Homemade Borax-Free Dishwasher Detergent

I have tried many different “eco-friendly” dishwasher detergents over the years.  From 7th Generation to Ecos, Method to Ecover, I just couldn’t find one that worked very well.  And with a price as high as those, I certainly wanted something that worked.

Eventually I came across a recipe to make my own dishwasher detergent.  It contained washing soda, borax, salt and citric acid.  It worked… somewhat.  I wasn’t satisfied with the results and neither was I satisfied with the ingredient Borax.  I am not convinced Borax is safe, especially when used on eating utensils etc.  After discussing the homemade recipe with some others, the thought came up “what if we just removed the Borax?”  So when I ran out of my detergent I did just that.  I removed the Borax.   I also added white distilled vinegar as a rinse aid.  The combination provides great results!!

So here is my borax-free dishwasher detergent recipe:

  • 1 cup washing soda (old recipe used  baking soda)
  • 1/4 c. citric acid
  • 1/4 c. coarse salt
  • 10-15 drops of citrus essential oil (Optional.  Orange, grapefruit, or lemon essential oils have great cleaning as well as antibacterial properties.)
  • Distilled white vinegar (in the rinse aid compartment)

Mix first 3 ingredients well in an air tight container. Add essential oil.  Mix again.  Fill your rinse aid compartment with undiluted white distilled vinegar.

Use 1 tsp. detergent for average loads.
Use 1 tbsp. detergent for extra greasy, dirty loads.

UPDATE:  More is not better!  If you are having any build up issues use less! 

Where to find ingredients:
Citric acid is easily purchased in bulk at  U-Brew  stores.  You may find it at grocery stores near the canning supplies, or in the bulk section.  You can also buy it at Mountain Rose Herbs Co.   Some people use plain, uncolored koolaid and get the same effects.  (Make sure you use the colorless koolaid or you will dye your dishwasher!) This is because koolaid is very high in citric acid.  I don’t like the other ingredients in koolaid though so I choose not to use it.  Lemi Shine is also sometimes used to replace citric acid.  I feel the same way about lemi shine as I do about koolaid.
Coarse salt: same as pickling salt.  Found in most grocery stores or purchase coarse sea salt online at Mountain Rose Herbs.  Don’t use regular table salt because of the iodine content.
Baking Soda: We all know where to find it!
Essential Oil: Found in most natural food stores or online at Mountain Rose Herbs.

  • I rinse off my dishes reasonably well ever since I switched to chemical-free dishwasher detergents.  Rinsing off grease and baked-on food will help any cleaner, not just a homemade one.
  • Hard water: I don’t know if this would work in hard water or not because my water is soft.  However, my own research indicates that citric acid is often used in addition to regular dishwasher detergents to help prevent mineral deposits on the dishes.  Try it out and let me know!
  • I placed one glass in the dishwasher and left it in for many loads as my tester.  I have done over 30 loads with this recipe to date.

Cost: (based on Mountain Rose Herbs prices)
5 lb. of citric acid is $20.
5 lb. of baking soda is $11.75.
5 lb. of coarse sea salt is $15.
Essential oil (optional) varies in price..

Is it worth it to make your own?
Based on the prices above (not including essential oils), and the fact that there are 36 tbsp. of sugar in a lb. (similar texture and weight to this detergent), I worked this detergent out to cost $0.08 a load. 

7th Generation dishwashing tabs (about 1 tbsp. each) are $6.99 for 20. (based on online price from London Drugs)  So 7th Generation dishwashing tabs cost $0.35 cents a load.   

You’ll be saving a lot of money (not to mention your health and the environment) by making your own eco-friendly detergent.

This post has been linked to Frugal Days, Sustainable Ways #25, Simple Living Wednesday, Homestead Helps Wednesday #5, Homestead Revival Barn Hop #61MorrisTribe’s Homesteading Blog Carnival #6, Whole Foods Wednesday #56 and  Fat Tuesday.

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  1. I saw your link on Reduce Footprints and am so glad I came here. I have been making our own laundry detergent for several years now and have been wanting to try my hand at one for our dishwasher. I am so excited to give this one a try and to make that vinegar also! What a blessing to have found this post today!

