How to make zero waste dish soap bars

flower shaped dish soap bar on wooden counter

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Reduce plastic usage with single use dish soap bars

Honestly for a lot of years I didn’t give buying a bottle of dish soap a second thought. But lately we’ve been taking a close look at ways we can reduce plastic usage. While we won’t ever be “plastic-free”, we can be more mindful of our purchases and this is a simple step to take

And some added bonuses – you’ll save money too. These bars are inexpensive to make so you’ll save money in the budget. Plus you have complete control over the ingredients, so no harsh ingredients!

The first batch I made was the first cold process soap I had made in almost 20 years! When I made soap before, I struggled with consistent results because I wasn’t using a digital scale or an immersion blender. With those tools on hand, it is SO much easier. You still need to be mindful of the lye. Safety gear like gloves is important.

Check out for soap making supplies, it, along with Amazon, is one of our main sources for supplies. Sometimes you can find what you need at local grocery or big box stores as well. We’ll be doing some posts and videos on soap making for beginners, so if you’re a newbie, stay tuned for more help.

Dish Soap Bar Recipe 2.0

homemade dish soap bar and scrub brush on wooden counter

While I loved the simplicity of the first dish soap bars I made, I wanted a little more cleaning power so I did some research, looked at about 1,436 recipes, and came up with this one. If you are attempting to change a recipe or create a new one, make sure you use a lye calculator to make sure your numbers are correct. You don’t want to go through the time and effort of soap making to end up with something to caustic to use.

With this dish soap bar recipe, I added citric acid, lime juice, lemon peel powder and increased the citrus essential oils. I increased the castor oil amount slightly to make it a little more sudsy. Now I don’t want to finish using up the bars from the original batch (but I will. Or maybe I’ll rebatch them. We’ll see)

Get a scrub brush and a soap dish, and you’ll be able to say good bye to one source of single use plastic in your home. This recipe makes about 12 3 – 3.5 ounce bars. Based on my unscientific research, 2-3 = one bottle of dish soap. 

If you’re looking to clean up your cleaning, check out this download. And if you love hand crafted soaps, but don’t necessarily want to make them, make sure to check out our soap shop!

Get an announcement every time the soap shop opens (yes we will have dish bars sometimes too!) plus great recipes, book recs and a lot more when you join the cool kids @ holistic-ish: 

Dish soap bars

amazing cold process dish soap bar for clean dishes and less plastic use


28.8 oz  coconut oil

3.2oz castor oil

8.5 oz water

5.6 oz lye

2T citric acid

2T lemon peel powder blended in 1 T rice bran or castor oil

15mL lime essential oil

15mL lemon essential oil


Place the water in a heatproof containter. Wearing protective gloves and eyewear, slowly sits the lye into the water until fully dissolved. (always add lye to water, not the other way around). Set aside until the temp drops to 100-110 F (38-43C)

While the lye is cooling, combine the coconut and castor oil. Warm until coconut oil is melted. My soap making container is the pot I melt the oils in, but if you’re using something else, pour it into your soap making bowl and add a thermometer.  You want the oil and the lye solution to be within 10F of each other. 

When the temps are correct, blend in the citric acid, and lemon peel powder in oil to the coconut oil mixture and blend well with immersion blender.  Now it’s time to add the lye solution. Mix with the immersion blender until you reach a very light trace. Now blend in the essential oils.

Because of the high coconut oil content it will set up quickly so be sure to keep the trace light. Pour the soap into the molds of your choice and use a spatula to smooth. Allow the dish soap bars to so set up overnight and then remove from molds.  Allow to cure for at least 3-4 weeks.

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2 Responses

    1. Great Cynthia! We made the transition back in April and I won’t go back. Make sure to get a good dish brush for creating amazing lather. Can’t wait to hear how it goes for you.

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