Homemade natural dishwashing liquid

Homemade natural dishwashing liquid

Have you ever thought about making your own homemade dishwashing liquid? I certainly hadn’t, until I got married. It turned out my husband reacts to commercial dish liquid – the skin on his hands peel off! I don’t love washing dishes, and didn’t want to see my husband suffer – I wondered if making dishwashing liquid from scratch would solve the problem.

A recipe for natural dish soap

I set about looking for a recipe, and I couldn’t find one! I googled and googled, and nothing came up! I asked on Facebook groups, and no one seemed to know if it could be done! Eventually, last year, I signed up for an online class on essential oils with Dr Eric Zielinski (Dr Z), and his wife Sabrina (Mama Z). They mentioned using homemade dishwashing liquid, and offered a recipe on their website, Natural Living Family. That is the recipe I have been using ever since!

Thoughts on using natural dish soap

Before you make it, though, just be aware that washing with natural dish soap is different from commercial dish liquids, and it might take a bit of a mind-shift. It does make suds (see pic below), but not to the extent that you may be used to. It does work better with hot water, especially if you are washing dishes with oil/grease on them. I find that it works better to use a cloth and a little bit of running water rather than using a sink full of water.

For some people, this is not the way that they prefer to wash dishes. For me, I was happy to change my dishwashing practices, for a few reasons. The first was so that my husband wouldn’t be affected by dishwashing liquid. The second was because I have since realised that I prefer to expose myself and my family to as few synthetic chemicals as possible. Finally, although I have never enjoyed washing dishes, using orange essential oil in my recipe (my favourite scent) has helped to change my perspective on dishes, and I don’t find it unpleasant or avoid doing it anymore. All of those are big wins in my book!

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How to find ingredients for natural dish soap in South Africa

When I wanted to make the dish soap, I first had to figure out how to find the ingredients. In fact, I had to start with where to get the bottle to put it into! I eventually managed to buy dark-coloured glass spray- and pump-bottles online from Essentially Natural. I bought the 500ml amber bottle for my dishwashing liquid. I felt the prices were quite reasonable, and bought a few other bottles for making other homemade cleaning liquids and DIY products like insect repellant. There was free shipping on my order, and the items came quickly and were all in one piece!

The next ingredients I needed to find was liquid castile soap. Castile soap is make from natural oils (usually olive and/or coconut) only, using water and caustic soda in the process. In South Africa liquid castile soap is manufactured by Pure Simple, but I found it was easier and cheaper to buy it from Faithful to Nature. I stocked up with 3 bottles as they were running a special, and these lasted me for almost a year, making dish liquid and laundry liquid. If you can’t get liquid castile, or run out and can’t wait for delivery, you can make liquid castile soap from castile bar soap. Just grate a bar and mix with 400ml hot water and let it dissolve. I have not yet tried to make liquid castile soap from scratch, but it is something I hope to do at some stage!

Glycerine I bought from a local supermarket – it is widely available in the cosmetics aisle, and very cheap to buy.

Essential oils are becoming more and more widely available in South Africa. Dischem stocks a range called Soil, which is good quality. Natural health shops and some pharmacies should also stock them. I bought online in bulk from Umuthi. The recipe calls for tea tree and lemon, for antimicrobial and grease-cutting properties. I ran out of lemon at one stage, and started using orange, which I found I prefer. At one stage I even ended up using lemongrass instead. They all smell great and work well, so try things out and see what suits you.

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Homemade natural dishwashing liquid

Yields 500ml dishwashing liquid

5 minPrep Time

5 minTotal Time

Save RecipeSave Recipe


  • 1/2 cup liquid castile soap
  • 1-2 t vegetable glycerine
  • 4 drops tea tree essential oil
  • 8 drops lemon or other citrus essential oil
  • Water to make up to 500ml


  1. Add ingredients to 500ml glass pump bottle in listed order
  2. Make sure to leave some space at the top for screwing in the pump handle
  3. Enjoy your homemade natural dish soap!


Nutrition Facts
    Amount Per Serving
  • Calories 20
  • % Daily Value*

  • Total Fat: 0 g 0%
  • Saturated Fat: 0 g 0%
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg 0%
  • Sodium: 685 mg 28.54%
  • Potassium: 5 mg 0.14%
  • Total Carbohydrate: 5 g %
  • Sugar: 5 g
  • Protein: 0 g
  • Vitamin A: 0%
  • Calcium: 35 mg 3.5%
  • Iron: 0 mg 0%
  • * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

    Click Here For Full Nutrition, Exchanges, and MyPlate Info

What are your thoughts? Would you use natural dish soap?

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