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Dr. Bronner's Products

Using a Sal Suds Spray to Clean Dishes

One of the most basic uses of the Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds Biodegradable Cleaner is for handwashing dishes. However, the concentration of the soap is so strong that it is very easy to get more bubbles than I bargained for. If I am filling a sink, or a large pot for washing a number of dishes, a small squirt of the Suds works well. But I have found that for washing a single item – whether it’s a plate, a pot, a cutting board or a high chair tray – even a drop of pure Sal Suds is more than I need.

Washing Dishes With Sal Suds

Instead, I have found that spraying the item with my bottle of Sal Suds All-Purpose Spray gets just the right amount. This way I’m not wasting Sal Suds nor time in cleaning up excess bubbles. Also, as a mom I tend to move really fast. There’s always something else I need to do – right now. Even the bit of time it takes to wait for a single drop of Sal Suds to come out of the bottle gets me tapping my toe in impatience. The spray bottle is much faster, and I just like it better. So I keep the bottle right under the sink – handy for counters, floors, and dishes.

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Sarah says:

Hi…..I was reading the ingredients for Sal Suds and was a bit concerned with some of them. Such as the Sodiums and other preservatives…..at the end of the ingredients list…….is this soap supposed to be a non toxic soap??
Just curious……thanks

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Sarah- Sal Suds is a biodegradable, mild non-toxic detergent and is a versatile household cleaner for use in counters, dishes, floors, laundry, carpets, and more. It readily biodegrades and so is safe for greywater and septic systems. I’m not sure which of the sodium ingredients has caught your eye. Here’s a quick run down: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) is a mild detergent, often confused with Sodium Laureth Sulfate, an ingredient of concern which we do not use. I’ve written about both here (https://www.lisabronner.com/there-is-no-cancer-risk-from-sls-sodium-lauryl-sulfate/) and here (https://www.lisabronner.com/protecting-your-human-sponge/). Sodium sulfate (https://www.ewg.org/guides/substances/5694-SODIUMSULFATE/) and Sodium chloride (table salt) (https://www.ewg.org/guides/substances/5523-SODIUMCHLORIDE/) work as thickeners and are both given A ratings by EWG. Currently, potassium hydroxide is a pH adjuster which is part of the preservative system in the Sal Suds.

Christine says:

I want to use my hands free soap dispenser at my kitchen sink for both washing hands and hand washing dishes. Can I use unscented sugar soap for this? I’ve seen in some of your articles or videos not to put Castile soap into a pump dispenser as it clogs. I’ve recently developed some extreme skin sensitivities so am trying to avoid Sal Suds as a few ingredients are concerning for me. I am using Tea Tree Sugar soaps in every bathroom dispenser and as shampoo and shower soap. My skin has never felt better and some bad patches are now healing nicely! I’d like to have the same soothing effect of your sugar soaps for handwashing dishes. Any reason not to use unscented Sugar soap for this? Thank you!

P.S. I am also using unscented Castile Soap diluted in a spray bottle for laundry stain remover and full strength in washing machine. My clothes have never been more soft and comfortable!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Christine- It’s great that you’ve found the Organic Sugar Soap helpful. If your hands-free soap dispenser has a foaming pump, you’ll want to use the Castile Soap (which also comes Unscented) diluted 1 part soap to 3 parts water. If it’s a regular dispenser, the Organic Sugar Soap is formulated for a pump and should work just fine. In a foaming pump, the ground Shikakai powder can cause the pump to get sticky.

Simon says:

Hi Lisa,

How would I use this product to remove fine scratches from flatware?

Thanks!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Simon- I don’t know that Sal Suds is able to do that. Scratches are tiny indentations in the surface of the flatware. They can only be removed by polishing them out. Sal Suds doesn’t have any abrasion to be able to do that. Perhaps a little baking soda and water paste would be of help. You’ve got me curious, though. I am going to try this one out.

