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Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Recipes

Category Dishes
Dishwasher detergent is a necessary but expensive household item. Making your own detergent is a simple way to save money. This page contains homemade dishwasher detergent recipes.


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January 31, 2011

This is like Cascade and Sun Light. This homemade natural formula will safely cut through grease and sanitize your dishes as well.

Automatic Dish Washing Soap



Combine water and liquid Castile soap. Stir and then add lemon juice, tea tree extract, and vinegar. Stir until blended evenly and store in a squeeze bottle.

Use 2 tablespoons per wash in a standard-size dishwasher.

Note: Do not substitute conventional liquid soap for the Castile soap unless it is a "low sudsing" soap. Regular soaps will produce too many suds and overflow the dishwasher.

Dishwashing Liquid

To a 22 oz. container of liquid Castile soap, add:

I hope that you love these like I do! Have a wonderful 2011 everyone!

Source: (for Automatic Dish Washing Soap) Casey Kellar, author of Natural Cleaning for Your Home: 95 Pure and Simple Recipes

By Jodi from Aurora Colorado

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By 5 found this helpful
December 21, 2009

So here is the recipe for Automatic dish washing detergent.


Shake thoroughly or stir and store in tightly covered jar. Use one tablespoon per load. For best results add white vinegar to the rinse dispenser.

All of the above items can be found in your local grocery store. This recipe cleans; cuts grease and yet gentle enough for fine china.


By ecogirl91304 from Los Angeles, CA

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September 30, 20161 found this helpful

This is a guide about making dishwasher cubes. There are many household cleaners that are easy to make yourself.

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By 2 found this helpful
September 16, 2011

I have had to be very frugal with my budget and have found myself without dishwasher detergent. I have tried this and found it to work very good! Take a squirt of orange cleaner, a squirt of your homemade everyday cleaner (vinegar/alcohol/water 3:1:2), and a squirt of dishwashing liquid and the dishes do quite well!

By Kellyb from IN

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January 8, 2009

I found out we had run out of dishwasher soap, even the samples I had gotten, and I went to the internet to find out a homemade substitute. Most of them mentioned either washing soda or baking soda + borax - some others mentioned shaved Zote Soap.


We had baking soda - but no borax. So I filled the containers with baking soda and added a few drops of dishwasher liquid to each pan. Then we ran the dishwasher. The waste water came out nice and dirty, with a few teeny bubbles, and the dishes turned out to be nice and clean.

Now, the dishes had been rinsed and were fairly clean already - and it was 1/2 a load at a full cycle - but nevertheless - it did work. I am getting more baking soda and will look for the borax.

(Note: the reason you can't use plain dishwashing liquid is that there would be a lot of bubbling, like a bubble bath out of control - but a few drops in the baking soda seems to be OK.)

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September 30, 20160 found this helpful

This is a guide about making liquid dishwasher detergent. Liquid dishwasher detergent users may prefer this easy to make, inexpensive alternative to store bought products.

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Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

November 27, 2016

I've ran out of dishwasher soap and have just a small amount of Dawn, can it be used in the dishwasher? I have a week to go before payday so no money.


November 27, 20160 found this helpful

I would suggest that you do not use Dawn dishwashing detergent in your dishwasher, because of the sudsing action that would happen in the dishwasher. I would ask a neighbor to borrow some dishwashing detergent for your automatic dishwasher before I would try the Dawn dishwashing detergent that is for hand washing dishes

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December 2, 20160 found this helpful

You can damage your machine if you do this. Just wash the dishes for a week. Dawn is a good brand and you should be able to get by until payday.

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December 5, 20160 found this helpful

No, just use the Dawn to hand wash dishes, never put liquid soap in your dishwasher. It will make suds and overflow creating a bigger mess not to mention it could damage your dishwasher.

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December 23, 20160 found this helpful

I think you are asking if the Dawn will go further in the dishwasher, since you have only a small amount? I did this once for a few days, and noticed no ill effects, except for the high sudsing. A little vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher would help with ekeing out the Dawn and helping clean the dishes.
I suspect the main reason we advised not to do so is that the fatty substances in the Dawn (all soaps have them) may leave a scum in the hoses, and a build-up of this would cause ineffective draining, and need the eventual replacement of the hoses.
But based on my own experience, I reckon a week would not be enough to do lasting damage, since it will be followed up by the normal cleansing tablets. I would use very hot washes and add vinegar in the week after payday just to clear the pipes.

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October 1, 20110 found this helpful

I use the 1 cup borax, 1 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup salt, and I have purchased citric acid in bulk instead of Kool-aid. How much citric acid should I use?
One of my relatives says the soap leaves spots and a milky film. Any ideas what to add to the soap?

By Larry


October 1, 20110 found this helpful

I've never heard of homemade dish washing soap. Sounds interesting, I guess, but I don't what you're missing. Never tried it.

