Making your own homemade dishwashing detergent is so easy you’ll wonder why you didn’t start making it a long time ago! The ingredients are very inexpensive, and you may have many of them on hand if you’ve made homemade laundry detergent or other homemade cleaners.
My search for a homemade dishwasher detergent recipe was inspired by necessity, as I had just run out of detergent and still had laundry to do that day. Luckily, it was a breeze to throw together — one of many advantages to making DIY laundry and cleaning products is that you’re always prepared for just such an emergency!
But affordability and convenience aren’t the only reasons to consider making homemade dishwasher detergent. It also works really well at fighting food grease and preventing hard water spots, and works as a scouring powder to boot! Just sprinkle it into your dirty kitchen sink and scrub for a cleaner, brighter sink that smells super fresh! It’s like two products in one (and for pennies in supplies, too!) Another bonus – it helps clean your dishwasher while it works on your dishes.
Here’s how to make it!
Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Recipe
- 2 cups baking soda
- 1/2 cup washing soda
- 1 cup borax*
- 1/4 cup kosher salt
- 1/4 cup citric acid**
- 15 drops lemon essential oil
**If you can’t find citric acid at your grocery store, two packets of unsweetened lemonade-flavored Kool-Aid mix makes an easy substitute.
Add all the ingredients to an airtight storage container and stir or shake to mix. (And if you have a silica gel packet on hand from a bottle of medicine or other recent purchase, storing it in the detergent container can help prevent it from clumping!)
I like storing this powder in a mason jar with a pour spout — it makes it easy to use both as a detergent and scouring powder. You may need to tweak the recipe to suit your preferences and dishwasher, but the savings are sure to make it worth the effort!
How To Use Your Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
Add 1-2 tablespoons of dishwasher powder to your dishwasher’s detergent compartment, along with a splash of white vinegar as a rinse agent to prevent spots, then run the dishwasher. (One easy way to use vinegar in your dishwasher to set a small, shallow dish of it near the center of the top rack.)
I suggest always using vinegar in conjunction with your DIY powdered detergent, as this homemade formula lacks some of the rinse aiding ingredients found in commercial detergents. (This is one reason why I buy white vinegar by the gallon at Costco! Since it never goes bad, I’m not afraid to stock up!)
How This Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Works
This detergent relies gets its cleaning power from a few of my most-used cleaning agents: baking soda, washing soda, and borax. Borax has some surprising uses, including water softening and stain removal, while the addition of lemon essential oil and citric acid actually works to give the detergent a grease-cutting boost.
Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Tabs
With a few simple tweaks to the original recipe, you can also make homemade dishwasher detergent tablets! To make dishwasher tabs, just combine the ingredients, pack the mixture into the cavities of a silicone mold, and wait for them to dry completely before transferring them to an airtight container for storage.
- 2 cups washing soda or baking soda
- 2 cups borax
- 1/2 cup coarse salt or epsom salt
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 15-20 drops lemon essential oil
Just as with the powdered dishwasher detergent, be sure to use white vinegar as a natural rinse aid when you run your dishwasher!
Liquid Dishwasher Soap & Other Dishwashing Detergent Alternatives
Alternatively, I have a homemade dishwasher soap recipe that gets its cleaning power from a small amount of Dawn dish soap. (We’re talking around half of teaspoon of the stuff — any more would result in a sudsy, foamy mess!) I personally prefer the homemade detergent featured earlier in this post, but it never hurts to have options!
If you’re in a real bind and need to run a load of dishes ASAP, you can even try putting a couple of tablespoons of baking soda and a half teaspoon of Dawn dish soap in your dishwasher detergent compartment. It’s not ideal, nor as effective as using a homemade or store-bought detergent, but it’s certainly better than nothing! (Just be sure to only up to half a teaspoon of Dawn so you won’t be cleaning up suds for the rest of the day!)
Have you ever tried a homemade dishwashing detergent?