A Natural and Homemade Liquid Dish Soap Recipe

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Homemade Dish Soap

Homemade dish soap is easy to make. It also saves you money, helps rid your home of the toxins in commercial cleaners, and is a fun and sustainable project.

Are you looking to save money on cleaning products and work toward a more natural lifestyle, eliminating chemicals and toxins from your everyday products? Do you love the challenge of making your own cleaners?

If so, try this simple recipe for homemade dish soap. It’s not for the dishwasher, it’s for hand-washing the dishes the old fashioned way. (I say yuck, Matt actually likes doing it that way.)

Even though we wrote a book on how to make all your own household cleaners, we continue to create new recipes and improve the old ones. This recipe (not featured in the book) is simple, natural, cheap to make, and cleans dishes to a sparkling shine.

Homemade Dish Soap: A Natural Recipe



  1. Heat water to boiling.
  2. Combine borax and grated bar soap in a medium bowl. Pour hot water over the mixture. Whisk until the grated soap is completely melted.
  3. Allow mixture to cool on the countertop for 6-8 hours, stirring occasionally. Dish soap will gel upon standing.
  4. Transfer to a squirt bottle, and add essential oils (if using). Shake well to combine.

Now you're ready to use your liquid dish soap just as you would use any commercial brand!

Homemade Dish Soap Video Tutorial

Enjoy this video tutorial with step-by-step instructions.

(If you cannot see the video click here to view it in your browser.)

Increase the Cleaning Power of Your Soap

Antibacterial essential oils can be used in this homemade dish soap recipe to naturally increase the cleaning power. Oils such as lemon, eucalyptus, sweet orange, geranium, or lavender have antibacterial properties. Using a citrus oil will also help with cutting grease. I personally prefer eucalyptus lemon dish soap, with about 10 drops of lemon and 6 drops of eucalyptus essential oil. The aromatherapy makes the chore of washing dishes a little more enjoyable.

Using your Homemade Dish Soap

If you’re accustomed to using commercial dish soap that foams and bubbles, it will take some time to get used to homemade alternatives. Commercial dish soaps have added harmful chemical surfactants (like sodium lauryl sulfate) to create suds – more for the visual effect, not necessarily more cleaning power. Suds are actually not necessary to get things clean, but we’ve been conditioned to think that bubbles have to be present for cleaning. This is not so.

When you squirt your homemade dish soap into the sink, you’ll notice a little bubbling at first, but then the water will just look a little cloudy. This is normal. Your dishes will still come out clean. I always wash silverware first, then dishes and glasses, and save pots, pans, and really greasy dishes for last.

Note: If your homemade dish soap ever gels up too much in the bottle just give it a shake and it’ll be ready for use again. You can also dump it all in your blender and blend for about 10 seconds. This should prevent future gelling and/or separation.

A Word On Borax

There are all sorts of concerns about the toxicity of borax swirling around on the Internet. Many readers have expressed concern about the inclusion of borax in our dishwasher detergent recipe and laundry detergent recipe. We have done tons of research on it, and feel it is a safe, effective addition to homemade cleaners. You may be interested in reading this article on the subject, or this article, or doing more research to help make your own determination.

Happy dish washing! Let us know what you think of the recipe.


About Betsy Jabs

Betsy holds a bachelor's degree in Psychology and a Master's degree in Counseling, and for nearly a decade worked as an elementary counselor. In 2011 she left her counseling career to pursue healthy living. She loves using DIY Natural as a way to educate people to depend on themselves to nourish their bodies and live happier healthier lives. Connect with Betsy on Facebook, Twitter, and her +Betsy Jabs Google profile.

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  1. Paula says

    I just made this recipe for the 2nd time, although I doubled the recipe so I wouldn’t have to make it as often. I used the same bottle for storage, though. This time, for some reason, the borax crystalized in the bottom of the bottle. Any idea why this would happen? Everything was well dissolved before it cooled….or at least I thought it was. Thanks much for your input.

  2. Nichole says

    Im looking into a homemade dish soap. I tried a recipe using the Fels-neptha but it seemed to leave a film on my glasses. it seems to clean ok but looking into trying something new. I found your recipe and I am wondering if using the Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap how much would I use? Still The tablespoon or a little more.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      You can actually use the Dr. Bronner’s liquid soap full strength for washing dishes. It won’t work the same if you add it to this recipe, because this recipe is designed to gel with the addition of the grated bar soap and borax. If you don’t mind a thin consistency, just squirt Dr. Bronner’s directly into your wash water & you won’t have to worry about mixing up a “recipe.” 🙂

    • Robin says

      So Fels Naptha doesn’t work? I use it for DIY laundry soap. I’m happy to find an alternative to purchasing dish soap in plastic! Doing my best to be zero waste!

  3. Janice says

    Oh my I am sooooo excited to have found this! We do not have a dishwasher and will not be able to get one until we do a total kitchen remodel so I am hand washing dishes and am allergic to pretty much every dish soap I’ve tried! And our family is in the middle of a total overhaul of all of our cleaning products because I am so sick of bringing chemicals into my home! Thank you!

    • Betsy Jabs says

      You’re so welcome Janice! Hand washing dishes is an awful chore, not to mention having an allergic reaction to the chemicals in your dish soap!!! We hope you (and your hands) like this recipe. 🙂

  4. rebecca s says

    i love this idea, and to top things off, use a drop or 3 of food grade dye(like you use to color eggs) I like my dish soap to be purple and match my kitchen, plus i always put it in a pretty glass bottle. Hate the ugly plastic dish soap containers.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Oh, I love your colored dish soap idea! I have some vegetable-derived dyes sitting in my fridge going bad, and I was wondering how I could use them up! 🙂

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Hmmm. I have never had this recipe fail to gel for me, but let’s go over a few possibilities… Was your water boiling before adding it to the other ingredients? Was every last bit of soap dissolved before you stopped stirring? Did you stir a few times as the soap set up? It could be any of those factors. You could also try using a different type of grated soap to see if that makes a difference.

      • Lynn says

        I had the same problem as Lauryn and did everything on Betsy’s list here. I even tripple checked everything as I had done it. Could I bring everything back to a boil and add more grated soap?

  5. Marie says

    I’m wondering if using more of the Washing Soda would help with the grease cutting??… because Washing Soda is ‘da bomb’ for cutting grease…. and Please IF you decide on a commercial dish washing soap, choose one that is environmentally safe such as Seventh Generation as opposed to Dawn…. I thank you and the Earth thanks you 🙂 🙂

  6. Maxine says

    Thanks for the recipe. I made this the other day and added eucalyptus and lemon oils as recommended. I’ve been using it a few days now and find it lacks big time in grease cutting power. I used Dr. Broners soap. Any thoughts on how to make this cut the grease better? I’m about to run out to the store and buy some Dawn.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Sadly, it just won’t cut grease as well as the commercial soaps with chemicals. Sometimes I change my dish water half way through washing to eliminate some of the grease in the water, and other times it just takes a bit more scrubbing.

  7. shelby says

    i made my first batch of this last night, but i tripled the recipe since i have more bottles to fill… i left it on the counter to sit for the 6-8 hours, but after an hour when i went back to stir it, it was very very thick… almost like jello if not thicker. is this normal? if it is how is it supposed to go into a soap bottle and squirt out?

    • Betsy Jabs says

      This recipe seems to work best when made in smaller batches. Don’t throw away your thick soap though…just add a little water at a time, stirring after each addition, until it’s the consistency you like.