Making homemade dishwasher detergent is actually much easier than you think. Plus, it’s a great way to save some money while making it with good, quality ingredients! This recipe is a great addition to make a more natural home, while only using five ingredients that you may already in your home.
Why make your own dishwasher detergent?
Sometimes, it’s easier to make things ourselves than to find a good quality product that works from the store. I love making so many of our products at home because it’s easy, saves us money and I can control the ingredients in our products. Once I started reading ingredient labels, it became harder (and often times more expensive) to buy products that worked with more natural ingredients in them.
If you are struggling to find good quality products with clean ingredients without harmful chemicals, then I would encourage you to make some of your own products as well. This dishwasher detergent recipe is one of many that I make around our home and for personal use. Some of my favorites recipes are for homemade cleaning products, like this lemon vinegar spray and homemade soft scrub.
Interested in making some of your own household items at home? You can grab my 5 FREE Household and Cleaning Recipes here.
Dishwasher powder vs tablets
Dishwasher powder is the loose form of the detergent compared to the tablets which are pressed into a shape or mold. I personally find it easier to make the loose powder form, instead of becoming frustrated by the shapes not staying or the tablets not coming out of the mold. If you are looking for the pretty tablets, you can use this recipe and work quickly to form them into tablets.
The dishwasher detergent natural ingredient list
Baking soda is a great cleaner also works to neutralize odors. It is also very gentle while working to scrub away any food and grime on your dishes. I love using baking soda in so many DIY recipes, you will want to make sure to grab the large bag when you go the grocery store!
Citric acid breaks down hard water and helps the rest of the detergent work better! Even if you don’t have hard water, you will want to keep the citric acid in the recipe (although you could try using a little less).
Washing soda is different that regular baking soda. It has a base rating of 11 compared to baking soda which has a rating of 8 on the ph scale. Since washing soda has a higher rating, it makes it even better at degreasing and deep cleaning clothes. Which is why I add it to my homemade laundry booster recipe too. I like to buy washing soda from amazon on subscription, since then I save a little extra money and it comes right to my front door.
Thieves cleaner concentrate
Thieves cleaner is a plant based and naturally derived concentrate. It doesn’t contain any harsh ingredients, while cleaning so well! I use Thieves cleaner all around our house for cleaning kitchen countertops, appliances, windows, bathrooms, dusting and more. Since it’s a concentrate, you can decide how much you want to use in any of your DIY recipes. For most recipes, I use 1/2 – 2 capfuls of Thieves cleaner and can easily adjust as needed.
Lemon essential oil
Lemon essential oil is so good in this recipe and really any cleaning recipe. It has natural degreasing properties, odor neutralizer and amazing at removing at stick messes! Lemon essential oil is a staple in both my cleaning and laundry cabinets. Essential oils are very concentrated, so a little goes a long way. A 15ml bottle has about 300 drops, but you only need 30 drops in this dishwasher detergent recipe.
Making the DIY dishwasher detergent
This dishwasher detergent recipe is very simple, but it does require a little bit of time and planning. Since we are making a powder, the ingredients are mixed together and then needs to dry completely which can take 12-24 hours.
First, you need to add the 2 cups of baking soda, 1/2 cup of washing soda and 1/2 cup of citric acid to a glass or stainless steel bowl/pan. I find that the pan is nice for when it comes time to dry out the mixture. Mix these three ingredients together.
Then add the 20-30 drops of lemon essential oil and 2 capfuls of thieves cleaner. The mixture may bubble slightly, which is normal. Mix well to combine since this is your one chance to make sure all of the ingredients are well distributed and combined before it dries into a powder.
After mixing, let the mixture sit on the counter to dry. You will want to stir the dishwasher solution every 30 minutes to an hour for the first 2 hours if possible. This will ensure that nothing sticks together and easily breaks apart into the powder consistency. If it does get stuck together into larger clumps, use a measuring cup to break them apart.
You can continue stirring every so often until the dishwasher detergent is dried out and becomes like a powder. I like to leave mine on the counter overnight to ensure if it dry before storing it in it’s glass storage jar.
how to make dishwasher detergent
- 2 cups baking soda
- 1/2 cup washing soda
- 1/2 cup citric acid
- 2 capfuls thieves cleaner
- 20-30 drops lemon essential oil
- Add 2 cups baking soda, 1/2 cup washing soda, 1/2 cup citric acid to glass or stainless steel bowl/pan. Stir together.
- Add 2 capfuls thieves cleaner and 20-30 drops of lemon essential oil to the mixture. Stir well to ensure distributed evenly.
- Leave dishwasher powder on counter to dry. Stir every 30 minutes to an hour for the first few hours to make sure the mixture doesn't stick together.
- Continue to stir powder every few hours as needed. Press down any clumps with measuring cup. Leave on counter for 12-24 hours (or overnight) or until completely dry.
- Once the dishwasher powder is dry, place in glass storage jar with a seal.
How much dishwasher detergent do you use?
This is one of the great things about dishwasher powder. You get to use how much you need for your dishwasher, how full your dishwasher is or how dirty your dishes are. I typically add the dishwasher detergent powder up the line in my dishwasher soap compartment. Too much and it won’t close and could leave white residue on your dishes. Too little and your dishes might not come out clean.
Does homemade dishwasher detergent work with hard water?
Yes, it absolutely does! We have well water at our house, so I know the feeling of having issues with harder water. I actually had to try a few different versions of the recipe before I got this one. And this one works so so good! The citric acid really helps break down the hard water. If you don’t have hard water, this dishwasher detergent recipe can still work for you.
Should you use a rinse aid with a DIY dishwasher detergent?
Most likely, yes. I find that the glasses and dishes look a little shiner and clearer when adding a rinse aid. However, finding a rinse aid without harsh ingredients can be challenging. You can use some vinegar as a rinse aid for a natural way to shine up your dishes. However, you might find that you don’t need a rinse aid at all. This dishwasher powder has citric acid in it, and that is one of the active ingredients in most rinse aids. Test it out for yourself and see what works best!
How do you store your DIY dishwasher detergent?
I store my dishwasher detergent in glass jar with a tight seal. Once the dishwasher powder is completely dry, you can add it to your glass jar. When using the dishwasher detergent, I simply scoop out the powder into the dishwasher spot up to the fill line and re-store the container. This recipe lasts several months in our house, and I haven’t had any issues with storing it this way.
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