Homemade Bar Dish Soap

A simple recipe for cold process bar dish soap that gets your dishes sparkling clean. Add lemon fragrance for a fresh scent.

This soap recipe combines the cleansing power of coconut oil with the lathering of castor oil. With just a few ingredients, it’s a great money-saving home DIY.

I have the printable recipe immediately below for your convenience, but there is more information below it 😊.

5 bars of solid dish soap next to lemon slices

Homemade Bar Dish Soap

A homemade bar soap that leaves dishes sparkling clean.
Prep Time 45 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
cure time 1 day
Total Time 1 day 1 hour 15 minutes
Serving Size 12 3.5 ounces bars


  • 1 ounce castor oil
  • 29 ounces coconut oil
  • 5.41 ounces of lye
  • 8 to 11 ounces of water
  • 1 tablespoon fragrance oil optional


  • Make the lye water. Measure the lye and water in separate containers, using a digital scale.  Combine the lye and water by adding the lye to the water, then stir until dissolved.  The lye solution will shoot up in temperature and become hot.  Set aside to cool in a safe place.
    A hand is shown from above, stirring a small glass dish containing lye water.
  • Melt the oils. Measure the castor oil and coconut oil using a digital scale.  Melt over low heat in a stainless steel pot until fully melted and 140 degrees.  Set aside to cool in a safe place.
    A split image showing two stages of soap making; on the left is a digital scale with a steel pot containing solid white coconut oil chunks, and on the right, the same pot now on a linen background with the coconut oil melted into a smooth, light yellow liquid, being stirred with a wooden spoon.
  • Blend the components. When the lye water and melted oils have cooled to about 110 degrees, combine them by pouring the lye water into the melted oils.  Blend with a stick blender until a thin trace is reached.  (The mixture will thicken slightly and no droplets of oil are visible.)  Add the fragrance, if using, and stir in by hand.
    An overhead view of a large yellow pot containing a light yellow liquid soap mixture being stirred with a spatula. The pot is on a textured linen background, indicating a step in the soap-making process.
  • Pour into mold. Immediately pour into a soap mold with individual bars.  (The soap dries too hard to cut easily if made as a loaf.). Remove from the molds after 24 hours and allow to cure 2 weeks more before using.  Store the bar in a place that will allow it to dry as much as possible between uses. 
    An angled overhead shot of a vibrant purple silicone soap mold with individual cavities, being filled with a pale yellow liquid soap mixture from a glass measuring jug, suggestive of the soap setting process.


To calculate with a different volume, use these percentages:
  • 96.67% coconut oil
  • 3.33% castor oil
  • 1% superfat
Soapmaking safety is very important.  If you aren’t familiar with the procedure, please read this beginner’s guide to soap first.  
wooden brush, dish cloth, and 5 bars of dish soap

❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe

Cheap but works just as well. Whether you are trying to live sustainably or live frugally, this bar dish soap will help you get there. Store bought dish soap is shockingly expensive and always comes in big plastic containers. But bar dish soap takes up hardly any room, is packaging free, and works just as well.

Very cleansing. This recipe is almost all coconut oil, which is very cleansing but drying. I added a small amount of castor oil for extra lather, because everyone likes bubbles while washing the dishes. (For an even stronger soap, for use on laundry stains, you can try my homemade cleaning soap.)

You can add a fragrance of your choice. If you want to add fragrance, you definitely can! Just keep in mind that this will be touching plates, where you eat your food. Because of that, I chose to use orange oil instead of a synthetic fragrance oil. If you want to use an essential oil, make sure you look for one that won’t fade as a the soap cures. (10x orange is a good one.)

It is calculated to a 1% superfat. This just means that there is very little extra moisture left over from the oils. They are almost all saponified, or turned into soap.

Because of the low superfat and high amount of coconut oil, this soap is not suitable for skin. But it leaves dishes sparkling clean! (Here is my best shower soap recipe.)

This is an overview of the ingredients. You’ll find the full measurements and instructions in the printable recipe at the bottom of the page.

You’ll need the following for this bar soap:

Proctor Silex Electric Immersion Hand Blender with Detachable Dishwasher Safe Handheld Blending Stick, 2-Speeds, 150 Watts, White (59739)Proctor Silex Electric Immersion Hand Blender with Detachable Dishwasher Safe Handheld Blending Stick, 2-Speeds, 150 Watts, White (59739)X-Haibei Celtic Knot Design Rectangle Silicone Glossy Soap Mold Heavy Big Soap Bar MakingX-Haibei Celtic Knot Design Rectangle Silicone Glossy Soap Mold Heavy Big Soap Bar MakingNOW Essential Oils, Lemon Oil, Cheerful Aromatherapy Scent, Cold Pressed, 100% Pure, Vegan, Child Resistant Cap, 4-OunceNOW Essential Oils, Lemon Oil, Cheerful Aromatherapy Scent, Cold Pressed, 100% Pure, Vegan, Child Resistant Cap, 4-OunceSnowkingdom 4 Pack Beige Soap Saver Draining Lift Pad 2.9Snowkingdom 4 Pack Beige Soap Saver Draining Lift Pad 2.9



Step One: Measuring and Combining Ingredients

Begin by measuring out the lye and water separately, using a digital scale. Combine them by adding the lye to the water (“snow floats on the lake”). Stir until the lye fully dissolves, and set aside in a safe place.

blue towel with cup of lye water and digital scale on top

While the lye water is cooling, measure out the coconut oil and castor oil on the scale. They should technically be measured separately, but I just add them right to the pot I am melting them in.

coconut oil and castor oil in pot

Step Two: Melt Oils and Let Them Cool

Set the oils on the stove to melt on low, until they are fully melted and 140 degrees.

melted oils in pot

Now you need to wait for everything to cool down. This will take two to three hours. Both components should be about 100-110 degrees before you blend them together. Ideally, they will be close in temperature, less than ten degrees apart.

