17 DIY Dishwasher Detergent Recipes

I’m probably one of the few people in this world who loves doing dishes — I love to load up the dishwasher and forget them, that is! Washing dishes by hand is an annoying and time-consuming task. And did you know it often uses more water than dishwashers? Handwashing dishes can use up to 27 gallons of water while ENERGY STAR® approved dishwashers use as little as 3 gallons per load.

When it comes to dishwasher detergent, I like pods because they’re convenient, but they’re also pricey and not great for the environment. That’s the case with a lot of store-bought detergent options. Many of them aren’t environmentally-friendly or biodegradable. Some detergents also contain harsh ingredients that can cause skin reactions and leave behind residue on your precious dinnerware.

Related Post: DIY Soap Recipes

If you’re worried about the effects of using store-bought detergent, why not consider a DIY solution? There are a variety of household ingredients you can use to make soap for your dishwashing machine. Here are some of the most popular ingredients.

  • Borax
  • Baking Soda
  • Washing Soda
  • Citric Acid
  • Vinegar
  • Epsom Salts

Thankfully, making your own detergent at home is really easy. Below you’ll find a total of 17 DIY dishwasher detergents that will leave your dishes with a sparkly shine.

1. Simple Dishwasher Detergent

Ingredients

  • Salt
  • Dish Soap
  • Baking Soda

This DIY recipe from HuffPost has just three simple ingredients including a few drops of dish soap. Don’t pour in much more, though, or you’ll end up with a floor full of suds.

2. Lemon-Scented Dishwasher Detergent Tabs

Ingredients

  • Washing Soda
  • Baking Soda
  • Unsweetened Lemonade Mix
  • Kosher Salt

If (like me) you’re a sucker for the convenience of detergent pods and tabs, this recipe is for you. Even better? These tabs have a fresh lemon scent and require a lot less effort than you’d expect to make. Plus, you probably have all the ingredients right in your cupboard.

3. Homemade Dishwasher Detergent With Borax

Ingredients

  • Borax
  • Washing Soda
  • Citric Acid
  • Salt

This recipe includes borax which some people prefer to avoid.* If using it doesn’t bother you, this homemade detergent provides exceptional cleaning power.

Related Post: 12 Ingenious Everyday Borax Uses

*That said, borax is safe as long as it’s used as directed. As with any DIY projects, do your own research before making an informed decision about what is best for your family. For more information on boric acid and borax, check out this article.

4. Homemade Dishwasher Detergent And Rinse Agent

Image courtesy of DIY Natural

Ingredients

  • Borax
  • Washing Soda
  • Citric Acid
  • Kosher Salt

In addition to their homemade dishwasher detergent, DIY Natural has recipes for homemade dish soap — if you prefer to wash your dinnerware by hand. All you need is a single tablespoon of this detergent to get your dishes super clean.

5. Fresh Citrus Dishwasher Detergent

Image courtesy of Mommy Potamus

Ingredients

  • Washing Soda
  • Grapefruit Essential Oil
  • Lemon Essential Oil

My favorite thing about this recipe is the way she chose to store her detergent. How could I resist an attractive jar and cute label? I’m also a fan of essential oils.

6. Fresh Lemon Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Image courtesy of Bren Makes

Ingredients

  • Diced Lemon
  • Water
  • White Vinegar
  • Kosher Salt

This recipe uses real lemons to impart a fresh scent to your finished load of dishes. I love that the author took a recipe with a few downsides and improved it with clever tweaks.

7. Streak-Free Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Ingredients

  • Washing Soda
  • Borax
  • Citric Acid
  • Kosher Salt

This recipe includes the addition of citric acid to help prevent streaks from appearing on dishes.

8. Natural Dishwasher Detergent Tablets

Image courtesy of Hello Nest

Ingredients

  • Washing Soda
  • Baking Soda
  • Kosher Salt
  • Citric Acid
  • Water

This is the ideal recipe for anyone who prefers a quick and convenient cleaning solution. I hate measuring out ingredients. I’m never precise enough and way too clumsy.

9. 3-Ingredient Dishwasher Detergent

Ingredients

  • Washing Soda
  • Borax
  • Vinegar

A super simple and effective recipe for those who aren’t keen on spending money on commercial detergents.

