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This post has been a LONG time coming. I have been trying to find a recipe for dish soap that ACTUALLY works, for at least a year now. I have tried just about every single DIY all-natural "crunchy" soap recipe that I could find! Every one of the recipes that I found contained castile soap in them, but I was looking for something less alkaline. The cold hard fact of the mater is that castile soap whether in liquid form, grated bar form, or even a combination of the two just wasn't working well enough to cut the grease and clean my dishes effectively. While those with soft water don't see any issues using castile soap, those with hard water find that all their dishes are covered in mineral deposits or spots.
Many people make a simple mistake
To make matters worse, a very large amount of blogs out there purport the MIXTURE of vinegar and castile soap to cut the grease (I even accidentally did this when I first started my blog) but when these two are used as a mixture rather than one after the other, the vinegar chemically acts as a de-saponifier to the castile soap, separating the oil from the water making it no longer soap. This renders the whole concoction basically useless. Dr. Bronner's own daughter, Lisa, wrote an entire blog post dedicated to this exact topic.
Sal Suds comes to the rescue with my hard water
So, what's a girl with hard water and an affinity for clean dishes, to do? I have finally figured out the answer to the problem! After a lot of reading through blogs I still didn't really have an answer, nearly all of the recipes that I found used castile soap and that wasn't very effective; especially with hard water. I then learned about Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds, and it instantly became my new favorite cleaning product in the house. Sal Suds is (as per the bottle):
"Sal Suds is a balanced formulation of naturally derived surfactants with natural fir pine needle oil. It cleans and rinses with exceptional power, yet is mild & gentle on the skin. Sal Suds is equally effective in hard or soft water, rinsing freely, hot or cold. It is 100% cruelty-free. Sal Suds will biodegrade rapidly after it has done its job, without affecting nature's balance."
My secret to thickening the mixture is simple
Being that Sal Suds is extremely concentrated, like castile soap, I had to come up with a great recipe that dilutes the Sal Suds. The only problem that I had with that recipe, was that dilution made it so watery that it seemed almost wasteful how much would come pouring out of the bottle. I needed to find a way to thicken the soap so that it would be the same consistency I was used to using in my old dish soap. After scouring soap forums, I came across some information that I can't believe I hadn't found sooner. The answer to thickening my soap was plain old table salt. NO WAY!!! Seriously, I was as shocked as you. Apparently, many liquid soap manufacturers use salt just for this purpose! The recommended amount to start with is 1 tsp. per 8 oz. of liquid soap. Literally, when you stir in the salt, you see it instantly turn into a thicker gel. It's like partaking in a really fun science experiment.
I have read many recipes that use washing soda to thicken the soap, but every single one that I tried, turned into this gloopy mess that would get worse over time. I did not experience this with the addition of salt. The other benefit to this recipe is that though you can not mix castile soap with vinegar because of its alkaline nature, you can combine Sal Suds with vinegar because it is acidic in pH! If you clean with castile soap, you can still RINSE with vinegar. It's the COMBINATION that chemically causes the soap to be de-saponified.
Homemade Dish Soap
I added citric acid to this recipe for even better cleaning power and grease cutting, but if you don't have this on hand, you can substitute it with lemon juice instead.
- 1/2 cup Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar or herbal infused vinegar (I like to use orange peel infused vinegar in this recipe!)
- 1/2 cup filtered water, warm ( The minerals in some tap water may react with this solution and cause this not to thicken.)
- 1 tsp. citric acid (if you don't have this, substitute lemon juice)
- 2 tsp. kosher salt
- 20 drops lavender essential oil
- In a medium sized bowl combine warm water and salt until salt is completely dissolved.
- In a separate bowl, combine Sal Suds, vinegar, and citric acid.
- Stir Sal Suds/vinegar mixture into salt water mixture and continue stirring until thickened. If adding essential oils, you can add them now.
- Store in a recycled dish soap container.