Homemade Dish Soap with Lemon and Lavender Oil - Dr. Axe

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Homemade Dish Soap with Lemon and Lavender Oil


Homemade dish soap - Dr. Axe

I know it is so easy to just grab that bottle of dishwashing soap off the shelf at the grocery store like you’ve always done, but have you given thought to what might be in that bottle of soap?

Yes, there are some great options among eco-cleaners that offer clean ingredients, but they can get pricey. What’s great is that making your own might be even easier than buying it off the shelf, and definitely a lot safer for you and your family!

Conventional Dish Soap: A Lot More Dangerous Than You’d Think

Before I show you my homemade dish soap recipe, let’s find out what’s in that average plastic bottle of dish soap. It may shock you.

In reviewing a few conventional hand dishwashing detergents, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) noted some concern about many ingredients causing cancer, DNA damage, eyesight issues, digestive problems as well as potentially injuring organs and the nervous system. Also, there is some moderate concern about respiratory effects and that some ingredients could cause allergies and skin irritations as well. (1)

There is even a high concern of toxicity to aquatic life since what goes down your drain can make its way to the environment. The EWG gives many conventional dishwashing soaps the low grade of “D,” which means there is HIGH CONCERN and likely hazards to health or the environment. They may also have poor ingredient disclosure that can cause a low rating for obvious reasons. One was rated as “F,” which is noted as HIGHEST CONCERN containing potentially significant hazards to health or the environment or poor ingredient disclosure.


According to EWG, some specific ingredients of concern that are commonly found on conventional dishwashing soaps are:

High Concern: acute aquatic toxicity
Some Concern: skin irritation/allergies/damage (The American Contact Dermatitis Society dubbed methylisothiazolinone the “Allergen of the Year” in 2013.) 

Some Concern: skin irritation/allergies/damage, acute aquatic toxicity, nervous system effects, respiratory effects, biodegradation
Disclosure Concern: non-specific ingredient

FD&C Yellow 5
Some Concern: cancer, acute aquatic toxicity, chronic aquatic toxicity, general systemic/organ effects

Some Concern: Needs more research

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
Some Concern: chronic aquatic toxicity, general systemic/organ effects, acute aquatic toxicity

Sodium Laureth Sulfate
Some Concern: chronic aquatic toxicity, damage to DNA, respiratory effects, developmental/endocrine/reproductive effects, digestive system effects, nervous system effects, acute aquatic toxicity, damage to vision, cancer

Chloroxylenol, PPG-26, PEG-8 Propylheptyl, Alcohol Sulfates, Sodium Salt
Some Concern: Needs more research

FD&C Blue 1
Some Concern: skin irritation/allergies/damage

Alcohol Ethoxylates (C10-C16) Sodium Salt
Some Concern: chronic aquatic toxicity, damage to DNA, respiratory effects, developmental/endocrine/reproductive effects, digestive system effects, nervous system effects, acute aquatic toxicity, damage to vision, cancer

How to Make Homemade Dish Soap

Now that you understand why homemade dish soap is the way to go, let’s dig into this easy DIY recipe.

First, place the washing soda and grated soap into a bowl. Washing soda is similar to baking soda, and you could use either; however, washing soda has a bit more of a boost when it comes to cleaning. According to Arm & Hammer ™, it is a natural detergent and freshener and can be used for cleaning most anything around the home. It helps cut through grease easily, is completely natural and 100 percent fragrance and phosphate-free. (2

The grated soap is a key ingredient in homemade dish soapbecause it helps add texture and volume to the blend. You can add a little more if you want it thicker and less for a thinner solution. The key here; however, is to use pure soap, such as grated Castile soap.

Next, heat water to boiling, then pour it over the washing soda and grated soap. Using a whisk, blend well. Once you mix those ingredients, add the Castile soap and blend again. As I mentioned above, Castile soap is 100 percent pure, which is why I love it. Castile is a type of soap made with vegetable oils, making it a vegan and cruelty-free ingredient. This makes it safe to use for most anyone.

Lastly, but one of my favorite parts, add the essential oils and mix again. Lemon essential oil not only provides a nice citrus scent, but it’s great at helping cut grease. It’s even considered one of the top most antimicrobial essential oils on the planet making it a natural disinfectant.

Lavender oil can’t be beat for it’s wonderful scent and is one of my all-time favorite essential oils. Besides the natural antioxidant protection that lavender provides, which can seep into the pores of the skin when using it with your DIY dishwashing liquid, it has phenomenal benefits when inhaling it (which is what happens while you are washing your dishes). Lavender is known for improving your mood and providing relaxation — now that is what I call therapeutic cleansing! (3) Allow it to cool, stirring occasionally. 

Once all ingredients have cooled, pour your homemade dish soap into a BPA-free squirt bottle or a glass bottle with a pump and you are ready to go! Wash your dishes as you normally would and rinse well.



Like any product, if you notice any irritation, stop using immediately. Though these ingredients are gentle, it may cause an allergic reaction. You can also use different essential oils that you may prefer or have a better experience with using. Seek a holistic or functional medicine doctor for advice if needed. Avoid the eye area.

