I got tired of paying money for dish washing detergent. Between running a home dairy and cooking from scratch, I go through a lot of it. See the pretty bubbles?
Here is what I'm using now. This is a plastic mayonnaise jar that I've re-purposed. I always save the bits of bar soap left when I switch to a new bar. This is homemade soap, and so doesn't have anything scary in it. I put a couple of small leftover bars in the jar, filled it with water and let it sit for a day or so. Now, when it's time to wash dishes, I turn on the hot water, and pour in some of the liquid from this jar. Then, I refill the jar with more water.
I can guess what you are thinking.... "What about greasy dishes?" I don't put really greasy things in my wash water anyway. I scrape bits into the compost bucket and rinse the dishes before I wash them. Now, if you try this, you will notice that you don't have lots of bubbles that stick around. The bubbles are not what clean the dishes. The water and your effort cleans the dishes. Anything really tough to clean I would soak for a while first. Whether you use detergent or soap, what it does is make the water wetter. THAT is what helps with the cleaning. This is working out very well. I enjoy the smell of my homemade soap too.
Here is one greasy job I have to do. This morning, for my husband's breakfast, I made pancakes, fried eggs and bacon. (He loves me :) I don't ever let soap or detergent touch my cast iron cookware. When I am done cooking, I drain off any grease that might be in there and sort of scrape off any sticking bits with a metal spatula:
Then, while I run hot water into the pan, I scrub it out with a stainless steel scrubbing pad:
Next, I put it back on the heat, upside down (on electric ranges, right side up might work better) for about 30 seconds:
When I take a wrapper off of a stick of butter, I fold it in half, messy side in and keep them in the refrigerator:
After heating the pan for a little while, I use one of the butter wrappers to lightly grease inside the pan before I put it away. If I don't have a butter wrapper, then I use a little of my nice kettle-rendered lard.
A very homely topic, to be sure, but I do wash a lot of dishes, and so want to share with you how I do it. Oh, I don't have an automatic dishwasher and all the little dishwashers I raised abandoned me. I have, in the past, lived where there was an automatic dishwasher. The only time I really liked using it was when I had a new baby. Otherwise, my kitchen stayed much more tidy if I just washed up as I used things and right after meals.
I had the privilege of drying dishes for a friend yesterday as she washed them. It was so nice. As I admitted a while back, I don't like drying dishes... But I think maybe I'm growing up at last. I am getting to where I DO like drying dishes. :-0 She told me a wonderful thing... in her family (she has 4 children at home and a husband) the rule is, "You eat - you help clean up." So, after a meal, everyone just pitches in and gets the job done. I am impressed.