Non-Toxic Liquid Dishwasher Soap

I think most people can agree that the dishwasher is most definitely one of the best inventions ever. Sure, the lightbulb and electricity are great too; but come on, a machine that washes dishes for us? Ingenious! Now, I’m probably one of that .001% of the population that actually likes washing dishes by hand, but I still can appreciate the amazingness that is our dishwasher. I do have to wonder though, if they can invent something to wash our dishes, why can’t they invent something to put them away, too? Am I right?! #lazy

SONY DSCSince trying to go the more natural route with my cleaners and soaps since Jade was born, I thought it was time to figure out how to rid ourselves of store-bought dishwasher detergent and make my own. While you can make both powdered or liquid soaps, I wanted to stay away from Borax (it received an “F” on the EWG’s guide to healthy cleaning!). I had read awhile back that castile soap is a great dishwasher soap, so I started to play around with concoctions.

I did a little researching on some DIY dishwashing soaps and tweaked them a bit. For my first attempt, the recipe I found mixed castile soap, vinegar, and fresh lemon juice together. However, the result was a separated and curdled-looking “soap.” I tried it in the dishwasher, but my dishes came out with a terrible white film. Not clean at all!

So, I did a little more researching. I learned that the reason it looked “curdled” when mixing it all together was because of a little basic chemistry. The vinegar is acidic, while the castile soap is basic. Unfortunately when added together, the soap becomes “neutralized.” They basically cancel each other out! Weird, right? They will lose cleaning property when put together because the two compounds are reacting. Don’t make my mistake and waste a whole cup of castile soap!

With this info in mind, I went back to the drawing board. Since lemon is acidic too (and also reacted with the soap when I put it in), I decided to not use any the next time around. Instead, I turned to my favorite essential oils to help! They have amazing cleaning and anti-bacterial properties to really clean those dishes.

If you want to make your own liquid dishwasher soap, here’s what you need:


For the soap:

For the rinse:

  • 1/2 to 1 cup vinegar (amount depends on if you have hard water!)
  • 5-7 drops Lemon essential oil

To make this soap, just add 1 cup of distilled water and 1 cup of castile soap to a bowl.

StepsAdd 10 drops of Thieves essential oil to the mixture.

SONY DSCMix all the ingredients together, and funnel into a glass jar. Alternatively, you can mix all 3 ingredients right into your jar, put the lid on, and shake.

So, why Thieves, you ask? Well, Thieves is a fabulous blend of highly antiseptic, antiviral, antibacterial, and anti-infectious essential oils. Basically, it’ll kill anything on your dirty dishes, without using any synthetic chemicals!! Yes, please!

(TIP: After my bottle of vinegar was gone, I reused the glass bottle to store this dishwasher soap! It’s easy to pour right into the dishwasher.)

To use this soap, I add 1 to 2 tablespoons to my “open” dishwasher compartment that is typically used for detergent.

SONY DSCFor the rinse, mix 1 cup vinegar and 5-7 drops of lemon essential oil and add it to the “closed” compartment, usually used for rinsing. If you don’t have hard water like we do, you could use less vinegar. You could also use fresh juice from lemons, but lemon essential oil is a perfect replacement if you don’t have any fresh ones lying around (did you know it takes 70 lemons to make a 5ml bottle of essential oil?!). Lemon essential oil is also a natural cleaning agent, and has antiseptic properties, too!

Rinse-aidRun your dishwasher as you normally do and when it’s finished, you’ll be greeted with beautifully clean dishes that you didn’t have to hand wash! Win!

SONY DSCSince I only started using it I don’t know how many loads one batch of this will do, but I’ll update when I find out!

SONY DSCInterested in trying these amazing essential oils for your own dishwasher detergent? Get rid of synthetic and harsh chemicals in your house and keep your family healthy! Visit here if you’d like to learn more info on how to get started (and save 24% off retail prices!)!

SONY DSCHave a great rest of the week, and happy cleaning! 🙂

(I link up at these fun parties!)


63 thoughts on “Non-Toxic Liquid Dishwasher Soap

    1. Ha! Thank you Vicki! Ugh, why is unloading the dishwasher such a pain?! I do have to say though, my daughter just loves to help so that makes it not AS terrible. 🙂 Hope you have a lovely week!

    1. Thanks Kendra! Ha, I was always terrible at chemistry which is probably why I didn’t even think of that to begin with! 🙂 Hope you had a great weekend!

    1. Thank you, Jody! I love making homemade household products, too! Do you have a link to your hand soap recipe? I’ve been thinking about trying that next! 🙂 Thanks for the pin! Have a great week. 🙂

  1. I love this! Always looking for DIY cleaning products.

    By the way, I’d like to invite you to post on my new blog hop ( that is open all weekend, if you’re interested.


    1. Yay! This is the perfect solution, Jenny! I’m really trying to replace all my cleaners too, and I’ve almost done it! So happy to link up at your first party, thanks for hosting! 🙂

  2. I’m one of the 0.001% who likes to wash dishes!! NOT!!
    Washing dishes is a pain and the dry hands and shriveled fingers you get after washing dishes after a party doesn’t help.
    I really like your recipe for dishwasher soap. It’s definitely something to try. The addition of the Thieves is just great! It’s really good that your recipe is so natural. Thanks for this great idea!!

  3. I’m one of the 0.001% who likes to wash dishes!! NOT!! Washing dishes is a pain and the dry hands and shriveled fingers you get after washing dishes after a party doesn’t help. I really like your recipe for dishwasher soap. It’s definitely something to try. The addition of the Thieves is just great! It’s really good that your recipe is so natural. Thanks for this great idea!!
    Deb recently posted…OxiClean coupons for laundry detergent or a laundry stain removerMy Profile

    1. Ha, that’s ok, not everyone likes washing dishes! 🙂 My husband sure doesn’t, either! So glad you like this recipe. The Thieves is the best part in my opinion; and it smells super good! 🙂

  4. I followed both recipes to the letter and my dishwasher is in perfect working order. My results: The dishwasher liquid did not clean well at all, the rinse is awesome!
    Thank you for the post and your info / research. It is always helpful!

