Make Your Own Natural Dishwasher/Scouring Powder

Photo credit: 
Kevin McShane on flickr
An easy and cheap natural cleaning product

For some time now I've been experimenting with making my own dishwasher powder. I've tinkered with the basic formula, even at one point adding Kool-Aid to it (for the citric acid--it turned out to be a crucial step in figuring the formula out). In further experimentation I've discovered it makes a decent no-scratch scouring powder as well, more like Bon Ami than Comet.

What I've discovered is that it doesn't work as well as some of the commercial detergents; however I have found that it works just as well as the major " green alternative" dishwasher detergents, if not a little better, and at a fraction of the cost. If you don't like scraping your dishes and rinsing them off, you won't like homemade powder; I found you had to be diligent about getting all food particles off your dishes because the dishwasher powder will not do it for you. Of course, many dishwashers require you to do this anyway, but oftentimes people are lazy. Like, uh, me. But this is so much easier on the environment and the pocketbook it's worth taking the time to properly prepare the dishes I've found.

The formula
Here, after much experimenting, is the formula for dishwashing powder.

In a plastic container with a firmly fitting lid, mix:
1 cup borax (20-Mule-Team Borax, available in any supermarket)
1 cup baking soda
1/4 cup salt
1/4 cup citric acid (available in brewing stores among other places--if you haven't tracked it down yet but must try this formula, use two packets of Lemonade-Flavored Kool-Aid, ONLY lemon, or you'll dye your dishwasher! and ONLY unsweetened Kool-Aid!)
30 drops citrus essential oil--lemon, grapefruit, orange, tangerine, or a mixture

Put all of it in the container, shake it up.

To use, put a tablespoon or so into each cup of your dishwasher. I've found I no longer have to use the scrubbing cycle but can get by fine with the short cycle, thus saving even more money. On average, it looks like this is about 8 cents a load compared with Cascade at 22 cents a load. Compare it with EcoVer or Seventh Generation and it's a steal. I have also started putting some of this in a shaker canister--the one I have we got at a restaurant supply, it's aluminum and was made for popcorn salt. I use it to clean my sink and anything else that I'd normally use Bon Ami on. Works great, and the essential oil makes it smell fantastic.

If you experiment with this, add to the comments on this page, I'd love to know what your experiences are.

By the way: These are some of the best guides available if you want to make your own cleaners and such:


Guest's picture

Our dog likes our plates clean, so no problem getting the food off the plates.

Cheryl S's picture

Lavender essential oil is also antibacterial and "edible" though I wouldn't eat right out of the bottle. There is lavender honey, lavender vinegar, etc. Smells great, too! Citrus essential oils are also anti-bacterial. I mix lavender, tea tree & lemon in my all-natural deodorant and it works fabulously!

I am a soapmaker and currently making a test batch of laundry soap. I know eucalyptus essential oil removes grease, has antibacterial properties and is used in cough drops, etc. My test laundry soap batch is unscented -- the next batch will include Eucalyptus EO for added de-greasers. I am considering testing a modification of this formula with the dishwasher, too. I already use vinegar in the rinse cycle.

This thread has been very helpful. Great site, thanks!!

Guest's picture

There's an odd thing about your recipe--the baking soda (alkali) and citric acid (acid) will react with each other before they do anything to the dishes. They will form a salt (not table salt, but another type), which is chemically neutral. (I'm not entirely sure what the salt is doing is the recipe, anyway, unless it is just to bulk up the powder so that when you fill those little cups you are using the right amount.) I would think that experimentation with one or the other (baking soda or citric acid) would be helpful, and the best recipe would depend on what's in your water--is it hard, is it soft?

Citric acid is often found in the grocery store with the canning supplies. I have also heard that you can get it from the pharmacy, but haven't tried. I have also bought it from Amazon.

The citrus essential oil is a powerful grease remover, as well as smelling wonderful, except for those of us who are allergic. :(

Citric acid could also be used in the rinse cycle in place of vinegar, and it smells better (not at all). I'm not sure of the amount, but it wouldn't take much.


David Emory's picture

Very good recipe does work better than the natural dishwasher powder that I was using. My only problem is the Asorbic Acid seems to cost more than the dishwasher powder I am buying at the grocery store. 1 ounce is $2.45 at the local brewer supplier. Isn't Asorbic Acid and Citric acid the same thing. I may have to stick to the Kool Aid.

Cat's picture

Hi! this recipe doesn't work very well for us. It leaves a white dust on everything and it doesn't clean very well. Anybody else had that problem? What could I do to prevent that from happening?

Radmon's picture

This is all very interesting! I'd love to start making my own detergents and greening my own kitchen (any beyond...)

My most pressing question is this: once I do make the transition, how do you suggest disposing of the old cleaning products? I'm not sure if kitchens or shelters would accept half-used containers of dishwashing detergent, and I think throwing it away defeats the purpose.

Thanks for any suggestions.

Guest's picture

How safe is this miture for septic systems?

Guest's picture

I've just mixed this up and I'm looking forward to seeing the results... two questions though:
1. Are the essential oils actually essential to the recipe? Those 30 drops are just included for the psychological feeling that your dishes are clean when you sniff them, correct?
2. What is the purpose of the salt? I've seen lots of recipes with Borax and baking soda (although some use washing soda instead). Salt isn't usually included, so I was curious about its role. Thanks!

Lynn's picture

Tea tree oil and peppermint oil. Has the added benefit of being anti-microbial.

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Barb M.'s picture

Hey! I just found this site and this post! I realize it is an older post, but making a homemade dishwasher gel is a concern of mine also. I am working on a recipe now, and am in the final stages of testing. I should know if it works soon. I will post the recipe if all goes well.

momma27cats's picture

Hi all! We use to use Cascade, etc.--expensive! Now, per we put baking soda in those two little cups and pour a little bleach over it! The dishes come out sanitized and super clean! PS You all won't believe all the things baking soda (and vinegar) can do that will save you money!!

silverbear's picture

I used tea tree oil. I cannot believe how well it cleaned the bathtub and sink! Wow!!!

Irish Mom's picture

I used Lemi-Shine instead of the lemonade packet and it works wonderfully!! My glasses sparkle and everything is so so clean. I never thought to use it to clean my sink, though. Thats a great idea, as I just used the last of my soft scrub and vowed to buy no more. Thanks so much!!

Mrs. Gunning's picture

I KNEW I had seen this recipe here, and for the longest time, I could not find it again! All the others I have found are pretty much borax and baking soda... this one really interests me!
Thank you so much for posting this. Now I am on the hunt for more recipes here. :)

Guest's picture

Thanks for this recipe! you know how hard it is to find an alternative to the 1 part soda, 1 part borax solution? I tried your concoction and it worked like a charm. This was a pleasant surprise after several failures, including a bout with one website's suggestion of using soda and dishwashing soap. Even the small amount in the recipe caused a flood of suds in the kitchen. I honestly thought that stuff only happened in the movies...

Sandy Davis's picture

Have been using it without the oil, but find that even putting it into the tight-lidded container, it clumps. It's rather "sticky". Is this normal? It doesn't hurt anything, but just a little trickier to use than a free-flowing powder. We're in North Carolina and have soft water too, but I use two tablespoons in each cup (I also like to use vinegar as the rinse agent.)

geoff's picture

Hi, we were looking for an environmentally friendly and safe product to use in our dishwasher. We googled and got you.
As a result we checked out the ingredients you recommend and found out that Borax is toxic. See, for more info.
Otherwise good work.

Amanda May's picture

Has anyone tried Oil of Oregano instead of Tea Tree Oil? Oregano is also an antiseptic and, from what I've read about it, is pretty versatile and powerful. I don't have a diswasher, but this sounds like it might work, especially for those who don't like the Tea Tree smell.

cjsmom44's picture

My recipe the following...
a 50/50 mix of Borax and Baking Soda...and in your rinse dispenser put vinegar in...
My dishes have never been so clean and shiny!
The vinegar rinse seems to rinse any residue away, because without the vinegar the dishes seem coated or powdery

Mad Scientist's picture

Thanks so much for posting this recipe. I've been making it using 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup washing soda rather than 1 cup baking soda, and it does an *excellent* job cleaning my dishes... and I'm not a fan of scraping and rinsing, so I don't! The one and only failing is that it leaves my glasses ever so faintly fogged, exactly the same as most of the commercial and green cleaners do. (Actually, the commercial cleaners mostly leave my glassware much more foggy than your formula does.)

The only cleaner I've found that leaves my glassware crystal clear is the powdered/cubed Electrasol with the Jet Dry power ball, which no doubt has a long list of toxic chemicals. I'm using white vinegar in the rinse compartment, and I'm wondering if there's any way to "beef up" the vinegar to leave glasses more clear. Has anyone tried making a better natural "Jet Dry" formula with added citric acid or peroxide or alcohol or...??

aziner's picture

I have found that by sprinkling a tablespoon of baking soda over the dishes on the lower rack, I can use 1/4 of the recommended amount of Cascade liqued, and I don't need JetDri at all - nothing ever spots, and even plastic tupperware gets squeaky clean.

