Can’t find a dishwasher detergent that works?
Have you tried a homemade dishwasher detergent?
When we moved to the hill country, every dishwasher detergent I tried, 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 each stuck in the dispenser unchanged or with a small
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.
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Ever heard of phosphates?
Well, search the Environmental Working Group, and you’ll come up with six pages of studies and reports warning you about the use of phosphates. It 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 for 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 manufacturers switched to citric acid, a natural cleaning agent, to deliver the same great results without harming our waterways or our health!
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If you’re 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 zero waste DIY dishwasher detergent not only works but it’s also easy to make!
Even my husband was shocked at how well this homemade dishwasher detergent without borax actually worked. He’s even made it a few times when our jar on the kitchen counter went empty!
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 of our homemade dishwasher detergent.
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 it work as a 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 than borax when it comes to clean and water softening abilities!
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.
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!
What it is: Hmm, let me think… Ha Ha, salt is a 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.
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 the dishwasher? What about 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 minimal 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:
Find more essential oil and cleaning resources in the Simple Living Library.
Lemon Rosemary Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Ingredients:
1 cup super washing soda
½ cup table salt
1 cup baking soda
1 cup citric acid
½ teaspoon rosemary essential oil
1 teaspoon lemon essential oil
1 medium glass airtight jar
Makes 56 Loads
How to Make Dishwasher Detergent:
In a medium glass bowl, combine one cup of super washing soda, one cup of baking soda, one cup of citric acid, and half a cup of 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.
- 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
- In a medium glass bowl combine one cup of super washing soda, one cup of baking soda, one cup of citric acid, and half a cup of table salt. Stir thoroughly to combine.
- Next, add 1 teaspoon of lemon essential oil and half a teaspoon of rosemary essential oil. Stir again to distribute oils and scoop into an airtight jar.
- Super washing soda is the heavier of the three and will sit on the bottom unless you stir well.
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How To Use Homemade Dishwasher Detergent:
Scoop one tablespoon of this natural dishwashing powder into the detergent compartment per one load of dishes.
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 of ingredients
- Makes glasses sparkling and spot-free
- Zero waste remedy to wash dishes without creating waste
- Provides a fresh, bright scent without chemical fragrances
- Takes 5 minutes or less to make
What about a rinse aid? Is rinse aid necessary in the dishwasher?
Water spots are actually one of the most common complaints of dishwasher use. And this oftentimes has a lot to do with drying. You can open your dishwasher when complete and dry with a 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. You may need to use a rinse aid for those of us with very hard water. I have two natural options for ya.
- 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 in your dishwasher.
- 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.
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. And who doesn’t love that each is a zero-waste hack?
Pin these simple zero waste dishwasher detergent and DIY rinse aid to keep your dishes clean—tag #lifenreflection on Instagram to share your dishwashing tips with us.