Growing up, the blue dish soap was a hand and dish washing staple. And guess what, the Environmental Working Group gives it an F grade. Scroll through the 145 dish soaps that received D or F ratings, and you’ll see lots of familiar names.
The good news is that there a ton of more environmentally friendly options. Check out the 34 soaps that get an A rating! The bad news is that they’re not cheap. There’s got to be a DIY dish soap option, right? Yes! Finally I found a recipe that really truly works for cleaning a sink full of dishes.
My previous homemade dish soap experiments were not super successful. The soaps didn’t really lather or cut through grease, and they left a residue on the dishes. Gross.
The main reason so many of the recipes don’t measure up is Castile soap. It’s practically heresy to say there’s something Castile soap can’t do, right? Well, dish soap is one of them.
DIY Dish Soap with Sal Suds
I love Castile soap for foaming hand soap and body wash, but for dish soap I use the lesser known Dr. Bronner’s product, Sal Suds. Made with plant-based surfactants and essential oils, Sal Suds isn’t a soap, but rather a ‘concentrated hard-surface all-purpose cleaner.’ And you can combine it with vinegar without curdling.
The other exciting part of this recipe (and yes, this is exciting!) is the salt. I found this discovery from The Hippy Homemaker, and it makes all the difference in getting a thicker, non-runny consistency. Plus, it’s just super cool to watch happen. Makes me feel all mad scientist-y.
I’ve had to add a little extra salt each time I make this so throw in another teaspoon or so if the mixture isn’t thickening.
DIY Homemade Dish Soap Recipe
- 1/2 cup warm filtered water
- 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
- 1/2 cup Dr. Bronners Sal Suds
- 1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt
- 25 drops lemon essential oil
- In a medium sized bowl combine warm water and salt and stir until the salt is completely dissolved.
- In a separate bowl, combine Sal Suds and vinegar. Stir until fully combined.
- Stir Sal Suds/vinegar mixture into salt water mixture and continue stirring until thickened.
- Store in a squirt bottle (a recycled dish soap container well)
Photos by Ana Stanciu122
Thank you for posting this article – it looks fantastic! I was also wondering if you could direct me to where you found that bottle in the photo? Most of the ones I find are unappealing – and I love the one in your post. Thank so much!
Stephanie Gerber says
I’m not sure where that exact bottle came from but I usually get my glass pumps and spray bottles from Rail19.com
I’ve always used this recipe and it worked great. I switched last time to Biokleen all purpose cleaner because the price of Sal’s Suds is getting so hi. It did not thicken with Biokleen, even with much more salt. Has anyone else used it successfully?
Maria Deligianni says
Hi thank you for the recipe. I want to ask if the water that will remain for some days in the bottle will grow bacteria. Thank you
I have been making this for years. I never have had problems with mold. In fact I double up the batch so I do not have to make it so much. It will sit under my sink for 3 to 4 months and no mold.
Is there an alternative to Sal Suds? I know you said that Castille Soap, in your opinion, doesn’t measure up. However, the main reason I want to make my own dish soap is to not have to buy packaged plastic products all the time. Buying Sal Suds in packaged bottles defeats the purpose. Also a lot of people on Amazon seem to distrust the marketing of Sal Suds. It says natural but uses SLS (sulfates) and has a strong acrid chemical smell.
Lisa Bronner does address the question of SLS on the Dr. Bronner’s website. Of course this is their own product but the explanation makes sense. Moreover, for a more objective review look Sal Suds up on the EWG’s site (Environmental Working Group); they rate Sal Suds an A for safety, and they are typically pretty picky. Just my two cents. 🙂
Elizabeth Sutterer says
Does this soap smell like vinegar?
No. It doesn’t really have a smell unless you add essential oil. The vinegar smell is gone before you finish all the steps.
Mine got cloudy and didn’t thicken. I added a lot more salt… any ideas what went wrong?
I just made this and am so happy with it! I was a diehard Dawn platinum fan, but this works just as well. Goodbye nasty chemicals!
Tesi Kohlenberg says
Just wondering whether one could dilute the sal’s and add salt, but not vinegar or essential oil. Sal’s has a nice pine scent, and I’m finding the vinegar smell too strong.
What would be a good Sal Suds substitute? I want to make this, but am trying to make a non-toxic solution. Sal Suds contains SLS’s.