Category Archives: Eco-things

Homemade Dish Soap

In which, believe it or not, the homemade dish soap happens.

So, last we met, the dish soap was deemed an economical alternative, and a vow was made to make it. If I can quote myself, “I shall make my own dish soap.” Well, it turns out that the definitiveness of that statement was a bit premature. First, I balked at the $11 shipping cost of the washing soda, because, $11. Then, the lovely Rosalyn offered to pick some up for me, but, being a scatter-brained person, I failed to get back to her before the store she recommended closed for renovations. Alas. Then, it seemed like it had been too long since I blogged. Then it seemed like it had really been too long since I blogged. I decided I was a failure. Then, something miraculous happened.

I decided I wasn’t a failure after all. I was just taking things at my own pace.

Then, I started studying for the bar exam. Then that was all I did for two months.

Then I took the bar exam! Hallelujah!

And now, here we are, and here is the long awaited dish soap.

Ta da!

It turns out that washing soda flees the store shelves whenever I go looking for it. Though I’ve heard it’s a fairly common item for stores to stock, I haven’t found it in my regular grocery stores. And, I was unwilling to pay the aforementioned shipping costs to get in online. So there was really only one thing to do: make my own.

As it turns out, washing soda is really easy to make. It is, who would have guessed, just cooked baking soda. The recipe I’m using called for 1 TBS washing soda. So, I did this:

1 TBS baking soda, please.

And then I did this:

Do your chemical reaction thing, heat.

I let it cook for a little over an hour. The internet disagrees about how long this process needs to take. I saw times ranging from 30 minutes to 2 hours. I figured since I had such a wee amount, an hour and a quarter would be just fine.

The other nice thing about this method (the first nice thing being that I got washing soda out of the deal!), was that I can just use the bowl it’s in to make the dish soap. Watch me go!

Going too fast to focus!

Bubbles!

The recipe calls for a tablespoon of shaved bar soap. I had a little store-bought liquid soap in the bottom of my squeezy bottle, so I subbed that. Next time, shaved bar soap, here I come.

This took hardly any time at all to make. I would use a little less water next time, so that the whole batch would fit in the bottle.

And that’s how I overcame mostly self-made obstacles to make my own dish soap. Next up: actually purchasing those reusable produce bags!

Make Your Own Washing Soda

Heat oven to 400 °. Bake for an hour or so.

Homemade Dish Soap recipe over here!

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Economist’s Dish Soap

Let’s not be tree huggers for a moment. I know, it’s difficult, and I promise it won’t last. Here’s the thing. I’ve been thinking about making my own dish soap, and I just can’t decide if it’s worth it.

I have not yet done research on the scary chemicals in commercial dish soap, though I’m sure they are many. But since we’re pretending not to be tree huggers for a moment, maybe that’s not the only reason to do it. It might, just might, be cheaper. I’m willing to find out.

Let’s meet the contenders:

Option A: I’m currently using opaque, pink Dawn dish soap. It looks like this. It costs $0.23/fl. oz. at my local Safeway.

Option B: I’ve found a fabulous recipe to make my own dish soap. How much would that cost? Let’s do some math. Makes approximately 2 cups (16 fl. oz)

Castile Soap – 1/2 cup. – 32 oz. for $17.99 = $.055/oz. = $2.20

White Vinegar – 1 TBS (1/2 fl. oz) – 64 oz. for $4.09 = $0.06/oz = $0.03

Super Washing Soda – 1 TBS (1/2 fl. oz.) – 55 oz. for $4.25 = $.08/oz = $0.04

Water – let’s call that free. It’s not, but let’s call it that.

So we get a grand total of $2.27 for 16 fl. oz. That’s $0.14 /oz! The home-made dish soap is the winner!

Of course, in up-front cost, to make 2 cups of dish soap you have to spend $25.53. And that’s a lot, for dish soap that you can just spend a couple of dollars on at the supermarket. One of the trickiest things about trying to live more sustainably is that the up-front costs are often greater. If you have the capital – awesome – as this analysis shows, is can be cheaper in the long run. If you don’t have the capital, you can be stuck with less-sustainable alternatives. Bummer, that, but I don’t see any way around it.

No cost benefit analysis would be complete, either, without a calculation of my time to make it, but I’m leaving that out too. It seems like just throwing a bunch of stuff in a bowl and whisking. Additionally, if it takes longer to do the dishes with this stuff, that should be a consideration, but I’m willing to at least try it before I decide that it will definitely take longer.

These are prices I found on the internet, and are approximate. The washing soda will likely be the most difficult, as I have never seen it in a store, and it costs, HELLO $11 to ship on the one site I found. That seems like a lot, for a $4 box of washing soda. This may require some more searching. Maybe I can find it in a physical store and not pay any shipping at all! A girl can dream.

I shall make a search for these ingredients, and I shall make my own dish soap, for it is in fact, less expensive than the alternative.

So. Home-made dish soap. Looks like it’s on!