It's not as elaborate as your recipe, which I will try tomorrow, but it's worked for me for years.

Also, Borax can be used to treat cloth to prevent it from being flammable --useful if you have curtains or bedding in a bedroom. It must be re-treated when it is washed.

M. Daily's picture

I love this recipe, and I have not had spots on my dishes. However, I did make sure not to use just any salt. Make sure that you use Pickling Salt since it is pure and does not contain any type of additives or preservatives. This could be one reason why so many have spots or haze on their dishes. All other salts contain anti caking agents as well as other "stuff" to help protect the other "stuff". The Canning and Pickling is pure with nothing added therefore it is clear and clear rinsing. Happy washing!!

PS. Any Kool Aid will do if it is the "Clear" kind or "Invisible". Those do not contain dyes of any kind, unlike all the other flavors including Lemon.

lannwashburn's picture

in my household, hubby is the homemaker while I work. he hates powder dishwasher soap, and will only use the gel kind. does anyone have a recipe for that?

Anhata's picture

we didn't like the results we were getting with this powder all by itself, so we've started mixing our dishwasher powder 1 part homemade powder (the recipe above) and 1 part Ecover dishwasher powder (or whatever eco-friendly powder is cheapest/on sale--it's nearly always Ecover, tho).

We spend waaaaay less on commercial dishwasher powder by "stretching" it this way and get squeaky clean dishes.

I agree that it works great as a non-scratch general cleaner, cleans up our porcelain sink beautifully and rinses clean super quick.

Your Family's General Store, Naturally

LisaW's picture

I stumbled across this recipe a few weeks ago & since I had most of the ingrediants on hand anyway (borax & 3lbs of baking soda that have been sitting unopened in my pantry for a couple years-lol), I decided to give it a try. I found a good deal on the citric acid (5lbs for $11 @ They were a little slow with shipping, but its the holidays, so I'm not complaining). I made up a batch exactly as written & used uniodized salt (or pickling salt, I think it is called?). Anyway, worked like a charm. My dh was completely skeptical, until we started pulling the clean dishes out of the machine. We are not big rinsers (I do so more than him); but it got everything off. We usually use electrasol; not into the environmentally friendly detergents. I don't know if our water is hard or not...I guess not since I've never heard anyone in our area say it was. Also, no filmy white powder or spots. I've been using 1T per load. Since I had most of the items on hand, it worked out to about 1 cent per load. Thanks again.

One Little Star's picture

If you're going to rinse all the food clean off your plates first, then why would you even need to put them in the dishwasher??????

Guest's picture

The dishwasher powder works wonderfully. Better than the cheap commercial kind. And every bit as good as Cascade. Thanks so much. Elizabeth

Lynn's picture

I wasn't using a great deal of water or time rinsing them off. Usually I just scraped the plate well the minute we were done with it and then took a wet, cold dishcloth to wipe the residual off before I put it in the dishwasher. Never even ran water over it.

And it really depends on the dishwasher. The modern ones will take a lot of food off the plates if not all, even WITHOUT dish soap. My old dishwasher--at least 20 years old if not older--would not.

Right now I don't have a dishwasher. We just got tired of the roll-around and got rid of it, and right now I do the dishes by hand.* Some day in the next five years we have plans to remodel the kitchen, and when that day comes we'll be putting in a modern, under-the-counter, water-saving dishwasher. yippee!

*Though! See this for progress on that front!

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Guest's picture

If you've got the old stuff, why not just use up the rest of the old cleaning supplies as you normally would? As you say, throwing it away is needlessly wasteful.

Lynn's picture

What kind of water do you have? We have soft water here in Portland where I formulated this. You might need more salt. Fiddle with it. And also, as I said in the article, you can't leave food on the plates; it's just not that kind of cleaner, but then, most of the natural dishwasher powders won't dissolve the food.

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Anhata's picture

We had a irridescent film on all the glassware. It scrubbed off by hand with a scouring pad but the dishwasher just put it back on.

I wasn't using salt, though, just the baking soda and borax. I've started doing 1 c. borax, 1 c. soda, and 1 c. Ecover dishwashing powder. It works beautifully. No more film, sparkling dishes, easy to make and easy on the checkbook.

Are you using a rinse-aid as well? Plain old vinegar in the rinse-well of the dishwasher is what I sometimes do.

If your water is medium- to very-hard you may need to either use more powder in the dispenser or add more salt or citric acid to the mix to soften the water. Citric acid, aka, sodium citrate, is among many other things, a water conditioner or softener.

If there's not a brew shop near you, you can get some in a pinch in the canning section of your grocery store. It's called "Fruit-Fresh(R)"--what you sprinkle on your apples to keep them from browning. It's mostly citric acid. That'll get you by for one batch or so until you can land a source. You can buy online at or, no less.

Keep trying, you'll hack it!

Your Family's General Store, Naturally

Lynn's picture

The essential oils actually have anti-bacterial properties in addition to smelling good. :) The salt seems to help get things clean; I'm sure there is a chemical reason for it, but all I know is, when you leave it out things don't get as clean.

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Lynn's picture

Exciting! I'm looking forward to trying your recipe.

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Mrs. Gunning's picture

Try filling to the lines or dispenser(s) with the liquid laundry soap recipe that can be found online - works great!
Use vinegar in rinse dispenser. :)

Lynn's picture

I don't know.

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Lynn's picture

Yeah, it can get clumpy. You can put a dessicant packet in with it--you can usually find them inside vitamin jars, etc.

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Lynn's picture

I've tried it myself and liked it.

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Guest's picture

I am on a search for dish liquid for hand washing...but not finding much...I have read my box of Borax but it just has a picture of dishes no instructions...a powder would be fine too....I use home made laundry detergent made from Ivory, Borax, and washing soda and water...about to try that if I can't find anything els

Lynn's picture

But leaving the salt out makes the powder less effective. I heartily encourage people to experiment with this recipe; I sure did. The recipe as stated works well in Portland, Oregon, which has soft water.

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Lynn's picture

"Toxic is as toxic does." Here's exactly what Wikipedia has to say:

Boric acid, sodium borate, and sodium perborate are estimated to have a fatal dose from 0.1 to 0.5g/kg.[5] These substances are toxic to all cells, and have a slow excretion rate through the kidneys. Kidney toxicity is the greatest, with liver fatty degeneration, cerebral edema, and gastroenteritis. Boric acid solutions used as an eye wash or on abraded skin are known to be especially toxic to infants, especially after repeated use due to its slow elimination rate.

Example: a 40-lb child is 18.1 kg, which means a fatal dose of borax would be between 1.81 and 9.5 g. That means that child would have to consume about a half-teaspoon to two teaspoons of straight, non-dilute borax, assuming a kid would eat something that nasty-tasting (keeping in mind that as nasty as it is, kids are weird). Of course, you don't keep household cleaners--any household cleaners, including baking soda--where your kid could reach them, right? RIGHT? And it would take a lot less, say, bleach, to severely injure or kill a child that size with a lot greater harm to the environment in general.

If you go to, you'll see that borax is considered neither acutely toxic nor a likely carcinogen. That website is run by the Pesticide Action Network North America, which keeps an exhaustive database of environmental toxins.

Bottom line: Borax is a problem if you repeatedly expose someone, especially small someones, *directly* to it, usually as a strong solution applied to the skin or eyes. Otherwise, washing dishes and clothes with it is not a big deal; it rinses away and doesn't compromise the environment.

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Anhata's picture

15 drops each of Tea Tree and peppermint oil? If not, what's a good ratio? I personally don't like the smell of Tea Tree all that much. Does the peppermint balance that smell out?

I'm curious about the question of how to make this into a gel. What kind of liquid that's cheap could effectively dissolve the ingredients and suspend them that would also safely clean dishes and not add yucky stuff to the sewers? Other than glycerin, I have no idea.


All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by frost. (LOTR)

Lynn's picture

Hata, I sit there and shake the dang bottle till I like the smell. :) Probably about ten each to be truthful. Next time I need a batch I'll make it while you're here and you can count. ;)

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Mrs. Gunning's picture

You can always try this:
But it doesn't suds up. It does clean very well, though!
Or, try using something similar to Dr. Bronner's... maybe make your own!
I LOVE this powder recipe for the dishwasher!!

Lynn's picture

But it won't suds. I assume you're talking about my dishwasher recipe.

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

Anhata's picture

Are you looking for a homemade dishwashing liquid because it'd be cheaper, or because it'd be non toxic/less chemicals, or some other reason?

I ask because I looked and looked and couldn't find any recipes for homemade handwashing liquid. Then I found out that castille soap, which you can buy cheaply in bulk, and Crystal White, also very very cheap, are both non toxic/less chemicals/phosphate free/biodegradable dishwashing liquids.

