Sunday, March 17, 2013

Green Clean: Dishwasher Detergent DIY

Ever since I tried my first homemade version of a green cleaner, I was hooked! I continued to expand my cleaning supply closet, replacing all of the chemical products with homemade essential green recipes, or store-bought green brands. Proud to say that 90% of my cleaning supplies are homemade! Happy about that.

I had great success making my own Concentrated Powdered Laundry Soap and absolutely love it! The next thing on my "To Make" list is Dishwasher Detergent. And I'm super excited about this recipe! The timing is perfect, as I just used our last dishwasher tab a couple days ago. I'm really glad that after first reading about this recipe a few months back, I started gathering the supplies for it. Now that it's time to make it, I already have everything I need!

I do a lot of research before trying out a new recipe. I like to gather as much useful information as possible before I make anything. I found three similar recipes for Dishwasher Detergent that each had tips and tidbits of info I found extremely helpful. These are things I wanted to be sure to include in my post that I thought everyone could benefit from.

Each recipe used the same basic, simple ingredients. I did some research into each of them -  how they work, what they do, where I can purchase them, alternatives to certain ingredients, etc.

Here's what I found:
  • Both Washing Soda and Borax fight grease and grime. Borax even removes hard water minerals and residues from the wash water; and it makes dishes sparkling clean. You can usually find Borax and Washing Soda right next to each other in the Laundry aisle.
  • LemiShine balances hard water and prevents a film residue from developing on your dishes, much like Borax. You can find it in the same place you find the dishwashing supplies. Citric Acid is the main ingredient in LemiShine and I read it's just as effective. It's an organic acid naturally found in many fruits, and acts as a natural preservative. You can find it in the baking aisle (near the canning supplies). With hard water, making adjustments to the amount of citric acid or LemiShine should help. 
  • Coarse Salt in this recipe is used for it's scrubbing power. It acts as an abrasive. Kosher salt or Epsom salt will work. One recipe I found even used regular table salt.

  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Washing Soda
  • 1/2 cup Citric Acid (or LemiShine)
  • 1/2 cup Coarse Salt
*Use 1 Tbsp per load in the detergent cup.

  • I found you can make this recipe two ways: You can mix all of your ingredients together (which may end up clumpy if you don't have a jar with a moisture/airtight seal), or
  • Mix everything together but the citric acid! (The citric acid is what makes this recipe clump.) Add it directly to the dishwasher cup when you add the Tbsp of detergent. 1/4 to 1/2 tsp should be enough for each load.
  • Silica gel packets might help with the clumping. They absorb moisture! (They are the same little packets you find in the boxes of new shoes, leather handbags, or even electronics.) Drop the packet directly into your container. (This is what I plan on doing since I added all of my ingredients together. I'll keep you updated!)
  • If you have a prewash cup on your dishwasher, you can add a Tbsp of detergent there too. But you may not need it. Test it out on your next load of dishes.
  • Fill the "Rinse" compartment with white vinegar.
  • Find a cute container to store your batch in. Perhaps one with a seal (like a mason jar), or a glass jar with a lid. I found mine at a local thrift store for $2.00! It was part of a set (each sold separately), and I only wanted the one with the spoon (the other 2 were missing theirs). It's been sitting on my counter for months empty, and I thought it would be perfect for this project! I used my Cameo to cut the vinyl label on the container. I think it looks fabulous!
  • Everyone's water is different, so play around with the measurements if it's not working for you. Make adjustments to the recipe to suit your needs. A big part of making things yourself is figuring out what works. It's also one of the best things! Modifying a recipe is so easy....
  • So feel free to double or triple this one! 

4.2.2013 - UPDATE: I've been using this for a couple of weeks now and couldn't be more amazed at the results! This simple recipe cleans my dishes just as good, if not better, than the store bought tablets I used to use. We don't have hard water up here (in Washington), so I can't give you any advice on that. Our dishes always come out sparkling clean, without a rinse aid. In regards to clumping, I haven't had a problem with that at all either. I thought it would be an issue since I added the Citric Acid directly to my recipe. All I can say is that I'm extremely happy to finally be rid of those expensive dishwasher tablets! I'm definitely sticking with this for good :D

8.17.13 - UPDATE: I recently restocked my supply of soap a few days ago. Can you believe I haven't had to since I wrote this post! That is how long that first batch lasted me! That is the good thing. Bad news is that it has been extremely humid here in Washington this summer. And unfortunately, that new batch of soap turned into a rock overnight. All of that moisture, and the citric acid appears to be  the main culprit. So when the time comes to make my next batch, I will be omitting it from the main recipe, and adding it directly to the dispenser when I run a load of dishes. I hope that will solve the clumping problem. I'll keep you posted...

