How to Make Liquid Dish Soap ~ A Video Tutorial on My Revised Recipe

[I] love making my own homemade cleaners — so much so I even wrote a book about it! Homemade cleaners are frugal, less toxic and the process of making them is oh so empowering. With only a few simple ingredients, I am able to clean every room in my house. I know as long as I have my own homemade simple soap, borax, white vinegar, washing soda, and baking soda I can make anything I need.

One of my most popular cleaning recipes is my Homemade Liquid Dish Soap. However, since I posted it, many of you have had questions surrounding it. Today I want to address a few of those and give you another video tutorial.

A Couple of Questions

Two of the most common questions I receive regarding the Liquid Dish Soap Recipe are:

  1. “Where can I find liquid castile soap?” or “Help! I can’t find liquid castile soap!”
  2. “The dish soap is not as thick as I’m use to. How can I thicken it?”

Both great questions! And ones that I have set out to answer for you.

A Video Tutorial

For the past few weeks I have been working on the recipe and today I am ready to share with you what I hope is a great revision on a very useful recipe.

The Revised Recipe

I’ve created a PDF document with the revised recipe that you can open up and print off here:
Homemade Liquid Dish Soap Recipe PDF (13 kb)

Have you made the transition to homemade cleaners? How’s it going?

Click here to learn more about making your own homemade cleaners!

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  1. Thanks for this revision I was just going to change my soap up a little. This is prefect

    • I hope you love it Lucy!

    • Yes, thank you! I am wondering about using lemon extract (from the grocery store spice isle) because I just can’t afford the essential oils. To me, it defeats the purpose of making your own dishwashing liquid if you’re going to spend a lot of money on it. Granted, the rest of the ingredients are cheap, but I’m REALLY cheap. I’ve even been known to take a laundry pod (the liquid ones) and put it into a dishwashing bottle and fill the bottle with water and shake. Doesn’t suds much but it cleans. So I am excited to learn how to make my own dishwashing liquid; I just can’t afford expensive ingredients. So let me know if you think lemon extract will work in this formula. THANKS!

  2. This looks great! I tried to wash dishes a couple of years ago with castille soap and I didn’t like it because the water was cloudy. This is such a great idea. One question though, do you find that your homemade dish soap works better than or equal to store-bought dish soap? Also, I wish you would’ve done a demonstration to show us how well this dish soap works. Love what you do and keep up the good work. I swear, your blog is easily becoming my favorite one to visit! I love your positive attitude.

    • Ahhh! Darn! You’re right Neeli…I totally should have included a demo on dirty dishes! As for it working, I am very happy with this recipe. The dishes actually have that “squeaky clean” feel when I wash with this stuff. I think it’s the Super Washing Soda.

      btw…I sincerely thank you for your encouraging words:)

      • François says:


        Thanks for sharing your frugal and sustainable tips 🙂 They’re very appreciated. But tell me, do we have to wear gloves when using this dish soap (because of the Super Washing soda)?

        Thanks again,

  3. Yea!!!! Another video! I don’t know why, but these recipes feel so much more doable with the videos. I can’t wait to try it. You are GORGEOUS too, by the way!!! Great job! Thanks.

    • I couldn’t agree more! With the videos I feel like it’s much better way to communicate the ease of making your own…and thank you for the compliment:)

  4. Yay! My husband thinks it is so great that I am trying all of these home made cleaners, face washes, deodorants, etc. I can’t wait to try this! Thank you.

  5. And yet again….just another reason that you rock my face off.

  6. What a great video! I love that idea…I do have one question though. I made some liquid soap out of a bar of castile and it did gel, but it came out really stringy from the dispenser. The men in my family are like, yeah, it smells great, but I’m not using that. I used it, but I’m wondering if the dish soap has the same stringy consistency or if the washing soda keeps that from happening.

    Thanks so much for your recipe! I’m just learning and your blog is a great resource!

  7. Is this hard on your hands? I make my own laundry soap and find it doesn’t gel throughout. What I end up with is cloudy lumps in thinner liquid. Is that why you stir all day? What about nitrates? I remember about 25 or 30 years ago they used to talk about water pollution from the nitrates in soap but you don’t hear about that anymore.

