Homemade Dishwasher Detergent


Dishwashers are more economical than traditional hand washing of dishes but commercially made dishwasher tablets and packets are a different matter altogether. Many commercial products can ring in at 40 to 50 cents per load, or even higher depending on the type you choose, but there is a more economical way. DIY dishwasher detergents can cost you as little as 2 cents per load of dishes and over the course of a year that can really add up.

Use of homemade dishwasher detergent not only lowers the overall cost of the product, but also decreases the amount of waste going into landfills or recycling centers. The finished dishwasher detergent recipe can be stored in jars, you were just going to toss into the recycling anyway, and this will reduce the transportation and other costs associated with the shipment of ready-made products.

As this dishwasher detergent will use more environmentally friendly products, skips out on bleach and chemicals to scent the product it is a better choice for the environment all around. If you really enjoy the scented aspects of your current detergent, simply drop in a few drops of your favorite essential oil and you can customize it to your preference.

How to make dishwasher detergent?

Here are a few recipes with various results, number 1 being the best of the lot.

Recipe #1

  • 1 cup borax
  • 5 packets unsweetened lemonade mix (Kool-Aid)
  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • 1 cup washing soda

Mix the ingredients together and store in a sealed container such as an old glass jar or yogurt container. This recipe may seem a little strange due to the drink powder but as crazy as it sounds, it works. This recipe comes in at about 2 cents per load making it also the cheapest. No additional scent needs to be added as the drink powder will give you that lemon fresh scent enjoyed by dishwashers around the world.

Recipe #2

  • ½ cup kosher salt
  • ½ cup citric acid
  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda

This recipe performs nearly as well as the first recipe but was not quite as good for sticky stuff like removing dried on oatmeal. There isn’t a huge difference between the two but #1 worked a bit better. Due to the higher cost of citric acid, this recipe comes in at about 8 cents per load.

Recipe #3

  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • Vinegar

For this recipe, mix the dry ingredient and store in a well-sealed container. Add vinegar to the rinse agent compartment to replace the rinse action provided by chemicals designed for this. It didn’t quite work as well as the first two recipes and comes in at about 3 cents per load with slightly foggier results.

Detergent Ingredients and Cost

While these three recipes may not have created fantastically sparkling clean dishes without a water spot or speck on them, overall they competed very well with commercially available products at a fraction of the cost both environmentally and financially. For best results, make sure your dishwasher’s particle filter is cleaned out regularly to remove all those bits of stuck on food which end up getting launched throughout the inside of your dishwasher during its operation.

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