  2. Do you have a recipe of hand washing dishes that won’t leave a film on the dishes?

    • I don’t, but I will be working on it! Check back for updates!

    • Heather says:

      I like using a 1:1 ratio of non-iodized table salt and washing soda. I also add vinegar to my rinse water. We use clear glass dishes from the dollar store and each one is always sparkling crystal clear with this recipe. I mix 1/2 cup salt to 1/2 cup washing soda (higher pH than baking soda) and store it in air tight container at the sink. I add 1-2 TBSP per sink of dishes depending on if it’s a full sink or half a sink. Of course, the biggest key is super hot rinse water! I’ve never had dirty or filmy dishes this way. Cheers!

    • Deb – take 1-2 tsp citric acid, and add it to your loads. This will take care of the film! Do not mix it in with the rest of your ingredients as it clumps everything up though.

  3. Thank you for this recipe. I had given up on making my own dish detergent! I recently tried a similar recipe WITH borax. It seems to work, but like you I am not convinced of borax’s safety when it comes to dishes. I just went to our water department website and as I suspected, we have what is considered “moderately hard” to “hard” water. I’ll try your recipe and let you know if it works.

  4. How much would you use for an HE dishwasher?

  5. Tanya W says:

    I’m so excited to find your recipe! (I came over from Mommy Footprint’s FB page) I just had one question, I used a similar recipe to your original one and found it ultimately pitted all my glasses. We live in an area with very soft water. Have you had any experience with this or any suggestions?? Thanks so much for sharing!

    • Hi Tanya, I haven’t noticed any pitting. I wonder if that was the citric acid or the salt? Did the other recipe call for coarse salt and citic acid? Or borax? I have done probably 30-50 loads now with this recipe but haven’t noticed that. What did the pitting look like? Could you actually see little pit marks in the glass?

      • Tanya W says:

        Hi~ there was no citric acid~washing soda/ baking soda/ borax with vinegar in the rinse aid compartment. Pitting was like someone had taken a knife and sliced down the outside of the glass~ tiny thin lines. I didn’t notice it for a few weeks though.

        I sure hope I can use this one~ I wondered with the first one if I was seeing the pitting b/c I have soft water and was using too much detergent given that fact. I’m currently using 7th Gen and it works OK but I don’t find it always cleans very well.

        Thanks so much for your help!

    • Having never made homemade dishwasher detergent, but just wondering what could cause pitting…. do you think that using coarse salt might have something to do with it? If it’s course, it would take longer to dissolve, which would mean that the salt, which is abrasive and sharp, would be swishing around the glasses for quite a while before the salt dissolved. I wonder if using plain fine sea salt, without added iodine, might work as well to clean, but being finer, might dissolve sooner so that there would be less time for the abrasive salt to swish around? Crazy thought, but maybe?

      • It could be the coarse salt, although as I said, I haven’t experienced that at all. I wonder if the salt she used had iodine in it? I wonder if the iodine would cause pitting?

        • Just to clear up, I used regular table salt (not knowing as much about the variety of salts as I do now!). I’ve also noticed some pitting with the 7th Gen tabs so I believe it has something to do with the very soft water of our area and too much detergent. Giving your recipe a go this week! (Now that summer is finally here and I can have some extra moments!) Thank you!

          • Don’t use regular table salt because it contains iodine. Use coarse salt (or pickling salt) since it doesn’t contain iodine. Sea salt is probably fine too.
            Good luck and let me know how it works for you!

    • I would suspect the baking soda. My brother-in-law has a big problem with heartburn and drinks baking soda and water to quench his “fire”. It has left all their glassware pitted. They replaced a good portion of their glasses but his treatment is doing the same to the new ones now.
      Because it’s sodium bicarbonate, I wonder if this effect is worse with soft water and that tweaking the recipe to account for that might help. I just know that baking soda can have that effect on glassware. Hope that helps someone.
      I am having problems with the film myself. I am going to experiment with using less detergent and with a longer rinse cycle.

  6. I also was wondering about pitting. Looking forward to discussion on that!

    • I used one cup repeatedly (never took it out of the dishwasher except to look at it) and it has no pit marks. Not sure what would be causing them.