I mostly use Crystal White for the kitchen now and castille soap to refill the liquid soap dispensers in the bathrooms. I have the foaming pumps so a half an inch of soap goes in the bottle, fill the rest of the bottle up with water, mix, and voila. I used Dr. Bronners (All One!) which is concentrated and lasts forever this way.


Of all the wonders of nature, a tree in summer is perhaps the most remarkable; with the possible exception of a moose singing "Embraceable You" in spats.

-- Woody Allen

Lynn's picture

Absolute none!

hee. love dr. b's...

Lynn Siprelle, Editor

cheri kamentz's picture

Hi Found this on the web. Love it and it works well for dishwashing and I use it in my soap dispensers as well.
Lavender Dishwashing Liquid Soap

2 cups of soap flakes (I grate up a bar of Kirk's Castile Soap Located usually by the soap section)
1 gallon of water
25 drops of lavender essential oil.

Easy, heat your water in a kettle, grate your soap, 2 cups is 1 and half bars and and add to the water till disolved. Finish with the essential oils. I love it and it is mild on your hands.

Guest's picture

A small pouch of dry rice works well as a desiccant - I used to put that in my salt shaker so the salt didn't clump.

Ginger's picture

I am also interested in something cleaner and greener to wash dishes by hand. I now use clorax green solutions and but have swithced to palmolive pure and clear but I am afraid they may still have ingredients in them that are not really green. Thanks, Ginger

Guest's picture

I sometimes wash dishes with my handcrafted bar soap. I know what is in the soap and it seems the bar soap washes as well as the liquid "dishwashing" soap I use. I do have some liquid soap but I have not tried washing dishes with it. If you get something like Dr. Bronner's liquid soap, you may be able to use it instead. Heck of inexpensive and concentrated. Better economically than dishwashing soap -- if it does the job. I have not checked but I am considering it ....

Guest's picture

Have you heard of
Advertise it on there and surely you'll find someone who'll take it.
I got rid of a disgusting and smelly (to me), bottle almost new Lysol in that way.

Guest's picture

this recipe is great!!
fyi--it fits perfectly in a recyled plastic parmesan cheese shaker from the grocery store and is easy to pour or measure with your tablespoon!

Guest's picture

White power left on everything. My glasses never clear and shiny, Help!!!

Cheri Kamentz's picture

You have to use Vingear in your rinse cycle. Once I started that no more powder on the glasses. I now use equal parts of Washing Soda and Baking Soda works fantastic!

Guest's picture

From a neat book by Alan Hayes, "It's So Natural":

4 tablesp. dried soapwort
4 tablesp. dried lemon verbena
9 litres water
1/2 cake pure soap
1/2 cup (120grams)washing soda (aka sodium carbonate from the pool section of any store or branded as "PH Plus")

Hayes say this formula produces a biodegradable gel by doing the following:

- Place herbs in a large bucket loosely or in a tea holder and add 8 litres of boiling water. Cover and steep overnight. If herbs are loose, strain them out with muslin or a coffee filter in the morning.
- Add grated soap and some of the herb infused water in a pan and bring to boil. Reduce heat and stir constantly until soap is dissolved.
- Boil remaining water in a separate pot.
- In a bucket, combine all ingredients: the water, herb-infused soap mix and washing soda. Mix thoroughly.
- The mixture will set into a soft gel (he did not specify how long it would take) and can be stored for future use.
- Use 1/4 to 1/2 cup (120 to 250g) to wash dishes.

His web site is:

Guest's picture

Ascorbic acid is the chemical name for vitamin C. Citric acid is a different molecule-it's put into recipes to add tartness/sourness. I don't know the relative pH of the two--I suspect the citric acid is added for the pH. Baking soda is of course an alkaline/base, so it is important to keep the mixture very dry to avoid those two reacting and neutralizing each other before use.

I've been able to find bulk citric acid at health food stores in Canada but found it less available in the States. Still at health food stores, just not in bulk and therefore, higher-priced. It is a useful addition to several homemade natural cleaning products and natural skin care products.

Hope this helps...

Snippy's picture

Try the wine making shops. That's where I found the ascorbic acid. They sell it in small packs though. If you're trying to make it the first time, who wants to purchase a whole lot of it anyway?
This dishwasher detergent doesn't work for me :? so I'm glad to only have purchased a small amount.
I truly believe that it has a lot to do with hard or soft water and the variances of that as well.

Guest's picture

Oregano essential oil is very good for inhibiting bacteria/virus, but you must be very careful- it can cause burns if applied directly to the skin or in the mouth and eyes. Always dilute it, you only need a couple of drops for it to be an effective addition to your recipe.

Guest's picture

I found this recipe at the Natural Mom website:

1/2 CUP LIQUID CASTILLE SOAP *do NOT use regular liquid soap!*


If you wanted it to be a little thicker in consistency, you could swap out Fels Naptha for the Castille soap or use the bar version of Castille soap. Just grate it on a cheese grater or microplane until you have the amount called for in the recipe.

Guest's picture

:( Don't waste your time or money making this mess!

As soon as I added the vinegar it curdled - because of the lemon in the recipe. But worst of all, it leaves a film on everything it touches that DOES NOT COME OFF even with dishwashing detergent!!!!!

I finally got the stinking greasy film off my mixing tools (spoon and bowl) with baking soda and a lot of rubbing. This stuff makes a serious mess. And it leaves a toxic smelling greasy film on everything.

I sure as heck wouldn't want to eat off a utensil that was "washed" in it. Plus, I would not want to risk ruining my dishwasher with this mess that doesn't come off.

snippy's picture

Well, I was stubborn and did it anyway. }:) But I didn't use it in my dishwasher. ;) What I did find out is that it cleans very well; I had a cloth I was going to throw out because it was almost black :sick: and this mixture ended up cleaning it very well.
I might just use it on my counter top and porcelain sink.
I should have realized that oils and vinegar don't mix very well. I won't throw it out, just yet.

Mitzi Ouderkerken's picture

that is an interesting recipe... i did not see it but i tried the other one and it left a white powder on everthing... babsy has been extremely helpful I tried the castile soap from sprouts next time i will order it from her online company she likes and then last night i added the sun oxygen cleaner its ok not awesome yet i think i need to adjust measurements...

Mili's picture

I have used white vinegar for rinsing in the dishwasher for years. At one time was getting the cloudy film on the glassware, until I reduced the amount of vinegar being dispensed each time, (my dishwasher has a dial which regulates the amount of rinse aid) and I was using too much initially. It is definitely worth trying - my glasses are always sparkling now!!

Guest's picture

To David, Ascorbic acid is Vitamin C which is probably why it cost more than Citric acid. That said, some health food stores carry a lower grade Ascorbic acid for use in bread making and it is quite cheap. Citric acid is cheap too and found in several stores but sometimes you have to ask for it. I think I even saw it in Walmart over by the pharmacy aisles.

Guest's picture

I tried this recipe in various forms with the pickling salt, with vinegar as a rinse agent and it left a worse filmy mess each time. We have hard well water here in Florida, and it only cleared up after we serviced our water softner. I'm back to using the Target brand dishwasher gel at $2.50 a bottle.

Vickie's picture

:grin: Essential oils are very powerful. Some are anti-viral, anti-biotic, anti-microbial. They also absorb through your senses and are very beneficial to your health. What I am talking about is called aromatherapy. The essential oils are not just for scent.

guest's picture

You can add white vinegar to the rinse cycle to prevent the white residue on the dishes

IAMFAB's picture

:? I am not sure of Borax, it is quite toxic. Good for laundry but is it safe for washing dishes? I'll leave it out.

Guest's picture

So... even with the most expensive dishwasher detergent and finishing product, my dishes come out with white dust and the stainless steel interior of my dishwasher is powdered with it... UNTIL... Until I filled my detergent area with lemon juice. Then I put a little detergent square in the auxillary section and viola' no white dusty film.

That's when I started looking into making my own detergent.

So, can anyone tell me WHY all of the recipe's have citric acid in the recipe? I am wondering if I can create the powdered portions without the citric acid and just use the lemon juice in each load

Barb Ewer's picture

How much baking soda and how much bleach did you use and did you put this in both containers in the dishwasher?

Guest's picture

Ascorbic acid is Vitamin c. Citric Acid is also found in fruits but it is not the same as vitamin C.

Guest's picture

I haven't tried this recipe, but I've made a different version. It seems to be the citric acid that makes it clump. I guess it's normal.

mitzi's picture

Mine is clumping too.. did u find a solution?

Guest's picture

It doesn't seem to affect the way it works, so I just use it that way. I wouldn't recommend putting rice in it, that would clog my dishwasher up pretty fast.

Guest's picture

Borax is only toxic if you eat a lot of it or use it in infant or injured skin. But so is salt. Something to think about. It doesn't cause cancer either.