  8. Sheila Balch says:

    I appreciate the fact that you put that you can use grated homemade simple soap. That makes this process even easier. And less expensive, as castile soap is pretty pricey. I love your site!

  9. Joan Blurton says:

    I have a bottle of “Dr. Bonner’s 18-in-1 Hemp TEA TREE PURE-CASTILE SOAP” that is in the liquid form. I ordered and downloaded your e-book, and saw you recommend Dr. Bonners so I am wondering if I can substitute the liquid Dr. Bonners for the tablespoon of grated bar soap. If so, how much do I use, will it affect the consistency, will it contain enough tea tree oil so that I don’t have to add any more, etc. Any insight and advice on using it will be appreciated. Joan

    • That’s perfect Joan! I still love my orignal dish soap recipe and the Dr. Bonners liquid castile that you have is WONDERFUL 🙂 Simply follow the recipe in my book. And you’re right, if you use that, you shouldn’t need to add any more tea tree oil.

      Now…when you make the dish soap, if it’s too thin for your liking (as some have mentioned) add 1 tablespoon of shredded bar soap by melting it in. That will prove to thicken the mixture quite a bit :).

  10. Thank you sooooooooo much for sharing this! I have tried other recipes and didn’t like them but this one looks really good. Thank you and I can’t wait to try it.


  11. This recipe looks really good – thanks! I make a lot of my own personal care and cleaning products but dish soap is one thing I haven’t tried yet. Will definitely be giving it a shot when our current supply runs out 🙂

  12. Thanks so much for sharing this! I was literally just wondering about finally making my own dish soap as mine has about run out and then you posted this. Perfect timing!! I can’t wait to make it =)

  13. The video explains it so well, thanks! I plan to make this for the kids bathroom with the unscented version of castille soap.

  14. Thank you so much for sharing this…I can’t wait to try it. Do you have a link to your recipe for simple soap? I would love to make that as well. Thank you…I love your website!

  15. Can I use Ivory Snow? It is already in flakes and I wouldn’t have to go out and buy a bar of soap to grate.

  16. Im going to try this, this weekend using ivory soap. Im thinking also that maybe a funnel will help with the pouring?? Thanks for the great blog!

  17. Dayna Evers says:

    I made your liquid dish soap and it didn’t get sudsy at all in the water. Is this normal or have I done something wrong? I really want to use homemade but I am new to it. Thanks so much

  18. Andrea –

    First let me say THANKS so very much for posting these recipes out here for the rest of us to benefit from ! ! !

    As soon as I saw this post the next day I made the liquid dish soap and also 10 gallons of liquid laundry detergent and a batch of dry laundry detergent ! ! !

    I have just started making my own cleaning and personal products and appreciate your knowledge that you share with your readers ! !

    I have a small issue however with the dish soap that I am hoping that you could help me with –

    I made up the dish soap following your exact amounts and directions except that I used Yardley English Lavender Bath Soap instead of Castile Soap as that is what I had on hand. Everything looked great until the next morning when I went to wash dishes and found the entire bottle had completely gelled into a solid – a lot like Jello. I thinned the soap down with water and it washes great ! !

    My question is – do you think because I did not use Castile Soap is why it gelled so firm? Or could the hardness / softness of the water in my area have something to do with it?

    I will be making this recipe again (after I use up this batch – now that it is thinned down it works wonderful) but next time I will use the Castile Soap ! ! !

    Again – THANK YOU for sharing your recipes with the us ! ! ! And THANKS for having this blog where we can learn something new with each post ! ! !


  19. I’m extremely excited to try out this recipe! One question before I do so: Would it work just as well if I bought the Castile Tea Tree soap?

  20. can you substitute the bar soap for liquid castile soap?

  21. I was wondering if I could use Zote or Fels Naptha bars to make this with?

  22. Hi there! I absolutely love your site. I am pretty new to the whole make-you-own business but am loving it. I made up a batch of the dish soap but am finding that it leaves a soapy/ waxy residue on plastic containers – used in the kid’s lunches. Am I doing something wrong? I used a plain soap that I got at the bulk store in my recipe. I am wondering if the soap is too waxy or if maybe I am just using too much soap in the sink. Have you had this problem before? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks so much,

    • Hi Mary! I haven’t experienced it personally, but you know what I do…I add about 1/2 to a 1 cup of white vinegar to the wash and rinse water. Cut’s the film and grease like crazy 🙂 Try it and see if it helps.

