How to make dish soap

How to make dish soap (and veggie wash and hand soap): Add a handful of soap nuts (a.k.a. soapberries) and two cups of tap water to a glass jar with a tight lid. Shake until you get bubbles. Pour about half a cup of the solution into a sink full of dishes. Refill the jar (or reusable dispenser) with water. Use this solution until the soap nuts smell bad, then compost and start a new batch! (Video credit: Shannon Ruth Dionne Photography)

Posted by David Suzuki's Queen of Green on Friday, October 7, 2016

DIY dish soap recipe that really works was impossible to find...until now!

(Like me, many of you probably tried to use liquid castile soap or boil up soap granules without success.)

Queen of Green liquid dish soap recipe


One handful soap nuts (a.k.a. soapberries)
Half a litre (2 cups) tap water


Add ingredients to a glass jar with a tight lid. Shake the jar before each use. When you get bubbles, pour about 125 ml (½ cup) of the solution into your sink. Refill the jar with water. Use this solution until the soap nuts stop making suds or smell bad. Then throw them in the compost and start a new batch.

Personalize this recipe by altering ingredient ratios for desired results — success will depend on the hardness of your water and dish grime. You can even add the solution to a pump soap dispenser.

Note: wash fruits and vegetables with this recipe, too!

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How do soap nuts work?

Soap nut shells contain large amounts of natural surfactants called saponins. Surfactants lower a liquid's surface tension and so can be used as detergents or foaming agents. You can find soap nuts in many health food stores and organic grocers or online.

I know soap nuts aren't local. But they have other eco-friendly qualities: They're biodegradable, certified organic, free of scents, plastic and toxics, and many companies ensure local producers (e.g., in India) are paid fair wages.

Have you found a great use for soap nuts?

Lindsay Coulter, a fellow Queen of Green

May 10, 2016

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Post a comment


Mar 11, 2017
6:36 PM

Where can I find soap nuts around Campbell River, BC??

Sep 28, 2016
10:25 PM

Hey nuts can also wash clothes . You can use them as substitute of clothes soap. By by

Jun 12, 2016
8:15 AM

This works great!!! We have been using soapnuts for years (for laundry, dishes, and general cleaning) If you want an even more effective solution— use rain water (boiled and filtered). Soapnuts and soft water are a match made in heaven.

Jun 04, 2016
7:08 PM

Christel, Soap is antibacterial. It’s all about time. My allergist said dish soap works on toilets too. Most first aid books give info on wound cleaning with ordinary soap.

Jun 04, 2016
7:05 PM

Will keep an eye out for soap nuts as dish soap. Wondering the price/value. Can probably be used much weaker for body shampoo. incidentally, Quinoa has a coating of natural saponins to protect the seeds from being eaten. That’s why they’re rinsed multiple times before we get them, and need one more rinse. so… I suppose that quinoa rinse water would be good for soap nut liquid too.

Jun 04, 2016
3:22 PM

About how long before this solution smells bad?

May 16, 2016
5:09 PM

Growing up in India I’ve used soapnut as a substitute for shampoo. It’s much cheaper too in India . The trick is to use two hard stones to break open the nut inside since more lather is gotten that way.The outer coat can be torn with our fingers and the entire fruit soaked in boiling water overnight. We used the lather as shampoo. Care has to be taken to prevent it from getting into eyes as they can be quite an irritant. Another substitute is a fruit called shikakai. We get both of these in Indian Patel Grocery Store that are spread all over the US and Canadian cities. Hope this helps

May 13, 2016
7:14 AM

What about anti-bacterial properties for killing germs?

May 11, 2016
4:35 PM

I am in north van. Where do you buy soap nuts?

May 11, 2016
4:15 PM

I tried using soap nuts last year for my new laundry soap and was really excited but had to stop using them after I discovered I have a sensitivity to them. I developed a rash and it was the only new thing we added and cleared up after stopped using them. Is there any other soap nut like item you know of?

May 11, 2016
3:09 AM

The same liquid can be placed in a spray bottle and used as an all-purpose cleaner for bathroom and kitchen counters.

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