Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

Its Frugal Friday! This recipe is so stinking frugal, so easy its crazy, and you have to try it! It takes about 2 minutes, costs about $0.65 to make, and should last about 100 loads. That’s not even a penny a load! Talk about saving money! Also, I think it works better that the brand name stuff. This is a great beginners project for someone who wants to make more items homemade and purchase less consumer products.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
2 cups Borax
2 cups washing soda
4 packets of sugar free lemonade Kool-aid (or you can use citric acid)

Mix all ingredients together and keep in some kind of container. It could be a super cute old mason jar like mine :) or just an empty detergent box you have.
To use: Place 1 Tbs in the pre-wash (open cup) and 1 Tbs in the main wash (closed cup).

The original recipe says to use white vinegar for the rinse aid, but when I did this it made all my dishes smell like vinegar which isn’t too pleasant. I found if you put a squirt of Dawn or some other brand in the main wash container it makes your dishes much more sparkly!

Since the holidays are coming up around the corner I will share my frugal Christmas ideas on Fridays. There are so many ideas running through this crazy brain of mine it makes me a little dizzy. That’s the curse of being creative and having A.D.D., the ideas just never stop.

I party here


    • Anonymous says

      I purchased Food Grade Bulk (3#) Citric Acid on-line for a fraction of cost in the canning section.
      -Carol H.

    • Rhonda G says

      U can get citric acid in the canning section of a store someplace or online its the stuff that make fruit tart acidy or whatever. It is natural in citrus fruits but like i said the canning section department of any store that sells canning stuff. Hope this helps

  1. says

    Michelle I believe you can find citric acid in the dish cleaning aisle, but I’m not sure I’ve only used the Kool-aid. Your laundry soap is almost the same as mine except I use washing soda instead of baking soda! Thanks for the comment I hope you can find citric acid!

  2. Anonymous says

    The last time I used dish soap in my dishwasher I had a bubbly mess. And I only put a few drops in cause I was out of dishwasher soap. The kids thought it was cool though lol

    • Anne says

      Putting dish soap in your dishwasher can damage the machine. If you double the amount of citric acid, and possibly add some salt, it won’t be necessary to use dish soap to get sparkling dishes.

  3. says

    I put a very small amount in and have never had a problem. My husband on the other hand had it happen to him the other day. My guess is just adding too much dish soap. It still was pretty funny and you can clean the floors with the bubbles :)

  4. Shannon says

    We just recently started using this recipe for dishwasher detergent. Unfortunately we have really hard water because our dishes come out clean (cleaner than with commercial dishwasher detergents) but with a white film on many of the dishes. Any suggestions? I think I read somewhere that increasing the borax would help with it…

    • says

      I found another recipe and the blogger said this worked for her and she has really hard water. Its 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda, 1/2 cup citric acid (she said she used 1 cup of lemon shine instead) and 1/2 cup kosher salt. I hope this helps and works for you!!

        • Rhonda G says

          Here is a line to some dishwasher sauce. It’s the borax that leaves a film on the dishes. Also here is a recipe that i sometimes ues to make tablets for my dishwasher. 1 cup of borax 1 cup of washing soda 1/4 cup of epsom salt, 1/8 cup of lemon juice, 1/8 cup of equate brand of dishwasher rinse aid and mix well together until moist but not to wet it just needs to hold a shape u can press the mixture into ice cube trays and let dry completely dishes come out sparkly but eventually u get a film on the inside of your dishwasher but as i stated above here is a link to some dishwasher sauce which works and does not leave a file on dishes or dishwasher.

      • Jahma Gray says

        I found your recipe on Pinterest. I do not have an offical blog, but I really want to know where I can get a heart shaped scoop like you have on your ball jar.

    • Kristy says

      That is where the vinegar in the rinse agent should help. I have used it and never noticed any vinegar smell on my dishes. Also my dishwasher manual says to use the least amount of DW soap that you can and still get dishes clean-it says too much soap causes the film. Hard water is the pits isn’t it!

  5. says

    Dear Amy

    Thank you so much for linking with my Wednesday Adorned From Above Blog Hop last week. I have listed your posting as one of my featured links for this week.


    Copy and Paste the link from the post to show that you are a featured blogger on Wednesdays Adorned From Above Blog Hop. It says

    I am a featured blogger at Wednesday Adorned From Above Blog Hop

    Thank you again for participating, and I hope that you have lots of links for this week.

