Thursday, March 7, 2013

Homemade Dish Soap

Over the past few years, I've been reading up on a LOT of articles/recipes about homemade cleaning products. When I first took an interest, it was primarily because I had small children, and wanted to lessen the amount of toxins in my household. But just 5 years ago, there was FAR less information or recipes available than there are now, and the few recipes I did try really weren't that great. I liked how I felt using vinegar and water on my windows, but I wasn't crazy about the smell. I make perfumes - I personally *need* things to smell pretty.  I'm embarrassed to admit that it wasn't long before I reverted back to the store-bought cleaners.

Lately though, I've noticed an upsurge (Pinterest, most likely) in DIY recipes, a lot of which seem to have more favorable reviews than the ones I tried years ago. So, my interest has been piqued once more. I've been testing a few out here and there, and have found a few duds, but many surprising "wins". Which leads me to this particular article: of all the household cleaning products in my home, the one we go through more quickly than any other is dish soap.
We live in an apartment built in 1927 -- electrical outlets are few (with plenty of extension cords), and we have NO dishwasher... which is fine -- I don't mind doing dishes, really. But since we wash all of our dishes exclusively by hand (and we like to do a LOT of cooking), we tend to go through a bottle of dish soap every 2 weeks. That's about $80 per year!

I haven't found a recipe I love quite as much as I loved my Palmolive, but the following recipe is a natural alternative, smells nice, costs pennies to make, is SO EASY to make, and does the job. Oh -- and after sitting for a few hours/overnight, isn't too thin/watery, which is a HUGE plus for me (personal preference). I honestly think I'll be able to stick with it, this time.

Homemade Dish Soap

  • 1 ¾ cups boiling water
  • 1 Tbsp Borax
  • 1 Tbsp grated bar soap (I used Ivory, because I had plenty left over from making DIY Laundry Detergent -- but that will be in a later post)
  •  1 Tbsp liquid castile soap, optional (I used Dr. Bronner's in Almond)
  • 15-20 drops essential oils, optional (I used 8 drops Lemon, 8 drops Lavender, and 4-5 drops Eucalyptus)
Heat water to boiling.
Combine borax and grated bar soap in a Pyrex measuring cup (2 cup + capacity).
Pour hot water over the mixture til water level reaches 1 ¾ cup mark.
Whisk until the grated soap is completely melted.
Pour into empty squirt bottle (a funnel would help to avoid spills/splashes, but I didn't have one, so I poured reeeeeeallllly carefully).
Allow mixture to cool for a few hours, shaking occasionally. Dish soap will gel upon standing.
Transfer to a squirt bottle, and add essential oils (if using). Shake well to combine.

Tip: The dish soap continues to re-gel between uses, but if you give it a good shake prior to use, it seems to make it easier to distribute. I don't mind this *too* much, because for me, having to shake before use is far preferable to having to use thin, watery dish soap.
Also - pleeeease make sure all of the little grated soap bits completely dissolve before transferring to a squirt bottle. If any little bits remain undissolved, they will make their way to the dispensing cap mid-squeeze, clog your squirt bottle, and drive you batty. I'm speaking from experience.

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