    • Normally I have found that pitting can be caused by the citric acid. Most silverware says specifically in the packaging that citric acid should be avoided because of filmy build-up and pitting. Does anyone know of a recipe for a dishwasher that does not contain citric acid? I don’t want to damage my cutlery or other dishes.

  7. I just found your site through Fat Tuesday and I am glad I did! I am just entering the world of homemade green cleaners and had thought I would have to skip the dishwasher entirely because I hadn’t been able to find a recipe I liked. Now I can’t wait to try this out. Thank you, I’ll be checking back often.

  8. I’m so excited to find you via Fat Tuesday and see this post Free Range Mama. I haven’t been using my dishwasher for a while now opting to hand-wash with eco-friendly washing up liquid. I would to be able to use a natural product as my dishwasher is very efficient ecologically and probably saves more water that hand washing.

    Mine takes tablets though so I wonder how I could use this?

    Thank you so much for sharing.

    • Hi Deb! We are glad you found us too! I have heard of people freezing detergent in ice cube trays and then storing them in zip locks. You’d have to add a SMALL amount of water first. It will fizz because that’s what happens when the water combines the citric acid and the baking soda. Let me know if you try it!

      • Anonymous says:

        How about making this into something like a bath fizzy by using witch hazel or vodka sprayed into the dry mixture and mixed until it feels like damp sand and clumps together when squeezed. Then press into a mold like an ice cube tray. Not sure how it would hold together with the salt in it.

      • Thank you I will definitely give this a go and let you know how I get on.


  9. Melanie says:

    Our dishwasher’s manufacturer instructions are to use no “lemon” dishwasher soaps so I’m guessing that the citric acid would not be good for my dishwasher. Is there any alternative?

    • A good question and one I can’t answer :). You could contact your manufacturer and ask why. I imagine you would void your warranty if it was damaged and you admitted you used citrus cleaner.

  10. What do you think about adding sodium percarbonate to the mix as a whitener/brightener?

  11. LOVE this recipe! I tried it today in it works so well! My dishes are literally “sqeaky” clean. THey feel great and the glasses sparkle! Thanks so much for sharing it! I might make some for gifts.

  12. Is your recipe ingredient “washing soda” or ‘baking soda”? You mention one in the write up at the beginning, but have another listed in the recipe….

    • I used baking soda. I am currently trying it with washing soda and so far getting the same great results. I am going to try it for another week or so to make sure we aren’t dealing with build up over a period of time etc.

  13. I am going to try both this and the vinegar cleaner….. can’t wait to see how they work!

  14. This looks great! I think,perhaps, the etching some described, may be from too much washing soda & maybe the coarse salt. Borax & those products are all alkaline, I believe. There isn’t any reason not to use finer salt, just don’t buy iodized.
    I’m going to try a batch of this & share your recipe with my daughter-in-law, because she buys Method & I’ve been using 7th Gen. Thanks!

  15. Does this recipe clump? Is there a way to avoid that beside adding rice, if it does. My son is allergic to rice (believe it or not!) so I’ve been avoiding making our detergent b/c the recipe with the borax caked horribly.

    • This recipe doesn’t clump. If you use washing soda instead of baking soda then it will clump. That’s has been my experience anyway. If you ever have trouble with clumping you can put in a soda cracker to prevent clumping, or a dessicant (sp) which is a little paper package that often comes in toys and shoes etc to prevent mildew. That works too. Thanks for asking!

    • calliope Greece says:

      Hi! My batch did clump. It became hard as a rock actually! So I de-clumped it with my hands. then put rice into a pouch and put the pouch into the air tight container.
      Hope I’ve helped

  16. Steph in Berkeley says:

    What about clumping…how bad is the clumping?
    I tried a similar recipe from DIY Natural and it clumped terribly…so I added a bit of rice and that stuck to my dishes. I’d love to make my own…but does it clump or leave residue?

  17. Steph in Berkeley says:

    Nevermind. I see the answers here.

  18. Awesome! Thanks so much….I am just now getting into my first house that has a dishwasher. :-) I am pinning this for future reference.

