A Recipe for Homemade Dish Soap

Dish-soap-homemade-mason-jar This recipe does not contain vinegar.

Say whaaaaaaat?  No vinegar?

While most homemade dish soap recipes contain castile soap, they also contain vinegar, or lemon juice.  If you don’t already know– and I hate to be the bearer of bad new;, but, vinegar (or any acid) and castile soap do not belong together.

Ya…I was doing it wrong for many years until I read this post in 2011. Lisa Bronner, Dr. Bronner’s kin and an authority on castile soap explains what is simple chemistry.

Here’s why:

In great part it’s due to the fact that vinegar is an acid and the castile soap is a base. They will directly react with each other and cancel each other out. So, instead of getting the best of both (the scum cutting ability of the vinegar and the dirt transporting ability of the soap), you’ll be getting the worst of something entirely new. The vinegar “unsaponifies” the soap, by which I mean that the vinegar takes the soap and reduces it back out to its original oils. So you end up with an oily, curdled, whitish mess. And this would be all over whatever it was you were trying to clean – your laundry or counters or dishes or whatever.

In short– castile soap and vinegar go great together.  Separately.  One to wash and the other to rinse.

In the time since, I have messed around with many a recipe, mostly throwing together what I have on hand and eyeballing the amounts.  I’d like to share my favorite dish soap concoction with you; one that closely resembles the store-bought stuff.   I did my best to recreate it for you with proper measurements, but it works best tossed willy-nilly in a jar.  What I have come up with is viscous, and grows thicker as it sits.  It gets a lot of bubbles when given a good shake, lathers and cleans wonderfully.  It is easy to make, and uses a small amount of castile soap to make it ever more frugal.  It owes it’s brownish hue to the homemade soap I used.  Break out your favorite essential oils and scent it differently every time. 🙂


In a pint jar, (with a homemade dispenser top), combine soap flakes, (an old-fashioned lye soap works well), and boiling water.  Stir with a fork until all flakes are dissolved.  Add super washing soda and stir.  Add castile soap.  Stir.  Allow to cool and add essential oils of your choice.  I like to give it a shake or a stir every now and again.  Over time it gels up a bit, (especially if I add too much super washing soda), and I like to shake things up a bit to keep it all incorporated.  Also, we have noted that if our house gets too cold, the soap gets super thick, so if you keep your house cold you may want to use less super soda.

If you need a “home” for your new homemade dish soap, follow this tutorial for instructions on how to make your own mason jar dispenser!

DIY Mason Jar Dispenser


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  What about you?  Do you make your own dish soap?  What do you put in it?  Do you use vinegar?

Let’s continue the conversation in the comments below, or on my facebook page.  

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Shared with:  Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways, From the Farm, LHITS DIY Linky




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