The foundation of this recipe is the idea that castile soap is an extremely versatile natural soap that gets the job done, and that includes washing dishes. However, there are other ingredients that can be added to make the soap work even better, cut through grease more easily, kill bacteria more effectively, and even be softer on your hands. Use the information in the steps below to make a dish soap that is just right for your needs.
You Will Need:
- Castile soap (bar or liquid)
- White vinegar (optional)
- Washing soda (optional)
- Glycerin (optional)
- Olive oil (optional)
- Essential oils (see selection guide below)
Making the Soap:
- If using bar soap, grate the soap to make ¼ cup of soap flakes. You can use a bar of castile soap, or any other natural bar of soap you may have. Once grated, put the flakes in a saucepan with 1.5 cups of water and stir until the flakes are dissolved. This is the foundation of the recipe and can be used without any further ingredients if preferred. Castile soap can be purchased at most grocery stores, supermarkets, and pharmacies.
- Liquid castile soap can be used instead of bar soap. To use it, measure out ½ cup of the liquid soap and put it in an empty container with 1 cup of water. This is the foundation of the recipe and can be used without any further ingredients if preferred. Castile soap is very strong, which is why it is mixed with water even as a liquid.
- White vinegar is a natural product that easily cuts through grease, which is particularly helpful for washing dishes. Vinegar can also help to neutralize the alkalinity of the castile soap, giving you a more pH-neutral cleaner, which is the safest choice to use on stainless steel, marble, granite, and other kitchen surfaces you may be cleaning with your DIY dish soap. Just 2 tablespoons of white vinegar added to this recipe will do the trick.
- Washing soda is similar to vinegar in that it can make the soap cut through grease and burnt-on pan residue more easily, though it is stronger than vinegar. In contrast to vinegar, washing soda is extremely alkaline, which makes it effective for cutting through acidic food residue. However, the alkalinity can be too strong for aluminum, so do not add this ingredient if you have aluminum pans that you use often. Also, do not use both vinegar and washing soda in your recipe or they will cancel each other out. If you want to use washing soda, add ½ teaspoon to the solution.
- Liquid vegetable glycerin can be found in the baking aisle at a grocery store or at a pharmacy. Adding 1 tablespoon to your dish soap will make the soap softer on your hands. Glycerin will also help to thicken the recipe so that it more closely resembles the dish liquid you would buy in a store. It also works as an antifreeze, keeping your soap from freezing during the winter, as well as helps the soap to be more effective at removing dirt and food debris. If you decide to add washing soda to your recipe, it would be best to add glycerin as well to protect your hands.
- If you don’t have any glycerin, olive oil (or any other oil you like, such as coconut oil) can be used instead to help protect your hands as you wash. If you decide to use an oil, it would be best to also use washing soda as the soda will help the oil to combine with the other ingredients. Just add 1 tablespoon to the mixture.
- Each essential oil has its own unique properties that make it useful, as well as give the soap a scent you like. Here is a list of essential oils that can be used for making dish liquid, their properties, and the amount of each that can be used with this recipe. Choose one or several of these oils to use in your soap if desired.
- Lemon. This essential oil is antiseptic, which means that it will help prevent the growth of organisms on your dish sponge. It is also antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal, which is helpful for getting your dishes extra-clean. It works particularly well as an addition to dish soap as it is excellent at cutting through grease. If you fry food often, this oil would be a great choice. It’s scent is stimulating, so it can help you to stay awake if doing dishes makes you sleepy. Add 2 drops.
- Lime. This essential oil is also antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal. It also works extremely well at cutting through grease. Add 6 drops.
- Lavender. This essential oil is antiseptic, antibacterial, antiviral and antifungal. It is also one of the safest oils to work with. It’s scent is said to fight depression. Add 4 drops.
- Eucalyptus. This oil works well for removing rust, which can be helpful if you have high-iron water. The smell of eucalyptus is invigorating and can help with nasal congestion. Add 3 drops.
- Tea Tree. This essential oil is an antiseptic and antimicrobial, as well as an antifungal. It is extremely effective as a disinfectant and also is one of the safest oils to work with. Add 2 drops.
- Bergamot. This oil is antimicrobial, which means that it kills all types of harmful microbes (bacteria, fungus, parasites, etc.). Add 3 drops.
- Rosemary. This essential oil is an antiseptic and antibacterial. The smell of rosemary is calming; a great choice for late-evening dish washing. Add 6 drops.
- Peppermint. This oil is antibacterial. It works well for removing rust, which can be helpful if you have high-iron water. Add 2 drops.
- Once you have combined all of the ingredients, pour the mixture into an empty dish liquid container. You can remove the label from your store-bought bottle to reuse it, then create your own label.
- Shake the soap bottle before each use to ensure the ingredients are mixed well.
- Use caution when working with essential oils; they can be very strong and burn your skin.
- Do not use excess amounts of essential oils.
- Never use a product that contains essential oils to clean a pet dish as they can be toxic to some animals, particularly cats.
- There are castile soaps that you can buy that already have essential oils added.
- Use caution when considering essential oils if you are pregnant.
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