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2011 Do-It-Yourself Experiment #2: Homemade Dishwashing Detergent

Homemade Dishwashing Detergent gets mixed reviews, but I decided to try it anyway.

I’ve been using the Tropical Traditions Powdered Dish Detergent for the past four weeks because they sent it to me. It’s very similar to the homemade version and so far, I’ve been liking it quite a bit. I’ve noticed that some of our plastic dishware is sometimes cloudy, but it’s not been a huge issue.

Homemade Dishwashing Detergent Recipe

  • 1 cup baking soda or washing soda
  • 1 cup borax
  • 1/2 cup salt
  • 1/2 cup citric acid

Mix together. Use 1 Tablespoon per load. Add some vinegar to the rinse aid compartment of your dishwasher to help prevent clouding.

I bought all the ingredients but the borax from Amazon with Swagbucks. The borax cost me $4.55.

If I was paying out of pocket for all the ingredients, I am not convinced that this recipe would really be less expensive than buying dishwashing detergent with coupons — especially since I can occasionally get it for free at Target and elsewhere. (If you typically pay full price for dishwashing detergent, though, making your own is less expensive per this cost breakdown.)

However, it was fun to try my hand at making something I’ve never made before.

And in case you missed it, here’s the list of the 12 Do-It-Yourself Projects I Plan to Try in 2011:

January: Make From-Scratch Chai Tea

February: Make Homemade Dishwashing Detergent

March: Make Homemade Hamburger Buns

April: Make Homemade Laundry Soap (I did attempt this one time before, but it was with a pre-made mix someone gave me. So I’m going to try again — this time completely from scratch!)

May: Make Appliqued Flower Tee

June: Make Homemade Hummus

July: Make Freezer Jam

August: Make Homemade Soap

September: Sew a Rag Quilt

October: Make Homemade Apple Butter

November: Make Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day

December: Make Homemade Marshmallows

Have you attempted any new do-it-yourself projects recently? I’d love to hear how they went!

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  • Anne Marie Dailey says:

    Where did you get your citric acid?

  • Emily says:

    I attempted to make homemade pizza rolls today. My husband loves them, but I just can’t bear to buy them! I think the homemade version is tasty, but we’ll see what his verdict is. 🙂

  • Kelly says:

    I made that dishwasher soap over the summer. the citric acid and salt interact with each other and it turned hard as a rock. did you have that problem?

    • Crystal says:

      Did it turn hard as a rock in the dishwasher or just sitting in the container?

      • Carrie says:

        I have to say I love the homemade dishwashing soap. I have made it twice now but the second time I had the problem of it getting hard in the container. The only difference that I think made the difference is the first time I used baking soda instead of washing soda ( only because I didn’t read the recipe thoroughly 🙂 But the next time I think I will go back to baking soda to see. I think I will try the sugar free lemonade also. We do a lot of dishes in our home so this saves a quite a bit of money. Hope this was helpful.

      • Kelly says:

        it turned hard in the container. I’ve tried it with the lemonade packets too. If I keep the citric acid separate from the rest and put it in the dishwasher separately, it works, but still not as clean as I’d like. I like using Lemi-Shine (citric acid in the dishwasher section) from Wal Mart no matter what I use as soap, as it really helps with the lime scale in my water so I don’t get cloudy dishes. I have yet to find a home made soap that works as well as even the cheap dishwasher tabs with my water, so I gave up. But I have been doing my own laundry soap for about a year. Went from spending $30 a month for a family of 7 to spending $2 a month and it works great!

    • Ann says:

      I had the exact same problem – it was so hard I beat it with a hammer and I STILL didn’t get it all separated. I was a little bummed because it didn’t work as well as I had hoped.

      • Stacie says:

        I make my own dishwashing detergent as well but instead of actually buying citric adic I buy sugar free lemonade (I think that I bought Wyler’s last time) drink mixes. Never have had a problem with and weird interactions and I have been pretty impressed with how my dishes come out. I will say that using vinegar as a rinse agent is really important though if you decide to go the homemade route, it really does make a difference in making sure that all of the detergent mix gets rinsed off of your dishes.

        • Stacie says:

          Do you follow the posted recipe otherwise? If not I would like yours. I made a recipe online several months ago and now it sits under the sink as a backup in case I run out of store bought…hated it. I’ve made my own laundry detergent for over a year now and absolutely love it. Would like to have the same success with dish detergent!

  • heather says:

    I have done homemade hummus and homemade Apple Butter and there’s nothing better!! Three years now my family and I pick about 45 lbs of apples for Apple Butter, Applesauce and of course pies and such. It became so popular the first year, people requested it as a Christmas gift the last two Christmas’!!

