Saturday, October 6, 2012

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

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UPDATE:  This is a repost from March 2012 and I wanted to update on how it is working for me. 

 I have been using my homemade dishwasher detergent since March, no other brand, and I love how well it works.  The trick to it is to have a citric acid component in your mix, especially if you have hard water!!  I was buying Lemi Shine (a commercially branded citric acid) for $4.19 for 12oz.  When I ran out and I ran a load without it my glassware was totally foggy, and the dishes didn't dry very well.  I have a Bosch dishwasher with a metal interior and no dry cycle, so this may work for me and not for you, but with the citric acid I don't have any problems with foggy glass and drying.  I found a better product and I don't need the Lemi Shine any more.  I bought a 50lb bag of citric acid at Honeyville for $80.23 and I tried it out and it works better than the  Lemi Shine!!!  Don't freak out over the price point of the citric acid.  Do you know what a 50lb bag of citric acid looks like?? (sorry I don't have a picture) It is a lot of citric acid!  If I use 1 teaspoon of the citric acid every night when I turn on my dishwasher, I will have enough citric acid to last 4800 loads!!!  That is .016 cents per load.  If my math is correct (and usually it isn't) that is pretty cheap and I have around 13 years worth of it :)  The Lemi Shine is about .056 per teaspoon in the 12oz canister and would cost around $268.00 in a 50lb package.  So, if you are in the market for a cheaper alternative to store bought dishwasher detergent, give this recipe a try!!

If you didn't know, I am a big coupon user.  I get a lot of household supplies for little or no money, but in the last couple of years I have noticed that the coupon deals are not what they used to be.  I used to get carts full of groceries for under $10.  Now that rarely happens and I am having to use my storage and some of my items are low or gone.  Dishwasher detergent is one of those items that I used to be able to get for free and I would get a year supply at a time.  I finished up the very last box of detergent yesterday and it was time to try the less expensive homemade dishwasher detergent.  I have wanted to try this for quite some time now just as a preparedness learning experience, but now it is out of necessity.  

I found several "recipes" on Pinterest and have had them pinned and waiting for when I needed them.  The recipe is super easy and it uses the same ingredients that homemade laundry detergent uses, so double-dutie there.  Click HERE to see a previous post on making your own laundry detergent.  I found all the ingredients at my Smiths grocery store.

 Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

2 C Borax  (found on the laundry aisle)
2 C Washing Soda (NOT baking soda) found on the laundry aisle right next to the Borax
1 C Coarse Salt (kosher, epsom, or regular old table salt if you don't have the others)
1 C Citric Acid (I used Lemi Shine, but yellow UNsweetened koolaid, or citric acid will also work)  Citric acid can be found at pharmacies, health food stores, and HONEYVILLE GRAIN.
  1. Mix all but the citric acid in a container.  The citric acid will be added to the dishwasher when you put in your 1 T of detergent.  If you mix it in with the other ingredients it will harden your mixture into one big, hard block of detergent.  
  2.  Use only 1 T of the mixture in your detergent cup.  I only have one cup to fill but if you have 2 then use 1 T in each.  Add the Lemi Shine (or other citric acid ingredient), about 1t, and wash away!!  The citric acid ingredient amount will vary depending on how hard your water is.  I sprinkle about 1t into my detergent cup after I put in the detergent. 
Vinegar::  use in place of jet dry in your rinse aid cup.  

 *The salt in the mixture is to help with hard water and also used as an abrasive cleaning agent.  The citric acid also helps with hard water.  I have really hard water and you may need to play around with the amount you add to your dishwasher.  I recommend running a cycle with no dishes and only the Lemi Shine to get the dishwasher clean and ready to go with your homemade detergent.

Your dishes should come out clean and clear, no foggy glasses!  If they don't you need to play around with the citric acid amount.  Using vinegar as your rinse aid will keep your glass clear.  I washed my first load of dishes with this last night and it worked great!!  Everything was clean and the glasses were clear and shiny.  I am sold!!

Cost breakdown of ingredients as of March 9, 2012 at Smiths Grocery store (a Kroger store):
  • Borax $5.19
  • Washing Soda $3.59
  • Epsom Salt $3.58
  • Lemi Shine $4.19 (Citric Acid is around $16 for 4oz at a pharmacy and KoolAid packets are around .10 on sale.  I'm not sold on using KoolAid because of the color added to it. I don't want my dishes or silverware with a yellow tinge.  I was reading on another blog that she noticed a yellow color to her Tupperware. Citric Acid 50lbs at Honeyville Grain for $80.23) 

Using the recipe above I will probably be able to make detergent for a few months at a time.   I am so excited to know that this works! 


  1. I have been hearing all about these recipes and want to give them a try! Thanks for these.

  2. Tried yr recipe and another one using lemon juice. Works great except on plastic wares. It came out with stains which I eventually had to hand wash them

  3. Thanks for sharing the recipe. Using home made dishwasher detergent wont harm dishwasher spare parts?

  4. You can get 8 lbs of citric acid at for $24. And if you can use table salt - it is MUCH cheaper than the salt price above. You can get a 4 lb box at WalMart for $1.85. I saw that price online not sure about getting that deal in the store. My Citric Acid should be here any day and I can't wait to try this. I am tired of spending so much on dishwashing detergent because of our extremely hard water!

    1. I would be careful when using table salt. The recipe calls for epsom salt and it is a very different salt than table salt. You won't get the same results using plain old table salt.

  5. Amazing tip! using borax is really cheap. I make homemade detergent, too. My kids love helping me. It is such a party. Thank you for sharing your post. Best regards!


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