    Amy, you can delete the first one that I sent you. I put the wrong name in it accidentally. Thank you so much for sharing. You had the most page views. You had 12 pageviews. I am going to try making your recipe this week.

    Debi Bolocofsky

  6. Heather says

    Is there an alternative to the borax? I know it’s for dishes instead of laundry, but my mom used borax once in the laundry and I itched like crazy until she did the wash again. Because of that, I’d rather not use borax at all.

      • Stephanie Ranker says

        The answer is yes…You can make your own washing soda by placing baking soda on a cookie sheet and bake it for a half hour at 400* If you have a lot of baking soda on your cookie sheet you should stirr it about half way through to ensure even cooking.

    • Stephanie Ranker says

      I googled it and found out that you can make it from baking soda…..dump your baking soda onto a cookie sheet and bake it for about a half hour at 400* Something about exposing the baking soda to heat releases a gas that transforms the soda into washing soap.

    • says

      It’s kind of like baking soda but you find it in the laundry aisle. You can actually make it too by baking baking soda

    • says

      nope its slightly different. You can make washing soda by baking baking soda or else you can find it in the laundry aisle

  7. says

    I have been wanting to try this for a LONG time. You are the inspiration I needed, and I just love your picture!! We are starting a link up party on Thursdays (today:), and we would love for you to join us with this post and/or any others you would like to include. We are at allthingswithpurpose.com. Hope to see you there!!

  8. Crystal says

    I can’t wait to try this, the only thing I’m worried about is that my dish washer doesn’t do we’ll with powder detergents, dose anyone know if you can make into a liquid detergent?

  9. says

    I was doing a bit of research on this subject, and I am wondering if you could instead of adding citric acid to your detergent, use citrus infused vinegar as your rinse aid. That way you get that clean lemon smell. Also I read that vinegar can eat away the rubber components in your rinse compartment, and that its best to put some in a small cup or bowel on the top rack while you run it. Just some thoughts on how to change it up.

  10. Jenni Malcomb says

    I only use liquid also because I have a well and septic system. I was told you should only use liquid with them. I would love a liquid recipe!!! <3

  11. kat says

    I find bulk citric acid anywhere they sell sprouting supplies (health food store). It is used to help prevent bacterial growth in the sprout jar.

  12. says

    Borax and Washing Soda both being alkaline and the citric acid being, well, an acid, they will counteract each other in the washer. I use straight Washing Soda, salt, and lemon essential oil for the dish soap and add either vinegar or a citric acid/water solution to the rinse-aide cup so the acid doesn’t mix with the alkaline. Plus, you want the acid to be during the rinse cycle to keep the mineral deposits off of the dishes!

  13. Susan says

    I was always told that if you put dish soap in the dishwasher it can over suds and really make a mess. I think folks should be aware that you can use too much. Great idea though

  14. Rhonda says

    I have never seen “sugar free” kool aid and I have looked many times. Could you use fresh or store bought lemon or lime juice?

  15. Katrina says

    this sounds great. anything that saves money these days… for those of you who are worried about using a powder in place of a liquid you problem is more likely your water than your septic or your machine. a powder doesn’t dissolve as readily as a liquid and soaps with lots of phosphates in them re-crystalize in pipes in septic system drain pipes. i don’t know the chemical content of borax so i don’t know if that would be a problem with this formula. we had that problem once with our septic system. maybe adding a bit of water and dishwashing liquid to the side that is for the wash cycle just to dampen it and start it dissolving would solve that problem for the hard water people. for septic users checking the phosphorus content might be a good idea. we had to watch out for that in our laundry detergent too…

  16. Sarah says

    I have used Vinegar in my dishwasher for years. My stuff does not come out smelling like Vinegar. :-) THank you for this recipe for dishwasher!

  17. Erin says

    I wish that I could make this! My 5 year old is allergic to Borax though. :( I do make liquid laundry detergent w/out it and use vinegar with every load. He has eczema so his skin is pretty sensitive to a lot of soaps.

  18. Dorothy says

    This works great!!!!

    For laundry of which costs pennies I take one box Borax, I bar that is shaved of Felds laundry boost bar, and one large box of Baking Soda …… and mix thoroughly altogether……only takes 2 Tablespoons to do laundry with.