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October 3, 20110 found this helpful

I have no idea if this will work or not, but if you add citric acid with the baking soda, you will only have salt water. Citric acid is an acid, of course, and baking soda is a base. Acid + base = salt + water + carbon dioxide. You might just as well just use borax plus salt.

Again, I have no idea if this makes an effective cleaner, but I doubt it. If it did, we would all be using it. I might also say that after checking my box of Borax, it recommends using it for many types of household cleaning, but not for dishes or in a dishwasher.

In conclusion, know that any time you mix an acid such as citric acid or vinegar or lemon juice with a base such as baking soda or ammonia, the one neutralizes the other and you are left with salt water.

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October 3, 20110 found this helpful

Rather than baking soda one should use washing soda, usually found in the laundry aisle.

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By 3 found this helpful
April 17, 2011

I need a recipe for homemade dish washing detergent for the dishwashing machine.

By Scott from Adelaide, Australia


May 19, 20110 found this helpful

I'm a little late on this but hoped to have helpful advice. I found earlier this week you could use baking soda + a few drops of dish soap and immediately began doing so.

We use cheapo Ajax and my dishes have come out the cleanest they have since we moved into our apartment. Our dishwasher is probably as old as I am and the baking soda/soap is working wonders so far. I'm 3 loads in and loving it.

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May 25, 20110 found this helpful

It is never too late! My "natural" store bought dishwasher, which comes in those little packs you throw whole into the dispenser, do not work. At all - on any load, no matter how many I tried. I realized I have to re-wash everything. Decided to try to make my own, Googled straight to your post - and I am off to the kitchen to try your recipe. Thanks!

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July 19, 20110 found this helpful

Hey wfulps, how about bleach and a drop of Dawn? Should be the best of both worlds without harmful reactions.

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By 0 found this helpful
February 26, 2011

Does anyone know of a homemade dish detergent recipe? I save so much with the homemade laundry detergent, but have had no luck finding a dish detergent recipe.

By Amy from Rochester, NY


February 27, 20110 found this helpful

I don't know if you mean for washing dishes by hand at the sink, or for the dishwasher. For doing dishes by hand I used just about anything. I sometimes get liquid laundry detergent cheaply. The off brands are watery, so I use that. I prefer the colorless unscented variety. Diluted shampoo (purchased for $.77 or less) works, too. I use VO5 mostly. I get a clear formula.

For the dishwasher I use a powdered purchased product, but use much less of it--just a tablespoon in each cup.

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September 25, 20110 found this helpful

This works really well for me the koolaide is to help break down the residue and grease.

1 cup of borax
1 cup washing soda
1/2 cup of kosher salt. (you can use regular salt, but I prefer kosher salt, more scrubbing power)
15 pkgs of lemon koolaide. I use the store brand it is a lot cheaper.

I also fill the rinse aid with white vinegar.
I use a spoon full in the pre wash and a spoon full in the one that you lock shut. You probably don't have to do that but I want my dishes really clean. I am a person that rinses my dishes before I put them in the dishwasher. If you don't I dont know how well it will work. But I've had other people say it works great for them too. I store it in a cheap plastic container. Wrote the ingredients on the outside of the jar and labeled the lid.

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May 28, 20110 found this helpful

How do I make homemade dishwasher soap?

By Leslie


June 1, 20110 found this helpful

Mix equal parts of Arm and Hammer washing soda and Borax. For spot free glasses, etc., instead of using expensive JetDri use white vinegar instead.

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November 13, 20130 found this helpful

What are some homemade dishwasher detergents?


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By 0 found this helpful
June 8, 2013

Please let me know a recipe of homemade dishwasher detergent. Regards.

By Abdul

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ThriftyFun is one of the longest running frugal living communities on the Internet. These are archives of older discussions.

December 21, 20090 found this helpful

Mix 3 tablespoons borax and 3 tablespoons baking soda. Fill both containers in automatic dishwasher. This will clean your dishes cheaper and better than any store bought dish detergent.

By BarwickJ from Ottumwa, IA


Homemade Automatic Dish Washing Detergent

My soap container in my dishwasher wouldn't hold 6 tablespoons of anything. Is that 3 tablespoons of borax and 3 tablespoons of baking soda for ONE load? (12/24/2005)

By Paula in ga.

Homemade Automatic Dish Washing Detergent

Baking soda is very abrasive, which is why it is often used as a cleanser and tooth powder. It will etch your glassware over time. It might be a cheap solution in the short run, but having to replace your glasses or have them look cloudy is not worth it in the long run, IMO. (12/28/2005)

By Michelle

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April 17, 20110 found this helpful

I would like to know an alternative to use in my dishwasher if my Cascade is gone, and I have no money to buy more for awhile. I have quite a bit of household items I am sure would work as an substitute, I just don't know what?
Any ideas would help as I don't want to wash them all by hand. Thanks.