      • Thanks for the tip – tried it out and it works wonderfully. You are awsome! Thanks for taking the time to reply. 🙂

  23. I just made a batch and used it to wash dishes this evening. One question: my recipe didn’t get sudsy at ALL and just made the water a little cloudy. That doesn’t bother me, as long as I know the dishes are getting clean. Do the suds need to be there to prove cleanliness?? Or is it working all the same without them? I used a homemade soap, probably similar to what you used. Thanks for the tutorial!!

    • Hi Tami! You won’t have suds. My homemade soap is low suds anyway, for use in the washing machine, and washing soda is low suds. Have no doubt…the dish soap cleans!

  24. Hi, i was wondering if you could substitute liquid castile soap for the bar castile soap?

  25. I just made a batch of dishsoap with ivory bar soap. I couldn’t get the grated ivory to dissolve with just boiling water. I stirred and stirred until the water was cold again and there were still little slivers of unmelted ivory. I decided to pour it all in a small pan and heat it on the stove. Finally it all melted and worked great! Thank you so much for your inspiration! Your blog is definitely a new favorite of mine!

  26. What a delightfully presented recipe, and so kindly shared with us all!

    I really don’t like essential oils being added as-is, since there’s no way to guarantee that they’ll be sufficiently emulsified. A drop of pure essential oil on your face could leave a permanent scar. Pre-mixing the drops of essential oil with an emulsifier like polyoxyethylene (20) sorbitan monolaurate would be far safer, and it’s not expensive. Some choice of oils may require a higher Polysorbate, like 60 (monostearate), so a bit of experimenting might be necessary. If you really want to avoid any further chemical purchases and keep it “natural”, you could dilute your essential oil in a light carrier oil like avocado or almond, but too much oil would defeat the purpose of your soap 😉

    I think the hope here, is that existing emulsifiers in your shredded bar soap are sufficient, but the oils need to be broken down before being added to the water, or they just don’t dissolve. Unless people fully appreciate the potency of essential oils, perfumed bar soap is probably their safest bet.

  27. Hi!
    I don’t know what I’m doing wrong!! I just can do it! I use the bar soap KIRK’S ORIGINAL COCO CASTILE 1 Tsb and everything else the same and the result is something a little hard and nothing like that you made!! Could you help me please???
    thank you

  28. Hi Andrea!

    I want to say that I think I finally perfected the recipe to my liking. It wasn’t sudsy enough, so I added 1/8 cup to 1/4 cup of liquid castile soap to the double batch I make. I also add an additional tablespoon of Ivory soap. Now it suds!!! I know castile soap can get expensive, but I’m not using that much per batch and it’s definitely cheaper than buying store bought. Thanks so much for your revised recipe!!

  29. I love this recipe, and yes, it really works!!!! I made this a couple weeks ago, and since I’m a little new to all of this, I’m still convincing myself that I don’t need bubbles. I kept using it, and like you suggested somewhere, I put some vinegar in my rinse sink, and today I really put it to the test. I had dishes from making chili, and I’m SO happy to say my dishes are clean, they aren’t greasy, and I’m even more excited to add this to my list of recipes of homemade cleaners!! Thank you!!! I love your blog!!

  30. Mike Corbeil says:

    The pouring:

    For pouring the prepared dish soap into the bottle, I would use a funnel. They come in handy and can be bought for very little money. It would eliminate waste, and the need to clean off the outside of the bottle after the pouring is finished.

    White, distilled vinegar:

    You said in this video that you use this sort of vinegar for all of your recipes and I hope you aren’t meaning to include food recipes, for then a healthy vinegar should be used and apple cider vinegar, f.e., is inexpensive enough, while also being much healthier. I would use white, distilled vinegar for house cleaning jobs, some anyway, but not in any food recipes. Distilled vinegar helps cut through grease, so can be useful for cleaning cookware, as well as dishware.

