How to Make Detergent

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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.”

Dish Detergent Recipe

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.

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  • Cajungal328

    ps… I ended up having to heat it on the stove to dissolve the soap. After it cooled down, it gelled up and got really thick, so I had to water it down big time to thin it out enough to squirt out of the dish liquid bottle. After all was said and done, I ended up with about a gallon and a half of this dish soap off of one bar of ivory….. this is still trial and error on my part

  • Cajungal328

    I started making homemade laundry detergent months ago, and it’s awesome to make this stuff and save money. Well, tonight I ran ouot of dish liquid, so I began researching how to make that too. I came across a few sites with this same recipe. So I tried it. I took one whole bar of ivory soap, ground it up in the food processor, added about 16 oz of water, 1/4 c. vinegar, 2 T. washing soda, and a few drops of lemon scented essentual oil, and I ran it thru the food processor until smooth. I filled up a large dish liquid bottle, and washed my dishes, and wow!!!  Works better than Dawn and Palmalive!! And doesn’t give up after the first sinkload either! Lasted through 2 1/2 sinkloads of dishes, which included nasty pots and pans… And cost apprx. $.35 to make….Glad I tried this…. it’s a keeper!

  • Very good recipes that are required after the dinner (not required while making the dinner). Interesting stuff, thanks for sharing…