    1. Oh no, Dani! I’m sorry the dishwasher liquid didn’t clean well!! I wonder if it’s the water? I know our water here is hard, so I don’t know if that matters or not in the soap. Maybe add a little more castile soap? Glad to hear the rinse worked, though! Thanks for stopping by and letting me know! 🙂

    1. Thank you, Jaimi! So happy you found this, too! I love making my own detergents and soap, it’s so great. Hope this works as well for you as it does for me! 🙂

  5. Hi Jaimi, I love all your amazing non-toxic recipes. I have made all of them. Thank you for sharing. I do have a question….When I use the dishwasher soap and the rinse my dishes end up having a whitish film on them
    Help!!! what as I dong wrong??

    1. Hi Candace! I’m so glad you love these recipes! I love getting harsh chemicals out of our home. I’m sorry about your dishes!! It could just be the type of water in your area? We have hard water here and have the same problem. Perhaps try using more vinegar as a rinse? I’m sorry I’m not much help!

    2. This happened to mine. It’s not coming off either. Never had this problem with any other dishwasher detergents though. Gonna stick with the thieves household cleaner instead.

      1. Ah Tonia, I’m so sorry! I’m not sure why that happened! It could just be a difference in water, but that’s so frustrating! I haven’t tried the Thieves cleaner as dishwasher soap, does that work well? 🙂

    1. Hi Judy! That’s a great question! I don’t believe so, but I haven’t heard otherwise. I’ll do some research into that! Thanks for bringing it up!

    1. Ahh! Lauren I’m so sorry! The only thing I can think of is just the water? We have hard water here and I have that problem too sometimes. Maybe try a little extra vinegar in your rinse aid?

  6. I made this today using my thieves. It left a horrible white film on my dishes. I’m now rewashing them with only the thieves household cleaner. Hope it works better. I feel like I wasted my soap and thieves now.

    1. I’m sorry that happened Debra! I don’t know why it does that sometimes. It could just depend on your water, but I’m not sure. I haven’t tried using the Thieves cleaner as dishwasher soap! How does that work?

  7. I was so excited to use this but then my dishes also had a white film! I am trying to fix it since I now have all the ingredients. I am confused about what the soap is for and what the rinse is for and if you need to use both in the dishwasher? Maybe that is why it had a film because I didn’t use the rinse?

    1. Hi Lindsay! The “rinse” is just the vinegar that you’d put it your dishwasher instead of a Jet Dry type of product. The vinegar helps to get that white film off, so I definitely need to use it in my dishwasher too, as we have hard water and even still my dishes have a very thin white film. But they are clean! I’d definitely try using the vinegar as the rinse and see what happens. Let me know if I can help more! 🙂

  8. Tried this last night and it left a horrible white film on my dishes and a gooey substance in the bottom of my dishwasher. Followed the recipe exactly. Not sure how to get this off! 🙁

    1. Ack, oh no Janelle! I’m so sorry! If you use vinegar as a rinse aid, that should help a little with the white film, but I’m not so about the gooey stuff on the bottom of your dishwasher!

  9. I don’t mean to be negative, but the vinegar rinse will eventually eat away your machine’s rubber gaskets. You can ask an appliance repairman about it.

  10. Have you ever tried Thieves cleaner in there?
    I have a rinse dispenser that I put vinegar in. I am going to do the soap as you recommend in the open dispenser, an drop only the lemon oil in the closed one, and allow the rinse dispenser to release the vinegar.

    1. Hi Jules! I haven’t tried the Thieves cleaner in there, what a great idea! Did you know Young Living also has a new dishwashing soap, too? Let me know how your method worked! 🙂

  11. Hi Amanda. I’m currently trying out your recipe as I made the same mistake u did n my dishes came out HORRIBLE!!! I have residue/while film on all my dishes and the dishwasher was full of curds… GROSS!!! I really hope this works as I also have well water! Thank you for doing the research as now I understand the original mistake!!! Have a great day. I’ll come back to post my results!

  12. I wish I would have read the comments first! Also the thick white film on EVERYTHING. I have tried every variation that I can think with the same result. Time to hang up this recipe.

    1. Hi Chris! I’m so sorry to hear about the trouble with the soap! Do you have hard water? I know that can definitely cause an issue. I hope you were able to get the film off!

    1. Hi Sasha! Generally when you’re using essential oils, it’s recommended that you use glass. However, since it’s not going to be heavily concentrated with oils, it might be ok! Oils tend to break down the plastic overtime. Hope that helps! 🙂

  13. So I had the same trouble w/ the “White Film.” We have very hard water. Gonna have to go back to the “Store’ bought dishwashing cleaner. What can I use the rest of the soap for? I made 2 whole cups. Do NOT wanna waste it…..Please help!

    1. Hi Monica! I’m so sorry that you’ve had trouble with this! You could use this as hand soap? I make my own in a foam pump using 3 parts castile soap, 1 part water and I add some essential oils. Hope you found a use for it and found a solution!

  14. Hi Amanda!

    I was excited to try this but was disappointed to find there was a powdery film on the dishes. Not sure if that was because I used regular tap water, or if I need to add the vinegar rinse aid. Any suggestions?

    I’m new to all things oily.


    1. Hi Alissa! Oh no, I’m so sorry! It’s so hard to know really, I think it mostly depends on your type of water (hard vs. soft). You could definitely try the vinegar rinse and see if that helps! 🙂

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