  19. I am so happy that you posted this. I have been making my own dishwasher detergent but it leaves my dishes very cloudy, even with a vinegar rinse aid. I cannot wait to try this, thank you!
    I wanted to let you know that I always enjoy your posts and just gave you the versatile blogger award. I am sure that you have received this before but you inspire me and I wanted to let you know!
    You can read the post with the award here: http://www.earthmamasworld.com/gluten-free-almond-flour-oatmeal-bars/

  20. I made this yesterday and used it and it worked great. I put it in a mason jar with a lid and ring, when I came back today to use it ,it was a solid. I had to chip away at it with a spoon just to get enough to do a load of dishes. What could I have done wrong?

  21. Kristine says:

    Could this possibly hurt my dishes? I’ll give it a try with a couple of dishes. Is there any reason that I can’t use a finer salt?

  22. Hi. Thanks for sharing with me!

    Wondering if this works well even if you don’t rinse that well. I get all the clumpy stuff off but leave sauce residue, etc. Thanks!!!

  23. I would love to try this! Do you know if it is safe to use with a septic tank?

  24. Thanks for posting this! I’ve been trying to find a natural alternative, and every link I have clicked on, the ingredients always list Borax. Now, I don’t really know about Borax in particular… What I do know is that boric acid is highly effective at killing roaches. I could empty out half a can of roach killer on one, all the while I’m coughing and hacking, and the roach isn’t even affected by it… Yet, boric acid WILL kill them. So, if it will kill something that difficult to get rid of, what would it do to a person?

  25. justcallmejo says:

    I noticed that you are mixing baking soda and vinegar which is usually quite an eruption – have you noticed any issues with this? (I’m thinking of the mixed baking soda/citric acid/salt combining with the citrus vinegar cleaner in the dishwasher not the baking soda reacting with the citric acid).


    • Hi,
      The vinegar is added to the rinse compartment which doesn’t open until the final rinse. In the mean time, the baking soda and citric acid have already cleaned the dishes and drained out. Thanks!

  26. I tried making this dishwasher detergent, and it worked great the first couple times, but the third time I tried to use it, it had formed into a solid brick. It was so hard that I couldn’t break it up even with a knife (I didn’t use the essential oil). Is there something I’m missing here to keep it from solidifying? I put in 1C baking soda, 1/3 cup citric acid, and 1/3 cup salt.

  27. Some people say it clumps or turns rock hard if you use the washing soda, has anyone tried putting them into forms and letting them turn rock hard themselves and making the tabs like you buy at the store? I thought of putting them in my chocolate molds and trying to get them to harden up. Any trial and errors would help…

    • Someone who has used my recipe did this and sold them apparently. I haven’t tried it… I guess if it dissolves then it is a great idea!!! Let me know if you have a go with it!!

      • I tried, but I bought the anhydrous citric acid not knowing it was anhydrous until I got it in the mail. Anhydrous means no water, so it doesn’t clump at all. I mixed all the ingredients together and they don’t clump and work great. I am going to do some research and see what I can add to possibly make them hard. I used to make bath fizz bombs, so I may be able to use something I used for them.

  28. Check out this site- she breaks down all the ingredients and talks about what commercial dishwasher detergent has and does not have and the reason why or not to use an ingredient.
    Very informative

  29. On another matter if you are having problems with clumping- use a few of the silica packs you get in bottles of vitamins and such should help keep moisture down.

  30. Hi! Can I substitute the citric acid with plain lemon juice? Also, did you try making your own laundry detergent without borax? I too question the safety of borax and I also don’t use bleach at home. If you tried making laundry detergent, could you please share it? I am guessing washing soda, Castile soap, baking soda, etc can be used. Adding vinegar during rinse cycle is believed to remove static cling.

  31. Hi. I had previously been making a dishwasher detergent with borax. We live in London, UK and I found out that supposedly the EU has banned the sale of Borax so we are given something called “Borax Subsitute” – which is Sodium Sesquicarbonate. (although I am sure we can still buy borax here!). So my detergent essentially has the same ingredients as yours plus a cup of the substitute. We live in a very hard water area and it does work quite well although our glasses made of recycled wine bottles end up a little cloudy. This is probably more a rinse aid problem – since we are either using none, or vinegar made from acetic acid which I kind of wonder if it just isn’t as good as the brewed stuff.
    It does clump a little, but not as much as when we were using the borax. But will give your ideas for a dessicant a go, and we may be sorted.
    I am also going to try the recipe without the borax substitute to see how we fare – after all, less is more :)

  32. i can see this working very well in hard water. my parents have well water that is so hard it is undrinkable. my mother has used a teaspoon of citric acid (sour salt) with her detergent for years. the dishes come out sparkling and has saved the life of the machine from scale deposit.