Tess's picture

Most cities have chemical disposal sites in the USA. You have to google them in order to find them, but they're there. I have a huge bucket that I'll be taking there for drop off. Prior to ditching them, I also post that they are going to be leaving my house on my Facebook and allow people who would use them to come and take them for free.

Tabatha's picture

It's possible you're using too much? Or your dishwasher doesn't rinse well. But if it does fine with other soaps maybe try a rinse aid, either the store bought kind or vinegar

Tabatha's picture

I use lemonade flavored kool aid and it works just fine. You can also use "lemi-shine". If you google it you will be able to see which stores you can find it at. I believe it's cheaper than citric acid. However, I've read a few blogs about people using lemi-shine or citric acid, and complaining that their mixture hardens so that it's like a rock. They have to stab it to get it to powder enough so they can use it. But with me adding kool aid (only the lemonade flavor) I don't have this problem at all! I figure that they have this problem because of the moisture in the mixture, but I don't because of the corn starch in the kool aid. Corn starch dries things up, kind of like baby powder. I suppose if you don't use kool aid you could add just a bit of corn starch to your mixture if you have this problem? I don't know, but I know I save a lot of money when I use kool aid, which is basically the same things. I know it's not natural, it has additives and preservatives, but since I'm not drinking it I feel like it's pretty harmless to wash my dishes with. I'm sure the chemicals in store bought soap are much, much worse.

Tabatha's picture

Most of those flavors have sugar added, and you don't want that. That's why I would recommend people stick with the lemonade flavor. Yes, it is slightly dyed, but it has the citric acid and doesn't have sugar.

Ryanps777's picture

;) if you are getting a cloudy finish itsfrom one of 3 things. To much soap. To usehard of water so you can add more kosher salt. The coarse kind works best I use triple the salt at my place. Also you can use more citric acid. And finally put some vinegar and citric acid in the rinse cycle. Make sure itsmixed well or you will clog the machine.

James's picture

I made up this fantastic recipe on Friday and have since done 2 loads. I can get away with using 1 1/2 T per load using the usual cycle (pots and pans cycle. I rinse off the clumps and have a dinosour for a dishwasher and this works GREAT!!! Thanks for the recipe. I am intrigued as to why the citric acid (or kool aid as I used)? To those with a film but clean dishes otherwise, you may be using too much powder and use a rinse aid or vinegar. I am using my old rinse aid up to get it out of the cupboard.

Guest's picture

I think it must be the water in my region is too hard. I have been using vinegar in the rinse and it has not helped. I actually put 1/2 cup of vinegar in and there was less of a film, but still a lot. I read on a different website that citric acid will take away the white film. I ran clean dishes through acycle with ten packages of lemon Koolaid and saw a slight improvement.

Pammyg's picture

Just wanted to add my two cents and say thanks so much for this recipe! It works perfectly - my dishes are gleaming and spotless AND I'm saving $$$. What more can I ask for? :)

MichelleC's picture

Thank you for this excellent recipe!

I took "Mad Scientist's" advice and used 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup washing soda rather than 1 cup baking soda. I also used 4 little Kool-Aid packets, because it took 4 to make 1/4 cup. Wal-Mart sells their "version" of unsweetened lemonade for ten cents a packet!

I have been using this recipe, along with plain ol' white vinegar in the rinse dispenser, for one week with excellent results! I love being thrifty! Thanks again so much!


LeahL's picture

I live in Spokane county WA and we recently were put on a phosphate ban in dishwasher detergent. So, unless we want to drive to Idaho and bootleg some Cascade we are pretty much stuck with some useless and extremely over priced products. I decided to try this recipe and I have to say it works so much better then the stuff we can buy here! The only thing I did that was different is that instead of using strait citric acid I used some Fruit Fresh I had left over from making jelly a couple years ago. Im so impressed Im going to put the link to this page on my blog :)

Guest's picture

If you have an Asian or Indian food market near you, ask for powdered citric acid, also called Kumba. It is used for making sweet and SOUR soup, curdling milk for buttermilk, and to balance sugar in cooked beets.

karthik's picture

i am karth from india. i am trying to make natural liquid detergent soap, natural liquid dish wash and toilet cleaner....i want formulas to make this products.........please help me and mail me


DeeJay's picture

My son and I used Ivory Soap for Science Fair several years ago. What makes Ivory float is: it's got lots of air bubbles; was 'invented' by accidental overmixing. Thus, if you put a bar of fresh Ivory Soap in the microwave, it will foam up impressively. CAUTION: you will need an open window, as the soap smell sort of takes over for a bit. We used a paper plate, but the backside of cereal box cardboard or similar would certainly work.

After 'nuking' several brands of bar soap (w/none foaming as well as Ivory), I was faced with paper platters of 'soap lava'. If you crumble that, it is much like Ivory Soap that's used for laundry. I am not sure how long it would retain that light, flaky quality. We washed clothes in this stuff until it was used up. I don't know if such things can ever be cost effective, but it was fun, as Weird Science goes, and was very easy to demonstrate in the classroom.

CherylH's picture

I just wanted to send you a BIG THANK YOU for posting this recipe. I have very hard water and the limescale is gross. I have a problem with allergies and using toxic chemicals, so the more natural a product is, the more I like it. I have tried everything to get the heavy limescale off my fiberglass tub and I tried this and WOW, what a difference. I had to give it a bit of elbow grease, but once I was done, it looked great. This tub is ancient(harvest gold, not my first choice of colors) where I rent and I thought the last resort would be dynamite, but you saved me my security deposit! LOL

Thanks again! :)

Snippy's picture

Hello CherylH, I don't know if you still rent but I doubt that that tub is fiberglass. Canoes ;) are made out of fiberglass and so is our newer tub. A no-scratch cleaner must be used otherwise the surface will be damaged. I've used a tea tree lavender liquid detergent with great results! Those ancient tubs are coated. Fiberglass tubs retain the warmth of the water while those old tubs do not. I remember, because as a kid, we had one of those old ones. Water gets cold quickly.

Guest's picture

Glad to have stumbled onto this web site. I use baking soda & borax with essential oils and a drop or two of liquid dishsoap to make a cleanser. It erases tea stain off stainless steel and cleans the bathroom sinks and counter beautifully. I do have to rinse or there is the white powder residue. Thank you for this site! Love the use of Kool-Aid! Kinda reminds me of people who used coca-cola to remove rust off their cars. What do we drink!?

lil'itly's picture

We have been using this recipe for a while now and LOVE it!! Our only problem was the clumping (a chemical reaction from the citric acid). When my entire batch had solidified, I was desperate! I didn't want to throw it all out and waste the money I had worked so hard to save. I added just enough water to my mix to bring it to a thick "goo" state. Just like that I now had liquid dishwasher detergent and it works just as well as in its powdered form!

Lynn's picture

That's really good to know, thank you!

Cassie's picture

Do you put the vinegar in the same spot that you would put Jet Dry? I did this and after a couple of runs I noticed a brownish liquid coming out of the Jet Dry holder which looked a lot like rust. I immediately got my turkey baster and sucked the remaining liquid out and it all looked like rusty liquid. Did I put it in the wrong spot?

Lynn's picture

Were you using apple cider vinegar? Try using white instead.

Cassie's picture

I used white distilled vinegar

Lynn's picture

Well, I can't advise you further except to say, don't do that any more. I never had any problem in mine, but then, when I wrote this piece I had a very old dishwasher.

PatsPens's picture

I LOVE this conversation list :) I've taken scads of notes.
The comment about replacing JetDry with vinegar and getting a rusty looking liquid... I'm wondering if the interaction of JetDry and white vinegar could have caused the change in liquid color.

I'm in the process of making one of these formulas and have been concerned about mixing Cascade rinse aid residue with the vinegar. Maybe we need to run it with a bit of water in there for awhile.

Any other comments on changing over?

Thanks. Love and Light,

Rebecca Wilkens's picture

I'm so glad you posted this recipe. I've been wanting to make my own dishwashing detergent for FOREVER, especially now that I have a baby. I don't want using detergent on our dishes that contains harmful chemicals. We put our dishes in our mouths, for crying out loud! Anyways, thanks. I can't wait to try this.

Guest's picture

I have mixed baking soda and citric acid together before in powdered form, and a chemical reaction doesn't occure until water is added.


Whitney's picture

It is moisture that begins the reaction between an acid and a base (baking soda), and in some parts of the world there is enough humidity to get it going, despite vigilance about keeping the powder dry. I've had mine in plastic deli containers and glass screw-top jars, and the humidity somehow leaks in. In a desert climate you're probably OK with super vigilance. I wonder about throwing into the container a couple of the moisture absorbing packets from shoeboxes or in new purses?

