How to Make Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Looking to make your own homemade dishwasher detergent? It can be expensive to buy the “natural” versions at the store, so below you will find my simple, 3 ingredient alternative!

Looking to make your own homemade dishwasher detergent? It can be expensive to buy the "natural" versions at the store, so below you will find my simple, 3 ingredient alternative! #dishwasherdetergent #homemadedishdetergent #dishwashersoap

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

I run my dishwasher every day!! If you have a large family or one that tends to eat most of their meals at home, I’m guessing that you do too. I had decided to experiment with some different dishwasher detergents and see what would work in my dishwasher and be the most cost-effective. I definitely wanted clean dishes with no residue. I was using some store brands, name brands, and “earth” friendly brands. I have settled in with the homemade for over 9 months now and am happy with the results. The recipe is very simple.

dishwashingdetergent

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

What You Need:

  • 1 cup of 20 Mule Team Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • 1/4 cup Citric Acid (Get it from Amazon)

Mix the powders together and add to homemade dishwasher soap “well”. I use approximately 2 Tablespoons in my main “well”. The amount will vary according to your dishwasher brand and capacity.

You can buy the Borax and Washing  Soda at  Walmart. I order the citric acid in a bulk amount from Amazon. You can also add in a couple of drops of your favorite essential oil to add additional properties to your powder. I like to add in the citrus oils like grapefruit, orange, or lemon oil. We use Rocky Mountian Oils because they carry great, inexpensive but well tested essential oils.

Homemade Dishwasher Rinse Aid

For the rinse aid compartment in my dishwasher, I fill that up with either vinegar or Biokleen Glass Cleaner Concentrate. Amazon seels the basic bottle and you can buy the concentrated version from Azure Standard if the diluted version does not work for you.

I have not had any problems with spots, residue or non-clean dishes with these combinations. We do have soft water in our house, so if you have hard water, you may find other results or have to adjust the amounts that you are using.

Let me know if you have questions on this or if you have other suggestions for future articles or topics that you would like to have us investigate or write about.

If you are trying to save more money, you might also want to check out this article on How to Save Money While Washing Dishes.

Until next time,  Julie

Here are some other homemade cleaners you can try!

If you love easy DIY tutorials like this one, you will absolutely love my daughter’s book, Little House Living: The Make Your Own Guide to a Frugal, Simple, and Self-Sufficient Life. It features 130 recipes just like this one that are perfect for your family!

 

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This article on how to make homemade Dishwasher Detergent was originally posted on Little House Living in October 2011. It has been updated as of October 2019.

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37 Comments

  1. I use generic lemon Kool Aid for my citric acid. I like the smell, and for me, it is the cheapest available citric acid source. If you choose to try this, please note that it can be any brand of kool-aid type drink but it MUST be lemon. I will have to try this recipe. I think it will work out to being cheaper than mine (50%-50% generic oxyclean and lemon Kool-Aid).

  2. I use generic lemon Kool Aid for my citric acid. I like the smell, and for me, it is the cheapest available citric acid source. If you choose to try this, please note that it can be any brand of kool-aid type drink but it MUST be lemon. I will have to try this recipe. I think it will work out to being cheaper than mine (50%-50% generic oxyclean and lemon Kool-Aid).

  3. I was wondering if Sara,Mel & Leta had positive results after trying dishwasher detergent & if they hv hard r soft water?

  4. I was wondering if Sara,Mel & Leta had positive results after trying dishwasher detergent & if they hv hard r soft water?

  5. I am getting ready to make this. I found the citric acid at Hardware Hank here in Rapid for about $2.50 for 3 oz. Another site I viewed the recipe on called for epsom salt added to the mixture, so I plan to add that as well. Can’t hurt, and it will make it go farther.

  6. I am getting ready to make this. I found the citric acid at Hardware Hank here in Rapid for about $2.50 for 3 oz. Another site I viewed the recipe on called for epsom salt added to the mixture, so I plan to add that as well. Can’t hurt, and it will make it go farther.

  7. Close to the same ingredients that I use for my homemade laundry soap. I don’t have a dishwasher…..just me.

  8. I found a recipe similar to this one on DIY Naturally and (naturally) didn’t have all of the ingredients so I tried a variation using 1) Washing Soda 2) Borax and 3) Table salt. We have been so thrilled with it! I’d stopped using my dishwasher a year ago because the phosphate free detergents were leaving a nasty film on my dishes. I can honestly say that I am impressed with my accidental recipe.

    You can see my variation here –
    http://poppyjuice-poppy.blogspot.com/2012/02/truly-amazing-homemade-dishwasher.html

    I’d love to know if this works for anyone else as well as it does for me!

    Thanks for your amazing website! I’m sharing on my facebook as it is full of very helpful information!

  9. I do not have a dishwasher at my house, I am the “dishwasher”. So I was wondering can I use this recipe for my dishes?