    Best of luck with you wish list!

    I’d be happy to share my recipe if you’d like it. The best part is how wonderful it makes the house smell as it simmers away…
    With the success of the applebutter, I began dabbling in jam making this past summer and was amazed at the reception from those I shared it with. I have spent a lot of time over the winter praying on it and feel God is leading down the jam making path… I am hoping to sell my jam come summer and fresh berry picking begins


  • Loretta says:

    Just curious to know if you have a home dishwashing detergent for handwashing dishes? We don’t have a dishwasher.

    • Crystal says:

      I’m not sure on that. Has anyone seen one before?

      • charity crawford says:

        Liquid Castile Soap

        Using liquid castile soap is the easiest way to make your own dish soap, as the base is already made for you. All you have to do is add a few ingredients, mix it up, and voila! You can purchase liquid castile soap at most health food stores. Here’s what you need:homemade dish soap

        * 2 cups of castile soap
        * A few drops of essential oil
        * 1/2 cup of water

        To make the soap, follow these instructions.

        1. Combine two cups of liquid castile soap with 1/2 cup of warm water.
        2. Add a few drops of essential oils for a pleasant scent.
        3. Shake or mix well and place in a squeeze bottle.
        4. Shake the soap well before using.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Wanted to put a warning out there, but I don’t necessarily recommend using vinegar in the rinse aid compartment. I tried this last summer in an attempt to not have to spend money on the expensive rinse aids at the store and our plastic cups ended up tasting like vinegar 🙁 It took quite a few washes for it to wear off as well. These were the more matte finish plastic cups, not the shiny ones, so I can’t say that all plastic items would come out tasting like vinegar, but it’s definitely something to be aware of. You might not fill your rinse aid compartment completely and do a test run with a few different things to see if the taste is an issue for you, otherwise you’ll have to wait for all the vinegar to be dispensed before you can work on getting rid of the taste. Hopefully everyone else has better luck than I did on that one!

    • Crystal says:

      Hmm, I’m wondering if this happens if your dishwasher is older and not very powerful? Anyone else had this happen before?

      • I have a cheap (albeit newer model) dishwasher and I have been using vinegar in the rinse aid compartment for months now. No odd tastes or smells here! We have REALLY hard water though so I also have to use 1/8 cup of Finish in the bottom of the dishwasher to prevent clouding. I tried just the vinegar and ruined some of my dishes. 🙁

        • I have used vinegar in the rinse cycle for 2 years now….NO problems – we have 5 children age 12 and younger, so we have lots of Rubbermaid and Tupperware!! 🙂

          We still have not found an adequate homemade dishwasher soap though, so anxious to see how this works for you, Crystal!

    • Carrie says:

      We just bought a Maytag dishwasher and in the manual it says the following:
      “A white vinegar rinse may remove white spots and film. Vinegar is an acid, and use it too much often will damge your dishwasher.”

      • Carrie says:

        Ahhhhh, I was distracted while typing. My manual really wasn’t written by some Chinese person who half knows English.

        It actually says “and using it too often will damage…”

        • Elizabeth says:

          Anyone know how or why it will damage a dishwasher? I always add a splash of vinegar because we have hard water and get awful clouding on our glassware if I don’t add it. Now I’m concerned it might be harming our machine. 🙁

  • Dee says:

    Have you tried increasing the citric acid to get rid of the cloudiness? On the TV the other week they said that a number of people have been reporting cloudy glasses etc after dishwasher detergents were changed and no longer include phosphate. They said that as the water in Florida is particularly hard you should add lemon or lime juice. I wonder if adding more citric acid would help?

  • Bethany says:

    a big box of borax at walmart or target is only $2.99 so better than amazon (although no swagbucks!) I’ve never made this but I do LOVE borax!!

    • Crystal says:

      Thanks for that tip. I didn’t think to look there; I just got mine at the grocery store.

    • Frances says:

      Call Dial Corp 888 468 6673 to request coupons for Fels Naptha (.35 off) & Borax (.50). They are very friendly and will usually send two coupons per product every three months. They do not have a mailing list – you have to call them each time to request coupons.

      Kroger and Publix also have Borax, Fels Naptha, and Arm and Hammer Washing Soda on the laundry detergent aisle. Publix has the better $ in my area.

      For dishwashing detergent, I use a tbsp. washing soda and a tbsp. borax with vinegar in my rinse container.

  • Amy says:

    I make my own laundry soap and i’ve only spent $10.00 on supplies since June of last year! I also make my own home made cleaning spray with borox, vinegar, water and alittle dish soap. I won’t buy laundry soap or, cleaning spray again. And the laundry soap is ok for HE washers.