Homemade Dish Soap with Lemon and Lavender Oil

Total Time: 10 minutes
Serves: About 16 ounces


  • 1 cup Castile soap
  • ¼ cup soap flakes or grated Castile soap
  • 4 tablespoons super washing soda
  • 4 ounces purified water
  • 30 drops lemon essential oil
  • 30 drops lavender essential oil (optional, rosemary)


  1. Place the soap flakes and washing soda into a bowl and blend with a whisk.
  2. Bring the water to a boil, then pour on top of the ingredients. Stir.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients.
  4. Blend all ingredients well.
  5. Allow to cool, stirring occasionally, then pour into a BPS-free squirt bottle or a glass bottle with a pump.

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  1. Ertuğrul on

    Hi, I’m Ertuğrul. I used the same recipe, but I saw that Dr.As Axe said, “mix and let cool”, I did the same, a white dark foam formed about 2 cm at the top of my mixture, and when it cooled down, I filled it into a bottle. Oh my God, I could barely get the freezing soap out of the bottle when I almost thought my money was garbage. I added another 2 ounces of distilled boiling water to the container again and mixed it until it cooled down, and then I did what I could think of. I said if I don’t take the foam part on top, it will all be foam, and when I took the foam with the help of a spoon, my dark yellowish and dense consistency soap appeared, I tried it and it feels great. I can guarantee that when everyone does it this way, he won’t throw away his money anymore. Just think a little freely,thank you.

  2. Ana Jane Ivacove on

    I tried this recipe and it hardened after it cooled. I used grated Castile soap instead of soap flakes… what did I do wrong?

  3. Alice on

    The mixture creates a solid, goopey mixture . In addition, even using it as a blob, it leaves dishes with a film. Save your money and move on.

    • Martha on

      I used a recipe that literally called for 6 cups of water for that much super washing soda. Washing soda thickens the liquid dramatically so 4 oz. of water is absolutely not enough. Keep the liquid Castile at one cup but increase the grated Castile soap to one cup.

    • Katie on

      Mine did the samething… i ended up puttimg in a total of 24 oz of water, and so far it is perfect… add more water amd i blended mine with a hamdmixer

  4. Lisa on

    I used in my dishwasher the other day as I prefer a more liquid soap for hand washing; good news, it worked beautifully!

  5. Jill on

    I am interested in making this soap and pouring it into the built-in liquid soap dispenser next to the kitchen sink faucet. Do you know if this will work well?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    • Lisa on

      It’ll be way too thick in my opinion. Read above comments. A lot of folks have been having the same issue; so thick!

  6. Jodie Ward on

    I guess I should have scrolled through first. Can almost use it as bar soap! Doubled the boiling water.. Getting better..

  7. Kelly D Kaufman on

    Scrolled through all of the comments to see if anyone else had the same problem. Good news, it wasn’t just me. Bad news, no answer to our issue. Other than adding more and more hot water, there must be something we can try to avoid the over-thick glop.

  8. Robert on

    I think the bigger question is why hasn’t Dr Axe replied to the issue everyone is bring up about it being to thick? It’s been six months with no reply. Makes me question other things he’s touting.

    • GiGi on

      I followed the recipe exactly and also have the same problem with it thickening up and not being usable.

      I am somewhat new to essential oils, Dr. Axe (I attended one of his very informative seminars, and webinars), his website, and his products (that I am loving and finding very beneficial), but I’m concerned also as to why the Dr. Axe staff has not yet replied to these questions/issues.

      Hopefully, it’s just an oversight. But nonetheless, I’m waiting patiently, somewhat. 😕

  9. Donna on

    After pouring the moisture into my bottles, it hardened. Any suggestions? I am making household cleaning baskets for friends and family and was disappointed. Ingredients are not inexpensive and I do not want to throw this out.

  10. Rudolf on

    In Homemade Dish Soap with Lemon and Lavender Oil, when you say a cup of castille soap, is that in addition to the flakes castille soap? I noticed Walmart has some castille liquid soap

  11. Cynthia Lynn Kimble on

    Now, I see all the other comments…yes, this is really thick. Dr Axe, have you made this yourself? How should we thin out the recipe? More water? more liquid Castille soap?

  12. Cynthia Lynn Kimble on

    Thanks for the recipe. You might consider specifying that the 1 cup of Castille soap is liquid. Also, the amount of water used to “melt” the flakes isn’t enough water or hot long enough to melt the solids. I had to put it all back into a pot over low heat to melt it all.

  13. Karen on

    I made this recipe exactly as stated and it is really really thick, and turned solid. Can you please confirm that the actual cup and tablespoon quantities are as stated. thank you

    • DJH on

      I find that reducing the washing soda amount thins it out. Once in a while I have to add a little bit of hot water and shake the mixture to thin it out.

  14. Jac Sanford on

    I have ran into the problem that once this is all mixed up and cools it goes so thick that i have to scoop it out with a spoon and i even tried making the next batch with more water than what the recipe calls for and it still does the same thing…any suggestions why

  15. Candice on

    I agree with the other comments. Its great seeing the ingredients listed but theres no actual recipe on how to make some of your solutions. Very frustrating!

  16. Makeyia Colbert on

    Where are the exact amounts/recipes? They were always listed before and were very helpful as I’m new to making my own DIY’s. Please change it back. Thx

  17. Leonora on

    Dr. Axe really good recipe, but here I didn’t understand “Next, heat water to boiling, then pour it over the washing soda and grated soap. Using a whisk, blend well. Once you mix those ingredients, add the Castile soap and blend again. As I mentioned above” how much we need of everything and if we added already grated castile soap and mixed them, why at the end we have to add again grated soap?

    Thanks for answer


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