Total Time
Prep 5 mins
Cook 0 mins

Detergent for the dishwasher is SO expensive. I searched the net for a home-made alternative and developed this simple recipe. We've been using it for a while now and it washes the dishes even better than the shop bought variety. The amount needed will depend on how soft your water is - we find 1 tablespoon is enough, but we're on tank water. You might need 2 tablespoons if you're on hard town water. Instead of Rinse Aid, we just use white vinegar.

Ingredients Nutrition

  • 1 cup washing soda (crystals)
  • 1 cup borax
  • 2 -3 drops perfumed oil (optional)


  1. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Process until washing soda crystals are reduced to powder.
  3. Store in airtight container.
  4. Use 1- 2 tablespoons per load in your dishwasher.
  5. (To save even more money, substitute Rinse Aid with white vinegar.).
Most Helpful

I have been using close to this recipe for over a month (1 load a day) with great results. Here are my tips. 1 cup each washing soda and borax plus 2 envelopes unsweetened lemonade (like koolaid) And use white vinegar in rinse agent compartment. This is for people with soft water. If you have hard water, mix in 4 envelopes of lemonade. If you continue to have white film, add another lemonade packet. I would also suggest, before giving it a try,(those with hard water) to run through 6 envelopes of lemonade first in an empty dishwasher and put 1 cup white vinegar in the rinse (to clean the dishwasher of limestone) I put my dishwasher powder in an old coffee creamer container with pour spout lid. Use approx. 1 TBS./ compartment- adjust to less if you can-LESS IS MORE. You may notice the powder will clump after a while-it doesn't hurt it- I put a silicon gel pack from a new pair of shoes to dry out my container. If you have heavy limestone build up in your dishwasher-look in your instruction manual or on the internet to find out how to clean out your sprayer arm. I started with FISTFULLS of limestone. Good luck- and don't give up... we can do this on the cheap... I HATE paying 5 bucks for something that is washed down the drain.

whammie April 21, 2010

Just thought I'd give everyone my tip for avoiding the white film on your dishes. Fill only the small pre-wash cup with the "detergent" and fill the larger wash cycle cup with white vinegar and the essential oil. Works perfect every time!

isispleiades July 19, 2008

Tried this tonight as I forgot to buy detergent at the store. It seemed to work pretty well on plastic containers, plates and silverware, although, I admit that I pre-rinse my dishes, so there wasn't a lot of stuck on food. Two previous reviews of this recipe were very helpful ~ whammie and isispleiades. Whammie suggested using lemonade packets, which contain citric acid. I've seen other detergent recipes include citric acid, so I am thinking it acts as an abrasive to help scrub away food particles. Isispleiades suggested filling the pre-rinse compartment with the detergent and the main wash compartment with white vinegar as well as adding the vinegar to the rinse compartment. I followed this advice (although my compartments are labeled "light wash" and "heavy/normal wash") and it seemed to work pretty well. 1 tbsp of the detergent filled the "light wash" compartment. Hopefully, this detergent mixture will continue to clean as well as it did tonight.

SGpratt March 04, 2012