  • Melanie says:

    Crystal, I’ve never bought citric acid, so I am not sure the cost, but a trick I learned works well, and is super cheap. The recipe I use is 1c. borax, 1c. baking soda and 4 packets of unsweetened lemon drink mix (kool-aid or equivalent) instead of citric acid. I use the Wal-Mart brand drink mix for 11 cents per packet. I also have never used the salt, but maybe it depends on your water type on whether that is necessary or not, I don’t really know.

  • Nichole says:

    I have never tried dishwasher detergent but might have too….I see for April you want to make laundry detergent…I have been making my own laundry detergent for months and swear by it! Both my girls have sensitive skin so its perfect since there are no dyes or perfumes! Here is the recipe I used:

  • Becky says:

    I read your list a little while back, saw the Artisan Bread Book, and put it on reserve at the library right away. So far I’ve done one recipe, and it’s a hit–works, is easy, and turns just soup into a nice meal!

  • I try to do as much as I can homemade, but my biggest pleasant surprise was homemade deodorant. It works like a charm!

    You can try adding some straight vinegar to your rinse cycle if you’re not already using a rinse aid. I’ll be interested in seeing your reaction to the mix. I still haven’t done it because our dishwasher is a lower-end machine that is pretty finicky about cleaning. We have had to switch to Finish tablets to finally get something that actually works and doesn’t film everything. But we’ve also gotten rid of most of our plastics, so we might be able to try something less expensive. I’m just worried about glass etching.

    • Dee says:

      That cloudy film is apparently lime which is normally broken down by phosphate. If your detergent doesn’t have phosphate or you are in a particularly hard water area you will get this. Apparently dishwasher detergent no longer contains phosphate but if you are using older stuff it will

  • rachael p says:

    the artisan bread is so easy and so delish that I really think you should bump it up on your list!!! I am taking a bunch of loaves to a party on Sunday, it will cost me very little and takes so little effort, the results are fantastic though 🙂

    • Rhoda says:

      Rachel, I’m with you. Since the artisan bread was mentioned at the beginning of the year, I have been making several loaves each week–for us and as gifts. Everyone loves the bread! Crystal–do you REALLY want to WAIT for NOVEMBER for such an amazing bread? And so easy to do? Just a thought.

  • Amy says:

    I made homemade dish detergent and used it for a while but the detergent turned into a rock because of the citric acid and my dishes were all cloudy. So, not wanting to waste what I had bought I tried a different solution. Instead of adding the citric acid to the detergent I left it out and when I put the detergent in I added a little bit of lemon juice with it (citric acid), just enough for it to foam. I of course added the vinegar to the rinse aid. My dishes definitely looked better and actually the residue started to come off. I also alternate the homemade detergent with store bought, about every 4th or 5th wash. I read that it was better for the dishwasher. It is saving us money and citric acid is so expensive to just throw away because it has turned your detergent into a rock! Hope this helps!

  • Amy says:

    and I forgot to add that I made your cinnamon bread today and it was fast and easy and delicious! I ate a third of the loaf myself!

  • Nicki says:

    I’m not sure if you have a specific recipe in mind for March’s homemade hamburger buns, but I just made the Wheat Hamburger Buns from Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and they were FANTASTIC! Even family members who aren’t all that happy with wheat bread were impressed. If you’re looking for a recipe, I’d highly recommend it. The dough makes delicious sandwich bread as well.
    I’m relatively new to your blog and have really enjoyed reading it!!

  • Kathleen says:

    Crystal, I wrote down some homemade cleaning recipes from a magazine (I can’t remember which one), and have just started to buy the supplies to give them a try. I really like the idea of doing things a little greener. So, here are a few: auto dish detergent, 1 cup Borax and 1/2 cup baking soda, add to dispenser as normal.
    lemon dish soap, 2 cups liquid Castile soap(unscented), 10 drops lemon essential oil, 5 drops tea tree oil.
    all purpose cleaner, 1 T liquid Castile soap, 1 T Borax, 1 T white vinegar, 1 T lemon juice, 1 cup distilled water, and optional drops of essential oils, mix in spray bottle.
    Good luck, can’t wait to see how this works out for us both!

  • Amy says:

    I used a recipe like this for a long time. Honestly it just didn’t work well and only got worse after time. I think the mixed reviews have to do with if you water is soft or hard. My dishes were always cloudy (which I just ignored…I figured that they were still clean), but eventually the dishwasher little by little started spewing this brown sticky gunk onto my dishes and then one day it just went crazy and there was brown goo everywhere! I gave up then =) I think I did try increasing the citric acid, but nothing seemed to work for me. I switched to a really fancy detergent just to prove that it wasn’t my dishwashers fault and the dishes came out great! I love making my own supplies whenever possible, but for now I’ve just given up on this one =(

    Best of luck to you, though! I love the idea of it.