By Annie from MN


Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Cascade is expensive. Have you considered using cheaper alternatives? I use WalMart's GreatValue brand of dishwasher powder. The one Aldi sells is also good. Dollar stores sell small boxes of dishwasher soap, obviously for a dollar. Substitutes are an option if you happen to have those ingredients, but if you have to buy borax and baking soda you might as well just buy the dishwasher soap to begin with. (07/21/2010)

By OliveOyl

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

I always buy my dishwasher detergent from the dollar stores. It is so much cheaper than the brand name detergent and also does a great job. (07/21/2010)


Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

I like the Walmart brand too, when I can afford Finish, I use that.
Alternative would be vinegar and baking soda. But cost for cost, make sure you have a full load, do not use regular sink dish detergent. It compromises the seals and leaks. Yep. Hubby did that once. Bubbles all over the whole floor the whole cycle. (07/29/2010)

By TandT Grandma

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

I have read all the posts here about the homemade dishwasher soap. I see that a lot of you are having problems with the film on the dishes. Please don't give up. The solution is less. 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of baking soda, mix together in a container. Only use 2 teaspoons of the mixture and 1 drop of liquid dish soap in the cup, and straight vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser. That takes care of the film in my dishwasher. Everything is shiny and clean. (08/18/2010)

By tycrimson

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Not trying to rain on anyone's parade, but there is some inaccurate information listed here.

  1. Don't put an acid in your detergent. Washing soda and baking soda are alkaline (they dissolve proteins). Acids (i.e. Fruit Fresh, Tang, vinegar, etc.) dissolve plant-based foods. But if you mix them together, they do nothing, they cancel each other out.
  2. Some folks are recommending using bleach, and it will work well. It's extremely alkaline, so it will dissolve protein like a champ. It won't cut grease, though, because it's not a solvent or a detergent. And mixing it with other chemicals, specifically acids like vinegar, can produce chlorine gas. Too risky for my taste.

  3. All borax does is soften the water by dissolving some of the minerals in the water and holding them suspended. If you already have soft water, you don't need it. If you're on a well, you do.
  4. Yes you can substitute baking soda for washing soda, but it is less alkaline, so use half again as much (i.e. 1-1/2 cups baking soda = 1 cup washing soda).

That said, the washing soda (aka "sal soda) + salt (as an abrasive) + borax (if you have hard water) in the wash and vinegar in the rinse makes good solid sense. And if your stuff's still not getting clean, run an empty load with 1/2 cup of CLR or a quart of white vinegar to remove hard water mineral deposits from your water jets. You may have to do that twice.

Just my two cents!

By wfulps

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

The problem is that manufacturers on pressure from the eco-nuts have eliminated phosphates from the dishwasher soaps. It's the phosphates that do the hard work. I recently had a repairman here and he strongly suggested I stop using the less expensive Costco brand and go to either Cascade, Finish, or Electrosol. I have searched and found a place to buy commercial dishwasher soap with phosphates. (02/03/2011)

By syllabucks

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February 26, 20110 found this helpful

I am looking for homemade dish detergent recipes.

By zinniaguy from MO


Homemade Dish Detergent Recipe

Start with plain bicarb (baking soda). For stubborn food, use it straight on your washcloth or sponge. If you don't soak all dishes and bowls right away, you may have to go to washing soda (that's the carbonate, not bicarbonate) and/or borax. These are stronger, so I prefer the soak method.
And why do this instead of the dollar store remedy? You spend 99c-$1, plus gas, plus time, and get you-know-not-what for the trouble. Bicarb is cheaper, with multiple uses, and less stress on hands. End with vinegar rinse if you like.

For a machine? I save water (yes, even over the more economical dishwashers now sold) by hand washing, so I don't have an answer. (10/01/2009)

By peseta

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July 21, 20100 found this helpful

How do you make dishwasher detergent?

By Mindy

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May 4, 20100 found this helpful

Does any body have a good recipe for homemade dishwasher detergent? Thanks.

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March 3, 20100 found this helpful

I never buy dishwasher soap anymore. I buy a large box of 20 Mule Team borax, a large baking soda, and a large bottle of white vinegar. I keep them on hand just for dishwasher soap.

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September 30, 20090 found this helpful

I am trying to make the homemade dish washing detergent , using 20 mule team borax, washing soda, fresh fruit, and glycerin with vinegar rinse. What are the measurements for this recipe?

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September 21, 20090 found this helpful

I have made the laundry detergent, fabric softener and stain remover (pre-wash treatment); how about a recipe for automatic dishwashers? Anyone have any ideas?

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September 21, 20090 found this helpful

Does anyone have a recipe for homemade dishwasher soap? Preferably a powdered version.

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September 21, 20090 found this helpful

How do you make homemade dishwasher powder?

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July 1, 20070 found this helpful

A while back, I asked if anyone had a tip on making homemade dishwasher detergent.

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October 31, 20060 found this helpful

I tried making my own laundry detergent with Zote Laundry soap and Borax.

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