How To Make Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

How To Make Homemade Dishwasher DetergentIf there is one thing that I think is way over priced, it is dishwasher detergent. Not only that, when I discovered my husband washing the dishes after taking them out of the cupboard, before he used them, I knew something was up.

“What are you doing,” I asked.

“Getting all the chemicals off the dishes,” he responded.

“What chemicals?” I asked.

“Don’t give me that,” he quipped, “I can taste them.”

That is what prompted me to learn how to make homemade dishwasher detergent.



  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup borax powder
  • ½ cup salt
  • ½ cup citric acid


Mix all the ingredients together and store in a glass canning jar. Use one tablespoon per load. For best results, use white vinegar in the rinse dispenser.

I have found that the prescribed one tablespoon per load depends on your dishwasher and the temperature of your water. My dishwasher is quite old. Also, because we have small children in the house, we do not keep our water temperature up very high. So I use one tablespoon in each dispenser cup. That is what works for me. A friend with a brand new dishwasher uses one tablespoon.

About the ingredients

Washing soda (sodium carbonate) is not baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Do not use baking soda. You will not get the same results. Washing soda is a natural water softener that will prevent hard water build up on your dishes.

Borax (sodium borate) is a naturally occurring substance that cleans, brightens, and deodorizes. With borax, you do not need chlorine bleach.

Common salt is a natural cleaner found in all kinds of formulas—especially when used with vinegar. It is also a water softener which will help to eliminate spots on your glasses.

Citric acid is the acid found in lemon juice. It has a bleaching effect on the dishes as well as helps to dissolve hard water deposits. Not using this in the mix will result in a cloudy residue on your dishes.

You can purchase washing soda and borax in the laundry section of your local supermarket. To find citric acid, check with your grocer during canning season, the pharmacy, or a local health food store. I purchase it from a local bulk food supplier, so that is an option as well.

I recently paid $2.55 for a box of washing soda, $4.49 for a box of borax, .50 for a box of salt and $2.95 for a half-pound container of citric acid. After some measuring and rapid calculating, I determined that in my area of the country, one batch of homemade dishwasher powder costs $2.06. If you were to use one tablespoon per load, this recipe would yield 48 loads at .04 per load.

The cost, however, is just one benefit. The ingredients in the average bottle of commercially prepared dishwasher gel are toxic. The bleach alone can destroy the beneficial bacteria in your septic system. Not to mention the fumes while the dishwasher is running and the carcinogenic residue left on your dishes. The ingredients in this homemade powder are all found in nature and will not harm the environment or your family.

Photo by Editor B


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