    Many years ago, when I was a teen, I learned that in making a home-made cleaner (liquid) for washing windows, distilled vinegar could be good to add, but I tried that for mirrors and it didn’t seem to work so well. A couple of years ago, I learned from a woman I did some home cleaning for that all she used for liquid for cleaning her mirrors was water applied from a spray bottle. She learned it from her mother and it worked very well; just plain water. None of her mirrors were placed anywhere where any greasy matter could build up on them though. They were in her bathroom and bedroom, so non-greasy areas.

    • White distilled vinegar is used for all of my home cleaning needs. ACV is used for cooking 🙂

      • Mike Corbeil says:

        I expected that, for people who live healthy wouldn’t use distilled vinegar for culinary purposes, not food recipes anyway. Cleaning greasy pots and pans is another matter; although, I’m not sure if it would be a good idea for cast iron. For stainless steel, porcelain, other ceramics, clay that’s not treated for coating with any special, say, substances, and maybe glass, if it’s used for cookware, I think there would be no problem. But am not sure about cast iron, which easily rusts and needs to be coated with high-heat resistant oil for helping to protect the iron. I’ve never used distilled vinegar for cleaning culinary wares, but wouldn’t be afraid of doing so; except for cast iron.

        Otoh, maybe it also wouldn’t be recommendable for copper. (?)

        It should be also okay for dishware, I think, but maybe not for all types.

        I’m no expert in this subject area and will leave it to you or anyone else who knows the answers to comment about using distilled vinegar for cleaning these kitchen wares.

  31. Camille says:

    Do you have any ideas for those of us who have dishwashers????

  32. I tried the recipe with Dr Bronner’s but found it was really oily. My glasses have a film on them. I have gone back to using just the bar soap, but we have hard water and don’t get any suds. I’m not worried about the suds, but will try to wash that oily film off tomorrow after my soap is ready. Any suggestions?

  33. Hi, I just made this a couple of hours ago, and it doesn’t look like what is in your video. It’s still in it’s cooling phase in the mixing bowl. As I’ve been giving the occasional stir, I’ve noticed it is separating into a curdling sort of white mass with clear liquid underneath. Is this how it should look? I’m not sure what I’ve done wrong! I used finely grated velvet/sunlight soap (pure laundry soap here in Australia). Any tips would be appreciated.

    • Try out with liquid soap but don’t decrease water unless it’s really runny. You can making washing soda by putting baking soda on a cookie sheet for 1.5 hours at 350 degrees in the oven. I recently read that you can also put the microwave on high for q
      10 minutes. Let us know what happens.

  34. I’ve been using this recipe for a while now, and wonder if there is a way to keep the soap from separating?
    I love the way it cleans, but it separates almost immediately after using and if there is an easy way to prevent that I would like to try it. I’d also like any ideas to add suds. I know they aren’t necessary for cleaning, but I still like my suds. They act as a sort of “indicator” for me (and more importantly my hubby) that the dishwater is new, and then maybe he won’t dump his half-empty coffee cup in there! 🙂

    • There is an article on Dr. Bronner’s website cautioning against mixing castile soap and vinegar directly together. It’s not toxic, it’s just that the soap is a base and the vinegar is an acid, therefore they will separate and cause a cloudy film. They recommend washing in the castile soap, then using the vinegar as a rinse aid after – just not together. That explains the separation! 🙂

      • I’ve stopped using castile, now I’m using Ivory. I seem to get more suds that way. I’ve also figured out that the more I stir, the less likely it will separate. So I stir. And I stir. And I stir.
        I’ve added 1T of glycerin and a few drops of lemon essential oils as well, and I’m getting good results. I usually have to use more than I would of store-bought, but I figure the savings per bottle is still significant.

    • My soap is separating too! Please let me know if you figure out if we are doing anything wrong…

  35. Dumb question alert….about how much soap do you use per sink full? I can see my kids trying to use it and keep adding more to get suds, I’ll need to give them a measurement.

  36. I made some homemade dish soap not by you recipe, once the soap melted ( I used Ivory) and cooled the mixture the soap floated to the top and got firm again what do you think I did wrong.

  37. I made this recipe a few hours ago using some grated Dr. Bronner’s castile soap. It quickly became very firm and gelatinous, even with all of the stirring. It came out looking a bit like watery cottage cheese which doesn’t bother me but it clogs the opening of my dish soap squirt bottle. So I looked up your recipe for the liquid Dr. Bronner’s version and reheated my mixture slightly just to melt the gel back to liquid, then added some liquid castile soap. I’ve been stirring every few minutes for a couple of hours now and it’s not thickening at all now. Is this batch a failure if I want it thicker than water or is there still something else I could try? Thanks!