10. Dishwasher Detergent Tabs

Ingredients

  • Washing Soda
  • Borax
  • Epsom Salt
  • Vinegar
  • Lemon Essential Oil

You won’t be able to resist these ultra-cute dishwasher tabs. With the use of an adorable mold, you too can enjoy fun dishwasher detergent tab shapes.

11. DIY Powdered Dishwashing Detergent

Ingredients

  • Baking Soda
  • Washing Soda
  • Epsom Salt
  • Citric Acid
  • Lemon Essential Oil

On this website, you’ll find a recipe for dish tabs along with a guide on how to clean your dishwasher’s interior.

12. Natural Liquid Dishwasher Detergent

Ingredients

  • Liquid Castile Soap
  • Water
  • Distilled White Vinegar
  • Citric Acid
  • Essential Oils

If you prefer a liquid formula over powdered, consider this recipe or check out the additional pod recipe on the same page.

13. Streak-Free Dishwasher Detergent

Image courtesy of Simply Designing

Ingredients

  • Borax
  • Washing Soda
  • Lemi Shine®
  • Kosher Salt
  • White Vinegar

The photos on the page are all the proof you’ll need to choose this dishwasher detergent recipe. It’s billed as an excellent mix for getting rid of hard water stains.

14. Powdered Dishwasher Detergent With Borax

Ingredients

  • Borax
  • Washing Soda
  • Lemi Shine®
  • Epsom Salt

This recipe includes the use of Epsom salts. The author cautions that the powder hardens even when sealed in an airtight container which may make this formula suitable for creating tabs.

15. Borax And Washing Soda Dishwasher Detergent

Image courtesy of the Homemade Experiment

Ingredients

  • Borax
  • Washing Soda
  • Citric Acid
  • Kosher Salt

This recipe includes both borax and washing soda for added cleaning power. It does tend to clump over time, so it’s essential to store it in a cool, dry place.

16. Homemade Dishwasher Detergent With Essential Oils

Ingredients

  • Baking Soda
  • Borax
  • Kosher Salt
  • Unsweetened Lemonade Mix
  • Essential Oils

This is another recipe with lots of cleaning power that also includes essential oils. It’s optional, but I’d definitely recommend choosing your favorite scent and adding a few drops.

17. All-Natural Dishwasher Pods

Ingredients

  • Baking soda
  • Salt
  • Distilled vinegar
  • Natural Dish Soap

Why not get your kids involved in creating dishwasher pods? Make it a family activity, and turn it into a science lesson.

Tips For Getting Your Dishes Sparkly Clean

Of course, your homemade dishwasher detergent won’t be useful if you don’t take the time to make sure your dishwasher is getting your dishes as clean as they can be. Here are some tips to make sure your dishes are sparkly clean.

  • Scrape off large pieces of food, but don’t bother rinsing your dishes. In many cases, rinsing can actually reduce cleaning power.
  • Add the right amount of detergent. Too much can leave unwanted residue on your dishes. Too little, and the dishes won’t come out clean.
  • You may have to try several recipes. Depending on the composition of the water where you live (hard or soft), you may have to experiment with different detergent recipes to find the right one.
  • Washing soda and baking soda are two different things. Don’t get mixed up! Washing soda is infinitely better for cleaning purposes and is stronger than both baking soda and borax.
  • Behold, the power of vinegar! Add vinegar to your dishwasher rinse compartment if you notice residue after the cycle.
  • Turn on the hot water tap in your kitchen before starting your dishwasher. It’ll take less time for the water to heat up in your appliance.

My final tip has nothing to do with detergent or cleaning your dishes, but I think it’s a simple yet important one that’s helped my routine immensely. Unload your dishwasher at night before bed, and you’ll never wake up frustrated you’ve left yourself an appliance full of dishes.

Do you make your own dishwasher detergent at home? What are your tips for ensuring streak-free, sparkly clean dishes? Let us know in the comments below!

Written by Steph Coelho

Steph Coelho has been digging in the dirt for over a decade. She is a Certified Square Foot Gardening Instructor and has taught gardening classes in her local community. As a freelance writer, she seeks to educate others about the wonders of this rewarding hobby by providing honest information based on real-life experiences. She also knows that a gardener never stops learning.

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