Susan's Toxin-free Dish Liquid that Even Works in Hard Water


I get it; you're here for the recipe.

Instead of hiding it at the bottom of the page, buried beneath all the informative gobbledygook, I'm posting the recipe up here at the top.

But if you want to know why it's a good idea to ditch commercial dish liquid, and why this is my favorite non-toxic hand washing dish detergent, scroll down and read the gobbledygook; information is empowering!

    Susan's Toxin-free Dish Washing Liquid

3 Cups warm water, filtered or distilled

8 teaspoons Kosher Salt
2 Cups White Vinegar
5 teaspoons Citric Acid
2 Cups Sal Suds*
60 drops Lemon Essential Oil (optional) I typically leave out the added essential oil, as I like the smell of Sal Suds.


In a large bowl combine warm water and salt until salt is completely dissolved. Add Citric Acid and Vinegar and stir. Add Sal Suds and gently stir until thickened. If using essential oils, add them when the mixture has cooled. Store dish liquid in a glass, ceramic, or stainless steel container with a pump. This recipe makes about 7 cups of dish liquid.

*Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds is a highly concentrated liquid detergent synthesized in a lab from plant-based surfactants, and uses natural spruce and fir needle essential oils. Soap, on the other hand, is 100% natural, created from animal fats, or in the case of castile soap, plant oils, and either sodium hydroxide (lye) or potassium hydroxide (potash). All ingredients in true soap occur naturally in nature. Although Sal Suds is a synthesized detergent, it is completely biodegradable and receives an A rating from the Environmental Working Group.

Citric acid is a natural preservative and disinfectant which kills bacteria, mold, and mildew, and receives and A rating from EWG. Kosher salt thickens the mixture and helps soften hard water.

To dispense my dish detergent, I repurposed a clay vase and use the pump that came with our kitchen faucet suite. This holds at 8 cups and lasts me at least 4 weeks.

As you see here, the lather is thick, rich, and long lasting. Unlike homemade dish liquid made with Castile soap, this liquid cuts through the grease, is undaunted by hard water, rinses completely,  leaves no residue, and has copious, luscious suds. It is also gentle on skin and void of the carcinogen dioxane, which forms when multiple synthetic surfactants are combined during processing. This nasty contaminant is found not only in commercial dish liquids, laundry detergent, and other household cleaners, but in personal care products, as well, and since it is a chemical that is formed after production, rather than a specific ingredient, it will not be listed on the label.

I use this dish liquid not only for hand washing dishes, but for hand washing delicate clothes and fabrics, including my Hair Mitts™!

More reasons to make your own dish liquid:

They're everywhere: endocrine disrupting chemicals, and they are wreaking havoc on our health on a daily basis. These hormone mimicking chemicals are found in everything from personal care products, to household cleaning supplies, to kitchen utensils, and the packaging all of these products are sold in. Even the receipts we're handed at the checkout counter contribute to our exposure of endocrine disrupting toxins. These chemicals have lead to increased infertility rates among women and men, autoimmune diseases, cancers, and more.

They are so insidious there is truly no escaping them, and the effects of these exposures experienced during the most vulnerable time of human development, in utero and as young children, frequently do not manifest until decades later.

We may not be able to eliminate these exposures entirely, but the good news is we can reduce our exposure to these dangerous chemicals.

Ever since my daughter's diagnosis of pediatric brain cancer in 2006, I've been on a mission to eliminate, or at least dramatically reduce the presence of these chemicals in my home and life. My own diagnoses of autoimmune thyroid disorder (Hashimoto's) and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome at the age of 46 further solidified my commitment to adopt safe, non-toxic cleaning and personal care routines.

Sometimes commercial options that eliminate synthetic hormones and other carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting chemicals are effective, safe products. Sometimes "green" products are not as "clean" as they want the buyer to believe. (To make sure what you're using is safe, visit the Environmental Working Group.)

That's why I like to make my own. This way I have control over the ingredients and I know exactly what is in my product.

I'll admit: my experimentation with homemade products has produced some colossal failures! In my attempt to be as natural as possible, I've tried using olive or coconut oil Castile soaps for my homemade dish liquid and laundry detergent, and let's just say, it didn't go over well! The fat-based soaps, as safe and effect as they are for the body, are ineffective at cutting grease, leave an unpleasant residue on dishes, and are not all that effective as laundry soap.

But anyone who knows me knows I do not give up easily. I kept experimenting and trying different ingredients until I found my Holy Grail of dish washing liquid and laundry liquid.

The ingredient that makes these home made products work so well is Dr. Bronner's Sal Suds. (Nope; this is not a paid endorsement. Though I prefer to remain brand neutral, there are products that simply have no equal; Sal Suds is one of them.)

In fact, many people just use straight Sal Suds for both dishes and laundry. Because Sal Suds is so pricey, I prefer to add additional, natural ingredients to create my dish and laundry detergents. Not only does that stretch the Sal Suds, but the addition of other ingredients creates a synergy that gives me an even more effective product.

Soon I'll post my Laundry Detergent recipe.

Meanwhile...wishing you well!