It’s Friday night, and your turn to take on the spoils of a night of dinner entertaining. The dishes are stacked high, and your morale is decidedly low. Your sensitive hands have had enough of harsh dishwashing soaps, and you remember the dinner conversation about how harsh chemicals from our domestic cleaning products impact our waterways and how single-use packaging is choking our landfills.
You think about the fish in the stream, the ducks in the park pond, and your poor sensitive hands, and you Google ‘DIY dish soap,’ and just like that, you’ve arrived here. At the beginning of your non-toxic dish soap journey!
Why Non-Toxic Dish Soap
In a world where we are becoming more conscious of the products we use, it’s important to consider their impact on our health and the planet. There is no Planet B, and we have just one set of hands to take on a lifetime of dishwashing.
Non-toxic dish soap is becoming increasingly popular because it’s free from harsh chemicals that harm our skin and seep into our waterways. By making the switch to a non-toxic option, you can rest easy knowing that you are doing your part in preserving the environment while also protecting your family’s health.
Not only that, but non-toxic dish soap can still effectively remove tough grease and grime from your dishes, so you don’t have to sacrifice cleanliness for sustainability.
One small step for that stubborn casserole dish, one big step for Mother Earth, right?
Why Make Homemade All Natural Dish Soap
The truth is, the dishes were being washed way before the advent of harsh chemicals that manipulated us to believe we needed them. We don’t need them! We do need plants – to breathe, and coincidentally, they come in pretty handy when you need to whip up a DIY dish soap!
Say Goodbye to Harsh Chemicals
Possibly the number one reason that people opt for homemade cleaning supplies is to eliminate the harsh chemicals that accompany their commercial counterparts.
Take one look at the 572 individual dish soaps on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) graded dishwashing list, and you’ll see that only 16.7% score an “A-Rating,” meaning the vast majority contain harsh chemicals that are readily absorbed through your skin and the environment’s waterways.
A startlingly 100 products on that list received an “F-Rating” due to ingredients that cause respiratory problems, skin irritation, developmental and reproductive toxicity, cancer, or create a moderate environmental concern. Yikes.
Making your own dish soap puts you in control. Building a cleaning routine around natural ingredients ensures a healthier experience for you and the earth.
Be Your Own Product Designer
When companies build a cleaning product at scale, it’s natural that they’ll want to eliminate costs (read: cut corners). This may mean cheap chemicals that may get the job done but also dry out your hands to oblivion!
Making your own dish soap allows you to add natural ingredients that actually benefit your skin! Coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, aloe vera, and even glycerin are natural ‘humectants’ that are often used in earth-friendly soaps. Splash some in and moisturize your hands in the process!
Knowledge is Power
Making your own cleaning products is empowering. You know exactly what is going into them; you’re not reliant on a dictionary to look up ingredients no one could spell in a spelling bee, and you save money.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
When you buy a product off the shelf, even a sustainable cleaning product, you inherently buy its carbon footprint as well. That includes the ingredients that go into it, the packaging, the natural resources and energy used in production, and even its shipping emissions. Making your own dish soap significantly lightens your environmental impact.
The truth is, most of what we’re really buying when we purchase conventional cleaning products is water. That’s right, the Ellen Macarthur Foundation, a pioneer in Circular Economy principles, says that up to 90% of cleaning products are just water!
So wait, we’re shipping water all around the nation to just land on the shelves and make consumers buy a product with only 10% active cleaning ingredients? Not today you are! You’re going to break the cycle, reduce your carbon footprint, ditch the chemicals, and make your own non-toxic dish soap!
How to Make Non-Toxic Dish Soap
Making a non-toxic dish soap is relatively easy! Once you’ve gotten a backstock of the basic ingredients, you’ll be able to play with the basic recipe until you get it just right for your own needs. You can also customize your own blend with unique natural scents.
A basic recipe involves mixing together plant-based or mineral ingredients (like castile soap), distilled water, and your choice of essential oil for fragrance. We’ll give you ample warning: once you’ve gotten your homestead groove on, you’ll want to spread the love. The Christmas stocking stuffers are done! Maybe you’ve got a farmers market booth in your future?
This simple and effective process can help you feel more confident about what is in your soap and the impact it has on your health and the planet.
Non-Toxic Dish Soap Recipe
You’ll need to gather:
- A 16 ounce glass container (and a reusable pump container after your soap cools if you prefer for easy dispensing)
- A pot for boiling water
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Castille soap bar and liquid
- Washing soda
- Essential oils of choice
A Base Recipe
This is a basic non-toxic dish soap recipe that can be adjusted to your preferences.
- 1 1/4 cups boiling water
- 1/4 cup of grated castile soap bar
- 1 tablespoon of washing soda
- 1/4 cup liquid castile soap
- 1/2 teaspoon non-GMO glycerin
- Optional: 5-10 drops of an essential oil (lemon and orange have great natural grease-cutting qualities)
DIY Dish Soap Steps
- Boil the water.
- Add grated castile soap and stir.
- Add the washing soda and stir.
- Add liquid castile soap and stir.
- Let mixture cool, then add optional essential oils.
- Transfer the blend to a glass jar to cool and, optionally, to a repurposed pump dispenser after cooling.
Troubleshooting DIY Dish Soap Recipes
Not enough cleaning power
There are numerous DIY dish soap recipes out there, but many of them rely on pricey or hard-to-find ingredients. Some of the recipes just don’t cut the fat – quite literally! They may fail to eliminate grease from dishes or leave behind a film unless you add an extra step.
The Fix: If you need to turbocharge your homemade dish soap to cut grease, add a little baking soda or lemon juice to the mix.
Many natural recipes can be too runny. This results in a limited time for the soap to do its thing before sliding off the surfaces. This gets you unwashed dishes and lots of DIY cleaning product loss – which is not what we want when we’re out here trying to save our health and earth!
The Fix: Add a little more washing soda or up to 8% liquid crothix (derived from sustainably sourced palm oil).
Your soap mixture might harden too fast as it sets in the pot. The amount of washing soda you use will also dictate how thick your dish soap gets, so you can adjust the amount accordingly as you dial your recipe in.
The Fix: If it’s too thick to pour into your glass jar, just add a tablespoon of warm water and shake it well, and it should loosen up.
Then there’s bubble envy. We hate to be the bearer of bad news, but while those bubbles are oh-so-satisfying, they are also oh-so-not-functional in washing your dishes! The ‘surfactants’ added to commercial dish soaps create bubbles by lowering the surface tension of the water so the water film in the bubble is not pulled back into the liquid water.
This is a scientific way of justifying the bubble manipulation that major brands have you believing must exist to effectively clean your dishes!
The Fix: If bubbles are a must-have for your dishwashing experience, add a little more vegetable glycerin to your DIY dish soap mix.
Empower Yourself with a DIY Cleaning Routine
Making your own dish soap not only empowers you and your bank account but also positively affects the environment as you reduce the amount of harsh chemicals that become pollutants in our land and water.
We can all make a difference, no matter how small – and making your own dish soap is an excellent first step. While this may seem daunting initially, once you have completed the easy process the first time, you’ll be spreading the word down the neighborhood block!