Lynn's picture

...unless you open the packet.

hskemp's picture

I've been making my own laudnry detergent for a while now and am quite content. After this success I thought I would move onto another household item that I knew used some of the same ingredients (Washing Soda, Borax) and so I found a dishwasher detergent recipe which looked pretty reliable.

You mention Washing soda as being interchangeable with Baking soda, but all my research has indicated that the two are quite different (hence one being edible and the other not) and as such it greatly affects the effectiveness of the detergent.

That being said, and having first come across your original entry on the topic, and your 'improved' recipe I thought I would add my two cents.

I agree, although they say to increase the portion of washing soda if you find it's not cleaning as well due to hard water, this is not nearly as good at cleaning as any commercial (NON eco friendly) product out there. I've taken to keeping a small box (bought on sale) of the commercial stuff for those crucial times when I need something cleaned super well in a crunch. The majority of the time I still use my homemade stuff.

I find, as an example of the ineffectiveness of the cleaning power, that I cannot cram my dishwasher as much as I used to... overlapping bowls and plates too close means they just don't get cleaned well at all and I find I have temporary stains of the food that might have been on there after a wash. As well, partly because of the position of my cutlery holder, it's VERY important I don't put more than 3 items or 4 if I push it, in each slot. (My cutlery is stored on the the door.) And even when I am careful I still find a few pieces of cutlery come out with a sort of grease still remaining, and a plate or bowl or something comes out still not entirely clean. And this is after always using a scrub brush under water to make sure no bits and pieces remain prior to placing in the machine.

Also, I am glad to see you've added the citric acid to the recipe. And as an FYI for those struggling to find it, Citric Acid is the same as Sour Salt (provided you check the ingredients label to ensure it is 100% citric acid) which can be found in kosher sections of the grocery store. It's also likely to be the most expensive aspect of the recipe.

And finally, I have found that the most evolved recipes utilize Kosher Salt instead of table salt as Kosher salt is simply salt as compared to our table salt which is cut/processed with things like Iodine. I don't know if chemically it makes a difference, but I figure I'll try whatever I can to try and improve the effectiveness of the detergent. Not to mention Kosher salt is more coarse.

Oh and one more point I've come across... the Acid will react with the soda over time, so it's recommended to never mix more then a week's worth of a batch at a time to ensure you don't get 'stale'mated as I call it. It's not a reaction one can visualize but as a previous poster stated, it will neutralize which will simply affect the chemical reaction one is striving for when water is introduced in the wash cycle. Part of what makes dishwashers so effected for cleaning is the temperature they utilize inside, combined with the chemicals of the cleaning product. And ultimately that is why homemade detergents will not be nearly as effective as commercial because we are using simpler, less harmful ingredients.

Even with the "poor" performance of my detergent, I still go with it because having to rewash a bowl and plate and cutlery on occasion is still easier and takes less time than washing all my dishes by hand in a single sink.

Crabhead's picture

Cascade used to be wonderful. Now, without phosphates, it is useless.

Since commercial dishwasher detergents still have phosphates, and thousands of seagulls make their own phosphate deposits, and since our water works ocassionally spill thousands of gallons of raw sewages into the bay, I use the following alternative:

2 parts cheap dishwasher detergent from Dollar Tree
1 part TSP.

Use about 3/4 what you would use of the old Cascade.

Barb Ewer's picture

What is TSP again?

shalom's picture

I noticed a post about someone getting a new dishwasher in the future. The higher priced quieter dishwashers just have extra insulation. Save the insulation from an old dishwasher (ours was held together to form sort of a blanket to wrap around the dishwasher). Add it on top of the one that comes with your new machine - it may be a little difficult to work it under the counter, but it does turn a less expensive dishwasher into a quieter one.

Guest's picture

Thanks for all this info I can't wait to try. Does anyone have any ideas for making dishwasher tablets? What would you do to make this mixture into tablet form? Any feedback appreciated! Cheers Linda

Guest's picture

I've been using this recipe in some of the hardest water in the country and it works as well or better than anything I can buy in the health food store. I had an idea to create the tablet. It seems to me, this recipe is alot like what I use to make bathbombs with. I think if you put it all in a bowl and squirt it with a mister of alcohol just enough so you can pack it, it would make a tablet, just like the bath bomb makes a dome. The trick is to use only a tiny bit of alcohol and you got to find the right balance. I haven't tried it yet, but when I do, Ill let you know.

Mario's picture

Hello, I’d like to add my experience to this discussion.
After researching for a while, this is what I ended up mixing:
1c Borax
1c Washing soda
1/2c Citric acid
1/4c Coarse sea salt

We put white distilled vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser,
And we had two issues, dirty brown streaks running down the inside of the dishwasher from the rinse aid dispenser; and cloudy dishes.

I don’t want to give up because I really like the idea.
I’ll try adding some rice and more citric acid today..
Any other suggestions?

Babsy's picture

I also have tried numerous recipes for natural dishwasher detergent. Some were....well just okay. Others ranged from okay to terrible. Some were just too labor intensive or had major drawbacks. You've been there too...

Since I have hand washed my pots and pans with natural bar soap for over twenty years I thought it was a pity that I couldn't wash the dishes in the dishwasher with real soap also and wondered if there was a way to do it.

I found, however, that real SOAP does NOT work the same as DETERGENT in the dishwasher and of course we all know the warnings of putting liquid dish detergent in the dishwasher.

I live in the south and have very soft water so everything foams well. I found that by using a teaspoon of liquid castile soap and 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of oxygen bleach I have the cleanest dishes around. I've been using this formula for over six years. I found that borax, washing soda, baking soda, etc. etc. just didn't work well. Now my dishes shine and sparkle and feel just like I washed them in the sink.

The very hot water, coupled with the real soap, together with the oxygen cleaner has the same effect as hand washing. I don't even have to scrape the plates. After all, why WOULDN'T you want to use soap on your dishes? It works very well for hand washing and has for many years. I've even run out of the oxygen bleach and used just the castile soap and still had excellent results.

DO NOT use detergents for this though, even the natural ones. It is not the same thing.

I have given this recipe to many people and all you have to do is adjust it for your water hardness.....I have a friend whose water is harder and she uses a tad more than the teaspoon of soap, and you may have to add a tiny bit of salt to soften the water a bit. Mix it with the oxygen bleach and add it at the same time as the castile soap. I keep a pump dispenser handy at the sink and I have worked it out how many pumps equal a teaspoon. Also, I keep a container of the oxygen bleach under the sink handy too, with a scoop. Half a scoop is a teaspoon. It is just too easy to squirt the soap in the cup and add the powder. (I found that t be easier than mixing everything up ahead of time.) Close it up and it's done.

You can get many scents of castile....eucalyptus, peppermint, lavender, tea tree, almond, etc. and it is wonderful to smell the dishes as they are cleaning instead of that horrible chlorine that used to puff out of my dishwasher. And if you choose an unscented castile, you can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to the cup before washing. Mmmmm....the scent of peppermint energizes you....lavender calms, lemon, lemongrass, grapefruit....etc. etc....well, you get the picture. And then the consideration that essential oils are antibacterial by nature. A couple of drops of tea tree during the cold and flu season to add a little extra germ killing power....

Also, don't be afraid to use the oxygen cleaner; if it is natural it is safe. Oxygen bleach is naturally made from peroxide and either washing soda or borax. It breaks down into oxygen and water. It is traditionally one of the ingredients in dishwasher detergents anyway (tho usually with added chemicals, chlorine bleach and artificial petrochemical fragrances). I will only use the SUN brand that has no fragrances added to it as I am very sensitive. It is also a product of the USA. I find the best deal at Dollar General - a 6 lb. bucket for around $5.

This is the discount online warehouse where I have to get my liquid soaps, as well as the bar soaps and essential oils I use....great discounts and the best prices I have found!

Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap - and bar soaps

or Dr. Woods Liquid Castile Soap (Larger sizes for less money)

Also, I used coupon code ARA593 for $5 off your first order.

I love when I have to hand wash dishes because I use a bar of natural soap. With liquid detergents you just see the foam. With real soap, you FEEL the soap in the water. And natural soap is so much better for your skin and it just does a good job of cleaning. It's been around for hundreds of years and you just can't get any better. I love using a peppermint or a lemon bar soap for the dishes in the sink. I slip a big bar into a pretty dish and when it's time to run a sink full of water, I just put the soap dish under the running water. Perfect suds and just the right amount of soap in the water. I love doing dishes - naturally of course!

Sorry this was so long, but sometimes, especially for me, the simplest solution turns out to be the best. :)

Mario's picture

Oh my God I love you. Your post was perfect! I read every word, so helpful how you have the links too! Thanks I can't WAIT to try it!

Teresajoy's picture

I'm going to give this one a try!

When you say oxygen bleach, I am assuming you are talking about Oxyclean or something similar?

unverified guest's picture

I concur with the commentator who noted that in this formula the citric acid and baking soda neutralize each other, and make this powder of very little effect.