    • Shelley says:

      Amy, which dishwasher detergent do you use ? I can’t find one that works. Thanks

      • We have hard water in our area, so our dishwasher doesn’t clean with cheap detergent, but quantum finish works great. They have it BOGO at Winn-Dixie about once a month, and there are usually $2 coupons available for it. It is expensive, so it ends up around the price of store brand detergent even after the sales and coupons, but it is well worth it. Clean dishes are one thing I don’t mind spending a little extra on – I feel that the extra pre-washing and re-washing using cheap detergent makes it less of a value 🙂

        • Jill says:

          We bought the Finish tablets at Costco – a huge container that will last us over a year. After we bought it, I realized that it was causing some problems with our dishwasher. I did a little research online, and it turns out that they are way more detergent than you actually need. So I’ve started breaking the tablets in half. It worked like a charm! Not only do I have no more problems, they will last me twice as long!

      • Amy says:

        My first try was quantum finish (like Random Creativity) and it was fantastic. Currently I’m using 7th generation powder and it’s working great too. I’m hoping to find the cheapest that I can go, while still achieving good results…

    • Peggy S. says:

      I’d have to agree, Amy. We tried using a homemade dw detergent. Ours said equal parts Borax and Washing soda, nothing about salt or citric acid. We don’t have hard water (AND we live in FL!) It seemed to be working for about two weeks but then slowly, it stopped getting the dishes clean. We also were using vinegar as a rinse aid…maybe it wasn’t a good combination. I was planning to try a regular rinse aid with the homemade detergent, but have been waiting for the vinegar to run out. And yes, we had clouding AND food particles all over all the dishes. Ewww.

  • this is a really cool list. I think I might try some of these myself. thanks for the ideas!

  • Naomi says:

    I have made homemade laundry detergent and LOVE it! It works on even tough stains and is so much cheaper than any store bought detergent. Since I had the borax and washing soda from the laundry detergent I also made the dish washer detergent and it has worked just fine for me, no cloudy dishes or weird tastes. I also make homemade baby wipes! These are great. They are so soft and have only pure simple ingredients. I’ve also made homemade paly dough for years (I’m a kindergarten teacher.) And now I make it at home for my Little Man! Check out my recipes at

    • Diana says:

      I also make my own laundry soap and it is awesome! It cleans way better than what I have used in the past. Because of my water the homemade diahwashing soap didn’t work well. So I now mix 1C Cascade, 1C Borax, 1C washing soda and it works great. I only use a TBSP and it stretches the box for a long time! I also made my own baby wipes when I had babies. They were great also. I highly recommend them. I use a mixture of rubbing alcohol, white vinegar and water to clean my floors, counters, bathroom, etc. I put it in a spray bottle. It is very cheap and a wonderful disinfectant.

      • How long have you been using your semi-homemade dishwashing detergent? I think this would be a great way to “stretch” Cascade while still making sure my dishes get clean.

        How often do you run your dishwasher? Have you found this mixture to last a long time?

  • Crystal, how hard is your water there? I’d be willing to try the homemade detergent, but our water is extremely hard and I can’t even use store-brand dishwasher detergents at the risk of turning my dishes cloudy. I always buy Cascade and Finish and use them with a bit of vinegar as a rinse aid.

  • kimberly says:

    I use equal parts borax and baking soda. that’s it. 2 tbl per load, vinegar in the rinse cycle occasionally. I have been using it for years, dirt cheap and works fine 🙂

  • Crystal, I bought the book “Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day” a month ago and I URGE you to not wait until November…it will change your life and you may throw out your bread machine! The bread is awesome…crusty bread. LOVE IT! But please get the book, although it is easy, technique is everything with this and it pays to know everything they tell you.

  • Cathy says:

    Try adding some lemon juice to your dishwasher. There was a segment on our news a few weeks ago about how lower phosphorous is causing the cloudy residue on dishes.
    Here is the link

    • SHJ says:

      Where and when do you add the lemon juice? In the bottom of the dishwasher? During the rinse cycle? How much do you pour in?

      • Amy says:

        I add Lemon juice in with the detergent. Just add the detergent to the dishwasher and then pour in the lemon juice.

      • Cathy says:

        As soon as you hear the soap dispenser release open the door and squirt in towards the bottom. Sorry I don’t measure mine and my soap dispenser is broken so I actually add mine together.

