Friday, September 17, 2010

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

A year ago, we purchased our first dishwasher.
I L.O.V.E. it.
I do not, however, like shelling out for dishwasher detergent. With sales and a coupon, liquid soap to hand wash dishes is easy to find for free....but not so with the dishwasher stuff! After many sleepless hours swagbucks-ing the internet....I finally found a homemade recipe that works. The ingredients cost just under $12 total. This should make enough to last us for several months.
Homemade Dishwasher Detergent:
~1Cup Borax
~1 Cup Baking Soda (or washing soda....find in the laundry detergent isle. Some ladies find the Washing soda works better....Baking soda has worked great for us!)
~1/2 Cup Kosher Salt
~1/2 Cup Citric Acid
(I use "Fresh Fruit" produce protector...which is basically citric acid. You can find it in the canning isle...or use 15 packets of unsweetened Lemon flavored Kool Aid...which has lots of citric acid! Guess that is why most detergents are lemon scented, the citric acid keeps the dishes from building up a cloudy residue)
*Put all ingredients into a container with a tight fitting lid, and shake up!
*Use about 1 TB per load
*****DON'T SKIP THIS STEP- Pour some white vinegar into the "rinse aid" compartment of your dishwasher. This will help to keep your dishes...especially plastic...from having a "cloudy" look!
Wa-Lah! Your own Detergent!
We have been using this for some time now, and love it!
If you do a bit of research on homemade detergent, you will find lots of "controversy" as to how well it works. Apparently, much of this has to do with what type of water you have. Also, it is debated as to whether or not borax is "good" for the dishwasher, as it can build up in your plumbing. Dig a little deeper, and you will find that all commercial dishwashing detergents have a borax-like ingredient....they just also have a chemical to keep the plumbing clear. It is a good idea to every month or so use a regular detergent for just one cycle to clean out the buildup.


  1. OK - you rock!!! LOVE making our own products as they are cheaper...which allows us to support others in adoption, as well as our own adoptions, and it is kind of fun doing it too! THANKS!!!!!

  2. Thanks for sharing!! I made laundry detergent myself and it was so-so, but I will give this a try!

  3. Thanks so much for posting this! I've used my own dishwasher detergent in the past but never liked it. I'll have to try yours out!

  4. Julie - enjoyed meeting you tonight - wish we could have visited longer but my kids were a little crazy! Hope to see you soon.

  5. Very cool! Thanks for sharing!

  6. Thanks for sharing this! I may have to give it a try. However, my silverware came with the following instructions:

    "avoid harsh detergents containing lemon as they can harm flatware surfaces." (It's Oneida; we got as a wedding gift)

    If I leave out the citric acid, is the detergent still as effective?? (I'm not necessarily asking YOU specifically, but perhaps seeing if other readers may have an answer. However, Julie, if you know, then by all means.....)

    Also, do you pour the white vinegar in with each load, or just periodically to refill?

    THANKS!! :O)

  7. Baking soda and Washing soda are two different things. Baking soda is Soda Bicarbonate, and washing so is Soda Carbonate. Where did you get this recipe from, and did the original source say baking or washing?

  8. Hi,
    I just wanted to mention that if you put vinegar in the dishwasher ( I did this for a year), your stainless steel will eventually start to get little brown oxidation spots on it. I just started buying jet dry again. I can't wait to try the dishwashing soap. I am so excited to find an inexpensive solution to this!

  9. We just got a new dishwasher last February, and the motor already went out this summer. Thankfully it was covered under the warranty, but the guy that came to fix it had this great tip. If your city/town has really hard water put 1/2 cup to 1 cup of vinegar upright on the top rack and run it with your dishes every time you wash them. Your dishes will look sparkly clear when using the vinegar every time you wash. Then once a month after starting your dishwasher listen for the "grinding" (draining) and the "shower" (filling) and after it's done filling dump 1/4 gallon jug of vinegar into the dishwasher (use this in place of those expensive dishwasher cleaners).
    I'm excited to try the home-made dishwasher detergent though!

  10. My dishwasher was clogged once and had nasty water in the bottom. I ran the dishwasher with baking soda in the bottom where all the wate was and it unclogged it. Since then i have always used baking soda as the prewash with regular detergent. I will so have to try this.

  11. THanks for the tip about using Fresh Fruit in place of citric acid. I had been ordering my citric acid online, but w/o a free shipping deal it can get expensive. I'll see if I can pick up some FF at Walmart. I had been making my own (same recipe) and found it worked great. It's the best homemade recipe out there! (Don't ever try the liquid recipe--suds came out of my dishwasher!)

  12. How many washes with this jug of detergent? About how many washes will all the ingredients last, all the boxes of ingredients? I would love to try this. Thanks.