  33. Joyce Omylyon says:

    Hello, folks, as a house cleaner, I had a few clients ask me if I knew why their dishwashers were depositing a white film on their dishes. I was wondering the same thing about my own dishwasher. I had dismantled my dishwasher a few times, cleaning it, thoroughly, and replacing the rinse aid, each time – except for the last time. I tried vinegar, finally, instead of the rinse aid, and – Voila! – it seems to have done the trick! So, for those of you who do not want to make the citrus vinegar cleaner, for other things, plain vinegar seems to take care of the problem for me and my clients. We have very hard water, in our area.

  34. I’ve just found your site through a Google search and have read through all of the comments, so I know the problems/questions others have asked and I didn’t see mine anywhere. My dishwasher has a stainless steel interior. Is this safe to use in it? We have extremely hard water and my dishwasher if covered with white film, as are all of my dishes, flatware, glasses and any pots I wash in it. On top of that, the currently available dishwasher detergent (I’ve tried so many) etches my glasses. That has only become a problem since they removed the phosphates from the commercial detergent. I am looking for something that actually cleans my dishes thoroughly and leaves them sparkling rather than all spotted and cloudy, so I want to try your recipe but only if it’s not going to damage the interior of my machine! Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Elaine, the detergent won’t etch or damage your stainless interior. Mine is stainless too. The deposits may be the issue for you because of the hard water. That said, it is certainly worth a try. You have problems with mineral deposits anyway. Please let me know how it goes! Thanks and good luck.

  35. How about making this in a liquid version? I’ve always preferred liquid dishwasher soap because we’ve had trouble with powdered soaps not dissolving all the way or staying clumped up in the little compartment you put it in. What if you just dissolved your powder in some water…I wonder how much. I also wonder if there’s something that would thicken it a bit so it’s not watery. What are your thoughts?

    • When you combine the citric acid and the washing soda they fizz and a chemical reaction of sorts occurs. I dont think they should be combined until use. If you come up with anything I would love to hear!

      • Hi,

        There is something I didn’t understand.
        When I mixed the 1 cup of washing soda with 1/4 cup citric acid, as according to your recipe, it indeed caused a reaction, it fizzed and did not set. I could not use it whatsoever, no matter how much washing soda I added.

        Here you are writing: “I don’t think they (washing soda and citric acid) should be combined until use.”

        So how do I go about making a large amount, and not one at a time?


        • Niva, are you trying to make a solid form of the detergent? To be honest, I have never done this myself so I am going by speculation. You can’t add water to it or it will react. You could leave it out and let it “clump” just from the moisture in the air. Does that answer your question? All I do is store the dry ingredients in a jar with a little deseccant bag and add it by the scoop (dry) to my laundry. It reacts when it gets wet but that’s what it is supposed to do, when in use. Hope that helps.

  36. Its seems that borax is often misunderstood or confused with boric acid. It is a very important mineral – containing the ever-important element, boron – that many people may be deficient in. It is true that many governments have banned its sale or give it a bad rap; keep in mind that our government also bans raw milk because of its dangers. After a lot of research, my husband and I supplement boron by highly diluting borax – yes, 20 Mule Team – and drink it. It will cause GI upset at first because it is a potent fluoride detoxifier (among other detox benefits), so a “healing crisis” may occur initially. Borax is a pure substance mined in Boron, California. In my opinion, as a thorough google researcher ;) and an RN, borax is no more dangerous than table salt. Boron has been shown to cure or improve many chronic medical conditions (arthritis, osteoporosis, skeletal fluorosis, hormone imbalances and many skin conditions. Keep in mind that table salt is very dangerous….when not ingested or consumed properly.

    While I am pro-borax for cleaning my dishes, laundry, bones, liver, gut, and teeth. I am not suggesting any person consume it without doing their own research on its benefits, warnings, and specific formula for dilution – it needs to be highly diluted!

