DIY: Grease-Fighting Lavender Dish Soap

Can I be totally honest for a second? I have bought my fair share of natural dish soaps over the years, and I like them and I like knowing that I’m using a greener alternative. But here’s the thing … I really love that certain blue dish soap because it’s amazing at getting my dishes clean and fighting the grease. So I always have a bottle of both kinds under the kitchen sink. I pull out the blue one for a really greasy job. But I really don’t like to. I never thought that I could make my own that would tackle the grease like a store-bought one. Well, that’s changed! I think I’ve finally found the solution, and I’m saying good-bye to the blue dish soap and grease residue forever.

Lavender Homemade Dish Soap | When making homemade dish soap, which is incredibly easy, you get to be in control of what goes into it. Which is fun! No toxic chemicals or artificial colors.

There are tons of recipes online using the same basic set of ingredients – castile soap (liquid + grated bar), washing soda (really strong baking soda), glycerin and essential oils. Others contain citric acid or vinegar and some use borax. I did my research and read hundreds of comments from people who had made and either loved/hated their homemade dish soap. Then I tested until I found one that worked – say goodbye to grease and the residue!

Grease-fighting Lavender Homemade Dish Soap


I’ve been using castile soap for just about everything lately, so it made sense for me to start with that and see how it went. The common complaint about homemade dish soap is that it doesn’t get the dishes totally clean – there’s a residue left behind. And I found that to be true.

Super washing soda

I came across a recipe that looked very promising and well-tested. I made a few minor tweaks, and it was the best one yet. It did not have any acidic ingredients, which would un-saponify the castile soap. Instead it uses super washing soda, one of my favorite things to use for natural cleaners. Total grease-fighting action!

Lavender Homemade Dish Soap | Lavender

We are the biggest fans of lavender at our house, so that’s the scent I chose. You could certainly use another variety of castile soap and different essential oils – citrus, herb (peppermint), floral, tea tree, etc.

Soap flakes

Soap flakes or grated natural soap give the dish soap a sudsing agent and a bit of body. I used soap flakes, but grated castile soap or other natural vegetable soaps will work as well. It might change how the dish soap sets up and how thick or thin it is. That’s where you have to play around a little bit (remember, that’s the fun part!).


I wanted a soap that was more the viscosity of liquid hand soap. So for a thinner one, add more water or use a little less washing soda. And besides a little time on the stove to melt the soap flakes and dissolve the washing soda, it’s basically one of those recipes that you mix up and use.

It does need to cool and set up for a few hours or even 24 hours, but I have used mine almost immediately after it cools and it’s been fine. It does go from clear to opaque when it sets up. The picture above is when the liquid is still fairly hot.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Grease-Fighting Lavender Dish Soap
A completely natural homemade dish soap that fights tough grease.
  • 2 cups water
  • ¼ cup all natural soap flakes or grated soap
  • ¼ cup castile soap
  • 2 teaspoons super washing soda
  • 1 teaspoon non-GMO vegetable glycerin
  • 30-40 drops lavender essential oil
  1. Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan.
  2. Add the soap flakes and stir to dissolve.
  3. Add the castile soap, washing soda, glycerin, and essential oil.
  4. Stir well, making sure everything is dissolved.
  5. Carefully pour into a bottle with a spout or pump.
  6. It needs to set for about 24 hours.
Adapted from Mommypotamus.

Note: If it's too thick, add a little more water. Different factors can affect the thickness of the soap - the water you use (is it filtered or tap), the brand of soap flakes or grated soap, etc. If you want a thicker soap, pour the soap back into the pan and warm it back up. Add a little more washing soda.

Have you tried homemade dish soaps? Did they work?


is the blogger behind Cafe Johnsonia and a Contributing Editor

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  1. Donna says

    I used bar castile instead of liquid – didn’t even know it came in liquid. Could this be the reason my soap doesn’t suds, leaves a film, is so thick and frothy in the bottle I have to take the lid off to get some out???? I would like some suds that lasts longer than dipping the first plate in! I must have screwed up somewhere.

  2. Froukje says

    Is this soap safe enough if you have to dump the water out outside? Where I live we have no plumbing and am looking fo natural alternatives to wash my dishes with. Thankyou!

  3. says

    I just tried this yesterday evening, and I absolutely love it. In fact,
    I’m adding it as one of my how-to videos on my website. I think my
    readers and viewers will love it, too. Of course, I’ll be adding links
    to your website.

