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Homemade Dishwashing Liquid Recipe

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One of the things I do to live large on a little is I make a lot (almost all) of my cleaners. This saves me a fortune alone! When I first started, I was spending an estimated $50 a month on cleaners and stuff, between laundry detergent, window cleaners, commode cleaners, floor cleaners and the like. A box of good laundry detergent was over $10 alone—and I do a LOT of laundry!

I started collecting recipes, modifying some to suit my needs and ended up with a book’s worth and at my auntie’s insistence published them as The Minimalist Cleaning Method.

This particular recipe is completely original. Octagon soap is designed for washing dishes, but I didn’t like having to use a bar (just felt strange). I knew how to make liquid soap, and that in the old days they used to use washing soda to keep their dishes clean, so I came up with this.

It costs about fifty cents to make a whole gallon, which is a lot less than what you pay in the store, and a gallon will last quite a while:

Homemade dishwashing liquid

Note that to make this you need to use Octagon Soap, which is designed for washing dishes as well as other things. You can substitute Octagon soap with Zote if needed; this soap is used for washing dishes in Mexico and can be found in a number of stores across the world. I don’t recommend trying to substitute any other soaps for these two for safety reasons. You can find Octagon and Zote at and other places online.

Stuff like making my own cleaners saves me a fortune over time. I can take a box of borax, a box of washing soda, a few bars of Octagon soap, some bleach, ammonia and vinegar and clean my house, laundry and car for months—take that corporate central!

They tell you that you need all of those special cleaners, but if you look on them, a lot of them have these basic ingredients within. Why pay them to mix it up when you can do it yourself (to your specifications) for a LOT less?

Anyway, for more frugally minimalist tips and recipes you can check out my book The Minimalist Cleaning Method available in both print and digital editions.

Take care!

UPDATE: Here is the written version of the recipe published on the Yahoo! Contributor Network for those who want to print it out. Enjoy!

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  1. meg wrote:

    Just saw the tagline and burst out laughing!

    I really gotta get some Octagon soap. In fact, next weekend’s cleaning day will introduce some of your cleaning recipes. I am totally fed up with commercial stuff, particularly the fragrances.

    Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 9:23 am | Permalink
  2. Annie wrote:

    Octagon is actually more versatile than Fels because you CAN safely use it to wash dishes. I stock up every time I go to my sister’s house because I have yet to locate it where I live in Paducah. I use it as a general cleaner, to make my laundry detergent and to clean tons of stuff. I even keep a bar in the bathroom to wash my hands with because it washes cleaner than the other soaps I’ve used (and definitely tackles grime better). Go to a mom and pop hardware store and request it if you can’t find it in your area–if you mention that it can be used for laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid and other things they should get it in. If you have to, tell them you can get a mention for them on this blog as a source, and I’ll be happy to post something about them!

    Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 10:44 am | Permalink
  3. Joanna wrote:

    Since you said it doesn’t suds up as much as commercial dish soap, can you use this in a dishwasher?

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Permalink
  4. Annie wrote:

    I’ve not tested it Joanna, so I honestly don’t know. I don’t think it would hurt anything if you used a small amount but I cannot say for sure. If you try it will you please let me know the results?

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 6:38 pm | Permalink
  5. Renae wrote:

    I have Fels Naptha on hand from making laundry soap. Could I use that instead of Octagon??

    Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Permalink
  6. Annie wrote:

    I’ve not tried it so I am not sure if it would be safe. In olden days Fels Naptha used to advertise this soap for washing dishes, but I cannot recommend it. If you try it please let me know how it works out ok?

    Thursday, June 30, 2011 at 2:02 pm | Permalink
  7. Amy Long wrote:

    Do you have any Liquid/Gel dishwasher soap receipes. I have tried 2 different ones and well one receipe I like better than the other, because it cleans better and leaves less of a residue. The down side to it is that you have to keep mixing and/or shaking it for a long time or the whole things hardens up on you and you’re stuk with a brick.

    Any Advise? I tried the powder ones and I hate them. Also, I no longer use jetdry, I use Vinegar and I love it better

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink
  8. Annie wrote:

    I don’t have any recipes offhand Amy, but I will keep a look out and will definitely let you know!

    Wednesday, July 20, 2011 at 9:17 pm | Permalink
  9. Mary wrote:

    What was the Arm&Hammer’s Super Washing Soda for? I didn’t see it used during the demonstration. (Which was awesome by the way).

    Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 2:21 pm | Permalink
  10. Annie wrote:

    Dear Mary,
    It helps with the grease cutting action. I put it in but rather quickly (sorry)! You add it after the grated soap dissolves. If you don’t have it you can leave it out — it won’t hurt anything!

    Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 6:49 pm | Permalink
  11. Melissa wrote:

    The Fels Naptha leaves a bad taste on the dishes, I found this out when I was cleaning up from making homemade laundry soap and used some of it for clean up! Use the Ocatgon!

    Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 8:20 pm | Permalink
  12. Annie wrote:

    Melissa thank you for sharing that! I will definitely pass it on!

    Thursday, May 31, 2012 at 9:51 pm | Permalink
  13. Stacie wrote:

    Can you tell me if this recipe gets a consistency of store bought dish soap or atleast close to it? I’ve been experimenting with trying to make my own dish soap with Octagon, but I can’t get the consistency right, it’s either too thick or too thin.

    Tuesday, June 5, 2012 at 3:34 pm | Permalink
  14. nancy helfrich wrote:

    where can i get thw octGON SOAP, THEY WANT 7-9 per bar of soap,,,Please let me know where i can buy this cheap in Missouri.

    Thursday, July 5, 2012 at 9:15 pm | Permalink
  15. Dana Adams wrote:

    Nancy, you can buy octagon soap at Town and Country Grocery stores in Missouri. 85cents a bar.
    Great video thanks!!

    Monday, July 9, 2012 at 7:06 pm | Permalink
  16. Catherine wrote:

    Can anyone tell me where to get Octagon in Mobile, AL? I have searched high and low and it’s too expensive onlilne. Plus I like the lemongrass in it.

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

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