How to Make Detergent

It’s a well-known fact that upon returning from grocery shopping, the kitchen a mess and in desperate need of a clean load of dishes, you will then (and only then) realize you are out of dish washing detergent. Frustrated, you might consider grabbing your keys and running back to the store and picking up some food to go while you’re at it. Don’t let frustration get the best of you, curtailing your healthy cooking plans and throwing you off budget. Put that high school chemistry class to good use and make your own dish washing detergent! Follow one of these simple recipes and you’ll be washing that load of dirty dishes faster than you can say, “You’re soaking in it.”

How to Make Dish Detergent

Dish washing recipe #1: Fill the empty squirt bottle with fragrance-free castile soap (Dr. Bronner’s Baby Mild Liquid Soap is a good choice). Add in 10-15 drops of antibacterial essential oil. Some good options include: lavender, lemon, lemongrass, or orange. Use one-two tablespoons with each dish load.

Dish washing recipe #2: Fill the empty squirt bottle with two cups liquid castile soap, 1/2 cup water, one teaspoon lemon juice, and 1/2 cup white vinegar. The blend of the lemon juice and vinegar are especially good at cutting through grease.

Dish washing recipe #3: In a non-reactive pan, mix a gallon of warm water with two cups of soap flakes until the soap flakes are completely dissolved. Remove the pan from heat and add two tablespoons of glycerin. Once the mixture has finally cooled, add a 1/2 cup of lemon juice or white vinegar for extra grease-fighting properties. Pour mixture into your recycled dishwasher detergent bottle for an instant cleaner. Note: a non-reactive pan does not produce a chemical reaction when it comes into contact with acids, such as the lemon juice and vinegar in this recipe. Examples of non-reactive materials are stainless steel, non-stick, clay, enamel and glass. Copper and aluminum are the most common reactive metals used to make cookware.

Most castile soaps contain a preservative (Dr. Bronner’s, for example, contains citric acid) and should last safely for one to two years. Adding lemon juice to your recipe will increase the shelf life even further.

Dish washing recipe #4: This one is for the simple folk. Use 1 tablespoon each of Borax and Arm and Hammer Washing Soda as a detergent and white vinegar as a rinsing agent. Note that washing soda can also be used to remove greasy, burned-on stains from cookware. Sprinkle dry Super Washing Soda on a damp sponge to scour stains. Rinse well.

Related links: For more information on using essential oils for cleaning, read The Budget Ecoist’s post on cleaning with essential oils.