  • Danielle says:

    I tried the homemade dishwasher detergent the first time the link was posted a couple months ago, and I did not like it. I had high hopes because I LOVE my homemade laundry detergent–works great, even on smelly diapers! As for the dishwasher, I haven’t been impressed with commercial detergents either, until I saw a recommendation to try Method. It’s a bit pricey, but I cut the discs in half and it still works great! It’s the first thing that I’ve found that successfully cleans my dishes. I bought it on and used a $10 off code for 1st time buyers and stocked up so that I could get free shipping. I may try cutting the discs in 3rds to get more mileage and see if it still works. I’ve been using vinegar as a rinse aid with good results.

  • Stacy says:

    We tried this detergent recipe in a pinch but it didn’t work for us at all. Super hard water. The only detergents that actually get things clean are the tabs with vinegar in the rinse area.

  • Josette says:

    I make apple butter in my crockpot…very easy!

  • I’m so glad that you posted this! I just made homemade laundry detergent and I love it! Check out how I did it on my website. It was very cheap and since you already have washing soda and borax all you need is a bar of soap! Super cheap!

    I’ll have to try this whenever my dishwasher detergent runs out (since I already have the ingredients on hand). I can’t wait to hear how your April experiment turns out!!!!

  • Deborah says:

    This looks good to me! But you didn’t put any kind of a review in your post – how does it compare to what you’ve been using?

  • Bethany says:

    I tried this. It leaves a dusty film on our dishes and I believe it caused some respiratory problems with my baby. Huge disappointment! Not sure it’s safe.

  • Kristen Trappett says:

    I know this is early but saw you are going to try a Rag quilt in a following month, just finished 2 today, they are so easy, watch your seams so that they “nest” well and it will turn out great. Also put it in a pillow case sewn shut for the first washing and drying this will help the lint issue immensly!!
    We are donating them to the hospital for those who need a little something.My cousin had all the squares cut and put together with the batting, like two garbage bags full, then lost interest in doing rag quilts. She has had them in the bags for at least a year I think and asked if my mom and I would finish the job. She works in the nursery and delivery of the hospital here and tells us some moms don’t have a thing, not even a blanket and it will be like 3 degrees outside so the hospital uses these donated type blankets to help these moms out. So since it is just a little time for us as the hard part is done we are putting them together. There will be like 18-20 when we are done!! I think I will be ragged out by the end. Have fun with yours!!!

  • Bernadette says:

    I tried the homemade dishwasher detergent (w/o washing soda) & didn’t like it. All my glassware was very cloudy, and felt like it had a film on it, even with vinegar in the rinse aid container. Since I’m migrating away from plastic, it’s important to have clear, clean looking glass. Oh, for a green alternative that actually works!


    Making my own laundry soap and dishwasher soap has NOT worked for me. First, with the laundry soap, I used the borax, citric acid, salt recipe. I used lemon koolaid packets. It turned really hard and I have to get a knife every time to break it loose. I’m at the point where I just put it on the door, and put a Finish tablet in the little compartment just to get rid of the homemade stuff. I don’t think it works.

    Homemade laundry soap really isn’t for me. I used the Felps Naptha bar soap, borax, water recipe. My water bill went from 15-20 dollars to 80! I feel like I have to use the hot water for every single load because I don’t feel like cold water will help in cleaning my clothes.

  • Allison says:

    I have to submit a suggestion for the hummus! This is by far my favorite recipe for hummus :

    Hope you like it!

    Also, would love to see your recipes for apple butter 🙂

  • Jennifer says:

    I have started using vinegar as a rinse aid for about a month now…it seems to work fine I haven’t noticed any problems. I just got a new dishwasher (after threatening to do violent things to the old one). It seems to guzzle the rinse aid so I had to find a cheaper alternative. I have been reluctant to try the homemade soap, though, because I have heard of so many problems with it-I will be following closely to see how your recipe goes!

  • You inspired me to make my own monthly Do-It-Yourself experiment list.

    Here’s mine:

    I’m in the middle of February’s project now. The kid’s and I will be finishing it today to surprise Daddy with on Monday.

  • Heather from PA says:

    I have been making my own laundry soap using the powdered soap recipe from the Duggars website. It was super easy….only 3 ingredients and super cheap, as a little goes a long way! If you are looking for a simple and frugal recipe that doesn’t take long to make, you may want to check out their site! Have fun!

