Do-It-Yourself: Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Did you know you can make your own dishwasher detergent?

I was so inspired, I just bought all the stuff I needed to make this and am looking forward to experimenting and seeing how it works! I’d love to hear if you’ve tried this before and how it worked for you.

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  1. says

    Used this and was diligent with the white vinegar in the rinse dispenser and ruined my new irish coffee mugs. a white film that does not go away…tried everything to get it off all of our glasses (bar keepers friend, vinegar, soft scrub, everything that was recommended). So not worth it. I’m just buying the regular detergent…I end up paying more to buy new glasses/mugs!

    • Michelle says

      @CountryMama, have you ever tried a stainless steel scrubbie? I love my Fuller Brush SS scrubbers, and they get the tea stains out of my mugs if it sits too long, as well as the hard water stains when I forget to refill the Jet Dry!

      • says

        I tried everything… it’s actually etched into the glass, not hard water stains. (like another reader said)…don’t know how, but they’re completely ruined. And, we do have a water softener, too!

  2. Natalie says

    I actually think that $12 for a few months is more than I pay for the Costco brand (Kirkland) of liquid dishwasher detergent. It costs me somewhere around $9 for two 125 oz. containers. That’s a lot of detergent….I only have to buy it every 3-4 months. And it is very good quality too. Just thought I’d mention this for any Costco members thinking about making their own.

  3. Niki says

    I’ve experimented a lot with this. I don’t like commercial because they are very toxic (see Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon for more information)
    Anyway, the best results I’ve had to date:

    in the detergent cup:
    1 tsp borax
    1 tsp washing soda

    in the prewash cup:
    a very small squirt of dish washing liquid, diluted with enough water to fill the cup

    in the rinse agent cup:
    plain vinegar

    This is the ONLY way I’ve found to beat the FILMY MESS!

  4. Lisa says

    I had the filmy problem too. I’d be curious to know if everyone that has experienced the film problem has hard water? We have very hard water here.

  5. Liz says

    Citric acid causes pitting corrosion in silverware over time, it’s not even rocommended to use lemon or orange scented dishwasher soap. Pitting corrosion is the tiny spots of rust that you see, especially in old butter knives. I would try a recipe without the citric acid, if you are going to make it.

  6. Princess says

    I have made my own before, but the dishes always came out foggy looking no matter how I tweaked the recipe or used less ect….maybe some of it depends on the hardness or softness of the water in ones area??? I ended up washing two or three times, or giving up and hand washing. I have read of lots of people who love it though! Hope it works out for you!!!

  7. says

    I will warn you that if you have hard water (which I do) this will not work. I tried it for quite a while. Also, my friend’s dad who works on appliances told us that we should only use liquid Cascade as it doesn’t allow as much build up.

    I found out this the hard way because we had to replace a 3 year old dishwasher (Whirlpool even) and now I only use liquid Cascade.

    I do use vinegar in the rinse though and it works wonderfully!

    And thank you so much for your site it is a wonderful blessing!

  8. says

    The powdered dishwasher detergent left a cloudy film on my dishes. I read somewhere that you can put white vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher and it will help, but I haven’t tried it. I have tried a lot of store bought detergents, and even though it costs more Cascade Complete seems to be the only thing that works with our water to get the dishes sparkling clean.

  9. Michelle says

    The type of water you have will make a huge difference in whatever you use. For me, commercial detergent and jet dry – we have mineral rich, very hard water. Every few months, I actually have to de-scale my dishwasher element (and we don’t even use heated dry!) because it stops the arm from spinning! For the price I got the Dishwasher detergent on sale (stocked up for a year!), I would have bought maybe 1/6th at full price, so the convenience and savings are not outweighed by making it myself! Also, anyone with a BJ’s, Jet dry big bottles are super cheap there (less than $8), and if you catch them with a store coupon and MQ, it’s the same as at the grocery store for a 1 month bottle, only you get 3 times as much. We also stretch the Jet Dry by using the second to last setting (lowest setting was too little), so that big bottle actually lasts more like 9-12 months!

  10. Emily S. says

    PROCEED WITH CAUTION!! I used homemade dishwasher detergent for about a year…my dishes constantly had a white film and weren’t nearly as clean…but I was trying to be frugal so I stuck to it. The heating element became very corroded and the film began to build and build. Around the same time, I learned about coupons, now I get the automatic dishwasher stuff so cleap that I started using it. The film went away slowly, it took a couple weeks, but its gone. I would rather pay a little for the detergent than purchase a new dishwasher…to me the savings aren’t worth it. Borax is some pretty harsh stuff, and I’m not sure wether it is the borax or the washing soda, but it also causes build up. Same thing happened to my washing machine with homemade laundry detergent…so I switched back.

