Having a dishwasher at home is a convenient method for dealing with dirty dishes. If you hate washing dishes by hand, then you probably discontinued doing that once you had your dishwasher installed!
On the other hand, there are some who claim that dishwashers are a waste of water and electricity, and that nothing compares to the cleanliness achieved through scrubbing each and every plate manually. Actually, though, the dishwasher can make your plates, bowls, and silverware sparkling clean, provided that you use a cleaning detergent powerful enough to lift the grease and dissolve any food leftovers stuck on the plate surface.
Why Make your Own Detergent?
If you are keen on finding frugal and natural ways to keep your house clean, homemade dishwasher detergent is something you will definitely want to try! Homemade cleaning detergents are not only less expensive, but they also contain minimal quantities of potentially dangerous ingredients as compared to the commercial ones that often do more harm than good.
You might be surprised to know that the homemade dishwasher cleaning solutions are just as effective as those available on the shelves in the supermarkets. However, the detergent’s cleaning efficiency is not the only factor for making your dishes sparkle. Sometimes the powdered detergents cannot completely dissolve.
The temperature you wash your dishes at is also important. In addition, the hardness/softness of the water is also a key factor that determines how successful the dishwashing process will be. Be sure to put your dishwasher on an appropriate setting, and to give the following three recipes a try to find which works best for your dishwasher and situation.
DIY Natural Dishwasher Detergent for Sparkling Dishes
- 1/2 cup Citric Acid (buy citric acid here)
- 1/2 cup course Salt
- 1 cup Borax (find it at Walmart, Target, or online here)
- 1 cup of washing soda (find it at Walmart, or online here)
- MDC tip: Add 15-20 drops of antibacterial essential oils for an extra cleansing boost! Lemon essential oil will even help to cut grease. Check out our free printable below for a full list of other great essential oils to use in cleaning!
Mix the ingredients well and store in an upcycled container or jar (a 32 oz. plastic yogurt container works just fine). Use 1 Tbsp per dishwasher load.
Tips & Tricks
Vinegar Rinse: For best results, add white vinegar to the rinsing cycle compartment. Vinegar is famous for its anti-bacterial and odor neutralizing properties, and as a result is widely used for various cleaning and sanitizing purposes.
Clumping: In order to make the detergent clump less, you can add one teaspoon of rice, which is well known for its moisture absorbing properties. Another trick for avoiding clumps is to add the citric acid separately to each washing cycle rather than adding it to the detergent.
Pods: If you prefer to make pods instead of a powder detergent, you can use a spray bottle to lightly mist the powder with distilled water until it begins to clumb. Distribute the detergent into ice cube trays and let set, so it forms blocks.
Want a Borax-free version?
Try this recipe from QualityCleaners Chiswick instead (which will make enough for 24 loads)…
- 1 cup Washing Soda (can be bought at Walmart, or online here)
- 1/4 cup Citric Acid (buy Citric Acid here)
- 1/4 cup course Salt
Mix the first 3 ingredients well and store in an air-tight container. If you have really dirty dishes, add 1 Tbsp of the mixture to the washing cycle, or use 1 teaspoon for moderately dirty dishes. For best results, you can add some more vinegar to the rinsing cycle, or a little bit into the detergent compartment to make a paste.
Still Short on Ingredients? Here is one More Recipe to Try…
If you don’t have washing soda or citric acid on hand, you can still make your own dishwasher detergent from items thay you probably do have in your kitchen.
- Baking Soda
- Natural Dish Soap liquid
Place the dirty dishes in the dishwasher and add several drops of the dish soap to the detergent compartment. Then fill 2/3 of the compartment with baking soda, and then add salt until the compartment is full. Run the dishwasher as usual.
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Article by Sophie Clayton // Photos by My Darla Clementine
Sophie Clayton is from London. She likes to write articles about homemade cleaning detergents and also runs a small cleaning company.