Homemade Dishwasher Detergent That Really Works

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homemade dishwasher detergent

I’ve been out of dishwasher detergent for a few weeks and when it was time to do the grocery shopping I couldn’t justify spending $3 on it when we had so much other stuff to get and a very limited budget (it’s a 5 week month!)

So I did what I always try to do in times like these, I made my own.

I found a lot (A LOT!) of recipes on the web but they all called for something I didn’t have, citric acid and washing soda. I decided to make do with what I did have and I was happily surprised by the results. Even Jason was impressed with the results.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
1 cup borax*
1 cup baking soda**
1 cup salt
1/2 cup lemon juice***
optional: For scenting purposes you can add in a few drops of your favorite essential oil

In a large bowl mix the borax, baking soda & salt, make sure you mix it very well. Add a little bit of the lemon juice, let it settle & mix it into the dry ingredients very well. Repeat until all of the lemon juice is added.

*Technically Borax is toxic, make sure you run a full rinse cycle
**Some websites claim you can turn baking soda into washing soda by baking it, I don’t think this is necessary but if it makes you feel better go for it
***I used lemon juice instead of citric acid. I have no idea where one would buy citric acid but some recipes claim you can use sugar-free lemonade mix power but that just seems weird to me, LOL

How to store:
You can transfer the detergent to a jar and seal it. The detergent will get clumpy this way so make sure you stir it before use.

You can spread the detergent out on a baking sheet and allow it to dry, this may take a few days but it will prevent the clumps.

To make dishwasher tabs use a spoon to tightly pack the detergent into ice cube trays. Gently pop the tabs out of the tray and allow them to dry completely, which might take a day or two.

How to use:
Put 1 Tbsp of detergent, or 1 tab, in the door dispenser.
Use an extra teaspoon in the open dispenser if you like.
Use diluted white vinegar (roughly 1/4 cup vinegar and 2 Tbsp water) in the rinse agent cup.

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5 thoughts on “Homemade Dishwasher Detergent That Really Works

  • Angie Williams

    Hi! What do you store these in? I was thinking just a baggie, but do they fall apart? Also, have you had any issues with it not rinsing off the dishes well enough?

    • Meg Post author

      Hi Angie! I store mine in glass jars, pickle jars actually ;) It did stay moist & clump so I had to stir it before using it. When I make the next batch I’ll either let it dry completely before putting it in the jar, or I’ll leave the lid off overnight so it can dry out :)

  • Jodie

    I’m in need of liquid dish soap and have been wanting to make my own for ages! I make my own laundry soap, scrub cleanser, hand and body bar soap and shampoo bar soap, so adding dish soap to the list was natural :) However, I don’t want to buy citric acid and found out lemon juice can be a substitute in many cases. I’m glad to find out using lemon juice worked for you, it gives me the courage to go ahead and give it a try! Thanks for sharing.