Our Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Experiment

This Frugal Friday I wanted to share our homemade dishwasher detergent experiment this week.  I was looking for a alternative to the Costco brand dishwasher detergent I had been using.  I wasn’t looking to change dishwasher detergent because of expense.  The Costco brand dishwasher detergent is actually very inexpensive.  I was looking to change because of the overwhelming chemical smell in my kitchen and on my dishes every time I washed a load of dishes.  I never noticed it being that bad until I became pregnant.  I can smell anything and everything now! 

I switched to a eco-friendly, all natural dishwashing detergent, however, for our size family and the amount of dishes we wash…the small bottles and cost factor wasn’t going to work for us.  It spurred me on to figure out a better alternative.  A friend of mine sent me this dishwashing detergent recipe from the blog More Green For Less

Homemade Dishwashing Detergent (makes about 70 loads)

Dry ingredients:

  • 3 cups baking soda
  • 1 cup borax
  • ¼ cup citric acid

Wet ingredients:

  • Vinegar
  • You also can use essential oils

In a container (large glass jar, plastic container with lid, or something air tight), mix the dry ingredients together.  I used a plastic container with a lid and put all the dry ingredients in, put the lid on and gave it a few shakes. 

Every load, place 1 tablespoon of dry ingredients in your dishwasher.  I then throw 1/4 cup of vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher.  I don’t have essential oils to use for the dishwasher yet, but have thought about using a citrus essential oil. 

I’ve been washing several loads of dishes a day using our new homemade dishwashing detergent.  We have been very pleased with the results…..and I have been especially thrilled with the lack of smell and the cleanliness of the dishes.  I also like the simplicity of using few ingredients which also can be used in other areas of my home.  Most of the problems I have read about with homemade dishwashing detergent are results with cloudiness of the dishes.  We haven’t had this problem probably because of the addition of the citric acid which many recipes leave out. 

I have seen other recipes that use washing soda instead of baking soda.  I’m wondering what the difference is and might try a batch next time with washing soda and report my findings. 

9 comments on “Our Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Experiment

  1. So where do you buy citric acid?

  2. This is so cool! I am totally going to try this! Thanks!

  3. I’m in the cloudy dishes camp- it worked out great at first though and I still have been using it in a pinch if we run out of detergent. But once the residue is on there I have the worst time getting it off. I’m willing to try the citric acid- thanks so much for the tip!
    I see Bulkfoods.com carries it:

  4. Woohoo! I am SO excited that you posted this!! Thanks! Can’t wait to try it 🙂

  5. Love the recipe!  I have been looking to make our own!  Great idea.

  6. Funny, just last night I went to Kroger up here in MI and bought vinegar and alcohol to make homemade window cleaner.  I’m going to try the dishwasher det next. Where do you buy citric acid?


    • Great idea.
      Confectioner and cake decorating stores would carry citric acid, but probably more expensive than a health food store and pharmacy.
      As far as the “cloudiness” goes, I have always heard that glassware etches from too much dishwasher detergent. So its not really a film, but etched by abrasiveness. Manufacturers probably add an ingredient that breaks down the cleaning agents to prevent this from happening…the citric acid may be doing the same.

  7. I bought my first little bit of citric acid at the little Amish store in my area.  I needed it for making mozzarella cheese.  There is also a brewing supply place in Nashville that has items like citric acid…so if you have a brewing or wine making shop anywhere near you, you should be able to get it there. 

    Also, Citric acid can be bought online at Herbal Com— 1 lb of citric acid is $3.25!

    I’ve bought herbs and spices from Herbal Com before.  They have a simple website but everything I’ve ordered from them…I’ve been very pleased with–great quality and price. 

    Here’s the link: 

    They do charge a $6.25 flat handling fee so if you can go in with others you can save some money there. 

    If you have any seasonings you’d like to mix…or herbal teas…. I order single herbs and spices and mix my own.  It really does work better when you can split it up with a friend though because the smallest bags they sell are 1 lb! 

  8. I found the Citric Acid at Atwoods, our local farm and ranch chain store in the canning section.  You can also make this smell to your preference by adding pure essential oil. 🙂

Leave a Reply