My Cleaning Cabinet | Going Green with a Bronner Mom says:

[…] is immune to hard water. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways: laundry, mopping, counters, dishes, outdoors, indoors, […]

Lisa says:

I have been looking for the dilutions to make the sal suds lite spray, for handwashing one or two dishes at a time. one of your dish blogs had a picture with sal suds regular and sal suds lite next to each other.
how much sal suds for a quart spray bottle

thank you

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Lisa- Sal Suds Lite is 1/2 tsp in a quart of water. The purpose of that is primarily window washing. For dishes, I recommend the more concentrated All-Purpose Spray of 1 Tbsp. in a quart of water.

Louise says:

What product do you use for diswasher? I’m trying to find something since I’m going to move and have a septic tank. Thank you.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Louise- Unfortunately, I don’t have a recommendation for the dishwasher. The Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) is a good place to search though. They rate products by ingredients, environmental impact and such.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Barbara – Yes, the Sal Suds is mild enough for delicate china, as well as the gold leaf. Use a soft cloth to avoid excessive abrasion.

Lisa says:

I’ve been using Dr. Bronners for a few years now, and love it, for the exception of one thing. i use it diluted in a spray bottle, but when I spray, it bothers my lungs. It doesn’t feel good at all, I wonder how this ‘non-toxic’ substance feels so toxic! One other thing I learned is do not use on wood furniture. I spot cleaned my table cloth where my niece colored with a crayon and it dulled the finish on my table. I also once put the bottle on my window sill, and the residue ate the finish right off in a nice little ring. Beware!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Lisa- Our lungs by nature reject any foreign vapors and so if you breathe in soap vapors, your lungs are going to object. See if you can adjust the nozzle to make more of a targeted spray rather than the really misty spray. I’m sorry you had a bad experience using Sal Suds on your wood. It can be an effective wood cleaner, but it is not for use on all wood finishes. It sounds like your furniture might have a waxed finish. That makes for beautiful wood, but soap or detergent can soften the wax finishing, leaving it gummy feeling. You may find my blog post, Wood: Making It Shine, helpful. It covers methods for cleaning a variety of wood finishes and tips on how to determine what surface you have. Here’s the link: https://www.lisabronner.com/wood-making-it-shine/

Ashley Chandler says:

Please tell me we’re getting close to having a Dr. Bronner’s dishwasher product! I am so close to being a Bronner’s only household!!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Ashley – Congrats on a green household! Hopefully some day soon we will have a good product for the dishwasher. In the meantime, you can find recommendations on EWG.com.

Amina Z Rushdan says:

Is it ok to add a few dropsnof essential oil for fragrance and disinfectant purposes?

Sal Suds Dilution Cheat Sheet says:

[…] Dish washing by hand: Pre-diluted: (my preference) ½ c. Sal Suds in a quart of water in a squirt bottle. Fill with water nearly to the top before adding Sal Suds. Undiluted: ½ tsp. Sal Suds in a large sink of water. 1 drop Sal Suds for one pot. With All Purpose Spray: Using Sal Suds to Clean Dishes […]

Melody Andersen says:

I’m a chef at a preschool and we are chemical free. Yayy!!! We use sal suds and castile soap. I was dishes 2 times a day, lots. Sal suds is so hard on my hands. Any idea how to help with that. Also, how do i fight grease? Anything I cook with cheese, oil or butter causes everything to be greasy. Thanks

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Melody – It sounds like you have a big job on your hands! When our hands spend that amount of time exposed to water and soap, we will most certainly feel the effects. Wearing gloves or applying lotion or balm (like our Unscented Organic Magic Balm) after each washing will help. As far as the grease, Sal Suds should be able to handle that, so you may need to increase the concentration when tackling greasy pots and pans.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Kamila – The Sal Suds works in either kind of pump. You don’t need to dilute it for a regular pump. For a foamer, try a 1:6 ratio.

