Thursday, February 2, 2012

Dish Soap Failure or Success?

Last week I promised to share my failed attempt at making dish soap. We had just enough dish soap left to get me to the end of the month, that is until my son decided to use almost half the bottle in doing some dishes, which he promptly emptied the sink and soap after filling it only with water. ERRRR. Anyway, I didn't have plans to go to the store, nor did I have much money left in the household budget, nor did I have a coupon for "Green" dish soap. So, I decided to try and make some. Originally I thought I had failed, but after reading this article on soap nuts, I decided that maybe my attempt had not failed after all. Just because there aren't suds does not mean that there is not soap in the water that is still able to clean my dishes, rather that I've been brainwashed to think that I NEED suds to be able to clean.

I found a recipe that used items I already had on hand - soap shavings, water and vinegar or lemon juice. Sounded easy enough. The kids had fun helping grate the Ivory soap (which is almost always on hand since I use it in making my laundry detergent). The recipe said to cover the soap shavings with hot water and allow it to sit overnight to soften. After a few hours I noticed it had softened and probably should have done something with it then, but the directions said overnight, so I left it. In the morning it was no longer soft - it had now become a semi-solid lump of soap gel. Now the recipe said to add more water and either lemon juice or vinegar (as a degreasing agent) until you reach your desired consistency. Hmm, this lump of soap gel was not changing it's consistency with the added liquids. Now what? I decided to throw it in the blender to see what would happen. Eventually I was able to make it a liquid again and it sure did bubble up with the added motion of the blender. Once it was a liquid I poured it into my almost empty bottle of dish soap, added some essential oils (but could not overpower the scent of the ivory soap) and decided to try it right away. The dish soap created some suds at first, but they quickly disappeared. Which led me to believe that the soap was not working.

If you find yourself in need of some dish soap and want an easy, frugal solution, try this. I figure this cost me at most, 80 cents for the bottle of dish soap. A four pack of Ivory soap was on clearance at Target, plus I had a coupon. Just remember that the presence of suds is not necessary for cleaning. Although I used Ivory soap, you could do this with left over bar soap remnants, hotel soaps or whatever you happen to have on hand or a coupon for. I've changed the recipe a bit from the original since I had some difficulty and a half batch made more than I needed.

Come back next week to find out a simple, non-toxic, counter-intuitive way to get berry, cherry, or wine stains out of fabric.

This post is part of Simple Lives Thursday, check out the link for more ideas for living simply.

DIY Dish Soap


  • 1 cup Soap Shavings
  • 2 cups Hot Water
  • 1/4 cup Vinegar or Lemon Juice
  • 20 drops Favorite Essential Oil (optional)


  1. Finely chop or grate bar soap remnants, hotel soaps or whatever soap you have on hand.
  2. Cover the soap shavings with hot water and let sit until softened, check after a few hours.
  3. Add more water and vinegar or lemon juice and stir until you have reached your desired consistency.
  4. Add essential oil(s) if using and shake before each use.
  5. Recommended essential oil combinations - orange and lavender, peppermint and grapefruit, bergamot with lavender and orange.
Prep Time: 1 h Cook Time: 1 min Ready in: 1 h 1 min
Click to add this recipe to your Recipe Book
DIY Dish Soap courtesy of Jamie Del Balso.

1 comment:

  1. Very nice tutorial and post about this. Sometimes, as I'm running water into the sink for dishes, I just rub a bar of soap until the water until it seems there is "enough" in the water. Maybe then if I splashed in some vinegar or lemon juice, it would approximate what you made here. Hmmm. Thanks for the great post!