  • peever says:

    I just wanted to thank you for inspiring me to learn something new this year and to get organized. I’ve been putting all this off for far too long, but my kids are old enough now that I feel like I can have some hobbies. I’ve decided to go all out…

    January – Learn how to make bread from scratch. (Done!)
    February – Learn how to knit – make washcloth. (Done!) Take a free 6 week piano lesson course at church. (Our first lesson was this week!)
    March – Technology month – My husband is a techie so I’ve always left this stuff up to him. Learn how to use my new Mac better, use iTunes and how to put music on my iPod, back up files to the external hard drive, put everything on the network so we can access photos and documents from any computer, burn CDs, use scanner.
    April – Photography month – Take a photography class with my MIL, do photobooks for the past 3 yrs, update my digital picture frame, update wall collage in living room, put all my prints in albums, organize pictures on my computer.
    May – Genealogy month – Interview my dad and aunt about my grandparents and their childhood, scan old photos and make them into photobooks, do family tree.
    June – Home organization month
    July – Learn how to sew & quilt – make quilt for daughter’s new bed
    August – Learn how to can
    September – Exercise month – Do a 5K (obviously there will be prior training for this), finally join a gym and start working out.
    October – Learn how to make a pie from scratch
    November – Learn how to make chicken noodle soup completely from scratch including noodles.
    December – Holiday prep – project TBD

    I’m already having a blast learning new things! I’ve inspired my friends and family with my list and so many of them are eager to help me along my journey by teaching me and learning along with me. I’ve already got my list started for next year. So thanks again!

  • Lisa R says:

    I make my own homemade laundry soap and have been doing it for over a year. I think it is just as good as tide and cost pennies! There is a bit of an investment in the beginning but if you plan ahead you can offset the cost of the 5 gallon bucket by asking your local grocery store to save one for you (in the bakery dept they use them for icing) Then the cost will be significantly less. I personally use the duggar recipe found on their website. Love it!

  • Nancy says:

    I’ve been making hamburger buns and they are great. I think I got the recipe on your site. The recipe is for honey wheat rolls. I just roll out the dough, after mixing it in the bread machine. Roll it out and use a biscuit cutter to cut out 16 hamburger buns, about 1/2 inch thick. Let rise until double and bake at 350 for 17 minutes. I double bag some in freezer bags, and put in the freezer until I need them again. Much better and cheaper than store bought.

  • Peggy says:

    when you make laundry detergent –use laundry bar soap–otherbar soap leaves a film, residue in the mixture. I tried it with Ivory after reading many different recipes and Ivory was what I had in the house. I had to throw it all away. Yes I know this probably works for others but not for me. On the other hand Fels makes great laundry detergent. I also have Zote and am going to try it next.

  • Pam Smith says:

    Somehow my recipe for dishwasher detergent is different. I made it last month and we have had no problems. When I pour my detergent in it starts to fizz with just what little mosture is in the detergent compatment. My recipe is as follows: 1 cup washing soda (not baking soda), 1/2 cup kosher salt, 15 packets lemon drink mix. Use 1T. white vinegar in rinse-aid compartment. I think this recipe makes a decent amount for a small-ish family (of four or less) but for the six of us I will probably make a double batch from here on out. I store my detergent in a recycled liquid coffee creamer container and it stays good and dry, no issue with caking.

  • Jessica says:

    I made a dishwasher soap that was liquid – I really liked it for the first two weeks and then it seemed to not work… really weird! I stopped using it and then tried again a few weeks later and, after a bit of time, it again started to seem ineffective in getting our dishes clean. So I gave up on it! I’d love to know in a month or so {maybe when you update about the hamburger buns!} if you’re still using your own homemade dishwasher soap. <– my sister shared this recipe with me for hamburger buns and we really enjoy it if you're looking for a recipe for them 🙂

  • Heather says:

    That is so cool! I guess it isn’t that big a secret what is in detergent. I know somone that makes their own baby wipes. I love things like this.

  • Adrienne says:

    Hi Crystal!
    I have a wonderful homemade hummus recipe on my blog. It is seasoned a bit, but not too much for little ones. I have brought it to a number of outings and it has gone over really well.

    I hope you enjoy it…let me know if you have any questions!

  • Melissa says:

    I used the homemade dishwasher detergent… most of you have said, it leaves a lot of residue on the dishes. It wasn’t too bad at first, but the residue continues to build up and gets uglier over time. I’ve even been using Cascade Rinse Aid (got it for free with coupons) and it does nothing. Once I use up the last of this batch, I’m going back to the store-bought.

    I do like the homemade laundry soap though. We use Fels-Naptha (Duggar recipe) and vinegar as a fabric softener. I have three active boys and a husband, and I do upwards of 15 loads a week, and it’s saved us a considerable amount of money. I made my first batch at the beginning of October, and we are almost to the bottom of the bucket here in mid-Feb. My only complaint is that it doesn’t do too well at cleaning my husband’s heavily soiled and/or smelly clothes…..they don’t get completely clean and still stink a little. I use the store-bought detergent for his clothes. Still, much cheaper since I’m not buying it as often!