    All that said, I do use homemade dish and laundry detergent in a pinch, just not on a regular basis. If I run out, and am waiting for a sale, I’ll get by with homemade…but I try to avoid that.

    Also, for any moms who cloth diaper, any detergent with borax and washing soda will RUIN your diapers– it did mine. It took a while for me to realize what was happening, but it was too late at that point.

  11. Shiela says

    Just a small side note: all dishwasher detergent sold in the US are now phosphate free according to a recent newsletter I received from Seventh Generation. So, for those of you who are environmentally conscious, but can’t afford the pricey environmentally friendly detergents, you can feel a bit better about buying any “cheaper” brand. Not all detergents are chlorine free however.

  12. says

    We tried the homemade dish detergent in a pinch one day- total bust. White film even with vinegar in the rinse (which we always do anyways). We have VERY hard water here- so much so that it ruins the pipes all by itself.

  13. Erin says

    I haven’t tried homemade dishwasher detergent, but I’m wondering how $12 for the ingredients for “several months” of detergent is a better deal than buying it on sale with coupons. I use whatever is cheapest, and that usually ends up being Electrosol/Finish. In fact, I just got three Quantum dispensers free after coupon (don’t love ’em–they take up too much room–but for 12 free washes, I’ll deal!). Usually, I work it into my Rite Aid deals so the cost is almost always negligible after coupons.

    • says

      I definitely think for some folks who can get great deals on dishwasher detergent, it’s likely a better deal to just buy it on sale with coupons. I’m going to try it out myself and see if I think it’s worth it. I’ll report back after I experiment!

      • says

        I sure hope it goes well and doesn’t damage your dishwasher, as seems to be the case with many ladies!
        We have been using this for quite a while and love it! It works just as well as Cascade for us (I love Cascade, it is just sooo difficult to find cheap!)
        I have made this with both Baking soda or washing soda, whichever I have on hand, and both work fine for me. It looks like so many ladies here prefer the washing soda, so maybe that is the best way to go. Hope it works for you! (And happy belated birthday!)

  14. Marenda says

    I have been making my own dishwasher detergent for quite a while now and have had great sucess with it. I have also been using vinegar instead of Jet dry in the rinse cycle. Gotta save that $$ anyway we can.

  15. Julianna says

    I started using the combo of Borox with Baking Soda a few weeks ago. I use 1 1/2 TBS of the mix in each load with a squirt of dish soap. I use vinegar in the rinse dispenser and it has worked wonderful! Love it! I have noticed a tiny white film on a knife here and there but nothing to make me switch back to detergent!

  16. Rebecca Luke says

    I use homemade dishwasher detergent. I also use vinegar in the rinse aid compartment. I love it. I have also been making homemade laundry detergent for 2 years. I’m currently experimenting with homemade lotion to see how I like it, and just purchased the items needed to make my own liquid hand soap. I was so disappointed when Bath and Body Works discontinued their formula with Shea Butter and Tea Tree Oil, that I must try to make my own. I’ll let ya’ll know how it turns out.

  17. Becky says

    I’ve been making my own laundry detergent and fabric softener for some time. I changed because I’m allergic to something in the store brands. I’ve also experimented with soap nuts, which are actually GOOD for your septic tank. Many laundry softeners have TALLOW in them which will clog your pipes, too. You can use just vinegar.

    The rule of thumb whether you use store brand or home made: Sanitize your machines once a month by setting on “sanitize” or hot water cycle. You can add the disks for washing machines available at HHGregg or use bleach. This will dissolve the crud in your machines and pipes and make them last longer. Don’t hang around the machine while sanitizing using bleach because of the formation of Chloroform when bleach is in hot water.

    Borax/washing soda can both be dissolved in simmering water to make liquid versions of soap. Borax will clump if you use too much or if it is not all dissolved, so less is more. But I’ve never had problems with it once it was completely dissolved. But like even some store bought versions, they must be mixed once in a while as they separate.

  18. Beth says

    Just an FYI: we have been using this a WHILE now….it is much better AND cheaper to use unsweetened lemonade pkts….MUCH….and it is necessary. I just wait until it goes on .10 each sale and stock up :)

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