  38. Andrea,
    I just wanted to say thank you for posting your new and updated recipe along with the video! I made my first batch of dish soap and it came out really good. I made a second & third batch, and not so good–I think it possibly had something to do with the weather that day, but it became extremely hard. It didn’t matter because I loved the first batch so much, that I was determined to figure out a way to make this work for me.
    One evening while cleaning my blender, I used some of my homemade cleaner and water and turned it on—wow–did it really suds up! I had to shut the machine off! Got me thinking…so I took my homemade cleaner that did not melt down properly and put it in there and turned it on. I ran it for a little bit and in the end, no more pieces of shredded soap! YAY! The soap itself still separates due to the essential oils, but I just shake it up when I need it. I am in love! Thank you for taking the time to share and teach us.

  39. Andrea,

    Thank you so much for making this video! I am a visual learner and reading things don’t always sink in so it was very helpful to actually see this soap being made with my own eyes. I’ve made so many different homemade dish soaps and none came anywhere close to the thicker soap we are all used to. I feel like I wasted so much of the thinner soaps since they ran off the sponge and went down the drain. I love your blog and Facebook posts so much. Please keep the video tutorials coming!


  40. Any thoughts on a way to make the dish soap clear? I use a glass bottle with a pump for my dish soap. It has sea glass inside of it and I’d love a clear soap to still be able to see the glass pieces.

  41. Can you use liquid castile soap and just decrease the water content. Also, I am outside the USA and cannot buy washing soda. Can you use baking soda instead? Thanks

  42. Its like you read my mind! You appear to understand so much approximately this, such as
    you wrote the e book in it or something. I think that you
    simply could do with a few p.c. to drive the message house a little bit,
    however other than that, that is fantastic blog. A great read.
    I will certainly be back.

  43. I love this dish soap recipe. It’s so simple! I scented mine with a bit of tangerine essential oil. My kitchen smells great when I do dishes.

  44. Tearanie mills says:

    I love this recipe. I have three little boys and any extra money helps. Thanks.

  45. I made this recipe and my dishes came out spotty but i didnt use the liquid castile soap do could that be why they were spotty.And if you dont think so could you tell me what i might of did wrong and do you have any suggestions on what to do
    thank You

  46. I love this stuff. Ill never go back to spending big money on dish soap or laundry detergen again. I have three little boys and what ever saves money is great. Thanks the mills family

  47. Thanks so much for this tutorial! I’m curious if you have ever had any problems with the washing soda–I’ve heard that it’s quite caustic and because of this is not usually used in dish soap, which is in contact with the hands quite a bit. Has your skin ever reacted? Thanks!

  48. Thanks so much for providing this forum. I just made this recipe and used it right away. It left a greasy film on the plastic containers and there was grease scum in the water. Is that normal. I had to squirt the liquid directly on the containers to remove the grease which means I had to use quite a bit of liquid. Is there something I can do to make it work better?

  49. Hi Andrea, I tried the recipe today with 1 T. liquid castile soap added to the original recipe and the result was much more gel like than what you had in the tutorial video; it was more like a solid jello-ish kind of thing. Also, the result was more like water with white soap jelly in it instead of the water and soap gel becoming ONE liquid like what you had in your liquid soap. Any suggestions on what I might have done wrong??

    • Leave the vinegar out and make sure to only add one tablespoon of soap. Stir a lot during the day. Add essential oils after cooled. Let us know how it works out

  50. I tried this recipe and the soap thickened too much, almost to a white more solid gel. I have a pump dispenser as a part of my kitchen sink and it would not pump it up and out. Now I’ve transferred it to a old dish drop plastic container and it is getting stuck in the hole and I can’t squeeze it out. I’m getting very frustrated . I used the recipe that calls for shredding castile soap and I used KIRKS. Would you know what I might have done that will cause the soap to congeal to much? I appreciate this work you do. I have just made another batch…not ready yet…Thanks

    • Leave the vinegar out and make sure to only add one tablespoon of soap flakes. Stir a lot during the day. Add essential oils after cooled. Let us know how it works out.