Sunny says:

I just got a countertop soap dispenser that you press and pump out the soap from below the counter. Would the 5 to 1 ratio be good for that too?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Sunny – If it’s a foaming pump, go ahead and dilute it. For a regular pump, try it full strength. I’m thinking that if you dilute it in a regular pump, it’ll squirt out sideways when you pump it. You probably won’t need a full pump of Sal Suds for most dishes, though.

Sunny says:

Lisa, Thanks for taking the time to answer my question. Without knowing what to do I used 2 oz. soap and 8 oz water. It seems to be working, but I will use more soap next time I fill it.

Michelle says:

Hi there can I put Sal suds in a foaming soap pump for my dishes and use a 5:1 ratio?

kathy says:

I’ve read that adding salt to this mixture will thicken it up. From what I’ve read 1-2 tsp is enough. Has anyone tried this?

Sandi says:

For dishes could I use the 5:1 ratio and put it in a foaming dispenser to wash my dishes? I’m scared using the 5:1 ratio with water and sals suds it would be too liquidy and run out fast.

Panagis says:

what happens if you mix the tea tree castile soap and the sals suds. Any bad chemical reactions? Would this make it clean better?
I tried it in the dishwasher and it kept the suds down. Glasses came out pretty clean and streak free.
I tried the mix in the bath tub and toilet. WOW broke down any grime super fast and easy. Shortest time spent and at the same most effective cleaning I’ve ever done. gleaming white after.

Panagis says:

*EDIT

*I forgot to mentino that I pre-mixed 6 parts baking soda to 1 part soap to make a dry power mix.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Panagis – No problems whatsoever in combining the Tea Tree and the Sal Suds. Sounds like you’ve found a great combo!

LT says:

“Lisa Bronner on September 2, 2011
@ Alyssa – No, Sal Suds can’t be used in the dishwasher. It’s too sudsy and will bubble out the sides of your washer and possibly underneath it. My sister-in-law tried it for a while, but after a few uses, her dishwasher stopped working properly. I think my brothers are working on a non-toxic, organic option, but it’s still in process.

~Lisa”

Any update on the non-toxic, organic version?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi LT – It is still on our “to do” list. We have worked on it, but still aren’t to a good result yet.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Kathy – You’re Sal Suds is white because it’s cold. There is nothing wrong with it. Once it warms up, it will clarify again. If you want to make this happen, you can set it in a bowl of warm water. Please don’t microwave it. (I have to say that!)

All the best,
Lisa

Megan says:

I’ve had great success with using the castille soap and just putting vinegar in the rinse chamber. I just used castille soap, lemon and orange essential oils! So far so good!

Gerri says:

I’m concerned about SLS in the Sal suds, can you explain how it’s not a harmful chemical?

Jodi says:

The Environmental Working Group rates Sal Suds A+. If they say it’s safe then you can be sure it is. You might want to check out their research.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Nick – It makes sense that some of the Sal Suds solution might become airborne, and certainly your lungs would object to breathing it. Another option is to use a squirt bottle (with a flip top lid instead of a spray bottle) and put the solution in there. I use an old Sal Suds bottle for this. The solution does not become airborne that way.

All the best,
Lisa

nick says:

Lisa,
I absolutely love the spray! Today is Day 1 of my experiment with Sal Suds and I used it for dishes and cleaning the stove-top immediately following.

Here’s my question: when I spray it (using a rubbermaid heavy duty 32oz spray bottle) a lot of it mists up in the air and unavoidably gets into my lungs. Which is fine because it’s not harmful chemicals, but as a “foreign” substance it enters my lungs and make me cough when I breath it in and I’m having to residually clear my throat post-cleaning… Am I alone in this? I’ve tried spraying more-softly and turning to less of a mist and more of a ‘direct shot’ but that makes the whole cleaning process more cumbersome. Especially when performing non-dish related household cleaning.

Please help! Thanks!