    I make semi-homemade hand soap (Ivory bars and water) but no real soap-making for me. (Heat and pour glycerin soap as a gift once, but that doesn’t really count! 🙂 We use Dr. Bronner’s liquid castile soap and Ivory for bathing…..the Ivory is cheap with coupons/sales, and liquid Dr. Bronner’s lasts a long time. I’m interested to see what your soapmaking version is, though.

  • Love the idea of making things from scratch!
    Prickly Pear Syrup is something I’ve made recently that I’d never tried before. (yes, really, Prickly Pear have fruit!)
    I’m also working on clothing patterns.

  • I tried this several times a year and a half ago and it was never anywhere near as clean as we wanted. I tried different versions, etc and it still left cloudy, filmy dishes. We’re on well water, maybe that had something to do with it. But I put this in the category like you do homemade tortillas: worth it to purchase it at the store with zero guilt. 🙂

  • Meredith says:

    I make a homemade dishwasher soap. It’s way easier and a whole lot cheaper. Save a gallon milk jug. Rinse it out well. In the bottom put 2 tsp. baking powder and 4 tsp. dishsoap. Add water to fill to the top. Shake well. When using, fill both cups in your dishwasher to the top (so be generous with it!). Be sure to shake it before each use.

    I find this works really well. I also use vinegar in my rinse aid compartment. Seriously, this is way easier and I didn’t have to purchase any special ingredients to make it.

  • jennifer says:

    I am making my second batch of homemade laundry soap this weekend. With our family and how dirty my boys and husband get, I am tweeking the recipe a bit. I use 4 cups borax, 2 cups washing soda, 1 bar fels naptha, and 2 gallons water. I had my recipe with double the water and less borax and it didnt clean as good. I ended up adding more borax. My oldest son has severe eczema and have seen a huge difference in his skin. This recipe even got out finger nail polish off my brand new throw pillows:) best of luck!

  • Amie says:

    Just FYI: I usually get Borax for half that price at my local Wal-Mart (and I think Target is about the same).

    Also, this is probably a dumb question, but… I’ve been hearing a lot lately about people using vinegar in the dishwasher as a rinse aid. Do you put it into the special compartment used for commercial rinsing agents?? or do you simply pour it into the machine during the rinse cycle? Anyone??

    • Crystal says:

      Thank you for letting me know. Next time I won’t buy it at my grocery store! And as far as the vinegar, someone else who has used it longer than me will likely be able to tell you better than me. But I think it might depend upon your dishwasher and how it’s set up. I think most of the newer dishwashers have a special compartment for rinse aids, which is where, as far as I understand, you’re supposed to put the vinegar.

      (If I’m wrong, someone please correct me. I’m just trying to figure this out myself!)

      • Lisa says:

        I put vinegar the compartment for the rinse aid. Works great. I have been doing that for about a year now. It seems to run out a little quicker than the rinse aid did, but still far less expensive. No smell and has kept all our dishes as nice as any rinse aid – no spots, no clouds, etc.

  • shannon w says:

    Mine was hard too. 1st I thought it was because of moisture. So I made a rice bag to but in it. That helped a little but it is still hard. I don’t know what the problem is.

  • Nicole B says:

    I wanted to comment and say I enjoy getting the newsletters from your site. They give me good ideas of things I should be doing and trying. Thank you!
    I have a good recipe for homemade marshmallows when you get to December!
    This past week I made homemade yogurt in a crockpot. I was pretty proud of myself since it actually turned out and it was easy (which is probably why I could do it so well!) LOL I posted about it on my blog.
    I’d love for you to visit my blog at if you get the chance. Thanks!

    • Crystal says:

      You’re welcome; thank you for your kind encouragement!

      And way to go on making yogurt. I’ve done that a few times and loved it — though I really should get into the habit of making it all the time!

      Thanks for sharing your blog. I’m off to check it out!

  • Julie says:

    When my commercial dishwashing detergent quit doing the job I started researching why. A lot of the manufacturers have removed the phosphate from their formulas, which as another poster mentioned, caused the white residue on dishes.

    I started making the homemade detergent about six month ago but was still getting the residue on my dishes. I recently read that adding a little TSP (trisodium phosphate) with your detergent will take care of the problem. I added about 1/2 tsp. along with the usual per load amount of detergent and viola, no more white residue. TSP is available at home improvement stores in the painting supplies dept.