  51. Hi all I had to post again here as I first tried this about a year ago. I’ve just decided to come back to it.

    My first batch totally failed – I wound up with a hard disc of white solid stuff floating on top of liquid in the bowl. I FINALLY worked out (by watching the video again) that the essential oil goes in AFTER it has cooled down. So I did it the same as Andrea did and voila – it’s working fine. Still cooling in the bowl but now it looks as it should.
    A couple of people above mentioned the mixture separating, so thought I’d post this in case it helps.
    I’ve made Andrea’s laundry stain stick which is the soap I’ve used in this batch, so will be interesting to see how it compares to the last time I made it using Velvet soap.

  52. Danielle says:

    Hi, I just made this recipe, twice actually. I followed your directions. I used castile soap instead of your home made soap. The first time, it hardened and when I stirred it, it made little white chunks. So I blended it the next day, when they didnt go away. Well that made them go away, but now the soap separated.

    Today, I remade this two hours ago. I now have a hard white disc in a bowl. Hard as in it is a solid gel. Before I do anything to it, what do you recommend I do to it to make it liquid?

  53. I’ve been making my own recipes for years and it took me a while and some research to figure out that vinegar is a problem in these recipes. I’ve pretty much cut out the vinegar if there’s a base like soap, baking soda, or washing soda. Lemon juice is no good either because it is an acid as well. When you see that foam or fizz as you did that means a reaction is happening that makes both inert (meaning they just released all their chemical cleaning power). You’re left with some salt and water. So really it’s only the soap that’s left this recipe.

    I think you’re doing a great job and I’m using your recipes to. I just want to make all of us aware that when we keep putting vinegar in, we’re wasting the bases that I think are doing the best work. Plus i havea prejudice against the vinegar because it just stinks 🙂

    Use one or the other, not both – I just find it easiest to leave the vinegar out!

    • Thanks for that Stacie, I was just scanning the comments to see if that had been addressed. Both washing soda and soap are alkaline, and cancel out the benefits of the vinegar.

      On the other hand, the reaction does leave something more than soap: basically mixing washing soda and vinegar result in a salt (sodium acetate), which will be dissolved in water, H20, and CO2 which escapes with the fizzing. But, there will also be washing soda left over, because you need a lot more vinegar than washing soda to have the reaction neutralise both. And, I’m only assuming that the washing soda will react first, leaving the soap as is. Which may be wrong.

      Andrea, do you think the sodium acetate contributes something necessary to the dish soap? Have you tried it without vinegar?

      Off to the library website to check out some chemistry books…

  54. Hi,

    I have not used the recipe yet for the dishes but it is cooling off. Question for you, when you said we can add 1/4 tesp of lemon, sweet orange, lemongrass, lavender or eucalyptus, are you saying on top of the 1/8 tsp of tea tree oil? or are you saying use in place of it or put all of them at 1/4

  55. I havent used this recipe yet, but am looking forward to how it will come out. I make my own laundry detergent and love the results….i will never go back to store bought. I hope this come out as well. I have just recently started doing DIY…..and feel great about it. I am also makin my own cough syrups with the herbs i grow and some that i order. I am a big fan!!! THANKS 🙂

  56. Is the Tea Tree Oil necessary? can a substitution be used?

  57. Andrea,

    Hi! I am going to try this recipe and was wondering if I use a homemade goats milk soap I have from a local farm I buy from, would this work for dishsoap? The soap is lovely and smells great, do I would live to try it, but I don’t want to ruin a batch! What about for liquid laundry soap?

    I love you site! These are the first recipes I will be trying, but I have a long list that I plan to try! Thanks!

  58. Hi, I tried this recipe the other day and it didn’t turn out well at all. The dishes still felt greasy after washing in hot water. Too much essential oil? After watching your video, my finished product didn’t appear as yours but was watery looking with clumps of gel here and there. I stirred it until all was incorporated. Not sure what went wrong. I’ll give it another try though.

  59. According To Lisa Bronner, Vinegar and castile soap mixed together will form a blob and cancel each other out. Dr bronners Sal suds can be mixed with vinegar and is better to use for a cleanser. Save the castile for use as a body soap.

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