After spending months testing online recipes and tinkering with different ingredients, I have finally settled on a natural DIY washing up liquid recipe that is environmentally friendly, easy to make and actually cuts through grease. The recipe makes just over 1 litre of and costs approximately $4 dollars, compared to the $6.48 I was paying for a shop bought biodegradable washing up liquid that I didn’t find particularly effective. Making washing up at home means I can cut down on transport to the supermarket and avoid the disposable plastic packaging, which means less rubbish going to the landfill. I currently buy all of the ingredients in bulk, but I hope to bring down the cost even further by making my own bar , Castile and washing soda in the future.

What you need to make 1 litre of Washing up soap


Measuring cups and spoons
Small funnel
A container for storing the soap (e.g. plastic lidded bucket, jar, old pump dispenser etc)


4 1/2 cups boiling water
3/4 cup grated bar soap
3/4 cup liquid castile soap (high sudsing castile which is a mix of olive and castor oil is best if you want foam)
3 tablespoons washing soda (you may need more or less depending on the bar soap you use)
1 1/2 teaspoons vegetable glycerin
Citrus essential oil as desired (I add 60 drops bergamot essential oil and 60 of pink grapefruit oil)


Step 1. Grate a bar of soap as small as possible and pack down into a 3/4 measuring cup.

Step 2. Place grated soap in a bowl and add 4 1/2 cups boiling water. Stir until the soap has dissolved

Step 3. Add 3/4 cup liquid Castile soap and 1 1/2 teaspoons of glycerin. Stir again

Step 4. Add 3 tablespoons of washing soda and mix. As the type of bar soap used dramatically affects the consistency of the soap, you may need more or less washing soda. Please note that the soap will thicken considerably as it cools and even more so with time. A soap that is the perfect gel like liquid may be almost solid the next day.

Step 5. Once the mixture cools, add citrus essential oil.

Step 6. Pour into empty washing up liquid bottles with a funnel or into a wide mouthed plastic container with a lid (see storage tip below to decide which option is best for you)

Storage Tip

The bar soap used in this recipe not only determines the colour of the finished liquid, but also it’s consistency. If you wish to use whatever biodegradable soap is cheapest that month (regardless of whether it produces a washing liquid with the perfect consistency to squeeze out of a bottle) simply store your dish soap in a wide- mouthed, lidded container. If the homemade soap starts to thicken or separate in the container you can then just mix it with a hand whisk and add a little water.

If you want a dish soap with the perfect consistency and lots of suds, then this recipe is probably not for you. If, on the other hand, you are looking for something cheap, natural and biodegradable, with good cleaning power and no borax go ahead and give it a try. I’m very happy with my homemade dish soap and won’t be paying a premium for store-bought ever again!


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