Anupama Mohanram says:

Hi Nick: I have the same question! That is the problem I have with my current cleaner. Sal’s is on the way though and wondering if i’ll have a similar issue. I’m thinking I may use a dropper/pipette…

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Tammy – No developments on the dishwasher front, yet! I don’t have a good recommendation. At the moment I buy the packets from Costco, which are not earth friendly, but the packets keep me from pouring in too much and from any getting airborne in the pouring process. We are still working on this one.

All the best,
Lisa

Fai says:

I’m confused that you guys are working on a dishwasher solution. I’ve been successfully using Dr. Bronner’s Almond Castile Soap in the dishwasher for a little while now, with now ill effects. I use a small amount and put it in the open compartment.

I do live in Vancouver, BC (Canada) where we have very soft water (neutral pH, hardly any mineral content). So maybe that has something to do with it? But shouldn’t soft water suds up more?

Is there a danger to my dishwasher if I keep using it? What issues have you guys seen?

Brett says:

On the dishwashing front, I’ve been using ½ teaspoonful of Charlie’s Soap Laundry Powder and ½ teaspoonful of Charlie’s Soap Booster in my dishwasher for over two years without any incident. You get about 300-340 washes out of each tub! If you do the math, and purchase the products on Amazon via Subscribe and Save (factoring in the discount), you’re looking at about 4 cents per wash load!!! That’s a third the cost of conventional brands and from an environmentally friendly product…

I live in California, and we’re experiencing a drought right now, so was a little worried my makeshift concoction wouldn’t be able to stand my not pre-rinsing the dishes before putting them in the dishwasher (to save water). The Charlie’s Soap & Booster mix cleans the dishes with no issues. It doesn’t even leave spots behind.

Tammy says:

Any new info on getting a electric dish washing product?

Also, what do you use for electric dish washer or can give for ideas of a more natural product?

Thanks

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Leon – I love your enthusiasm! At the moment, there is not anything in the works for a different Sal Suds scent. I’ll keep you posted if something comes up.

Hi Brandi – Thank you for your kind words! Dishes can be some of the greasiest things we wash in our houses, so I do recommend a more intense concentration if you’re keeping a spray bottle of diluted Sal Suds for dishes. With that being said, if you don’t want to keep multiple dilutions around, you could still use the milder All Purpose concentration of 1/2 Tbsp. per quart, and just spray the dish more times before scrubbing.

All the best,
Lisa

Tara says:

Could you consider making a fragrance-free version of Sal Suds for those of us with fragrance sensitivities? I recently bought a bottle and was pleased with the cleaning power when I tried it, but the fragrance is an issue for me (whether it’s natural or not). I use your Baby Mild soap bars and have used the Baby Mild liquid soap also, and wish there was a fragrance-free version of Sal Suds also, for dishwashing purposes.

Alex says:

I love Sal Suds, but the smell leaves my partner with a headache and refusing to do the dishes. Since there isn’t a different scent is there an essential oil remedy to neutralize the smell?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Alex- You can certainly add your own essential oils to the Sal Suds. This is a great way to personalize the scent. Peppermint? Lavender? Citrus? Whatever floats your boat. Just a few drops go a long ways.

Brandi says:

I printed out your Sal Suds Dilution Cheat Sheet and it says under dishes if it is Pre-diluted to add 1/2 c Sal Suds in a quart of water in a squirt bottle. Is this a typo? or am I misunderstanding the use of this? -like maybe you use this just as you would dish soap and squirt some of that in the sink full of water? I know that the spray would be 1/2 TBSP -but maybe that is if you are spraying directly on the dish or the sponge?

Also, Thanks SO MUCH for all the time you put into answering questions! It has been SO helpful! I like that you often answer questions more than once and sometimes with each answer, we may learn a little something new (and it is nice if you don’t have time to read all answers). FAQ’s are nice but sometimes do not address specific or slightly different circumstances! You are awesome!