  37. Hi, just trying this out now. Sorry if I’ve missed it somewhere but why the change from baking to washing soda?

  38. cheryl baldwin says:

    I’m excited to have found your website! A friend posted one of your pages on Facebook, which is how I got here. My dishwasher detergent question is this: we use sterling silver flatware (it was my grama’s and I LOVE using it every day!) and I am wondering if there’s any fear of the home made detergent harming the silver in any way. Any thoughts?

    Thank you.

    (I washed my hair with baking soda this morning and am thrilled at how squeaky clean, soft and shiny it is. THANK YOU)

    • Welcome, Cheryl! I have washed my silver with it and had no trouble at all, BUT I only use my silver on special occasions, so I can’t say for everyday use. You could test it with one or 2 pieces and see! Good luck, and please let me know how it works for you!

  39. Hi, I’ve been using the recipe and my dishes are coming out all cloudy and pots have a film. We have slightly hard water but is categorized as slightly hard.

    • Are you using the updated recipe or the original one? (the original one is now in brackets). I was just admiring my dishes today, how sparkly and clear they were. You can try adjusting ingredients, like increasing citric acid a bit. Are you using the citrus vinegar or plain vinegar as a rinse? If you are, switch to just plain vinegar and see how that works. Waters are so different it can be hard to find the right mix. Good luck!

  40. Was so disappointed that this did not work for me. All of my dishes looked dirty. Waterspots and streaks that looked as if the food was not completely removed. And this was with practically washing the dishes completely before putting them in the dishwasher. I do have very hard water so that might be the problem. I’m going to try adding Borax to the mixture and see if that makes the difference.

  41. I didn’t see my question anywhere above, so here it goes. I’m noticing on my box of Arm & Hammer All Natural Super Washing Soda that it says CAUTION: MAY BE HARMFUL IF SWALLOWED. So, like you, I’m not sure I want to use Borax in my dishwasher, but at the same time, this washing soda specifically states it can be harmful if swallowed. So if you happen to have the residue left on your dishes and you are drinking from your glasses and eating off your plate, then you are in essence swallowing washing soda. What are your thoughts? I’m thinking of just using the baking soda, but as you said, washing soda seems to do a little better due to the pH.

    • My dishes are clearly rinsed well. If you get a film on the dishes you might want to rethink that, but you are only using a tsp to start with, and it is dispursed in water so I really don’t think there is any staying on your dishes. You have a point though, I haven’t looked to see how toxic washing soda is compared to borax.

  42. This is exactly what I’ve been looking for!!!! For the washing soda, I read you can bake baking soda at 400 degrees fahrenheit for an hour and basically it dehydrated the baking soda and chemically turns it into washing soda. So needless to say I have a cup of baking soda in the oven right now :) I also read somewhere that over time it can reabsorb moisture and turn back into washing soda. Just some tidbits for those unable to locate washing soda or not wanting to buy an extra product strictly for cleaning. I am also about to make some lemonade so I can get the peels going in vinegar. Wish I had read this blog last week… Grapefruit is my favorite smell for cleaning :) Thank you sooooo much for posting this recipe!!!! I have started cooking organic from scratch and have swapped my cleaning sprays for vinegar but hadn’t found a non borax recipe yet for washing dishes. Next is the laundry soap, then off to my shampoo and skin care :) I enjoy not only eliminating toxins in my life and the planet, but also being able to be self sufficient and making my own things :) It’s very rewarding :)

  43. Dorothy C. says:

    I was wondering if this is safe for plastic ware? While my husband and I use mostly glass dishes our drinking cup are sometimes plastic as well as my 18 month old son’s dishes and utensils.

    • I have put plastic in the dishwasher and have never had any trouble with it. I try to avoid plastic in the dishwasher because I have melted things before but there are a few things that always go in (lids from Klean Kanteens, lids from the stainless steel thermoses etc) and have never had any trouble.