  13. I used this homemade concoction for a while. Please be careful when using Borax in the dishwasher. It can actually be quite harmful when particles are ingested over a long period of time. Please refer to this site for more information:

  14. I think you mean "Voila!" Not Wa-Lah...those French words - they can be tricksy ;)

  15. I bought the ingredients for this awhile ago but have been held back for lack of container. Any suggestions on what types of containers to re-use?

  16. Livy ~ I've been using vinegar as the rinse agent for almost 3 years now & have no problems w/brown silverwear.

    Kim ~ It looks like she used a gallon jar.

    I can't wait to try baking soda in the prewash to help offset our hard water. That's why I use vinegar in the rinse.

  17. I am excited to try this! I already have all the stuff too. Oh, and I have to tell you that I LOVE the picture of your babies with the sign about their birthmother. Beautiful!

  18. I'm going to try running mine on baking soda with a drop (literally one drop) of dish soap, but no citrus. I read online not to mix any citrus/acid with any alkaline as they will neutralize each other. Once my rinse aid runs out, I will try vinegar in the rinse though.

    1. Do not put any dish soap, I tried a drop before and suds were everywhere and I mean everywhere. It took 3 rinse cycles to get rid of them.

    2. I've been using this recipe for months that a friend gave me, but we add 2 drops of Dawn to each load. We've never had any problems. I was very nervous at first, because of the horror stories I'd heard, but no suds. Dishes are clean, shiny, and sparkly. Just had to make my second batch up.

  19. I just made this last night. My husband doesn't like me using all the homemade stuff for cleaning, so I only make it when I am a few days out from shopping. I just make a container and use it as an emergency soap.

    However, I only put one packet of lemonade mix. I also forgot the salt, so I will add that in today.

    Maybe I can find some fruit fresh in our canning supplies....

  20. Great explanation....
    Thank for sharing!!!!

    Commercial Dishwasher

  21. Hey Julie - I have a question for you if you don't mind. I followed this recipe and put vinegar in my rinse aid chamber, but I am still getting a pretty substantial residue left on the dishes after they dry. Did you ever experience this? I'm starting to think my rinse agent chamber is broken and not dispensing the vinegar.

  22. Why kosher salt? What is the difference between that and table salt? I honestly don't know.

    1. Kosher salt has no Iodine

  23. I used:
    1 cup Borax
    1 cup Super Washing Soda
    1 cup Lemishine (found in most grocery stores)
    1/2 cup salt (regular salt)

    My dishes have NEVER been this clean, nospots or film. However, as a powder this does clump daily. so I addes some water and it solved the clumping but it did separate every few days. Still working on a liquid version....stay tuned. :)

  24. I could be mistaken, but from what I'm reading elsewhere, the cause for the cloudiness is the lack of whatever it is that that would replace te phosphates in commercial detergent. Now that the govt ban has caused removal of phosphates from commercial dishwasher detergent, the dishes are AWFUL! The phosphates somehow "magically" kept the film from adhering to the glasses/dishes. My husband scrubbed our glasses twice with a Brillo pad and they are still yucky. After FOUR washes. (So much for eco friendly!). Anyway, apparently TSP (used as paint cleaner, found at hardware stores) can sub in the detergent - I've read from 1/2 tsp to 1 Tbsp per load. Haven't tried it--just passing along the info.

  25. TSP Trisodium Phosphate is something best left alone, it is used as a cleaner for surfaces that need to be absolutely clean for painting and comes with safety warnings:

  26. If you have a water softener you probably don't need to add salt. just a money saving tip ;)

  27. Making it today. Super excited to try it!!!

  28. Wa-Lah? Try voilà.

  29. Thank you for the tutorial...making this has been on my list "To Do" list for awhile. I have been looking all over for where to find citric acid! Can't find it anywhere but now I have an alternative!

  30. Don't need citric acid. It gums up the detergent anyway. But if you lived in a place with lots of minerals or something in your water, I guess you'd need it?

  31. My Grandma always said to use vinegar in the dishwasher to clean it out which I have gotten in the habit of doing anyway. The dishwasher is the one that was here when we moved in and it was nasty. My Mom also said its good for washers

  32. For your clothes too. As far as clumping, someone suggested to me measuring out the detergent in mini cupcake liners & then use one/load.

    1. I have also seen a DIY dishwasher recipe on Pinterest with lemon Koolaid

    2. Sorry...dishwasher cleaner that is.

  33. You can put a few of those dissecant packets that you find sometimes in shoe boxes or beef jerky bags in the jar with the detergent to keep it from clumping. They absorb the moisture, works like a charm in mine!

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