Barbara Brown says:

I too wondered it was a typo – 1/2 cup in a quart of water seems like a lot of Sal Suds.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Barbara and Brandi – This is quite embarrassing that here Brandi compliments me on my responsiveness, and somehow I missed her question – from 4 1/2 years ago! I’m so very sorry! I have no idea if she’s still on here, but I’ll answer it now for Barbara and others who may be curious. As Brandi guessed, YES! I do use this solution to squirt into a sink full of water. With other conventional dish soaps, you would just squirt some straight into your sink of water, but if you squirted that amount of pure Sal Suds, it would be way too much. Not dangerous, just wasteful. Because I am impatient, and it takes longer to wait for a small squirt, I dilute it like this so that I can grab my bottle, give a quick and fast squirt into my sink of water, and start washing. So I use roughly the 1/2 c. Sal Suds in a quart bottle filled the rest of the way with water. It will get further diluted when you put it in your sink of water.

I hope that clears things up! Raise your hand if I can clarify more.

Leon says:

I love Sal Suds, and the scent is wonderful too. Your information on how to use it is the best part of the product offering, thank you for this. This may be a repeat question, but I’m curious to know if there is anything down the pipeline for a second or third scent for this amazing product?

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Jenny – I’m sorry for my delay in responding. You can use the castile soap to wash dishes. It works really well. It is best to dry dishes with a towel, though, because the soap can react with hard water and leave a film otherwise. But if you dry with a towel this isn’t an issue.

All the best,
Lisa

Jenny says:

Lisa,
I have some liquid almond soap on hand, can you use it as a dish soap for hand washing dishes? I have read where some people just add a few drops to their sink water & that’s it. I am out of commercial dish soap & want to change over to a natural kind. Thanks for your help.
Blessings,
Jenny 🙂

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Carmen – I have both kinds at my sink – the spray bottle and the squirt/squeeze bottle. I probably use the squirt bottle more than the spray, just because I’m usually doing more than one item at a time, and I need a pot full of cleaning power.

All the best,
Lisa

Michelle says:

Hi Lisa, I am also trying to sort out how much sal suds to put in a squeeze bottle that lives next to the sink for when I fill up a sink full of dishes. I just put straight Sal Suds in my bottle which has a top with a very slow flow. I am going to see if I can use just a bit that way. And, if I find that it is too hard to limit the amount of Sal Suds that gets squired into the sink for a load of dishes, are you suggesting that we put a 5 to 1 ratio Water to SS into a squirt bottle to use when filling a sink? That would be too watered down to replace a bottle of Dawn/Ivory etc?

I am also going to try the spray bottle for one or two dishes as that happens often too. So thanks for this idea as well.

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Michelle – Great! I’m glad you’re putting the Sal Suds to work on your dishes. Yes, a dilution of 1 to 5 would be a comparable concentration to a bottle of Dawn soap.

Carmen says:

Can I make a 5:1 H2O/Sal Suds dilution and put it in a traditional ‘”squeeze” dish soap bottle? Or do you think it wouldn’t be very viscous, and therefore wasteful?

Lisa Bronner says:

@ Melissa – My Sal Suds dilution is about 1:5. Start with that in your dishwand. I don’t know how fast dishwands dispense the solution, so if you find that it’s running through that pretty quickly, cut back on the Sal Suds. Through some trial and error, you want to find the amount that is just enough to clean your dishes. Maybe keep lowering the ratio until it doesn’t work well, then step it back up. When you find the right amount, let me know!

All the best,
Lisa

Julie says:

Thanks for the quick response!

I look forward to the day Dr. Bronner’s has a dishwasher product, as it seems one of the most difficult areas of the home to clean naturally.

Julie says:

Also – I’ve read a bit about using Lemi Shine. Says it’s comprised of 100% natural fruit acids and oils – works great on hard water. Any experience with it or advise?

