Homemade Dishwasher Detergent


Can’t find a dishwasher detergent that works?

Have you tried a homemade dishwasher detergent?

When we moved to hill country every dishwasher detergent I tired, even those with a cocktail of chemicals, didn’t work!

Most powder detergents left food on our dishes or gunky chalk-like powder in the dispenser. And as for the dishwasher pods, I would find stuck in the dispenser unchanged or with a small hole in the lining and all of the dishes still dirty!

When I tried liquid dishwasher soap, I found it to be so messy and it always left glass disgustingly cloudy.

After years, yes years of trying to find a dishwasher detergent that worked I discovered something.

This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience, read full disclosure policy.

What’s not to love? This recipe for an all natural homemade dishwasher detergent is made from simple, non-toxic ingredients that will keep your dishes clean and sparkly.

Ever heard of phosphates?

Well, do a search on the Environmental Working Group and you’ll coming up with six pages of studies and reports warning you about the use of phosphates. Turns out nearly two dozen states have actually banned the use of phosphates in detergents.

Sadly, they weren’t banned for our health concerns but the issues they cause in our waterways. Not, that isn’t a major problem too. Sometimes I wonder what wildlife will be left when my daughter is my age.

Anyhow, phosphates were used to rinse away hard water deposits for crystal clear glass and give you a super clean wash.

But, guess what? Many manufactures switched to citric acid, a natural cleaning agent,  to deliver the same great results without harming our waterways or our health!

Found abundantly in lemons and limes, citric acid is incredibly helpful at removing calcium deposits, hard water stains, lime, rust, and soap scum. I use to get our clothes clean and scrub our skin.  

If your tired of spending money on dishwasher detergents that don’t work – then make one!

You may have noticed there are quite a few dishwasher detergent recipes out there.  I can attest that this DIY dishwasher detergent not only works it’s easy to make!

Even my husband was shocked at how well this homemade dishwasher detergent without borax actually worked. He’s even made a few times when our jar on the kitchen counter went empty!

Related: 6 Cleaners to Stop Buying and Start Making

Related: Green Laundry Tips

How do you make dishwasher detergent without borax?

All you need are few green living staples, that are natural cleaning agents like citric acid. I cover natural cleaning agents in more depth in my book No Nonsense Natural Bathroom Cleaning Methods. But, let me quickly point out the ingredients our homemade dishwasher detergent.

Washing Soda

What it is: Washing soda, also known as sodium carbonate is extremely alkaline. It’s actually a PH regulator that helps break down food and grease – in addition to softening the water.

The Purpose: Not only does work as solvent or water softener to degrease and lift stains, but it also helps to avoid mineral deposits, reduce spots, and leaves your glassware sparkly clean.

And get this – washing soda is 50% more effective then borax when comes to clean and water softening abilities!

Citric Acid

What it is: A natural crystalline acid found in citrus fruits like lemons. It’s antibacterial and antiseptic.

The Purpose: This natural cleaning agent helps to release stuck on food and lift coffee and tea stains off your dishes. Citric acid is additionally effective at keeping mineral deposits off our dishes and out of your dishwasher.

Baking Soda

What it is: Also known as sodium bicarbonate, baking soda is a naturally occurring substance. Best known for its use as a scoring agent and odor absorber.

The Purpose: I include it in homemade dishwasher detergent to fight against grime, grease, and odors. This clean agent alone is a must have for your cleaning arsenal!

Table Salt

What it is: Hmm, let me think… Ha Ha, salt it mineral composed primarily of sodium chloride. It’s either mined from mineral halite and rock salt or evaporated from seawater.

The Purpose: Salt softens the water, including hard water deposits and reduces spotting on glassware.  

Essential Oils

What it is: Antibacterial and antimicrobial in nature, essential oils for cleaning cut through grease for cleaner dishes.

The Purpose: Outside of their cleaning power, essential oils add a natural, non-toxic scent keeping your dishwasher smelling clean.

You might be wondering can you put essential oils in dishwasher? What the plastic parts of the dishwasher? First off dishwashers have little plastic these days are normally stainless inside and out.

