I love to use homemade cleaners wherever possible.
Many of the recipes I found online for dishwasher detergent involved using borax. But unfortunately, I can't get borax here in the UK.
Here's the recipe I recommend:
You can make homemade dishwasher detergent (without borax) from ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen. Simply mix some washing soda crystals, oxygen bleach, plus some citric acid, and you have yourself a very effective detergent.
You can, of course, double up on washing soda crystals instead of the borax. But a really effective alternative to borax is oxygen bleach (sodium percarbonate) such as Oxiclean. I already had some in my laundry room, so it made perfect sense to give it another job.
I love it when cleaners have multiple uses!
This recipe worked out to be no cheaper than my supermarket own-brand dishwasher detergent!
If your motivation for making your own is to save money, check out this recipe instead, which uses only a couple of drops of dish soap and some baking soda.
Dishwasher detergent recipe with dish soap, baking soda and salt
If you want an effective recipe that is kind to the environment, made from common household ingredients, then read on!
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Why make your own dishwasher detergent?
Here are some benefits to making your own dishwasher detergent:
- It is cheaper than big brand detergents.
- Kinder for the environment.
- You probably have most of the ingredients already.
- Less wrapping and plastic waste.
- It's very easy to make!
Is homemade dishwasher detergent cheaper than ordinary detergent?
As I said earlier, this recipe is NOT cheaper to make than supermarket brand detergents are to buy.
Let's look into that a bit more.
The recipe I share below uses equal parts of oxygen-based laundry whitener, washing soda crystals, citric acid and table salt.
I've based my calculations on UK prices for those items. For me, one dose (two tablespoons) works out at 9p.
This is the SAME cost for one tablet of my local supermarket own-brand of dishwasher tablets.
Compared to a big brand, it is a saving of about 7p per dose.
So let's be clear.
If you are looking to save money making your own dishwasher detergent and you and are already using a supermarket's own brand of detergent, then you may not save money by making your own.
It is very worth doing your own calculation based on what the raw materials for this recipe will cost you. Maybe you can get the price down by buying in bulk or changing the ratio slightly.
Even if you don't save money, there are other advantages which you might consider greater, such as environmental. Homemade dishwasher detergent has less nasty chemicals in it and there is less packaging involved.
If you really do need to save money, check out this dishwasher detergent recipe using ordinary dish soap and baking soda. You won't get such a good wash, but it is cheaper to make.
The downsides of making your own dishwasher detergent
When you choose homemade dishwasher detergent over the regular kind, there are some allowances that need to be made, for sure.
Homemade may not be as effective as shop-bought detergents. I found that tea stains don't come off so well. You might find that, overall, the clean you get isn't as good.
You may have to experiment with different recipes to find out what works for you based on your water hardness. Don't forget that you will still need to add salt and rinse aid.
To get the best cleaning results with homemade dishwasher detergent, here are some helpful tips:
Tips for getting the best out of your homemade dishwashing detergent
- Always rinse your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher.
- Run your dishwasher immediately after adding detergent so that it doesn't clump and dissolves fully in the wash.
- Run a monthly maintenance wash to keep your dishwasher clean and fresh.
- Shake the detergent container from time to time to stop it clumping, and store in a cool and dry place.
How to use homemade dishwasher detergent
Add two tablespoons of your homemade powder to the detergent drawer and close it.
Don't worry if a little of it spills outside the drawer.
You can also sprinkle it on the bottom of the dishwasher.
Frequently asked questions
Do you need rinse aid when you use homemade dishwasher detergent?
Yes, always use rinse aid as you normally would for shop-bought detergents.
Adding rinse aid will help your dishes dry better and prevent watermarks.
Does homemade dishwasher detergent remove tea stains in cups?
I have found that homemade dishwasher detergent does not remove tea stains very well. You can remove the left-over tea stains from cups by soaking them in washing soda crystals or baking soda.
Here is some useful advice on how to get rid of tea stains in cups.
Do you need salt when you use homemade dishwasher detergent?
Yes, adding salt is necessary because doing so will protect your dishwasher from limescale build-up. It will also soften the water so that the detergent is more effective.
How long will the powder keep?
It will keep for up to a year. Keep it in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. It may clump up. You can break up the clumps by shaking the container or stirring it with a spoon.