I fill the closed cup with borax and baking soda, and the open cup that starts the cycle I used just a tiny amount of Great Value Dishwasher Detergent along with the borax and baking soda.

I always use 20 mule team borax as a base for cleaning, then add products to it as needed, being careful not to cause a chemical reaction. I learned my lesson when I was washing the bathtub with chlorine bleach, and added a squirt of liquid dish detergent. The fumes were very harmful, and I held my breath, opened the window, ran out closing the door. Then when I recovered I held my breath, went back in, and turned on the cold water to the shower, and left again for a while. It could have been disastrous.

Little Boozy Homemaker's picture

I have been experimenting the past few days with recipes of my own, and here is what I have found:

1) You have to FULLY clean the dishwasher before switching. My first time using vinegar in the rinse resulted in a terrible filmy mess from the combination of residue already in the dishwasher and dispenser.

I cleaned mine out by pouring really hot water into the rinse cup OVER and OVER for about 10 minutes. The gunk that floated out was truly disturbing. I then ran a clean water cycle through the dishwasher with the rinse container lid off, and then I used a vinegar and lemon juice solution and dumped it in during another water cycle. The result was a clean dishwasher!

After trying a few things, I have had the best results with: 1 cup borax, 1 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup oxo brite (sodium carbonate and sodium percarbonate) mixed well together. Place 2 tbsp in lidded compartment and 1 tbsp in non-lidded compartment. Fill rinse container with 3 parts vinegar, 1 part lemon juice. (Again, I can't stress enough the importance of CLEANING THIS OUT COMPLETELY before using homemade detergent...)

My dishes have been coming out GREAT! The filmy mess I was getting was some sort of reaction with the soap residues that were in the dishwasher already.

NOTE OF CAUTION: *I* have absolutely ZERO knowledge of chemistry. For all I know, I'm chemically peeling my dishes and dishwasher with this recipe... but for now, I am ignorant of any problems and quite pleased with the results! :)

snippy's picture

I am taking your advice to see what happens only doing it a little differently. I made the homemade recipe above and instead of doing the additional wash, I am putting the detergent in and adding the lemon juice/vinegar mixture at the final rinse step.
We had a 15 year old Kitchenaid :jawdrop: 8) (they purchased a new one) given to us just recently and it does work really well; only I didn't like how the glasses were looking. If they continue to look cloudy, I will purchase some cheap glasses at a second hand store and hand wash them. :( This is my first time ever having a dishwasher and even though I have heard of the etching issue years ago, I wouldn't have believed it. Experience is everything.
I'll let you know my results.

Jenny G's picture

if your powder clumps together, no worries, add 1/4 cup white rice (dry) to the mixture, works the same in dish-washing mixture as it does in salt. Any rice will get caught in the food trap.

cloudy dishes/brown from jet dri area

I don't use the jet dri area, I just open dishwasher on rinse cycle and dump 1/4 cup vinegar in.

Also, mix sea salt or coarse salt in a separate jar with your essential oil... ie drop 10-15 drops of oil on salt and shake it up. then add to your mixture of dish-washing powder. This gives the powder an abrasive (if you have no food on the plates) and a better clean!

Love this.

Homemade Castle soap (liquid... saw someone post) is very simple to make.

1. Gather a few ingredients and tools to make homemade liquid castile soap. Purchase some sunflower oil, potassium chloride (available at drugstores) (I just use salt substitute by the salts) and distilled water. The combination of the distilled water and potassium chloride will result in the formation of lye.

You will need access to tap water as well as a hand-held stick blender and any essential oils you'd like to use for fragrance. A crock pot is necessary, as are mixing and measuring tools.
2. Pour 16 oz. of sunflower oil into your crock pot, with the heat on high. In a separate bowl, mix 5.5 oz. of potassium chloride with 16 oz. of distilled water. Add this lye mixture to the warm oil in the crock pot. Mix this all together using a hand-held stick blender on low. You may stir by hand with a wooden spoon, but the hand-held stick blender will make the task easier. The mixture will likely appear as though it is going to separate. This is normal. Just keep mixing.

The mixing of your ingredients will create a pasty consistency. Now pour 40 oz. of tap water into the crock pot. Combine this with the paste using your hand-held stick blender.
3. Leave the mixture in your crock pot and check it every hour or so. If it is separating, mix it for a minute with the stick blender. If not, simply give it a stir with a wooden spoon. The consistency should go from paste to an applesauce-like consistency. From there it should become smooth, although still quite thick--sort of like pudding. At some point in the cooking, it may even become hard and sticky like taffy. If this occurs use a potato masher to break it up. Within a couple more hours it should transform to the consistency of petroleum jelly. At this point you'll know your liquid castile soap is almost done.
4. It is now time to test the soap to see if it is done. Boil some water in a tea kettle, and measure 2 oz. into a clear measuring cup along with 1 oz. of the soap mixture. Stir it with a spoon until the soap dissolves in the water. If it appears to be a little bit cloudy, that's OK. You don't, however, want it to appear milky. This may indicate that the soap hasn't cooked long enough or that you haven't measured the oil properly. Try cooking it a bit longer and test it again if that is the case.

If the clarity is just a bit cloudy, it's time to add a few drops of essential oil for scent. Simply add your scent of choice. Six to eight drops is usually enough to produce a strong, but not offensive scent.

Pour your warm liquid castile soap into bottles or jars and allow it to cool before using

dont forget to test your PH of the soap. Ideal is about 7
add dyes or abrasives like apricots seeds when you put in individual jars. This is a big batch.

Will's picture

"Bleach is a chemical compound derived from natural sources" quote from how bleach is made description: Conclusion this is not natural once it has been manufactured it is then a chemical compound and is not good for your pipes, your septic system, the environment in general, and definitely not good to eat the small traces that get picked up from the chemical left behind on your so called clean dishes. I grew up having to smell that nasty bleach smell on my dishes and that is why I now seek natural recipes for dishes, if you don't believe that bleach stays on those dishes let your dog smell bleach Gage his reaction then let him smell your dish it will be the same reaction. I had nasal surgery after growing up barely being able to smell anything and since the surgery (it enhanced my sense of smell so whats faint to others I smell clearly and strong) to everyone else it may not be a problem with scent, but it should still concern you that you are ingestion chemicals off your dishes whether it's in a glass you drink out of or a dish you eat out of, it's probably the reason cancer is spreading so rapidly people don't pay attention to toxins they are consuming. Just an FYI, I would never use bleach unless it was a last resort and even then I would try to seek something else that does the same thing I need only naturally.

Gellegbs's picture

If anyone is having a white film residue left on the dishes try using vinegar as a rinse aid, it should take the film right off.

LSSLinda's picture

I have a Bosch dishwaser and the rinse aid dispenser has a dial with numbers 1-6. In which direction is more aid released?

I am using vinegar for the rinse aid and Borax/Baking Soda for my detergent alternative.

Lynn's picture

I don't know, but here's a link to a whole bunch of Bosch dishwasher manuals:

Adrienne @ Whole New Mom's picture

Hello! I've muddled with making my own dish detergent for awhile and think maybe I'm up for the challenge again.

I'm wondering if you used kosher salt or table salt - thanks! I'd like to give your recipe a try! Thanks! My water is moderate - not hard or soft - but I am hopeful nonetheless!

Lynn's picture

Just simple table salt. :)

Deanna Z's picture

Thanks so much for sharing your recipe. Both me and my husband can't wait to dirty the dishes and try it out ;-)

Guest's picture

It's salt that makes the dishes cloudy/foggy/scratchy feeling etc...salt leaves residue

snippy's picture

Thanks for all your comments.
We've recently received a 'free' Kitchenaid dishwasher that is 15 years old.:jawdrop: We've only had it for 2 weeks. Right away, I decided to find a homemade dishwasher detergent as being thrifty is one of my gifts.;)
I've noticed that you are using baking soda in your recipe rather than washing soda. A lot of recipes I've noticed is the washing soda.
Knowing that vinegar is a good rinse aid and has so many other uses, I am not afraid of using that. So I mixed equal parts Borax and Washing Soda, using vinegar for the final rinse and the glasses are very cloudy. I am wondering if it's because we have a water conditioner which is a reverse osmosis system. Salt is already used in this regard and so that is why I did not use it in the recipe that I found. Also, with any kind of water conditioner, less soap, shampoo and the like is needed, which is very beneficial. I am new to a dishwasher and have washed dishes for years by hand. I probably could cut down on the amount of dish-washing detergent used; the question is, how much? For instance, I use about 1 oz of Tide for my laundry load otherwise it foams over the top. :grin:

Mitzi's picture

I am in for making my own dish washing detergent. I am a little concerned because it has taken me a while to get my dishes sparkling clean with commercial detergents. I have to use half powder cascade only and half glass magic.. and then the softwater agent. So now my question for you all is.. some of you use half borax and half baking soda some use washing soda, and then the original recipe on the top calls for the borax, soda, salt and citric acid has anyone tried both and have an opinion?
i did just put the vinegar in as the rinse agent just now.. i cant believe i never thought of that. That product is so costly.

