Experiment in Homemade: Dishwashing Detergent


It was time to buy more dishwashing detergent, and this is one purchase I dread. I hate spending over $7 on a decent-sized bottle of Cascade, and my tries at using a cheaper brand have left my dishes anything but clean. 

Then the thought crossed my mind that since I had such good luck with homemade laundry soap, perhaps I could create my own dishwashing detergent as well.  Following my path from last time, I googled “homemade dishwashing detergent recipe,” and I happened to come across the same blog that I came across last time. 

If you’re interested in trying this for yourself, he has some great detailed instructions, so I’d definitely recommend going there.  Here’s what I did.  I started out gathering the ingredients.  The borax and washing soda I still had from my homemade laundry detergent, so all I had to buy was citric acid and kosher salt.

He suggested buying a 5-lb. container of citric acid online for $27, but I decided since I didn’t know if this would work for me, I’d try a smaller container first. Then I might invest in bulk.  I got the citric acid in the canning aisle of Wal-Mart for $2.97. This would last me 2 batches.  I bought the kosher salt in the spice aisle for $2.14.  This would last me 12 batches unless I use some for cooking.  The vinegar I already had on hand. I use that for fabric softener, but that’s for another post. 

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The recipe called for combining 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda, 1/2 cup citric acid, and 1/2 cup kosher salt.  As I did with my laundry detergent, I put it in an empty yogurt container.  The directions said to put the lid on and shake to mix the ingredients, but I found that mine was leaking out of the container somewhat. I so I ended up mixing it with the handle of a wooden spoon.


Next, the directions said to fill the rinse aid with vinegar (not pictured), and then add 1 tablespoon of the mixture to the dishwasher.


The result?

Savings Breakdown:

Cascade 9.5 lbs =$7.50 = will last me 10 weeks
$0.75 per week

Homemade Detergent: $2.49
Washing Soda: $3.24 for 55 ounces, or 6.88 cups = $0.47 per cup
Borax: $3.38 for 76 ounces, or 9.5 cups = $0.36 per cup
Citric Acid: $2.97 for 7.5 ounces = $1.49 per 1/2 cup
Kosher Salt: $2.14 for 48 ounces = $0.17 per 1/2 cup
$2.49 for 48 loads = $0.05 per load at 5 loads per week = $0.25 per week

Rinse Agent:
Finish Jet-Dry Rinse Agent 4.22 ounce solution – $3.99 – 1 fill = $3.99 per fill
Vinegar as a Rinse Agent 1 gallon solution – $1.79 – 1 fill = $0.06 per fill


The caking issue I read about is a very real problem.  I stirred it for two days and but it still ended up caking on me.  Saving $0.50 per week isn’t worth that headache for me right now.  Also, the glasses were cloudier than normal, although the washing itself was very good.  I didn’t have food remaining on the dishes as I expected. 

If I could find another easy recipe that wouldn’t have such an issue with caking, and wouldn’t leave so much cloudiness behind, I’d try it again, but for now, I’ll stick with Cascade.

2 thoughts on “Experiment in Homemade: Dishwashing Detergent

  1. I too have tried a recipe similar to yours and can’t get around the caking issue. I recently pinned this recipe by onegoodthingbyjillie.com. I’m going to try it soon! Only 3 ingredients —
    1 teaspoon oxygen bleach (I bought a 5 lb bucket of SUN brand at the Dollar store for about $3)
    1/2 teaspoon Dawn dish soap
    1/2 cup white vinegar (poured into a bowl or cup on the top rack of the machine)

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