How To Make Dishwasher Liquid Soap

I love to stay as natural as possible for household items. Sometimes it is hard to do. For example, I haven’t been able to stop using bleach for the toilet. I just can’t find a good natural replacement!

However, dishwasher soap is one area that I have found can be replaced very easily with store cupboard items and still get (almost) as good a wash as you would get using a shop-bought dishwasher tablet.

So if you have arrived at this post because you want to ditch your usual dishwasher tablet, or you have simply run out of detergent, here’s how to make your own dishwasher liquid soap using items you very probably already have in your cupboard at home!

If you don’t have time to read. Here is a quick answer on how to make homemade dishwashing liquid. Read on for more detail:

There are several options for making homemade dishwasher liquid soap. The easiest one is to add three drops of ordinary dish soap into your dispenser drawer. Then fill the drawer two-thirds full with baking soda and then follow with salt until almost full. This combination washes your dishes very effectively without producing too many suds. Other methods include using liquid castile soap. You can also make dishwasher liquid with lemon juice.

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How to make dishwasher liquid soap at home (my favourite recipe)

Sometimes I forget to add dishwasher detergent to the drawer and it runs on water alone. As I found, dishes still get cleaned. Washing in hot water alone is fine for the odd cycle because it can’t do any harm to your dishwasher. But, dishwasher detergent is necessary not just for cleaning dishes but for keeping your dishwasher clean and stopping it from smelling, so it is important not to keep forgetting it!

Most of the time I like to use a homemade dishwasher detergent and dish soap because it is very simple and uses items that I don’t have to buy especially for this purpose.

I find this recipe works just as well as the shop-bought detergent (with one issue – find out later), plus all the ingredients are to hand in my cupboard.

Homemade dishwasher detergent recipe - sparklingpenny
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Ingredients for homemade dishwasher detergent

  • Dish soap (regular or eco-friendly)
  • Baking soda
  • Salt
Ingredients for homemade dishwasher detergent
Ingredients for homemade dishwasher detergent

How to use homemade detergent in your dishwasher:

  1. Add your dishes as normal (removing excess food first).
  2. Add three drops of regular dish soap to the dishwasher soap dispenser.
  3. Fill the dispenser two-thirds full of baking soda or bicarbonate of soda.
  4. Add salt until the dispenser is almost full.
  5. Close the dispenser.
  6. Start the cycle as normal.
homemade dishwasher detergent in the dishwasher detergent dispenser
Homemade dishwasher detergent in the dishwasher detergent dispenser

This recipe isn’t technically ‘liquid’ but it uses liquid dish soap so in my mind, I’m thinking it is!

Be careful not to use too much dish soap. All you need is three drops at most. Otherwise, there will be too many suds and your dishes won’t wash so well. Any kind of dish soap will do, so you have the option to go for any eco-friendly type too.

Related reading:

Homemade liquid detergent made with castile soap

This next recipe for homemade liquid detergent is one that I found when doing my research. So naturally, I tried it out for myself. The last thing I would want to do is recommend something that doesn’t work. Read on to find out what I thought.

Ingredients for homemade liquid detergent with castile soap
Ingredients for homemade liquid detergent with castile soap

I liked the idea of this recipe because it is all-natural, plus there is no requirement for borax. For some reason, the UK government where I live have banned it, so I can’t get hold of it here.

Ingredients for homemade liquid detergent with castile soap

  • 2 cups of liquid castile soap
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1/2 cup of distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of citric acid
  • A few drops of essential oils of your choice such as lemon/orange

Add the above to a glass jar and give it a good shake. To use it in your dishwasher, add two tablespoons to each load.

After giving it a good shake, here’s what I finished up with:

homemade liquid detergent with castile soap mixed in a jar
Homemade liquid detergent with castile soap mixed in a jar

As you can see it is a big fail. The soap separated into water and clumps of soap-like curds and whey! There was no way I was going to put that gunky stuff in my dishwasher!

The ingredients that made it separate was the vinegar and the citric acid. In my view, both of those should be left out of the recipe. So what you have left is plain Castile soap which has been fragranced with a few drops of essential oil.

Would Castile soap alone work to clean dishes?

I guess it would, as Castile is a soap, like any other. However, I didn’t want to take the risk of using it in my dishwasher. The thought of it separating inside the pipes and blocking everything up doesn’t bear thinking about.

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Homemade dishwasher liquid detergent recipe with lemons

Ingredients for lemon dishwasher liquid detergent
Ingredients for lemon dishwasher liquid detergent

If you love the smell of lemons as I do, then this is a perfect one for you! Lemons are great for cleaning your house because they are naturally anti-bacterial and are natural grease-busters too.

Bottled lemon juice is very useful for cleaning your house, and you can also use it to make your own dishwasher detergent.

I’ve looked at recipes using real lemons but to be quite honest I wasn’t keen on the fact that the recipe has a shelf life plus you have to boil up the whole lemons and strain them. So it is a bit of a faff.

The great thing too about using bottled lemon juice instead of whole lemons is that the bottled kind has preservatives in it, which means you don’t have to rush into using it up as you do with the fresh lemon recipe.

Ingredients for lemon dishwasher liquid detergent

For this recipe, you need the kind of juice that is meant for use in cooking as a replacement for a freshly squeezed lemon, like this one:

Sicilia Lemon Juice, 7oz (Pack of 3)

Buy from Amazon

  • 1 cup bottled lemon juice
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1 cup salt

Method for making lemon dishwasher liquid detergent

Simply combine all the ingredients into a bottle and pour about two tablespoons into the detergent compartment of your dishwasher.

Related reading:

How To Clean The Inside Of A Kettle With Lemon Juice

What are the disadvantages of using homemade dishwasher detergent?

There are several advantages to making and using homemade dishwasher detergent. They include saving money and being kinder to the environment. For me, the biggest advantage is convenience. I always have dish soap to hand and baking soda is a store cupboard staple. Add in some simple table salt and you have a convenient and effective dishwasher detergent.

But what are the disadvantages? For me, there is one issue.

I find that homemade dishwashing detergent doesn’t deep clean the dishes as well as store-bought detergent. We are big tea drinkers in our family and unfortunately, tea can stain the inside of cups very easily. Homemade dishwasher detergent does not remove the stains. It cleans them well, but the tea stains remain. That isn’t a huge issue because all you need to do is soak them for a few minutes in some hot water and soda crystals and the tea stains will simply wipe away.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use liquid soap in my dishwasher?

You can use liquid dish soap in your dishwasher. Only use a maximum of three drops in the soap dispenser otherwise there will be too many soap suds. You can make your own liquid soap using liquid Castile soap along with some essential oils such as lemon. You can also make your own liquid using bottled lemon juice, vinegar and salt.

How can I make DIY dishwasher detergent without citric acid?

Citric acid isn’t necessary for dishwasher detergent. If you don’t have any you can still make effective detergent. Simply add two to three drops of dish soap to the soap compartment of your dishwasher. Then fill up to two-thirds of the compartment with baking soda and then add salt up to the top.

How can I make DIY dishwasher detergent without borax?

Borax isn’t necessary for dishwasher detergent. I’m not able to get it here in the UK. If you are in the same boat you can use a combination of dish soap, baking soda and salt for a brilliant wash every time.

How to use liquid detergent in a dishwasher?

You should be able to pour your dishwasher liquid into the dispenser drawer. Another option is to put a small dishwasher safe bowl in the top rack and add your liquid there.

This article and its contents are owned by sparklingpenny.com and was first published on 12 January 2022.
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Penny | SparklingPenny

Hi, I'm Penny. A busy mum of two boys, with the aim to enjoy life to the full.