Ever wondered how to make your own homemade dishwasher detergent? Me too! I found eight awesome DIY dishwasher detergent recipes that you can try out for yourself. Some are for a powdered dishwasher detergent, one for a liquid dishwasher detergent, and three recipes for homemade dishwasher tabs.
How many times do you run your dishwasher in the course of a week?
If you’re like me, you’ve got the dishwasher going at least seven times a week, sometimes eight or nine if I had time to make cookies or some other homemade dessert.
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That big bucket of Cascade Platinum I buy adds almost $10 to my grocery bill comes with only 36 tabs, so it barely lasts me a month!
I found out that you can save a lot of money and help the environment if you make your own dishwasher detergent!
I know it sounds crazy. Why make your own if you can buy it from the store?
I’ve never been a Do-It-Yourself gal. I don’t know how to sew very well, I am not super crafty, and I don’t spend time watching YouTube videos to figure out how to do something.
However, after researching DIY dishwasher detergent, I found out that it’s not as hard as it sounds. In fact, it costs less money and lasts so much longer than buying premade dishwasher detergent from the store! Plus, I discovered some other benefits of making your own dishwasher detergent!
Why You Might Want to Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent
I’ve talked a little bit about this already, but here are the benefits of making your own dishwasher detergent:
- Much cheaper – Saves tons of money!
- Eco-friendly, better for the environment
- Almost always have the ingredients on hand, not as easy to “run out”
- Fewer plastic wraps or containers used
- Easy to make
- Teaches your kids to be thrifty
However, you might run into the following issues when you make your own dishwasher detergent:
- Spots still on dishes
- Hard water may not react as well to DIY dishwasher detergents
- A lot of DIY dishwasher detergents harden over time
- It may not clean like you think it will-dishes may be clean, but not as spotless as you’re used to
- You may have to buy some ingredients online
- Hard water will cause cloudiness or a powdery residue to remain on clean dishes. If you know you have hard water where you live, add in some vinegar to the rinse cycle
- You might have to experiment a little, do a little trial and error with various dishwasher detergent recipes
- Depending on your dishwasher, it may cause a little gunk residue. Be sure that your DIY dishwasher detergent doesn’t clog up your appliance.
Okay, now let’s move on to the recipes! Here are the super easy homemade dishwashing detergent recipes I found that you can make yourself!
Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Recipes
DIY Powdered Dishwasher Detergent Recipes
1. Someone at the Huffington Post tried out this recipe with great results!
It uses just dish soap, baking soda, and salt. I know a lot of dishwashers say DO NOT put dishwashing soap into the detergent cup.
In this recipe, you just add a few tiny drops. Most appliances say that because they don’t want you mistaking your dish soap for detergent and ending up with a bubbling, foaming, kitchen. It’s nice because this recipe uses ingredients almost everyone already has in their kitchen, meaning it costs you about a penny a cycle!
Here are the homemade dishwasher detergent ingredients in this recipe:
That’s it! Easy and straightforward. You can click on the link to the Huffington Post article for step-by-step instructions with easy pictures to follow.
2. This recipe from the blog “Binkies and Briefcases” is similar to the one above, except no salt is used and baking soda is added straight into the machine bottom.
This recipe does state that if you live somewhere with really hard water, this detergent may not be enough to do the trick. You may need to add in other ingredients like vinegar to get rid of the hard water stains or streaks that may show up on the dishes even after the dishwashing cycle is complete.
We used to live inside Austin City Limits when my husband was in school at The University of Texas, and we never had any problems using the cheapest dish detergent in our dishwasher. The water was basically straight from the Edwards Aquifer, so I could have probably made my own dish detergent and it would have been fine.
However, when my husband and I moved into our current home about 25 minutes south of Austin, we had spots and streaks using the same dishwashing detergent from the store because the water is so much harder here.
Make sure you know what the hardness/softness of your water is before trying this out. Click this link above for the instructions and the great before and after dish photos.
3. This recipe I found from “Little House in the Suburbs” is great!
The blog is run by two ladies, and they go through the most common ingredients found in commercial dishwashing detergent, and then talk about why they are or are not necessary in a DIY dishwashing detergent recipe.
This blog post is super helpful! Besides this awesome recipe, you’ll also get tips and tricks on what to do if the detergent isn’t quite right the first time.