  10. I use 1/2 cup bleach and the dishes come out clean and sparkling with no bleach smell. It works great and very cheap.

  11. @ Mindy – washing soda is caustic (not the same as baking soda) and I’m not sure if that amount of citric acid would be enough to counteract the caustic-ness, so you would definitely want to use rubber gloves if washing by hand. You might have to watch out for slipperiness also. Could cause you to drop glass dishes more easily. Just a couple of thoughts. Has anyone tried this?

  12. I have used this recipe for my dishwasher for a long time and love it. We used to have very hard well-water, but recently got connected to a rural city-water system. I didn’t have problems with this and the hard water; and I have no problems, now.
    There is something that needs to be said about using vinegar in the rinse aid compartment, though. The vinegar can ruin parts of that dispenser area, according to comments I’ve read on several blogs I follow. I put my vinegar in a cup on the top shelf of my d/w and it works great!
    I hope this info helps.

  13. I used this recipe but I read on a few other sites that you can use Lemon Shine as its basically Citric Acid. I found it at my local WalMart for about $3 for a decent sized bottle (its about the same size as a small Comet bottle). I haven’t noticed any difference between the homemade detergent and the store bought except for the price! My sister in law had a horrible issue with hard water after she moved so she added Kosher salt as well and it has worked great for her.

  14. After I made this dishwasher soap, it became a solid brick. Very hard to use. What do you do to keep this from happening?

  15. I so wish any completely homemade recipe would work for me here in Wyoming however I think our water is just too hard so I found a way to stretch my dishwasher detergent and still get the result I want to see when I open the machine. I mix 1 cup of Washing Soda, 1 cup of Borax and 1/2 cup of a good store brand detergent. Use 2T per load and vinegar in the rinse. This recipe makes even a small box of detergent last a very long time and my dishes look like I want them to 🙂

    1. Stephanie, we had super hard water at our old house (in fact one of the reasons I’m so against having one here at our new house), but I finally ended up using Seventh Generation dishwasher soap. It still wasn’t perfect but it worked better than anything else I tried.

  16. Just wanted to let you know that if you have a problem with spots due to hard water, just add 1/2 cup to one cup vinegar to the rinse cycle. Works wonders! I make a similar recipe, but instead of the citric acid, I add epsom salts and lemon juice and make a paste that I fill ice cube trays with. They harden up nicely, and clean well! When we live in a place with hard water, I just do the vinegar trick.

  17. I was hoping this recipe would be a new one I hadn’t seen. I have tried this, and unfortunately in Missouri even in a sealed container, it turns in to a solid block of stone, and it leaves the worst film on my dishes. I have tried vinegar with it, I have tried real store bought rinse aid, and it still doesn’t work. I have tried slight variations and still can’t get it to work for me. Any thoughts? I do love your site, and I have found most of your recipes to be good and helpful. So pleasse don’t think I am a negative nelly.

    1. I put with 1/3 cup white rice in the toe of a clean knee-hi stocking. Twist the stocking close to the rice four times. Turn the top of the knee-hi over the ball you just created. Tie a knot in the knee-hi just over the two-layer knee-hi ball. Cut the extra knee-hi top off and put it i the bottom of any dry mixture (including this soap recipe), in your sugar canister, etc.

    2. Have you tried adding a couple packets of silica gel to your container that you store your dishwasher soap in? You can save and re-use the ones that come in lots of products you already buy. You can find little silica gel packets in anything that would be affected by excess moisture or condensation. Silica gel is a desiccant – it adsorbs and holds water/moisture vapor and prevents condensation. It can adsorb about 40 percent of its weight in moisture and can take the relative humidity in a closed container down to about 40 percent. Once saturated, you can drive the moisture off and reuse silica gel by heating it above 300 degrees F (150 C).

  18. I find that I have residue left, even with vinegar, but I have pretty hard water. I’m thinking of adding Charlie’s Laundry Booster, which helped with hard water when washing cloth diapers. I’ve heard of people using it in their dishwasher, too.

  19. Recently came across your site and LOVE it!
    I use a recipe very similar to yours. We do have hard water and I add 1/2 cup of salt (Kosher or Epsom) to the mix. And vinegar in the rinse well. 🙂

  20. Does it work on cleaning off dishes? We just throw the dishes in as is (why would we have a dishwasher otherwise, if we had to rinse??) anyways, I use bleach to occasionally unclog…and only one dishwasher soap will clean it off. would love to find a homemade one!:)

  21. The reason some people are ending up with a solid brick is adding the citric acid to the mix. Mix the borax and washing soda but keep the acid separate. Add two tablespoons of the mix and 1-2 teaspoons of acid to each load of dishes. Use the vinegar for the rinse. You won’t end up with a brick. 🙂

  22. Love your website and the inspiring recipes! I am interested to learn how to make colloidal silver at home that is safe to use.