diy dish soap

How To Make Your Own Dish Soap

For general interest and/or for preparedness. Here’s one way how to make your own dish soap. It’s simple and easy. In comparison with most store-bought dish soap, it will also save you some money.

DIY Dish Soap

It only requires two ingredients. Bar soap (I’ll tell you which one I use in a minute), and water. Here’s how…

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

One advantage to making your own dish soap is that you can adjust the consistency-thickness-strength however way you want it.

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

Homemade 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 like the brand given its historical longevity.

Fels-Naptha 5 oz (Pack of 24)

1. Take one bar of Fels Naptha soap (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 homemade soap. Store the remaining soap in a cleaned out plastic milk jug or other such plastic jug for later.

Cost Analysis

$1.67 (1) Bar of Fels Naptha, if purchased by the case (of 24) from Amazon as of this post date.

The home-made dish soap recipe above results in about 14 cups (224-oz)
$.07 per ounce

A typical squeeze-bottle of Palmolive might cost double or even triple that, per ounce, depending on how you buy it.

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.

This soap is not going to be as strong or as effective as something like Dawn Ultra or something like that. Just saying… And I do keep some bottles of Dawn around too. However, it’s good to know how relatively easy it is to make you own.

Okay, have any of you made homemade diy dish soap? How do you do it? What’s your recipe?

[ Read: How To Use Laundry Bar Soap and Make Your Own Detergent ]


  1. I use “Zote”. Bar is larger, costs less, available in white or pink, smells great, and I use it for both laundry and dishes. Many preppers know the dozens of uses for Zote. Check out all the You Tube video uses for Zote. Buy them at the Dollar store or Walmart.

  2. To Mrs U: Fels Naptha works very well though I find it is tough on my skin. I use Fels Naptha to remove the oils from poison oak from my skin. My soap of choice these days is liquid soap made from dilute solution of Dr Bronners castile soap with peppermint oils. I use it for many purposes around the house including a non-ammonia based window cleaner for my truck. (does a good job of removing squashed bug residue from windshield)

    Liquid soaps can be difficult to travel with. I purchase small nalgene bottles or a new product called “goop tube” to carry shampoo and liquid soap on the road. I am able to find these containers at my local REI store.

    1. Cali
      We use the Dr. Bronners liquid soap too. But the ‘baby unscented’ version. one part liquid soap to 10 parts water.
      Dr. Bronners liquid and bar soap can also be used as a shampoo. Just one thing to take into the shower.
      The bar soap is also a good shaving soap. I use a shaving brush to work up a lather.
      There is/was a recipe for making (non-alcohol) hand wipes on their website, using a half roll of paper towels.
      I haven’t tried the Fels Naptha recipe, but my notes say that lemon essential oil can also be added??? How much?

  3. Far North: We always keep a good amount of lemon scented dish soap around along with a container of lemon juice and bottle of hydrogen peroxide. When mixed with several gallons of warm water, you have my recipe for de-skunking solution. Scrubbing off the brownish/yellowish drops of this oily liquid is a must to salvage your clothes prior to washing. It works good on human skin and dogs too. I do not know if you have skunks in your location. Many of my relatives were bottomland farmers in California so we had a lot of skunks in our AO growing up. I kept all of these ingredients within a 5 gallon mud bucket with a scrub brush in the garage.

    1. Cali
      No, we don’t have skunks here. However, growing up in the Lower 48 I have met many skunks usually on the trapline. Back then, tomato juice was our go to. It didn’t always work that great — on people or dogs. I remember sitting in homeroom one day, in junior high. Someone a few desks over blurts out, “I smell a skunk!” a few moments later he exclaims, “I’m sick!!!” All I can say in my defense is that this student must have possessed an uncommonly, extraordinary olfactory system…
      Never thought of adding lemon oil to our unscented Dr. Bronners dish soap. DUH!

      1. Far North,
        when i was a kid we went to a family reunion in WA state. my cousin and i came across a skunk, the wind was blowing and we didn’t think it smelled That bad. but when we walked in the kitchen door at GM’s house there were about 20 grown ups whose heads turned on a swivel looking at us. they scrubbed us but good, but i don’t remember with what.

    2. – I have always used straight Fabuloso carpet cleaner from the Dollar Stores for the dogs and myself. You have to use regular shampoo and conditioner “all over” following this use, as it will dry the skin and cause itching. It has always worked well at full strength, and I have used it more than a few times. I haven’t used it on a cat, YET!
      – Papa S.

  4. Ken, this is a great idea. I never thought about making my own dish soap. Thank you.

  5. good info ken but we keep a large supply of blue Dawn dish washing liquid in the large bottles stashed under the house in some job boxes i have. Dawn has a 2 or more year shelf life and can be used for everything.
    BTW if you need to store things outside of your home, job boxes are the way to go, i have never seen or had a problem with them. i use the Ridgid boxes.

  6. Deskunking solution: Came about after this farm kid took classes in general and organic chemistry. Through many years of experience dealing with skunks, trapped skunks and dog vs skunk debacles, the citric acid of tomatoes and lemons seem to help break down the molecules along with hydrogen peroxide and the soap + water. I remembered Papa Smurf talking about fabuloso soap. I have always been able to find both lemon scented soap and lemon juice within the grocery store and the soap, lemon juice does not stain clothing like tomato juice tends to do.

  7. Okay, I made this yesterday evening and finished it this morning. My experience:

    Took overnight for it to completely cool and “harden”. Boy, when it did it was a congealed glob that I could stir with a wooden spoon but it would stay in large gooey clumps. Added 1/2 cup water, got out my mixer, and spent a few minutes just mixing it. Got it broken up and at least thin enough to pour into a gallon jug.

    Used the remnants from the big pot and other tools to wash what I had in the sink this morning. It worked fairly well… a little different than store bought for sure. The main thing is I guess I have to get over the fact that it behaves like a giant loogey (snot ball). Kind of totally gross but it seems to do the trick. I wish it didn’t have the fragrance added to it (according to the ingredients) but it at least didn’t trigger my friend who is extremely sensitive to added fragrances in soaps, so maybe it’s a different type of fragrance.

    Summary: Works but it’s like using a big glob of snot.

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