Monday, 8 February 2016

DIY washing up liquids

As food was one of the first areas I started becoming more conscious about, food containers (mainly the avoiding of any plastic coming into contact with my food) and products used to wash anything that comes into contact with my food (i.e. pots and pans, cutlery, dishes, ...) have been one of my main focus areas for switching to natural solution.

I had already switched to Ecover washing up liquids some years back (although the occasional one from Poundshop would sometimes still creep into my kitchen) but around 7 months ago I started looking into ways of making my own washing up liquid. I personally don't use a dishwasher, so I am focusing here on liquids to do your dishes the old-fashioned way: by hand, in the sink. Not having a dishwasher, having quite a small kitchen and working from home also means that I am doing dishes very regularly throughout the day to keep things tidy, so I want something that is quick and efficient.

For a while I simply used white vinegar in a sink filled with water, and I was actually quite happy with the results, apart from heavy duty cleaning. But I didn't like the smell too much, and I missed the soapiness. But for a lot of people, this might be a great thing to try-out.

I then started making liquid out of the soapnuts I already talked about here.
The liquid is quite easy to make: simply boil 50 grams of soapnuts in 1 liter of water for 25 minutes. When the liquid has cooled off, strain the soapnuts out and pour the liquid into a suitable container. This will give you about 500ml of concentrated soapnut liquid. Now pop the soapnuts back into the pan with a fresh liter of water and repeat the above steps 3 more times. You will then have 2 liters of chemical and preservative free detergent.

It does an excellent job at washing your dishes, even very dirty ones. You can also add some essential oils to your liquid (like tea tree oil or eucalyptus oil for extra disinfection and cleaning power, and for better smell). You can use this liquid for the dishwasher too (just put it in the soap dispenser), although I have heard quite a few people say that you want to use it on alternate days/cycles of your machine, as when used for a longer time in a row dishes don't always come out completely clean anymore.
The really wonderfully easy thing about this recipe is that it requires only one ingredient. If you already use soapnuts for your laundry, you don't have to buy any other ingredients, and it really serves as an all-round detergent (just some ideas here).
I used the soapnut liquid for about a month or two, but I kept looking for another solution.

And when I stumbled upon castile soap I was sold, and I haven't used anything else since. (How did I not know about the existence of this amazing product until recently?). Castile soap is actually not soap; it is a vegetable oil turned into soap. Traditionally olive oil was used, but nowadays any vegetable oil can be saponified into castile soap: hemp, coconut, sunflower, jojoba. Please be sure NOT to choose palm oil based castile soap (and avoid palm oil altogether if you care about animal welfare and our planet).
You can buy it made, or you can even choose to saponify your oils yourself at home. There are tutorials on Youtube, and it only takes a few minutes apparently. I haven't tried it myself yet, I buy my castile soap ready made, but might do this in the future to save on more packaging. You can find castile soap in health stores or online.

Lavender Pure-Castile Liquid Soap - 32 oz.Dr. Bonner is the most well-known brand. They mostly use a hemp oil as base (as well as an almond oil base) and they sell an unscented as well as different scented versions; plus they do the liquid as well as soap bars. I now buy a 5 liter one from BiOrigins, based on organic coconut and sunflower oil, and am very pleased with that one.

I use castile soap for a whole range of products now on which I'll blog later, but my recipe for washing up liquid is as follows: I simply mix my castile soap in a 1:1 ratio to water (if you use distilled water, the mix will last longer). And for a large bottle (which I keep reusing) I then add around 20-25 drops of almond oil, 5-10 drops of vitamin E oil (good for your hands, plus it is also a natural preservative), 15 drops of tea trea oil for extra disinfection, and 10-15 drops each of both sweet orange and lemon essential oils for a refreshing smell. Pine obviously works well too.


Vaheguru Ji Ka Khalsa Vaheguru Ji Ki Fateh


  1. Nice! Still looking for something to use in the dishwasher. Household of 5 = more ecologically to use a dishwasher. I sometimes wash without soap when it's not too dirty. That works, too, amazing!

    1. The soapnut one would be a good start for alternate days on the dishwasher. There are many castile soap recipes for dishwashers too. Good luck!