How To Make Your Own Dish Soap


To make your own home-made dish soap is simple and easy. In comparison with store-bought dish soap, it will save you a surprising amount of money.

It only requires two ingredients. Bar soap, and water. Here’s how…

(Updated with my specific Fels-Naptha recipe and photos)

Bar soap, which can also be used to make your own laundry detergent, is really all that you need. The idea is to convert it into a thick liquid soap.

An advantage to making your own dish soap is that you can adjust the consistency the way you want it. Many people have the opinion that most store-bought dish soap is on the strong side, requiring significant rinsing to get all the soap residue off. By tailoring your own mixture you can make it last longer and will probably use less water doing the dishes.

When it comes to prepping, an advantage here is using one item (in this case, bar soap) for multiple purposes. It is surprisingly easy.


Dish Soap Recipe

This specific dish washing soap recipe uses Fels Naptha laundry soap, which has been around forever it seems. Other bar soaps may require different amounts of water to reach the desired consistency. I use Fels Naptha because I also use it to make my own laundry detergent, and I trust the brand.

1. Take one bar of Fels Naptha soap (5.5 oz) and shave it using a hand grater (or a ‘salad-shooter’). This will result in approximately 2 cups of soap shavings.

2. Place the shavings in a cooking pot.

3. Add 13 cups of water.

4. Slowly warm up the mixture on low-medium heat (without boiling) while stirring occasionally until all is combined into a smooth liquid.

5. Set aside to cool.

6. When cool, the mixture will have thickened. Stir it up to check consistency. A hand mixer works well (don’t worry, it won’t turn to bubbles). This is the step where you may choose to thin it further by adding more water, or perhaps next time you will choose a little less water. It’s a personal preference.

7. Rinse out and use an old dish soap container for your new home-made soap. Store the remaining soap in a cleaned out plastic milk jug or other such plastic jug for later.


Cost Analysis

$1.20 (1) Bar of Fels Naptha, if purchased by the case (of 24) from Amazon.

The home-made dish soap recipe above results in about 14 cups (224-oz)
$.05 per ounce

A typical squeeze-bottle of Palmolive might cost $3.69 (25-oz)
$0.15 per ounce

Bottom line… your home-made soap costs just 1/3 of store-bought (generally).





Fels-Naptha can irritate the skin when used excessively. Consider dish gloves.

Optionally add ‘Washing Soda’ to the mix, an old time laundry ingredient (soda ash) which comes in a bright yellow box. You will find it in stores near the laundry detergent. Based on the recipe amount above, add 1/4 cup.

Similar Posts


    1. As I expected, it is not as potent as concentrated dish soaps, and it does require that you use a bit more than you ordinarily would, but it’s generally good general knowledge to know that you can shave bar soap and add hot water to make-mix your own dish soap.

      You could also add Washing Soda to make it a bit stronger. Based on other recipes I’ve seen, I would add 1/4 cup to this particular recipe.

      The Fels Naptha can irritate your skin, and probably effects people differently. Consider wearing dish gloves, or consider using a Castile soap instead (although they cost more). A castile soap is based in vegetable oil, originally olive oil.

  1. Good price. I buy my dish soap at the dollar store so I’m not sure that after spending time doing this I will save a lot but definitely a good thing to know in a SHTF situation. I have about bars of ivory stored so I think I will try to see if the work.

  2. I tried the recipe and really liked it. I added lemon essential oil for a nice scent and a little extra cleaning power. Thanks for all you do to help us.

  3. This was an excellent practical article. Even if you don’t desire to make your own dish soap, then it’s wisdome to know “how” to do it.

    Backpackers have traditionally used something concentrated like Dr. Bornner’s castile soap to wash everything…including themselves. We’re used to suds to wash, but really that’s far more than needed, especially post-collapse.

    The most likely method of washing will be to make a mild lye solution by combining a tiny amount of hardwood ashes with boiled water, letting things soak in that, and coupling this with making a scouring brush (like a everygreen branch). One could also intentionally heat up sand to use for scouring.

    I think a lot of people will be surprised by the amount of soot from wood fires. Pretreating the bottoms of pans by rubbing them with a mixture of wood ashes and water, will make removal easier. Fireplace owners know this from experience to use the wet wood ashes to remove the soot from their glass on the doors.

    Lye is hard on the skin. We have natural oils in our skin and hair, so you will make a point of rubbing your fingers through your hair to acquire oils to prevent chapping and cracking. Old bowdrill firemakers use the oils along the sides of the nose to act as a ready lubricant for the top of the bowdrill spindle. That same oil works well to treat a dry patch.

    The easiest emolient for chapped skin comes as an oily vapor when you steam acorns. You’ll most often do that to prepare a simple protein rich meal AND to deal with your rough skin. Try it sometime.

    Making soap in a post-collapse world will mean that you are truly prepared folks, almost rich when you think about it, for it means you had an abundance of fat that you could redeploy for cleaning, and had lots of hot water too.

  4. Here is a way to make it even cheaper (warning city dwellers cannot do this)… Raise pigs which really are a staple of the homestead. Then turn their Lard (after rendering) into lye soap then turn that lye soap into dish soap. Your cost then goes down to a penny or less an ounce.
    It cuts the grease well also and takes out odors. We have goats and let me tell you my lye soap made with lard, goats milk and Lye is the only way I can get billy goat smell off of me!

    1. Thanks Christine. Most preppers have a theoretical knowledge of making things like soap or candles, but they don’t realize how much fat was needed and how much work was involved. It meant an abundance of fat for otherwise that fat was put into the prairie family’s bellies.

      Post-collapse, making candles and soap will likely be a community activity timed around the hog killin’ as we say in my native region.

      While some wild game produce body regions of fat, most do not and are very lean. Today many soaps are made from natural plant materials, but to do so under collapse conditions means having a fine source of plant oils and a means of extracting them.

  5. You know I read and save all the info on how to do things like this. Like how to make your own bar soap, I even have books on it. It’s a lot of work and for $60.00 I can buy a lifetimes worth of bar soap. I have a LOT of all kinds of soap put away. But I still copy & save info, but really it’s super easy to buy ahead and have it taken care of forever.

  6. I’ve been looking into making my own bar soap so I can get away from Ivory as it’s from Proctor & Gamble and they do animal testing. I thought I’d also look into homemade dish soap but your recipe involves Purex (Dial), another company that does animal testing. I will admit, I once didn’t consider animal testing all that much but after forcing myself to research it, it’s not something I want to support by supporting the companies that believe in it. I guess I keep looking.

    1. So disappointed…

      you can make truly old fashioned is possible…

      involves wood ash/lye/tallow, or something like that..

      google it all

      ask around at Hutterite Colonies (many still make their own, and I have seen how perfectly clean the laundry comes fr using it)

      maybe some Amish or Quaker groups


Leave a Reply

>>USE OPEN FORUM for Off-Topic conversation

Name* use an alias