I’ve been using this DIY dishwasher detergent recipe for over a year, and I can recommend it: for cost, convenience, and effectiveness. I’ll admit that when we got busy over the holidays I took advantage of a few “store bought” dishwasher soap deals, but I’m ready to make a new batch of this homemade dishwasher detergent and get back to using it. I love how, when I have this on hand, dishwasher soap is off my list of things I need to deal-hunt for!
Most other recipes out there for homemade dishwasher detergent doubled the quantities in this recipe, but I started with a small batch to make sure it would work in my dishwasher and with my water. I’d recommend starting with these proportions at first, and if it works well, go ahead and double or triple it for future batches. I keep mine handy in a 1-quart Ziploc container with a 1 TBSP measuring spoon in it. Without further ado…
Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
- 1 cup Borax
- 1 cup Washing Soda (see recipe below for how to turn Baking Soda into Washing Soda–they’re not the same thing!)
- 1/2 cup Kosher Salt
- 5 packets unsweetened lemonade mix, or around 1/4 cup citric acid (see note later)
Use 1-2 Tbsp. per load of dishes. I found that one heaping tablespoon was plenty. Keep it tightly sealed and avoid getting moisture in.
Moisture may make your dishwasher soap get clumpy (the citric acid causes this). This is what mine looked like after a few weeks…not too big of a deal right now, but it might be in more humid months. If clumping is an issue, you can store it with a packet of silica gel (like you sometimes find in medicine packaging or purses), or put a spoonful of rice in a coffee filter, tie it off with a rubber band, and toss it in–the rice will absorb the excess moisture and keep it from solidifying. (Note: after almost a year, I still haven’t had much issue at all with clumping–just make sure your hands are dry when you grab the measuring spoon, and you’ll probably be fine!)
Using vinegar as a rinse aid will eliminate cloudiness on your glassware. It made a huge difference from doing without. Just pour it in the rinse aid (Jet Dry) dispenser–it’s supposed to last about a month. Every once in a while, just top it off, or double-check if you notice your glasses coming out cloudy.
The recipe above yields around 40 loads worth of detergent, depending on how high you heap your heaping tablespoon. I figure it cost me less than two dollars to make this recipe, probably closer to $1 if you get the generic lemonade packets.
You can also buy citric acid in bulk through Amazon and in the canning aisle or wine-making shops. It’s cheaper per use, but you have to buy an awful lot at a time–that might be an option for you if you decide to go for bigger batches or if you can share with friends, but when you make your first small trial batch, the lemonade packets are pretty convenient, and certainly don’t break the bank. Update: I’ve also tried it with Lemi-Shine, and it worked fine…I think I liked it better with the lemonade though!
A few other notes if you want to give this a try:
- Success seems to depend on the hardness of your water, so if you have really hard water, you might need to adjust the amounts of Kosher salt and/or citric acid to get the best results.
- This works best if you’re a pre-rinser. If you want something that’ll scrub a bunch of stuck-on crud off your dishes, this might not be your thing. I’ve pretty much always been a pre-rinser, so it’s no biggie. But I noticed that without extra chemicals to dissolve stuck-on food, one or two dishes that didn’t get pre-rinsed came out with some food still stuck on.
- You NEED to use a rinse agent with this…and guess who comes to the rescue? Good ol’ Versatile Vinegar–pour some in your rinse aid dispenser and it’ll keep your glassware from coming out cloudy.
- Some comments from other web sites that had offered various homemade dish detergent recipes cautioned against using citrus on glassware or some silverware, claiming it can cause pitting or etching. This wasn’t an issue for me (and apparently not for most users of this and similar recipes), but I just wanted to put that out there–you might not want to use it on the “fine china” if it might be a concern.
Let us know what you think if you give this a try, especially if you make adjustments that work for you with hard water. Hope it works well for you!
Have you tried our other DIY Cleaning recipes? They’re low in chemicals, super frugal, and do a great job. Check them out:
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