How to Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent

Posted on Feb 18, 2013 by 3 Comments
How to Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent

I loathe washing dishes, so my dishwasher is by far my favorite household appliance. But, dishwasher detergent can be really expensive.

Since I’ve been experimenting with making all sorts of household products, including laundry detergent, finding great homemade dishwasher detergent has been one of my goals for 2013.

Of course, the main problem with making your own dishwasher detergent is that a lot of this depends upon personal factors. How old is your dishwasher? Do you rinse your dishes before you put them in? Do you stuff the dishwasher to the max or do you run it about half full? Do you have hard water or soft water?

If you want to make your own dishwasher detergent, be prepared to try several different recipes until you find something that works for you. I originally wanted a liquid detergent, since this is what I had been purchasing. But, every liquid recipe I tried only cleaned about half my dishes.

Despite my fondness for castile soap, a recipe using liquid castile soap, lemon juice, and vinegar was a complete flop.

This is the recipe that I am currently using. In case you were wondering, our dishwasher is three years old. I rarely remember to rinse the dishes before I put them in and I usually run the dishwasher about 3/4 full. I’ve never had our water tested, but signs point to hard water in our home.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

  • 1 cup borax
  • 1 cup washing soda
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • Two packets of unsweetened lemonade-flavored Kool-Aid type drink mix

Put all of the ingredients into a container and mix thoroughly. Use about two tablespoons per load.

Do not use any other flavor of Kool-Aid in your detergent mix. The lemonade has citric acid to help clean your dishes. Other flavors will just dye the inside of your dishwasher.

I use pure vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser instead of buying a product like Jet Dry. The rinse aid offers a noticeable improvement over just using the detergent by itself.

Do you make your own dishwasher detergent? If so, what recipe do you like the best?

Photo credit: jimmypk via Flickr

Posted in: For The Home
Dana Hinders

Dana Hinders lives in Iowa with her husband and son. She has been a freelance writer since shortly after earning her degree in journalism from The University of Iowa in 2003. She writes extensively about parenting, crafts, and creative ways to save money. Visit her at

Read more posts by



    Dishwasher detergent is so expensive and we seem to go through it so fast – I am going to definitely try this one soon.

  • MomHomeGuide

    I would love trying to make my own dishwasher detergent — the detergent can be so expensive!

  • Dana Hinders

    Good luck ladies! If you’re worried about wasting supplies, remember to make a half batch the first time around. The recipe I posted is enough to last my family of three over a month.