But, if we’re talking about a few teaspoons of essential oil mixed into cups of other ingredients. Then the very small amount in the mixture is scooped into ONE tablespoon and added to the dishwasher that will be diluted into several GALLONS of water… yeah, we’re good. It’s safe to include essential oils!

Some of my favorites to use for essential oil dishwasher detergent are:

  • tangerine
  • lemon
  • lime
  • orange
  • rosemary
  • grapefruit
  • eucalyptus
  • lavender
If your tired of spending money on dishwasher detergents that don’t work - then make one with this easy homemade dishwasher detergent recipe!

Lemon Rosemary Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Ingredients:

1 cup super washing soda

1 cup baking soda

1 cup citric acid

½ cup table salt

1 teaspoon lemon essential oil

½ teaspoon rosemary essential oil

1 medium glass airtight jar

Makes 56 Loads

How to Make Dishwasher Detergent:

In medium glass bowl combine one cup super washing soda, one cup baking soda, one cup citric acid, and half a cup table salt. Stir thoroughly to combine. Super washing soda is the heavier of the three and will sit on the bottom unless you stir well.

Next, add 1 teaspoon of lemon essential oil and half a teaspoon of rosemary essential oil (or combination of essential oils recommended above). Stir again to distribute oils and scoop into an airtight jar.

You May Also Like: Methods to Clean the Microwave and Oven

You May Also Like: Heavy Duty DIY Natural Kitchen Cleaner

How To Use Homemade Dishwasher Detergent:

Scoop one tablespoon of this natural dishwashing powder into the detergent compartment per one load of dishes.

lifenreflection resource library
    Powered By ConvertKit

    What about a rinse aid? Is rinse aid necessary in dishwasher?

    Water spots are actually one of most common complaints of dishwasher uses. And this often times has a lot to do with drying. You can open your dishwasher when complete and dry by towel (the most energy saving method).

    Or you can set the dishes for a drying cycle at the end to avoid water spots.

    On the other hand cloudiness in glassware is caused by hard water deposits. For those of use with very hard water like whiskey to beer, you may need to use a rinse aid. I’ve two natural options for ya.

    1. Using Vinegar as a Rinse Aid: Place a small glass bowl on the top rack and fill with a tablespoon or two of vinegar. This will knock out cloudiness and avoid damaging rubber components your dishwasher.
    2. Make a DIY Rinse Aid: 3% Hydrogen peroxide is a very weak acid and safe to use in the rinse aid compartment of your dishwasher. I like to add 10 to 15 drops of essential oil such as lemon or lavender to one cup of hydrogen peroxide. Store in a handy glass, airtight bottle and fill the rinse aid compartment once every 30 days.

    Generally, if you’re not experiencing cloudy glassware or seeing water spots then you can totally skip it.

    If your tired of spending money on dishwasher detergents that don’t work - then make one with this easy homemade dishwasher detergent recipe!

    Benefits of Homemade Dishwasher Detergent:

    • Use of natural ingredients, means you don’t need worry chemical residue on your dishes
    • Inexpensive compared to commercial dishwasher detergents
    • Cuts through grease and stuck-on food
    • Just as or in my experience more effective than commercial dishwasher detergents
    • Removes stains like coffee and tea from dishes
    • Can be made with only a handful ingredients
    • Makes glasses sparkling and spot free
    • Provides a fresh, bright scent without chemical fragrances
    • Takes 5 minutes or less to make
    Hard water deposits and grease are no problem for this easy homemade dishwasher detergent and DIY rinse aid. Get our recipe now!

    What’s not to love

    This recipe for an all natural homemade dishwasher detergent is made from simple, non-toxic ingredients that will keep your dishes clean and sparkly. Hard water deposits and grease are no problem for this easy dishwasher detergent and DIY rinse aid.