  44. Shelley Smith says:

    Hi, I’m desperately searching for a dishwasher recipe that will clean my dishes while also totally dissolving and rinsing away at the end of the cycle. I have tried every product on the market for our dishwasher, all with no real satisfaction. I even thought there was something wrong with the dishwasher or our water system and have had several people in to check into it, and every one has said everything is fine…yet to get dishes without a filmy residue ends up with salt and ‘grit’ being left stuck on (dried on) all over the dishes. Our water is fairly soft, and we have no lime scale issues either, but I’ve used products for hard water and lime scale thinking that maybe there was a problem with the draining. We rinse all our dishes before they are put in the dishwasher, so there’s not gobs of grease going in (and our pots and pans are hand washed), but I’ve run different dishwasher cleaning products through the machine also in hopes of something working. So I was quite excited to see a recipe for something else to try. I agree with you on the use of Borax, especially when it comes to eating utensils and things, so I can’t wait to give your recipe a try. Have my fingers crossed that this will be the one that works for our family! Thank you for sharing it!

    • Good luck! I guess you had your dishwasher checked by a professional? Ours wasn’t getting our dishes very clean and we discovered that one of the drains was plugged with gunk and so it was spraying dirty water back onto the washed dishes. Yuck! I have no trouble whatsoever with this detergent dissolving and washing away.

  45. Excited to try this, thanks for the recipe! I didn’t like the idea of borax at all, this looks fantastic and easy. Can’t wait!

  46. i Love that i finally found a non-borax recipe :) I have found that i have to use half of a tsp in the ‘closed’ part of dishwasher then another 1/2 tsp in the open section as well for there to be no spots/film. My dishes look great dont get me wrong, …but… I have 1 question: i have made the mix in a glass jar, & i can NOT get the thing to stop clumping together. I even keep it on top of my counter now just incase it was too ‘musty’ under the sink.. i am always shaking it & stirring it @ bc it is always sticking.. did i put too much essential orange oil into it(I did 10 drops)? if so, what should i add to make it more of a powder? Thanks again

  47. Thanks! I’ll try that

  48. I have a commercial high temp. dishwasher.
    Are all the recommended ingredients still necessary?
    Also have hard water.
    Any suggestions?

  49. Awesome! I didn’t rinse my dishes and we have hard water. Sparkling clean! Thank you!!!!

  50. Jennifer says:

    I made the recipe above and even made a batch of the orange vinegar to use as a rinse aid… I have been using it for about 2 months or so and I have noticed that both my silverware looks murky and unclean and my plastics almost always have a white film build up on them. I have used a citrus cleaner to clean out my dishwasher 3 different times and put vinegar in every load but still have this problem…. Anyone experience this or know how to remedy it??

    • Are you putting the vinegar in during the rinse, or in the rinse compartment?

      • Jennifer says:

        I just pour it in during the rinse cycle… NOT the compartment. My step mom made a batch of this but did hers with Borax and she is having the same problem too. Her dishwasher is brand new too…. I don’t understand why. The silverware is what looks the worst, it’s streaky and dirty looking…. I just didn’t know if anyone else was having this problem too.

        • I use the vinegar in the rinse compartment, so not sure if that would make a difference or not. Different water types react differently. You could try increasing the citric acid.

  51. Thanks for posting this recipe! I have tried other recipes in the past and they were all very similar and had borax. I have a full sized portable dishwasher that does not work very well even with 7th generation or chemical based detergents, so it’s hard for me to tell if my recipe is working. The recipe I have been using is: 1c baking soda, 1c borax, 1/2c salt and 1tsp lemon essential oil. It seems to leave a film on the dishes. I use vinegar in the rinse cycle now and it helps some, but not fully. Does the homemade citrus cleaner work a lot better than just vinegar for this? I also added some citric acid to see if it would help more, but I don’t remember how much. It didn’t seem to help and it made the recipe turn into a hard rock. Does this happen with your recipe? Is there a way to prevent this without adding it separately each time? I also used regular table salt because I did not know about the iodine thing. Why is the iodized salt bad? I have not noticed any pitting on my glasses, but I haven’t really been looking and it would probably be hard to tell with the film on them anyway. I will definitely be trying this recipe and hoping it works better than the one I am currently using. Thanks!