  • Megan Camp says:

    Many people’s dishes are cloudy with both store-bought and homemade detergents. My dad is an appliance repairman and wrote an article about what you should use to solve this problem and to make your dishwasher last longer. I use it with both my homemade detergent and store bought and it leaves my dishes sparkling clean with both. You can read his article here if you’re interested.

    • Shirley says:

      Thanks for sharing. I was thinking of getting a new dishwasher, and it is only 6 yrs old. I knew about the change in detergents and now that I think about it that is when I really started having trouble. He has a lot of common sense that sometimes we forget. I’m going to see if can find Lemi Shine around here!

  • Matt Jabs says:

    Hey all,
    Crystal linked to my article for the dishwasher detergent cost savings breakdown. My wife and I have been making it for over a year now and are incredibly happy. Crystal mentions not saving as much as buying a product with a coupon, but the cost savings 100% (half as much as store-bought,) you can make it in your home in a matter of minutes, and the ingredients aren’t harmful to your family like a lot of store-bought detergents.

    We also make homemade laundry detergent and many other homemade products… check them all out at

    God bless!

  • Tabatha says:

    Ok so mine isn’t completely homemade BUT what I do is 1 cup borax, 1 cup baking soda, and 1 cup store bought powder- mix and use about a tablespoon per load. I never find the store bought powder on sale worth my time so I buy the DG brand for something like $3 and it lasts me probably 2-3 months. When mixing the store bought powder with the other two, I never have any cloudiness. Just a thought for someone who might just want to make their store bought powder last longer.

  • Dianne says:

    I’ve used the homemade laundry soap for years and still love it. I’d like to make dishwasher soap, but I prefer liquid. I saw someone say that they basically used water and regular dish soap, but it’s hard to imagine 4 tsp of dish soap to be enough for a gallon of water. I guess I should try it. Do you know of any other liquid soap recipes?

  • I LOVE your list of Do-It-Yourself Experiments! What great goals for the year. Have been making our own laundry detergent for a few years and tried dishwasher detergent, but didn’t like the cloudiness. Will try some things that Megan’s dad talked about. I’m glad you posted about this. Will try to make more using your recipe. My family LOVES home made burger buns – I used one from King Arthur Flour Company. The marshmallows are tasty and a little messy, but my kids really liked making and eating them. I tried rag quilt this last year and it lead to expanding my horizons – great one! I can’t wait to see your post with the rest of your list!

  • Angie says:

    I have used this recipe & wasn’t unhappy with it until the detergent all became one gigantic lump! I can’t break it apart. I also used a bit of vinegar to help with the clean rinse.

  • tara says:

    I am new to the website. On the homemade laundry detergent, I use cloth diapers and its wonderful getting the stains out! It makes my clothes feel softer without the use of fabric softener. Also my husband works offshore and its good about getting the diesel smell out of his clothes.

  • Tricia K. says:

    We tried making our own dish washing detergent… the exact same recipe and it ruined our nylon spatulas(Pampered Chef) . It left a cloudy, white film that won’t come off. We have gone back to the Finish tabs and all our problems have gone away except for the spatulas.

  • Liz says:

    I have made the homemade dishwashing detergent for the last few months. I’m using the same recipe you have, except I’m using washing soda, not baking soda, and using 2 tablespoons, with vinegar as a rinse aid. I’ve also been using Ball’s “Fresh Fruit” produce protector from the canning aisle, but will be switching to powdered lemonade (never thought of that!). We have extremely hard well water here and I’ve never had a problem. My dishes come out just as clean as if I’m using store-bought.

  • Jennifer says:

    I just wanted to let you know about a product called Lemi Shine. We have extremely hard water, our dishes were all looking bad and so was our dishwasher. I was trying every type of dish washing soap and nothing was working. I was beginning to toss out dishes and glasses and getting ready to get a new dishwasher when I found Lemi Shine. It works GREAT! The dishes that I was going to toss have all returned to their normal non-cloudy state and the inside of the dishwasher looks new (it took a few loads, each time a little more the buildup would come off). I have been telling and showing all our neighbors and family who live nearby and are having the same problem and some of them have now begun to use it too! Just wanted to share our experience, maybe it will help someone else too!

  • I am currently using laundry detergent I make myself. My family enjoys homemade bread though I do not make it every week….too many kids and not enough time. I have tried to use dishwashing detergent that I’ve made myself with the same trouble as others report.

    Homemade freezer jam is my favorite on your list. There is nothing like freezer jam. I grew up eating it. It is so simple to make and so delicious. My one word of warning is that it uses a LOT of sugar. I use the recipes inside the Sure-Jell box found in the canning section. Strawberry jam made with fresh strawberries is my favorite.

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