Guest's picture

We tried 1 cup each of Borax and washing soda and it left a white residue so we tried white vinegar as a rinse aid but still had the residue problem. Now we add 1 teaspon of Lemi Shine and they come out spotless! We also have the terrible CAP water in AZ!

mitzi's picture

Ok since my post i made the dishwasher soap with borax, washing soda, kosher salt and lemi shine
they have the cloud... and feel a little grimy too! so you did not use the salt... which I thought would act as a softer water agent... guess not! and you add the 1 tsp to each load. Lemi shine is like 4 dollars for what 3/4 of a cup? Ok i will have to try your way so 1 tbsp mix plus 1 tsp lemi shine?


mitzi's picture

Ok since my post i made the dishwasher soap with borax, washing soda, kosher salt and lemi shine
they have the cloud... and feel a little grimy too! so you did not use the salt... which I thought would act as a softer water agent... guess not! and you add the 1 tsp to each load. Lemi shine is like 4 dollars for what 3/4 of a cup? Ok i will have to try your way so 1 tbsp mix plus 1 tsp lemi shine?


Babsy's picture

Forget the borax, washing soda, salt, and citric acid! :) yourselves a favor and just use the castile liquid I outlined in my post above (My Natural Dishwashing Recipe).....start with 1/2 t. and work til you find the correct amount for your water hardness or softness. Mine was perfect at 1 tsp and my water is very soft. I also add 1/2 tiny scoop (1 t.) of oxygen cleaner (it breaks down into oxygen and water) and is very safe to use on dishes. Just BE SURE to get one that doesn't have fragrances added.....I use the SUN brand. Dishes are super clean, not cloudy, not filmy, not grimy, not gritty, not ANYTHING but clean and sparkly. And don't freak out (read my post above) wash your dishes by hand in real liquid soap so why not in the dishwasher!? NOTE: You CANNOT do this with liquid DETERGENT! Not the same thing at all and you will have a bubbly mess all over your floor. I've used this for nearly ten years and I will never use anything else! No pre-mixing, no clumping, no problems. TOTALLY satisfied!

Guest's picture

Hi! Can you substitute Dr. Bronner's sal-suds for the castile soap in your dishwashing detergent recipe? I got some sal-suds but haven't been able to find a use for it.

Babsy's picture

Sal Suds is sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS)....I wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole. Any good and natural castile soap will work...and you will be healthier for it too.

snippy's picture

Hello Everyone!

Well, I'd like to know where to get Castile soap. I am from Ontario. We also don't have the Lemi-Shine product.
I've stooped to purchasing a commercial product even though I didn't want to :( because of the grit left behind. :sick: I still use the vinegar for the rinse and it is perfect! I will probably use the leftovers for toilet bowl cleaner.
It really is trial and error.

Teresajoy's picture

I buy Dr. Wood's Castile soap on Vitacost That is my referal link, if anyone uses it, they get a $10 credit for their first purchase, an I get a $10 credit too. Even if you don't use my link, they have great deals on Castile soap. I just bought a 32ounce bottle of Dr. Woods liquid Castile soap for $6.97, which is a lot cheaper than I've found locally for castile soap. Shipping is about $4, but I figure I'd spend that in gas running to the store anyway.

I tried the castile soap in my dishwasher the other day after reading the suggestion on here, and I was amazed at how well it worked!!! I didn't have any of the Oxygen bleach, just 2tsp of Castile soap. My dishes look GREAT!

Babsy's picture

Teresajoy, I am glad to see you tried the castile....and that it worked for you!

Snippy's picture

Okay, I did purchase a small bottle from the local health food store in case I would be disappointed. I did try it a couple of times and the dishes still came out with a bit of residue.I've decided not to wash glasses in the dishwasher anymore because I just get frustrated. I am using product from the grocery store because I found it too much work to try the different mixes. I'm using up 2 other mixes up cleaning my porcelain areas in the bathroom. :P We have a water conditioner and that may have something to do with it. I am still using vinegar in the rinse.

Babsy's picture

Snippy, any good health food store will carry it. Also, Target and Walgreen's here in my area carry it too. But, to save considerably on the price, I order mine also. And, like teresajoy, I use the Dr. Wood's brand. I have used Dr. Bronner's for 30 years but about six years ago I found the Dr. Wood's brand. Same great product.

Teresajoy's picture

I have never been this happy with any home made dishwasher detergent!! I'm so glad I saw your post.

Babsy's picture

Sometimes the simplest solutions are the best. After all, hot water and real soap....well...its been cleaning dishes for many years!

Snippy's picture

Thanks for letting me know where I can purchase it. I am not at a point yet that I will do that. Here in Canada, we don't have Walgreen's; :jawdrop: a Target is replacing another store shortly.
I am a really penny pincher so purchasing something that I am not sure works, well, I don't. I'm finishing off a purchased product and will try again what others are doing. It will happen!

mitzi's picture

Hi Babsy....

ok so you do not make the castile soap in the crock pot right? you purchase the dr woods liquid castile soap and add sun oxygen is that right? one of the reasons i was wanting to make it was because of the cost. The castile soap is not cheap. i may still give it a try i do not like the other mixture it leaves things chalky --

Teresajoy's picture

You don't use much of the castile soap. I'm pretty sure with the price I paid for the castile soap, it is cheaper than buying dishwasher detergent and much greener too.

Babsy's picture


Yes, I use the purchased liquid castile. I used the Dr. Bronner’s for almost thirty years but when I found the Dr. Wood’s I quickly switched. Dr. Wood’s products are much more economical and the price is much more affordable. The quality is as good or better than Dr. Bronner’s.

If you buy the 32 oz. of Dr. Wood's Liquid Castile, say the peppermint, you will pay $6.97 at vitacost. There are 192 teaspoons in that 32 ounces (1 oz = 6 tsp) so that comes out to 3 1/2 cents per wash load. If you bought Cascade liquid, say the 75 oz. size, you would pay around $7 or more. That is a penny and a half per load. cannot look at just the price you are paying for the product. You have to look at the price you are paying for the chemicals that you are using, touching, inhaling, and ultimately putting into the ground around where you live and the side effects you will experience. Those things never go away. The true cost is endocrine disruptors, hormone mimickers, carcinogens- really nasty stuff and the health problems they can cause - it is scary. And your health is worth taking care costs so much more to try to get it back after you lose it!

The SUN oxygen cleaner from Dollar General is the cheapest I have found anywhere, and I use it because it is found to not have toxic chemicals in it and zero fragrances (the nasty stuff). It breaks down cleanly into oxygen and water. And you really don't even have to use the oxygen cleaner each time if you want to save a penny or can just use it if you have an especially greasy load, or something nasty like dog food bowls or maybe you cleaned or cooked fresh fish for dinner. It also helps remove food from the dishes as well as kill germs.

So basically, to use the purchased castile you would be paying 4 cents to wash a load of dishes. Safely....without any caustic chemicals that have been shown to be toxic. That's just under six and a half months of washing a load a day.....for less than a nickel a day. I found that to be a tremendous bargain. No mixing, no mess, no grit, no cloudiness, no residue....nothing but clean. Healthy clean. Remember....cheaper is NOT always better. And chemicals will always do a great job.....but at what expense to our health? We have done a great job for many, many years at keeping our homes and bodies clean without those chemicals.....

Factor in that you will pay some shipping charges unless you order the minimum for free shipping at vitacost or wherever you shop online. At the place that I shop online your minimum is $20 to get free shipping every day. That particular product is a little higher than it is at vitacost (prices will vary by location) but I also get an additional 10% discount each time I order, and if you use my referral code ARA593 the first time you order you can get $5 off your first order and then extra discounts each time you order. (You can only use the code on your first order.) You will get a referral code too, to share with others.

I average about a 45% savings off of everything that I would usually purchase at my local health food stores, money that I save to purchase the local and organic foods. I used vitacost for almost ten years and used it exclusively until I found this warehouse five or six years ago. Both sites are great.

Wherever you order it, either at vitacost (use teresajoys code above!) or at the one I use, it is still a fantastic deal to me. And no matter where you order it you will find it cheaper. And I love it that I don’t have to leave my home. I live in a barn in the country so any fuel I can save is a plus!!

You can see the Dr. Wood’s peppermint castile here at

I reversed a whole handful of negative health problems when I stopped using all commercial products and I have never gone back. I make everything I need simply, cleanly, and easily.