Thanks again!

Julie says:

Any recommendations for a natural dishwasher recipe? I’ve seen some with washing soda & borax. I’ve decided not to use Borax given it’s toxicity risks. I came across a recipe without Borax – calls for 1/4 each of distilled white vinegar, castile soap and water with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice; use 1-2 tablespoons in washer based on how tough the load is.

Also – any thoughts on the use of washing soda around the home?

Thanks!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Julie!

I checked out Lemi Shine – I’ve never used it but there are some great reviews of it out there. However, I have some hesitation because the ingredients seem veiled. I even looked on the msds (http://envirocontech.com/item/lemi-shine-msds.html), and there is no clarity – only states the ingredients are “trade secrets”. Non-food products do not need full ingredient disclosure. Their website, http://www.lemishine.com, states the ingredients as “real fruit acids, natural citrus oils, fragrance”. The word “natural” has no meaning whatsoever on labels, and “fragrance” is always a red flag because manufacturers can hide anything within it, again citing proprietary reasons.

I don’t have a great recommendation for natural dishwasher recipe yet. I’m still working on that one. Washing soda has the same toxicity levels of borax, so use it with care. Also, mixing castile soap and vinegar (or lemon juice) directly will cause a reaction between them, nullifying the effectiveness of both. You’ll notice the combiniation gets white, slimy, and chunky. I have a post about that: http://lisa.drbronner.com/?p=292. Perhaps it might work if you put the vinegar in the rinse chamber.

My responses here are a bit of a downer, I realize. But I’ll keep working on a positive solution for the dishwasher.

All the best,
Lisa

Alyssa says:

Thanks for responding! A Dr. Bronner’s dishwasher detergent would be *amazing*

Lisa Bronner says:

@ Alyssa – No, Sal Suds can’t be used in the dishwasher. It’s too sudsy and will bubble out the sides of your washer and possibly underneath it. My sister-in-law tried it for a while, but after a few uses, her dishwasher stopped working properly. I think my brothers are working on a non-toxic, organic option, but it’s still in process.

~Lisa

dianna says:

i have previously used soap nut liquid in this manner and just decided to try sal suds in a spray bottle for dishes. i already had a 32 ounce spray bottle that is usually home to a vinegar/water spray – i added some more water and a squirt of sal suds.

it works great for dishes and everything! thanks for this idea 🙂

Mary in MO says:

Yes, excellent idea! Also note the part (mentioned in another post) about adding the Sal Suds AFTER you fill the spray bottle with water.

I have been spraying my dishes with this solution for years and agree it is the most efficient method. Works great!

Lisa Bronner says:

Hi Mary,

My spray bottle with Sal Suds is very diluted. The Sal Suds are very concentrated, and so you only need about 1/2 Tablespoon of Sal Suds per quart of water in your spray bottle.

Thanks for reading!
Lisa

Mary in FL says:

Do you dilute the sal suds in your spray bottle, or use it full strength?

Rachel says:

I love the idea of using a spray bottle of Dr. Bronner’s for dishes. I think I’ll have to try that.

Paula Roberts says:

I have added vinegar and borax to my dish washing water and don’t have a problem with too many suds. Maybe it’s the vinegar that helps rinse everything clean? I do a lot of dishes since I have foster Macaws and their stainless steel dishes (12 of them) have to be washed every day.

Leslie says:

Vinegar deactivates ask suds it is not meant to be mixed together

Mike says:

Leslie, unlike Castile Soap you can mix Vinegar and Sal Suds.

https://www.lisabronner.com/a-word-of-caution-about-vinegar-and-castile-soap/

The last paragraph of the article references Sal Suds

“As a sidenote: This issue does not apply to combining Sal Suds with vinegar. Sal Suds, as a synthetic detergent, has a completely different chemical makeup and does not react with the vinegar in the same way. Vinegar would even add more degreasing power to the mixture.”

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