    All the best,

  4. Lisa says

    I followed this recipe and didn’t substitute anything, but no suds whatsoever! Do you have any suggestions to fix the problem? I’ve made all my cleaning supplies for a couple of years now, except dish detergent. It always does the same – no suds and nasty film.

  5. Ashley says

    I have a quick question does the essential oil get absorbed into plastic containers? Im new to the essential oils and I had the understanding not to use essential oils with or on plastic materials. So ive been petrified to try dish soap because I dont want to ruin my tuba wear. My husband bought me Dr. bronner hemp peppermint castile soap do you think this will cause a problem?

    • says

      Hi Ashley, I haven’t heard that, but I do know that the scent from the oils does linger in the plastic, so it must get absorbed. Could you use a glass bottle or jar instead?

  6. Ashley says

    I made this recipe last night and unsure of what other kind of natural soap or soap flakes to use, I used a combination of bar Castile and Fels Naptha. Doesn’t seem to work at all, my dishes were greasy and filmy. What are your thoughts on that? Was it the Fels Naptha? Should that not be used in dish soap? What other natural soaps would you recommend?

    • says

      Hmm. I’ve never used FelsNaptha for dishsoap – just for laundry. I prefer the liquid or bar castile soap to other types of soap flakes. It could be the softness/hardness of your water. If you decide to try it again, you could use more water to dilute it a bit. I’m so sorry it gave you trouble! I’m using this recipe more now (mostly because it’s easier to make!) and I haven’t had any trouble with it leaving a film. (You can even skip the herb-infusing part and just use water.) The other one would sometimes leave a little bit of a film if I didn’t rinse my dishes in really hot water, but after I did, they were squeaky clean.

  7. Blueberry Pie says

    I hope someone else can pipe in with another soap alternative. I just checked Zote’s website. It contains optical brighteners. Not sure I want that on my fork!

    Lindsey, your site is beautiful.

  8. Erin says

    Are you familiar with young living essential oil blend and cleaning line of “thieves” ? I’ll be adding it to the soap when I try it. To kill bacteria. Thank you for posting this recipe! If you have some time I can send anyone that is interested info on Young Living. It is amazing for homemade products and you know what you are getting vs store bought EO. Take care!

  9. Brandi Epperly says

    Does this rise off clean? I’ve used another recipe for homemade dish soap and it left this gross film on all of my dishes. Even when I rinsed it with the hottest water my tap would allow.

    • says

      It does for me – super squeaky clean. I think it depends on the hardness of the water too. If that’s an issue, you can do a vinegar rinse, which is an extra step, I know. But I have heard/read people say that can help if there’s a film. I use white vinegar as a rinse agent in my dishwasher for that reason. (I also make my own dishwasher detergent.) Hope that helps!

        • Traci says

          I have had a nasty film on my dishes in the dishwasher from store bought dishwasher soap! I decided to clean my dishwasher with vinegar (1st time ever). I dumped white vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher (probably a cup or two) and then put some in the soap dispenser (it all ran out anyway!) Ran dishwasher on Heavy setting and it came out amazingly clean! No residue left at all. Oh, I have a trap/filter in the bottom of my dishwasher (Whirlpool) and I removed it and cleaned that with vinegar also. It was clogged with greasy goo! Now to answer your question about where to put the vinegar to use as a rinse. I have read that you just add it to the same place you would put jet dry in your dishwasher, use white vinegar instead of Jet Dry. I have not tried this yet as my dishwasher still has the Jet Dry (not impressed with it either) in it. I am almost out of store bought dishwasher soap so making my own once it’s gone.

  10. Bonnie says

    Thanks for sharing this recipe as I’ve been looking for DIY dish liquid that cuts grease. My question is what type of soap flakes did you use? I’ve never used them before so I’m not familiar with them at all. I’d love to pick some up and make this recipe. Thank you!

  11. says

    Thanks for sharing! I’m definitely going to try this recipe! I just made laundry detergent last night and was trying to figure out some other stuff that I could make next!

    • Patty says

      Wow, 1 1/2 hours gone as you peaked my interest with that question and I had to research!!. The farther I got into it with the Byron White accusations, I just couldn’t stop!! I think he is using this tactic to make his ‘grape alcohol’ seem so original. Or whatever :) The glycerin is harmless. I could even say the grape alcohol is worse as gee, it’s alcohol!! JK. Please don’t believe everything on the net, ESPECIALLY when it’s from a (conning?)salesman.

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