If you're looking for more "green" products, take a peek at my homemade recipes for Stain Remover, Laundry Detergent, and Fabric Softener. And be sure to check out my "Earth Mama" pinboard on Pinterest! It's chock full of inspiration and recipes for various green products. From green cleaners to natural health and beauty care...It's on my bucket list to create everything on that board!

Wanna stay updated on my recent posts and projects? Be sure to "like" my new fan page on Facebook!

Do you make your own green cleaners too? What do you like most about using homemade supplies? Any thoughts, questions, or comments? Please, let me know. Your feedback is always welcome and much appreciated.

Mahalo for stopping by!


  1. I decided to embrace the clumping caused by the citric acid. I bought some used ice trays at a goodwill and filled them with the mixture. It made perfect "tablets" and works just fine!

    1. Hi indygirl :) I've seen that idea before. I think it's fabulous! I'm so glad it worked for you. It totally makes sense to take advantage of that clumping. I may have to give it a try! How many tablets do you get out of a recipe? The way I'm doing it now with my recipe, one batch of loose soap lasts 3 months.

  2. Just wondering how toxic this is for creepy crawlies. I was hoping to run our kitchen water through a worm farm, but not if the soap is going to harm the wormies. Any ideas?

    1. Hello there :) I'm under the assumption since all of the ingredients in this recipe are earth-friendly and natural, that it wouldn't be harmful to wildlife.

      If you decide to try it out and everything goes well, please let me know. I'll be sure to update my blog with your results. It's a great piece of info for my readers to know.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!

  3. I am not sure it is effective or not.. I have learnt lot about cleaning from Bond Clean service providers and we must use only good products

    1. I only write about what I know based on my own personal experiences. As far as a product being "good," this recipe is just as effective as any store-bought product that I've used in the past. In my opinion, a "good" product is one that works for my family's needs as well as being safe for us and the environment. Since I know exactly what is in the products I'm using I feel extremely comfortable deeming this recipe as better than good. It has worked for us for the last year, and we don't plan on going back to the store bought stuff.

      I appreciate you stopping by to share your thoughts :)

  4. I discovered the solution to the clumping. Previously I would store the detergent in a clamp jar with a scoop from baby formula to measure it out. The problem was it would become a solid brick and I would have to pick at it with a butter knife. I now make a batch ahead of time and store it in a ziplock bad in the fridge. Once the batch I store in a clamp jar is gone, I take the batch from the fridge and switch it over. Even after the batch comes out of the fridge, it never clumps!

    1. Hi Miranda! Very good to know! I will definitely use your tip when I'm ready to make my next batch of detergent! If it works for me, I'll be sure to update my post and credit you with your handy tip :) Thanks a bunch for stopping by and sharing your thoughts!

  5. A great thing about using homemade cleaning supplies is it's way cheaper. And the contents are guaranteed safe for your everyday use. Truly, people getting on the homemade cleaning products bandwagon is a good development when it comes to being kind to our planet. What's more, it's great to know that there are also companies who manufacture eco-friendly products now. Great, no?
    Bo @ HJS Supply Company

    1. I couldn't agree more, Bo :) The money our family has saved this last year since making our own supplies is tremendous! And doing our part to save the planet is a huge bonus! That and wanting to keep our home chemical-free, is the main reason I why I started doing it. Prior to making my own supplies, our family used eco-friendly products. In fact, the 5% of cleaning products we use that aren't homemade are earth-friendly! Bio-Kleen is our favorite brand ♥

      Thanks so much for stopping by to share your thoughts!

  6. I'm a huge fan of DIY cleaning products so many thanks for the 'recipes'!

  7. Companies that utilize green cleaners make the air more breathable, and green cleaners do not use Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) thus there are less headaches and respiratory problems.

  8. It’s really new for me to know about detergent DIY as for the green cleaning purpose. Truly it’s an informative article, so a big thanks to you dear for sharing it here! I will definitely try all of these methods as these seem more natural & safe.


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