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Simple and effective homemade dish soap

homemade dish soap

A DIY Solution for all your dirty dishes

I’ve never been a fan of doing dishes. What I like less is purchasing a plastic bottle of liquid dish soap only to toss said bottle every other week when it's empty. When I finally paid attention to this not-so-net-zero "re" cycle, it seemed ludicrous. Did you know that Canadians throw out 3 million tonnes of plastic every year? Only a fraction of it is actually recycled and most of it isn't even necessary. These observations occurred a couple of months ago when I also noticed Etee Plastic-Free Dish Soap Bars for sale at Token in Toronto’s Riverside neighbourhood. The shop was out of its refillable liquid dish soap so I grabbed a bar and took it to the cashier who rang up and shared my shocking total: $20.

My face went red, and I nearly died as I pulled out my debit card and told myself this was a work expense. Following that first evening of washing dishes, I swore I would never get used to the bar of soap even if it's handmade with cocoa butter, cane sugar and lemon essential oil. The soap felt luxurious on my hands, for sure, but also like a major obstacle. Needless to say my dishes piled up‌ as I avoided the now awkward chore. Even the cashier who sold me the soap said his roommates wouldn’t use it anymore because it was a pain. He told me this when I returned a few weeks later to the shop for something else and asked his opinion of the soap. At this point I was kind of into it.

After a week of forcing myself to wash dishes with the plant-based organic soap, according to its directions: run bar on wet cloth or scrubbie and apply the cloth directly to dishes, my hands warmed up to dish o'clock. Yes, I actually looked forward to washing dishes, or rather the opportunity to indulge my hands in the glorious suds. However, while the Etee bar is environmentally sustainable it isn't financially sustainable considering it doesn’t last much longer than a couple of weeks, similar to a $3 bar of soap or liquid dish soap. I’ve also been known to wash my dishes with shampoo and laundry detergent in the past so I don't need top shelf bubbles. I decided to try a DIY solution to my first-world-problem and make some homemade dish soap instead. 

A recipe for homemade dish soap

Besides less expensive and equally green alternatives like bulk liquid dish soap, it’s fairly easy to make your own dish soap at home. There are several recipes online. Here’s one I followed loosely:


  • Blender (patience)

  • Saucepan (crockpot)

  • Soap Dispenser (oil dispenser)


  • 1/4 cup Castile soap (soap chunks I’ve been saving for a scary amount of time)

  • 2 cups water

  • 1-2 Tbsp white vinegar 1 Tbsp

  • Vegetable glycerin optional (olive oil)

  • 5 drops lemon essential oil optional


  • Pour the water and soap chunks into a crock pot and turn it on low.

  • Stir the mixture until all the soap melts.

  • Once the soap has completely melted into the water, remove the mixture from the heat and allow it to cool off for a few minutes.

  • Stir in the vinegar and olive oil (or glycerin) which helps to thicken the mixture. If desired, add a few drops of your favorite essential oils. I’m a fan of lavender, lemongrass and grapefruit.

  • Allow the mixture to rest in the pot until completely cooled, then pour it into your preferred soap dispenser. Voila! Your homemade dish soap recipe is ready to go.

Dish soap doesn’t have to come in a plastic bottle or cost a fortune to be net zero. While I I got used to washing my dishes with a bar of soap, I didn’t like the idea of replacing that every two weeks, either. The recipe above is a great solution, if you like the idea of easy homemade dish soap.

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