Step Three: Blend

To blend, pour the lye water into the pot with the melted oils. Blend with your stick blender until a light trace is formed. That means that the blender leaves a trail (or “trace”) when it is dragged through the batter. You shouldn’t see any visible droplets of oil. It usually takes about 5 minutes of blending.

pouring lye water into melted oils

It will look like this

stirring the lye with blended oils using spatula

If you are adding fragrance, go ahead and do it now and stir it in by hand.

Step Four: Mold

Immediately pour into your soap molds and allow to harden for 24 hours before removing from the mold.

soap batter being poured into molds

Let it cure for two weeks before using, otherwise it will dissolve too quickly.

🥫 Storage and usage instructions

  • Bar soap always lasts longer if it can dry in between uses. I use these soap savers to help air circulation.
  • Don’t store your extra bars under sink. Put them in a dry closet or somewhere similar.
  • To help clean your dishes, this works well with either a wooden scrub brush or a dish cloth.
  • Again, don’t use as a hand soap, it’s too drying. But using it on your dishes won’t dry out your skin any more than a store-bought dishwashing liquid.

🔍 FAQs

Can I make soap without using lye?

No. If it does not contain lye, it is not soap.

My soap has lost its smell really fast. Why?

Some fragrance and essential oils last longer than others. You can try a bit a kaolin clay to help the fragrance stick. In general, a designated soap fragrance oil will last longer than essential oil.

Can I double a soap-making recipe?

As long the recipe is accurate, you can certainly double i!

Is it more cost-effective to make this soap rather than buying it?

Yes! Any store-bought cold process soap is quite expensive.

👩🏻‍🍳 Expert tips

  • Soapmaking can be dangerous and the ingredients deserve respect. Make sure you are wearing gloves, eye protection, and long sleeves. Any splashes can burn your skin or damage your eyesight. The fumes are also dangerous, so work in a well-ventilated area.
  • Don’t make soap when you are rushed or stressed. Just don’t do it. You’ll make mistakes, and they are hard to undo.
  • Keep all soap making ingredients away from children or pets. Anything with lye in it is dangerous until it has cured into a finished bar.

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  1. Hi Katie,

    Thanks for this recipe. I’ve always wanted to make soap and this is perfect for beginners.

    Question: my soap looks gorgeous but it’s coated in a fine grit. Did I not stir it enough? I just made it three days ago so it hasn’t cured for two weeks.

    1. chris, is it a true grit with texture or more of a white chalky substance? white chalky would be soda ash, which just sort of randomly happens and is NOT a problem, except for looks. if it’s a grit… i’m not sure. I can’t imagine any of the lye would have survived the curing process and stayed gritty??

  2. Does the mixture need to be covered and wrapped up to kept warm for the 24 hours that it sits in the moulds the way most hand soap recipes say to do?

  3. Has anyone tried this bar recipe using half goat milk half water in the recipe and it turn out??

  4. Hi Katie,

    Thank you for your recipe. I tried it for the first time last night.

    I never saw a “trace” when I was mixing. It did turn to that pudding texture pretty quickly. Can you think of what I did wrong?

    It been less that 24 hours and the soap is still “oily” almost like a moisturizer bar. How long does it take to harden fully? My purchased dish bar soaps are hard. Do you think my bars will harden?

    1. yes, this bar should be VERY hard. give it a little more time to cure.. but mine is typically hard at this point. I hope it turns out! if it doesn’t, it could have reached “False trace” where the oil starts to cool down and it looks like it has traced but hasn’t. all you can do now is wait. good luck! 💕

  5. I made my first batch this morning, enough for 6 bars, (adjusted the amounts) it didn’t thicken up while blending, so fingers crossed I got it right.

  6. Hello,

    I’ve made two batches of this soap so far and I do feel that it cleans well and I like that it’s a hard soap. My only concern is that it leaves a lot of soap marks, no matter how much I rinse. It’s especially visible on glassware. Any thoughts on how to remedy this?

      1. Just so questions are answered, Use 1 to 3 % citric acid ppo used. Dissolve in water before adding your lye. You must add a bit of extra lye too. There is videos/websites (soapqueen) that explains this in detail. 1% of 1000g of oils is 10g of citric acid and 6g of extra lye.

  7. I really enjoy this recipe, thank you! I accidentally made too much and my soap solidified before I could get it all into the soap mold, so I turned my soap chunk into soap flakes. Would I be able to melt the soap flakes after it’s cured and use it as a melt and pour into a mold at this point? Thank you!

  8. Hello Katie,
    I am giving gifts of crocheted kitchen scrubbies for Christmas and I have been thinking it would be nice to have a small bar of soap inside. Will this recipe work to make those and add it inside between two?