After some struggle and playing a little "mad scientist" in the kitchen, I've struck up a pretty, pretty decent alternative to store-bought dish soap. Here's a little somethin'-somethin' for you to read about major brands is dish soap. There are many somethin'-somethin's on this subject for you to find out there, so this is just a jumping off point.
This recipe is natural, but please remember that natural does not mean that it's something you should eat or drink. If you're going to do a full load of dishes with this stuff by hand, be sure to wear some gloves to protect those lovely paws from drying out.
I already had all of these ingredients on hand (you will too, once you begin exploring the world of natural housekeeping), so it was unbelievably convenient to make. More convenient, in fact, than actually going to the store to buy more dish soap. The total cost of the soap breaks down to approximately $2.50, which is less than leading natural dish soap brands that I've found to be much less effective at cutting grease.
3 cups water
1 cup Castile soap (Dr Bronner's is my preferred. The peppermint is what we always have on hand, but unscented would probably be ideal)
3 TBS Super Washing Soda (Found in most laundry aisles)
2 TBS Baking Soda
3 TBS White vinegar
10-20 drops of your favorite essential oil *optional (I chose tea tree, but lavender, lemon, and eucalyptus are great choices as well)
1. Mix the water, castile soap, washing soda, and baking soda together in a non-reactive pot. On your stove, gently heat the mixture over medium-low flame. Whisk until the washing soda has completely dissolved.
2. Remove from heat and add the vinegar and essential oil. Mine did not bubble over, so I assume anyone who tries this method should be safe. If your kitchen turns into a middle school science lab, I apologize.
3. Allow your soap to cool and then transfer to your favorite liquid soap vessel. I always make sure to label my concoctions clearly, as well as mark their containers with the recipe for easy future reference.
Please note that this soap will not do much in the way of sudsing, but it WILL get the job done. As consumers we've been convinced that something isn't getting cleaned unless we see some bubbles, but often suds are the result of drying, harmful chemicals--totally artificial to most cleaning processes.