the mixture becomes viscous and continues to thicken. This homemade dish soap can be used, in a pinch, whenever you run out of dish soap or until you can make a thinner homemade dish soap using ingredients suitable for a thinner mixture (see below).

Homemade Dish Soap

  1. Grate a bar of ivory soap.
  2. Add 1 tsp. of grated soap to empty plastic containers. Old shampoo bottles work well.
  3. Fill each container with hot water and shake well.
  4. Allow to sit and continue to shake containers until soap dissolves.

This mixture will continue to thicken so it is important to dilute it well. It is now ready to use for washing dishes.


The liquid kept thickening and while this can be used to clean dishes, I would suggest that you use this if you run short on some other type of safe dishwashing liquid. The agents that turn this into a bar turn your liquid mixture thick and stringy, so while grated ivory mixed with water can be used, you may not find it to your liking

Sink Filled With Suds

Idea #2: Keeping Grated Soap on Hand

Alternatively, if you don't like how this thickens (and I didn't after trying it), you can simply grate a bar of Ivory soap and keep it in a container close to your sink. Sprinkle grated soap in sink and run hot water over it.

Grated Ivory Soap


By simply keeping grated soap on hand, you do not have to prepare a liquid soap that, as I mentioned above, becomes thick and stringy and hard to use.

Idea #3: Don't Want to Grate Soap?

If you don't want to bother grating your Ivory soap, simply hold a bar under the tap as you are running your hot water and your sink will fill with suds. These don't last long but once you get used to using safer products, you soon unlearn your familiarity with dishwashing liquid that bubbles to beat heck and covers your dishes with chemicals.


This is the easiest method, by far.

Making Dish Soap from Castile Soap

Idea #4: Making Homemade Dishwashing Soap Using Castile Soap

For this formula, you will need castile soap. This can be purchased at whole foods stores or organic/green outlets or it may be ordered online.

This results in a mixture with a better consistency and may be preferred.

Homemade Dish Soap

  • 2 cups of liquid castile soap
  • 1/2 cup of warm water

Shake bottle to mix ingredients and shake again prior to use.

Purchasing and keeping a large amount of castile soup on hand means you can easily make your own dishwashing liquid. If you order this online, you may be able to buy enough to qualify for free shipping and reduce your costs. Additionally, castile soap can be used for other cleaning tasks around the home.


Dr. Bronner's castile soap has a good reputation. I like that castile soap can be used for a multitude of cleaning tasks.

Let's Skip the Soap and Just Use Good Old Baking Soda

It just doesn't get any easier than this.If you don't have Ivory soap on hand, you can sprinkle baking soda over your dishes and run hot water into the sink.

Store your baking soda in a container near your sink. (Optional: add a couple of drops of scented oil to your soda so that it has a wonderful smell.)

Baking soda works well for cutting grease and giving shine to dishes, and as a known deodorizer, it will act to deodorize your sink and drain, as well.


Very easy but the drawback would be the amount of baking soda you would go through.

Idea #5 Making Dish Soap Using Borax

If you don't have castile soap readily available, Borax is usually available in supermarkets. The following video discusses an easy method to make dish soap using only two ingredients.


Fairly easy and uses few ingredients.

Some Common Ingredients in Homemade Dish Soaps

Baking soda
Castile soap
Essential oils
Washing soda

Adding a Scent

Some people like to add a few drops of essential oils to their homemade dish soap. This can impart a wonderful scent but is, of course, completely optional.

Peace of Mind, Using a Safe Dishwashing Liquid

Using any of these ideas, you are now set to make your own dish soap, without having to rely on chemical-laden products to get the job done. With a few simple ingredients and a little ingenuity, you can clean your dishes with your own homemade dish soap using Ivory, castile soap or baking soda or some of the other ingredients mentioned in this article. Simply stock up ahead of time and you'll be good to go.

Have You Switched to Environmentally-Friendly Dish Soap?

See results

© 2010 Athlyn Green


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    • Athlyn Green profile image

      Athlyn Green 3 years ago from West Kootenays

      Hi Rosie, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I would like to get castile soap, which is supposed to be good for using for dishsoap or clothes soap.

    • Rosie writes profile image

      Rosie writes 3 years ago from Virginia

      Nice hub. I may make some dish soap today. I have the castile soap which is great for laundry detergent too. Pinned.

    • ThompsonPen profile image

      Nicola Thompson 4 years ago from Bellingham, WA

      Great hub! I thought I'd let you know that I came across this by Googling "Make your own eco friendly dish soap" and your's was the top link! That would be pretty exciting for me, so I thought you'd like to know too :)

    • Athlyn Green profile image

      Athlyn Green 5 years ago from West Kootenays

      Please see the instructions, as outlined in this Hub. The directions are quite clear. Thanks for stopping by. This is not for bar soap, it is for liquid soap for washing dishes.

    • profile image

      Kameil honer 5 years ago

      This does not give you information on how to make homemade soap put something on here that give you all the facts on how to make soap......a lot of students in byhalia middle school is looking for the information on/about how to make soap

    • marymac47 profile image

      marymac47 6 years ago from Franklin. NC

      really interesting, useful Hub!! baking Soda and Vinegar are the best!!Thanks!!

    • Athlyn Green profile image

      Athlyn Green 6 years ago from West Kootenays

      Another method I'm trying is simply keeping a bar of Ivory by the sink & placing it in the water when I need soap for dishes. This works well, too.

    • divacratus profile image

      Kalpana Iyer 7 years ago from India

      This is great! Thinking of stocking some ivory soaps now. A really simple and useful hub.

    • Athlyn Green profile image

      Athlyn Green 7 years ago from West Kootenays

      I've also switched over to vinegar and baking soda for bathroom cleaning and these do a great job. See my article for tips on how to use these two common household cleaners for bathroom cleaning:

    • lindaadams37 profile image

      lindaadams37 7 years ago

      How often we underestimate the importance that should be given to the quality of the soap and such updates only remind us to rethink and make a proper decision while going out to the grocery next time or do something about it at home.

    • Athlyn Green profile image

      Athlyn Green 7 years ago from West Kootenays


      I had difficulties with my original dish soap because it thickened to a thick stringy mixture but I kept adding water and now I have a clear liquid dish soap. I find this is much gentler on my hands and it's wonderful knowing that I'm not placing my hands into chemicals.

    • rpalulis profile image

      rpalulis 7 years ago from NY

      Great Hub. Our skin is the largest organ of the body and is very permeable. This is an area that is so often overlooked. Thanks for such a great write.

    • Athlyn Green profile image

      Athlyn Green 7 years ago from West Kootenays

      Wow, does the grated soap ever thicken . You get lots of liquid soap from one bar.

    • itakins profile image

      itakins 7 years ago from Irl

      Brilliant idea