Among other things, they suggest trying plain washing soda, adding vinegar in the rinse compartment and/or after the dishwasher’s been run, and also adding in citric acid. Read the full post for all the tips.
Here are the simple DIY ingredients:
4. Here’s a recipe from DIY Natural that uses borax as dishwasher detergent.
- 1 cup borax
- 1 cup washing soda
- ½ cup citric acid
- ½ cup kosher salt (for scrubbing action)
- Vinegar (for rinse cycle)
DIY Natural also gives readers tips on how to break down detergent clumps, and a cost breakdown for the ingredients you need to buy to make the detergent in bulk. They estimate a cost of five cents per wash cycle (versus the 14 cents of the commercial detergent they used before).
Now, a lot of people wonder if Borax is toxic and some want to make homemade dishwasher detergent without borax. So, let’s clear the air about Borax.
There’s been a lot of research on it, and the consensus is that borax is only toxic if you digest it in large quantities. DIY Natural had this to say about it: “Borax is not the same thing as Boric Acid.” If you want to read more about the safety of Borax, I really liked this article from “Wellness Mama” on it.
Basically, you be the judge of whether or not you want to use Borax in your DIY dishwasher detergent. Just don’t leave it out on the counter in large quantities if you have kids or pets and think they will eat it of course.
You can click over to the DIY Natural blog to see step-by-step instructions for making the dishwasher detergent with detailed pictures.
Homemade Liquid Dishwasher Detergent Recipe
I thought it was cool that there was an easy-to-make, easy-to-use liquid dishwasher detergent recipe out there!
This recipe from the blog “The Simple Dollar” caught my eye as it is for a homemade liquid dishwasher detergent.
This recipe uses baking powder instead of baking soda, some water, and liquid dish detergent to make what they call a “Simple Homebrew.”
Homemade Liquid Dishwasher Detergent Ingredients:
This recipe will save you money, time, and be a great way to use up those empty milk jugs! You can click on this link to find out the easiest way to mix all these ingredients together and save yourself time.
Homemade Dishwasher Tabs
Don’t want to spend time measuring out all the ingredients every time? Then you might want to try making DIY Dishwasher tabs! It would make it easier for your kids to load the dishwasher.
1. Here’s an awesome homemade dishwasher tabs recipe from My Frugal Home:
Aren’t those beautiful? They kind of look like shortbread cookies to me.
Since you want all the tabs to be the same size, My Frugal Home suggests using silicone candy molds instead of ice cube trays because they’re easier to clean and pop out the homemade dishwasher tabs. She also suggests adding vinegar if you need to. Click on the full post for pictures every step of the way, mixing instructions, and a video.
Also, since tabs are more likely to be mistaken for candy than a big container of powdered dishwashing detergent, put them out of reach of kids and pets!
2. Here’s another DIY dishwasher tabs recipe I liked from Happy Money Saver:
- 1 Cup Washing Soda (cleans)
- 1 Cup Baking Soda (cuts out grease)
- 3 packages unsweetened lemonade drink mix (added cleaning power antibacterial and smells awesome)
- 1 Cup of Kosher Salt (reduces hard water build up – you might be able to reduce this amount if you have soft water)
- 1 Cup Water
This recipe is not something you can whip up really quick. You have to let the tabs dry for about 24 hours, so make sure you plan ahead.
This recipe makes 38 tabs for only $1.44! That’s way cheaper than the $10 I’m spending on 36 tabs from the store. Click here for the instructions!
3. “One Good Thing by Jillee” also has a similar DIY dishwasher tabs recipe worth trying:
Dishwasher Tabs Ingredients:
- 2 cups washing soda or baking soda
- 2 cups borax
- 1/2 cup coarse salt or Epsom salt
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 15-20 drops of lemon essential oil
Like the recipe above, these tabs need to dry in a sunny spot until they are completely set, so plan a total of 1-2 days before they are ready to use. Jillee suggests adding 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher to help with hard water spots too.
Follow the link for the detailed instructions and pictures.
Still Not Sure Which Recipe is Right for You or Your Dishwasher?
Want to do more research? Here’s a blog post from House Logic where author Courtney Craig compares 5 different DIY dishwashing detergents and their effectiveness.
Let me know if any of y’all try out these recipes and how they work for you! I hope you can save a little bit of money and have clean dishes at the same time.
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