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Homemade Dish Soap Put to the Test

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Homemade Dish Soap Put to the Test

For our ongoing series of DIY cleaning tests, we scoured the Internet (pun intended) for homemade formulas for hand-cleaning dishes.

We tested each of three homemade dish cleaners with three tough-to-clean items ó a pan with some fried-egg residue, a plate with dried-on yolk from said eggs, and a plastic high chair tray smeared with stain-inducing spaghetti sauce.

1. Melted bar soap

PROS: Inexpensive; simple to make; eventually removed food, grease and odors.

CONS: Unpleasant smell; too thick; too labor-intensive to use.

Rodale, respected publishers of Prevention and Menís Health magazines, offers a recipe for essentially turning a bar of hand soap into liquid dish soap.

Itís pretty straightforward. Grate one 4-ounce bar of plain soap (we used Ivory, which had the simplest list of ingredients we could find) and whisk the shavings into 8 cups of steaming hot water until melted, then add a few drops of essential oil if desired. We used peppermint oil in all three of our tests for a more direct comparison.

After letting the resulting liquid cool overnight, we returned to a pot full of opaque goop with the consistency of egg whites ó a little too thick for effective use in a bottle with a pour spout, which Rodale suggests. Instead, we scooped it onto the sponge for cleaning dishes.

The mix of Ivory and peppermint also had an odd smell, but that would not be an issue with a more pure unscented soap.

The liquid cleaned grease and food off plates and pans, and did not seem to leave any residue, but it took more effort and time than the standard commercial dish liquid.

The biggest advantage of this mixture was the cost. An Ivory bar costs about 56 cents, and the other ingredients are optional, so this recipe makes half a gallon of dish soap for well under $1, or about one cent per ounce.

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7:45PM PST on Jan 29, 2013

Whenever I've tried alternatives (homemade, bar soaps etc.) to the commercial dish soap the results were undesirable and I always went back. My homemade laundry soap had good results and is something I would make again in the future.

5:17PM PST on Jan 29, 2013


8:30AM PST on Feb 15, 2012

Some things are fun to try, but not worth the effort. I use Mrs Meyers or Seventh Generation.

8:16PM PST on Jan 29, 2012

Thanks for this info. I make my own laundry detergent, but have never thought to try homemade dish soap.

8:21AM PST on Jan 6, 2012

I am a soap maker. There are lots of us around. Try your local farmer's market. If you use home made soap and use the first method mentioned, you'll end up with a goupy substance which cleans your dishes well, isn't hard on your hands, and is not too expensive. (This is based on my own soap of course.)
I've tried the commercial detergent mentioned and I find it takes a lot of it to get the job done. My soap worked better!

12:17PM PST on Nov 10, 2011

I'm suprised that there doesn't seem to be an alternative 'homemade' dish soap. Where is the most likely place one could find castile soap ~ and is it sold under a brand name (i.e. borax being known as Twenty Team Mule) ?

9:21PM PDT on Nov 1, 2011

never seen Castile soap, will try looking for it at the supermarket shelves.

4:59PM PDT on Sep 5, 2011


12:49PM PDT on Sep 1, 2011

Whatever you wind up washing your dishes with just make sure the water is HOT!!

3:09PM PDT on Aug 31, 2011


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