  19. says

    As far as the Kool-aid, for those that might think it does nothing- it really does! My husband was in the Navy and they used Kool-aid (made into paste w/water) as a BRASS cleaner, and for other cleaning, all the time….think about that next time you make some for the kiddos 😀

  20. says

    also- I’ve made another recipe (same borax/washing soda ratio) with 1 c borax, 1 c washing soda, 1/4 cup epsom salt, lemon juice…have you ever used the salt in with this recipe? Not sure what it does besides soften the water. But we don’t have hard water…..

  21. Rhonda Greig says

    I make my own dishwasher tablets only difference is I use 1 cup of borax, 1 cup of washing soda, 1/4 cup of epsom salt, 1/8 cup of lemon juice, and 1/8 cup of the Great Value brand rinse agent. Mix all together and press into tabs in ice cube trays and allow to dry completely and then give trays a twist they come right out. Purpose of the rinse aid is to not leave spotty dishes and one bottle of it goes along way when making these tablets and u only need one tablet per load of dishes.

  22. karmamichele says

    How to make washing soda
    Well, as the title says, we’re turning baking soda into washing soda this week. A good number of my homemade products require the use of washing soda, but for every item I post that uses washing soda, I always get at least 5 or 10 comments asking where you can find it. It’s true, sometimes it’s a little hard to find – even I had trouble the first time around. (It’s usually in the laundry aisle, by the way.)

    But for those who live in rural areas, or without large grocery stores, it’s still hard to track down. So in my search for the best place to buy washing soda for one of our readers, I stumbled upon this idea that you can actually turn baking soda into washing soda, simply by baking it!

  23. Ellen says

    I don’t have an open cup for pre-wash, just a closed cup. My dishwasher also says to use jetdry or else my dishes stay wet. Can I maybe use 2 Tbsp in the closed cup?

  24. shelly says

    If you put dish washer soap in and they dont come out clean or spotted add Vinagar (white) 1/3 cup to rinse cycle , comes out great and dont hurt Septic….

  25. Annie says

    I use vinegar in the dishwasher everytime, it makes the glassware clear and sparkly, even glasses I have had for 30 yrs and cloudy. The vinegar smell goes away never had a problem with an odor on my dishes. I use about a 1/2 cup of vinegar for each load.

  26. Anonymous says

    I have made this twice now, and for some reason whenever I store it, the mix becomes hard and clumped together, as if a bunch of moisture got in. I have tried storing it in a glass jar, and also a plastic container, with the same results both times. Is there something in the mix that could be causing this (I use citric acid)? I do store it under my sink but it seems dry and both containers have been sealed. Thoughts?

    • Christi says

      I have the same problem. I use a similar recipe that uses both citric acid and Kosher Salt. The website I found the recipe from suggested putting a little bit of dry rice in the mix to help absorb the moisture to prevent clumping. I haven’t tried it yet though because I’m a little afraid of what the rice would do to my dishwasher. I am one of those that rinses all the food off the dishes before putting them in. I figure our hard water reeks enough havoc on my appliances and am afraid to push it. If your brave enough to try it let me know how it works! Good Luck!

  27. Rhonda G says

    For the homemade dishwasher detergent use 1 cup of borax 1 cup of washing soda and if u cannot find washing soda u can turn baking soda into washing soda by putting a layer of baking soda on a cookie sheet and baking in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes stirring the mixture halfway thru baking and add 1/4 cup of epsom salt, and 2 packs of lemonade works fine and u can get a brown sugar keeper and put it in there and that absorbs the moisture in it or toss in a clean piece from a clay pot that will do that same thing. Hope this helps

  28. says

    Have you tried citrus infused vinegar? If you soak orange or lemon peel in the vinegar for a few weeks the vinegar scent goes away and the citrus scent stays!

  29. Kay says

    Vinegar is anti bacterial so it is a very beneficial ingredient. I use it in my dishwasher and also add it to my laundry. Never had a vinegar smell. :)

    • says

      Thanks Cindy. I was actually going to make my own recipe this week to post on the blog hahah. Funny timing. Thanks for sharing!

  30. Sara says

    I’ve tried this recipe before but it didn’t clean my dishes; it just left a white powdery film all over them. I tried to use less and less until I was only using a 1/2 of teaspoon of the detergent and still the same results. Did I do something wrong? Please let me know how I can fix it.

    • says

      You could try to add a squirt of dish soap with the homemade detergent. It could also be your water. Sorry you are not having better luck with it!


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