I researched and experimented with a lot of different recipes for liquid dish washing detergent until I tweaked them enough to come up with a version that I was happy with. Homemade dish detergent, like laundry detergent, is a low suds, low chemical version of store-bought liquid detergents. Store-bought detergents include lots of “things” that cannot be replicated at home. You can add glycerin as a hand softener, and anti-bacterial properties, but you cannot get the high suds yield you’ll find in premade detergents. If you NEED the bubbles and suds, you might want to use this recipe as a “stretcher” and cut your store-bought detergent with this homemade detergent 50/50. You’ll save some money as it will increase the amount of detergent for less and you’ll get all your glorious bubbles. If you don’t care about bubbles and foam and just want to clean your dishes, then the lack of bubbles of homemade detergent should not bother you.
Home-Crafted Liquid Dish Detergent
Home-Crafted Liquid Dish Detergent
When choosing anti-bacterial ingredients to include there are a variety of natural choices: lemon juice, geranium oil, tea tree oil, citrus oils (such as orange, tangerine, etc), lavender, and my favorite – eucalyptus. These ingredients provide fragrance as well as disinfecting abilities. The vinegar is also a natural anti-bacterial ingredient. I purchase my essential oils on ebay, but you can find them in craft, whole food, wholesale, etc stores. Be sure you’re purchasing pure oils and not “scented” alcohol or “scented” liquid potpourri.
A couple of notes: 1) When I tested this formula and allowed my hand washed dishes to drip dry on the dish rack, I observed no film/soap residue on glass or plastic – however SOME metals – for me – non-coated pans – dried with a slight film. I simply buffed it off with a dry towel. I have not tested this detergent on silver or silver-plate. I did test it on my wine glasses with no soap residue left behind. 2) Detergent that is being stored and not actively used, will separate so there is clear water at the bottom of the container and all of the other ingredients will rise to the top. When you’re ready to use the detergent, just give the bottle a vigorous shake to remix the contents. 3) White vinegar is a natural grease-cutter, but will not cut the grease on your very greasy pans like store-bought chemicals will. I had to wash my very greasy pan separately in very hot water and rinse/re-wash a couple of times to sufficiently clean. This is where cutting the homemade detergent with store-bought is sometimes helpful.
This recipe yields about 1 gallon of liquid dish detergent.
What you’ll need:
8 cups water
1 – 4 oz bar of soap (I used Ivory)
2 cups white vinegar
½ cup Borax
¼ cup baking soda
½ cup washing soda (I use Arm & Hammer – this is not the same as baking soda. You can find washing soda in laundry aisles in stores).
1 Tbs glycerin (optional)
25-30 drops essential oil or ¼ cup lemon juice (fragrance/anti-bacterial)
1 gallon container
Very large pot (holds 2+ gallons)
Recycled dispensers or detergent bottles
Grate your soap on a food grater such as a potato grater. I use Ivory, but any bar soap will work.
Boil 8 cups of water in a very large pot.
Reduce the heat and add the grated soap. Add vinegar and continue stirring until the soap is dissolved.
Turn off the burner and remove the pot from the heat. Slowly sprinkle the baking soda into the mixture – very carefully as the baking soda will foam when it hits the vinegar mixture in the pot. This is why you need a BIG pot!
Add all other ingredients, continuously stirring until all ingredients are dissolved. Glycerin is added as a skin moisturizer and also acts as a mild thickener in the detergent. It's purely optional and the outcome of the soap will not be affected if you choose to leave it out. I purchase my vegetable glycerin from a seller on Ebay as I use it in a number of homemade products. If you notice in my photos, I was in a hurry and didn’t entirely wait for all of the soap to dissolve. This resulted in some soap clumps – which don’t bother me. If your soap clumps and you don’t like the look of it, you can pour it into a blender when it’s COOL and churn it until smooth. Personally, I don’t care what it looks like as long as it gets the job done.
Allow the hot solution to cool a minimum of 15 minutes. Add the essential oils and stir. Make sure the liquid is not hot enough to melt the container you are going to be pouring the soap into. Let it cool to at least room temperature before pouring to avoid burns, etc.
Use a funnel to pour/ladle the soap solution into a 1 gallon container. Fill the rest of the container with hot tap water (usually around 6-8 cups of water depending on how much of your solution evaporated, etc). You also can dilute the soap with white vinegar instead of water if you wish, but I chose to use water.
Allow the liquid dish detergent to sit overnight. The detergent will gel a little bit, but will not be solid. If it is more solid than you desire, dilute with ½ cup water at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. In my test runs, the detergent never got undesirably gelatinous. If you think the fragrance is not strong enough for your preferences, add more oils and shake until you achieve the fragrance strength desired.
Pour or ladle the liquid dish soap into dispensers and/or recycled dish detergent bottles.