NOTE: Do not throw away your foaming hand soap pump containers. Refill with 1 oz. of the liquid castile (or the liquid soap from the bar soap) and then fill with water leaving a small space at the top. You can even add a few drops of essential oil for scent and for germ killing. Replace the foamer pump lid and enjoy! The foamer pump top is what makes the foam. When you purchase those things you are paying for just a tiny bit of soap and mostly water! Insanity. You can increase it to half liquid castile and half water to make a nice rich shaving cream foam. Too much over the 50% though makes it hard for the foamer to work.

Sorry this was so long (I'm accustomed to teaching classes)....hope it helps. I know it made my life easier....and a lot healthier!

Mitzi Ouderkerken's picture

Hi Babsy,
Sorry for the delay in my response, my computer crashed. I bought the pepperment Castile Soap. I am washing my dishes with it now. I did not buy the sun oxybleach yet. Thank you for all the info. I never really thought that Cascade could be bad for us. Not until I was thinking about making my soap products to help with cost and saw your posts did I even think about that issue. I guess I felt like they would not be able to sell it if it was not safe. I am excited to see if it works!!!


Mitzi Ouderkerken's picture

Hi again...

well it still is not perfected-- first time i used 2 tsp castille it was a little foggy second time 1 tsp and the dishes felt a little dirty... last time i did 1 tsp of castille and 1 tsp of sun oxygen and they were a little powdery... hmmmm i have hard water... any suggestions???


Babsy's picture

Hey Mitzi...

Bummer on the hard water.....I've had people here actually complain about the SOFT water we have - they have obviously not ever had hard water!

I do have a friend in another state that has hard water and 2 tsp. of the castile and the 1 tsp of the SUN oxygen cleaner work well for her. You must have even harder water than she does. Have you tried 2 1/2 tsp.....or maybe 3? Was it better or worse?

Also, when you wash dishes by hand.....what do you do? What do you use? Are your dishes dirty-looking then? Are they gritty or powdery? Do you have to add something to your sink dishwater to get them clean other than your dish detergent? Have you tried washing them by HAND in the castile soap to see what happens and what it takes to get them clean?

Then, depending on the results, I would try to duplicate that in my dishwasher. That is why I started using the castile soap in the dishwasher to begin with. If I can wash my dishes cleanly - by hand - in just hot soap and water, then I surmised that I could also wash them cleanly - in my dishwasher - with the same. And I was correct. And the best part of all is that I can do it without compromising my health. And the less ingredients needed will save time and money.

From everything I have read, there are only two ways to soften hard water: 1) water softeners (they use salts) and 2) de-scalers. You can try adding a tiny bit of washing soda, baking soda, or salt, but I always found them to leave a residue, even in my soft water. The other is the de-scaler - read this research paper for a complete description of the action....and how you can do it yourself. And hard water is hard water no matter where you are.

If I had the hard water I would make my own scale preventer as shown in the pdf above. (VERY interesting reading....bear with get to the DIY part)......See here: for the inline magnetic de-scalers as described in the pdf. (I have just recently emailed them to find a US distributor.) It involves simply installing a tiny inline magnet for the water to flow through. You can put one anywhere.....line to dishwasher....line to washing machine....etc. etc.

You could also purchase a magnetic de-caler here:

I do not have one of these nor do I work for these companies....I don't even know anyone at the companies. When I was just recently reading about the magnetic de-scalers I went on a search for them and found this to be an extremely affordable solution. And one that doesn't involve chemicals compromising with your water purity. Interestingly, the magnetic procedure has been used - very effectively - since the 1930's. Alas, it probably doesn't make chemical manufacturers a lot of money hence the low profile it has been given. As always, I usually find the simplest solution is usually the best, cheapest, and most healthy. Goodness if I could install an inline magnet and not have to worry about it ever again....that would be the way for me.

I am very interested in the test of washing your dishes by hand to see what happens. Please let me know. Just for test purposes.....I'm not saying to wash them by hand forever! :) Actually, I love washing dishes by hand so much that when we moved just recently, we purchased a horse barn and turned it into a home.....I had a big stainless restaurant sink (double sinks, double drainboards) installed....and NO dishwasher! Plenty of room for all the dirty dishes I create when I am cooking (everything from scratch), creating my household needs (everything from scratch), or harvesting (everything from scratch) from my garden. I love it. I take this dishwashing thing seriously!

Do a the pdf.....and see what you think. I will let you know when I hear something from the company. You can also email the company directly too, using the link above.

Helping you to get to the bottom of this....


Mitzi Ouderkerken's picture

Hi Babsy..

ok when i wash my dishes by hand in the castile soap it feel a little oily they dont look great when they are done... So maybe that is the problem. So i have gone back to my cascade and lemishine but the other day i did use the borax mix and lemi shine and it came out ok ... i did not use hot water because some of the items i had on the bottm shelf so i could not heat dry either i am thinking what about the castile soap and lemi shine... i may try that next... thanks for all your help it is definately an experiment!


Babsy's picture

Mitzi.....dishes will NOT get clean unless you wash with hot water. If you have something in the dishwasher that cannot take the heat, it would be best just to wash it up by hand. Dishes are cleaned and germs are killed with hot water. The same in your laundry.

Guest's picture

Hello, Where do you buy Sun Oxygen Bleach? I've never heard of it. Can I substitute something else?

Thank you.

Babsy's picture

You can find the SUN brand of oxygen cleaner at Dollar General stores (sometimes I can find it in the 5lb tubs), Family Dollar stores, and at Wal-Mart. I am in the deep south and this is what is available to me in my area. I do look for it everywhere I go just so I will have another source--I use it in my laundry also. (If you have a local store that you frequent, ask them to stock it.)

I do not recommend using any other brand - this one does not have any fragrances or other additives. That is very important to me as I do not use any chemicals in my home, in my food, or anywhere on my body....and I certainly don't want it puffing out with the steam in my dishwasher for me to breathe. Other than at the health food store, I haven't found another brand without the fragrance and other nasty stuff.

When you see the word "fragrance" beware...think toxic chemicals, known carcinogens, estrogen mimickers and endocrine disruptors. Like what is found in dryer sheets, air fresheners, perfumes, etc! That's really the reason we make our own "stuff" keep out the chemicals that wreck our health. Otherwise, we could just buy whatever cheapest old brand we can find and who cares what it does to our bodies.

Guest's picture

Thank you. I will try Wal Mart. I don't have Dollar General Stores here in So. Cal. I too, don't use anything with "fragrance" or toxic chemicals, etc. My middle son has Bipolar Disorder and i stay away from all of that awful, nasty stuff. It's bad for all of us, let alone someone who has a brain disorder! I buy organic, make my own cleaning products, and only buy pure soap, don't put anything unless it's pure on our bodies, either. It's amazing what the media tries to sell us nowadays. I was reading a while ago who wonderful good ole Epsom Salts is for roses and plants outside and I saw it in the aisle of Home depot marketed under an expensive brand costing almost $7! You can buy it at a .99 store for, well.... 99 Cents!!

Guest's picture

I found Sun Oxygen Bleach at Wal Mart. BUT....I used just the Castille soap I had on hand last night and guess what?? My dishes came out awesome! You were so right! I've tried all of the above recipes before with no success. It makes so much sense to use just plain soap like we do in our sink, Duh! Why didn't I think of that before? Thank you SO much for this helpful information.

What else can I learn from you? I'm all ears. ;)

You are great. You should really start your own blog. If you do, please let me know.


Estelle Stone

Guest's picture

i just made this and the mixture sounds like it is fizzing slightly and is very cold to touch. i am worried about it doing something dangerous..has anyone had this experience?

Babsy's picture

Which "mixture" did you just make?

Snippy's picture

Okay, I am at the point of not bothering. I purchased the Castile soap a while ago and I am afraid to try it straight b/c when I mixed it with the lemon juice that time, (when someone already tried it and it was ew!) :sick: it went all weird. I've used that cleaner for the toilet.
We have a water conditioner and it's difficult to figure out the amounts necessary to use. I can cut way back on amounts with any cleaner so I don't find it surprising that I'm having these issues.
I've very recently discovered the Meleluca company and I must say, the product I did use was astounding! :jawdrop: And no chemicals!

Babsy's picture

Snippy, you cannot add either vinegar or lemon juice to soap. It curdles it and causes it to be "un-soapy" and therefore worthless. If you add this at the same time as the soap it ruins it. In some all-purpose cleaner recipes there is a tiny bit of lemon juice called for but it has to be added to the water beforehand, and not straight to the soap or you might as well just throw it is wasted. I don't ever mix the two... If you have to, use the vinegar or lemon juice first to de-grease your surface, and then clean it all up with soap and water. (Too much trouble in my humble opinion.....just use hot soap and water and be done with it!)

Miller's picture

That’s great! It will be interesting to make some of my own. Thank you for sharing the formula for its preparation. I will try it out for sure. Keep updating further with more interesting stuffs like this. I would like to know more.

Snippy's picture

I haven't tried to make the dishwasher recipe for quite some time now. However, Castile soap is excellent for soaking feet! :grin:

Add new comment