    1. Reply


      Hi Kristy, ok I made and tried your recipe for homemade dishwasher detergent today….I was very impressed with the results everything came out sparkling clean ( except the cups ) we are big tea drinkers here and tea stains didn’t come out at all, there could be a couple reasons that I’ll run by you,
      1. We have a fair amount of chlorine in our water 🙁 maybe that is the problem?
      2. Also I made my own washing soda could it be that?
      3. I didn’t add a rinse aid, would that help?
      There you have it….as I said I really like your recipe so hopefully I can overcome the tea stain problem.
      Thank you so much for the dishwasher detergent recipe, greatly appreciate it.
      Hugs Deb.

      • Reply


        Debbie I am big tea drinker too and husband has a cup or two of coffee every day. We haven’t experienced any issues with coffee or tea stains using this dishwasher detergent. I don’t know why chlorine would have anything to do with that and we do buy or washing soda. I can big box here in the states to last me months for 3 bucks. I do use the DIY rinse aid included at the bottom of that recipe in case you didn’t see it. I would start with rinse aid and see that solves it.

    2. Reply


      Thank you Kristy for getting back to me so quickly on this , yes I’ll give your DIY rinse aid a try and see if that helps, I did notice your recipe for it at the bottom of the page thank you!!
      By the way I’m having great results with your diy clothes washing Recipe.. again my dear friend thank you!!!!

      • Reply


        Your most welcome, glad to hear you’ll loving my laundry soap recipe, we love it too!

    3. Reply

      Iris Ballard

      I have good luck cleaning with baking soda in the tea stained cups. I just pour some into the cup and wipe with a wet rag. Might give that a try.

      • Reply


        Iris, that is a great tip!! Thank you for sharing, simple and nontoxic!

    4. Reply


      I made this yesterday and it worked perfectly. I made mine without the essential oils this time, but might add them today. The dishes were sparkling clean, glasses also. Super happy! It’s good for us, good for the environment and for the wallet 🙂 I do have one question though: does it make a difference if you use table salt or kosher? I used kosher because of the bigger grains, but table salt would be cheaper, just not sure if it makes a difference? Thank you for sharing.

      • Reply


        Great to hear Helen!! I would recommend table salt or fine grain kosher salt. You want to keep it the same consistency as dishwasher powder, so it works well with the way our dishwashers are designed. We don’t cook or season with table salt, I just buy for my cleaning recipes. And you’re right it’s cheap!

    5. Reply


      Hi Kristy, I have found out the problem with my diy dishwasher detergent, ( it’s the homemade washing soda that I had made myself) .
      I had also made my own washing soda for the diy laundry detergent.
      Conclusion…No , homemade soda washing does not work for some strange reason,so I will be buying mine from now on!
      Also thank you Iris Ballard for your help on the tea stain much appreciated!!

      • Reply


        Debbie, thank you for keeping me updated. If asks about homemade washing soda, I can tell them your story. We are still using this tried and true recipe to wash our dishes and I’m happy it will be working better for you now too!

    6. Reply

      Kristal Gilstrap

      Hi Kristy, I’m on my second batch of this detergent now and I love it all except it clumps terribly after it sits for a day or two. Do you have any suggestions to combat this?

      • Reply


        Kristal, I’ve only had one batch clump and that was due to my swing top jar not being sealed, allowing moisture in. You might be getting moisture in it too. Is your container airtight? Or did the essential oils not get mixed in well and are causing it to clump? Or is someone getting water in it when the scoop some out for the dishwasher? Or is it sitting in a humid, hot, or wet environment?

    7. Reply


      Hi Kristy , it been a while since we have chatted , hope everything is going well for you and yours..
      Now let’s talk about hand washing dishes , I was wondering if you or anyone on this site has a good recipe , I do like suds ( lot’s of suds ) in my water lol!!
      Also wondering if I could use ( Dr. Bronner’s Sal Suds ) in a recipe for hand washing dishes or would it be to harsh on the hands?
      I hope to get some feedback on this .
      Many thanks,

      • Reply


        Hey Debbie, great to hear from you again! I’ve been filling my refillable glass pump bottle I got at the Grove Collab for dishwashing soap with half Sal Suds and half liquid eucalyptus Castile soap. It’s been working well for us. Sometimes I add a few drops lemon or lavender essential oil to it as well. I love to hear your feedback if you try it.