    • I just read the comment above mine. This is the problem I am having with mine, though I have not tried your recipe yet. Usually our plastic tupperware come out with so much film I have to re-wash them by hand. I am putting the vinegar in the rinse compartment, not putting it in during the rinse cycle. Which are you supposed to do?

      • The citric acid is what keeps the film off. I have tried it without the citric acid. I have been using this recipe for over a year now and it works great. That said, different water types work differently with it. I hope this is a good solution for you!

    • Add it to the rinse compartment. Lately, I think I actually prefer just the plain vinegar over the citrus vinegar.

  52. Rebecca - Ireland says:

    Hello, i tried this recipe today but as soon as i put the citic acid and washing soda together it started fizzing and had some kind of chemical reaction?? I put the salt in while it was fizzing and mixed it but it kept on fizzing and bubbling. I put it in a jar but it is a bubbly liquid with lumps in it??? Would you know why this is and how to work around this? Or what i did wrong?

  53. Hi,

    We have very hard water and the rinse aid problem really is a toughie. I tried using store-bought rinse aid with your detergent and everything was crystal clear, so I know it’s the rinse aid that’s not working yet.

    I also found out that vinegar can seriously damage your dishwasher, so I stopped using your citrus cleaner for that (but I love it for everything else). I now mix 2 cups of boiling water, 1/4 cup of citric acid and 1 cup of Everclear and use that instead.

  54. what is washing soda???

  55. Jahaira Aldrete says:

    Hi, can i turn your recipe into a liquid hand-washing detergent?

  56. yes awesome

  57. I never use iodized salt for eating (only use Himalayan salt) but what is the harm using it for cleaning?

    • here is an explanation from another site:

      No. Table, cooking, rock and sea salts may contain additives that can actually increase water hardness. Also, the fine consistency of some of these salts mean they are likely to clog when wet. Always use granular dishwasher salt because it is very pure and is the right consistency for use in your machine.

      Granular salt is the ONLY type of salt that should be used to regenerate the softener. Be aware that some varieties of ‘dishwasher salt’ use Dead Sea salt. This variety may contain minute insoluble organic matter that may adversely affect the resin within your softener over time. If you are in doubt about the origins of the salt, ask the retailer or manufacturer.

  58. Helen Layton says:

    Thank you for all your research! We are going to give your suggestions a try. we will let you know if your mixtures work in our water.

  59. A lot of essential oils are not made to be used on skin or consumed. I’m not sure about the specific brand you are using. I would think using it to wash your dishes and utensils would pose as much risk as washing your dishes with borax. But I wanted to warn people to be care of which oils they buy.

  60. Dan N Shelley Brueckner says:

    is vinegar really good for the machine if you are using it daily?

  61. Lesley Dalan says:

    Does it get clumpy? I tried making one with borax twice, and it turns hard as a rock.

  62. Katherine Golemi says:

    Do you add the essential oil per load or just to the whole container and store?

  63. think about it this way: you can ingest vinegar, but not factory-produced dishwasher detergents. you can even go the extra mile and do an empty wash with just vinegar to get rid of all the nasty chemicals that have "washed" the dishes you eat off.

  64. Love this! Juliette we are making this!

  65. Thank you for posting this! The other day my family ran out of dish washing detergent but the washer was full. So we decided to at least run it to keep it from smelling since it would be a day or two before we could get some.

    Just before running though I said hey, “why don’t we put some vinegar in too?” Since we’ve cleaned the dishwasher alone with it before we knew it would be safe. Then my hubby added some lemon juice to help things along. When the load came out cleaner than any other commercial cleaners we knew we were onto something.

    I’m glad to see the mention of baking soda, I thought I might be able to use it but wasn’t sure.

  66. Lorinda Barnes says:

    I had read that vinegar over time deteriorates the rubber seals and gaskets in a dishwasher.

    • I use vinegar in the rinse aid spot. It only allows me to put in about a quarter of a cup of vinegar, and that lasts over many washes so there is very little vinegar each cycle, in the dishwasher. I haven’t had any trouble with seals and gaskets to date :) But I would guess anything that is acidic could have that potential, especially if it is undiluted.

  67. You are right about the Borax.. Here is just one Article, there are plenty out there in cyber-land if this is not enough…
    I am so happy you have found a Borax Free recipe
    Thank You

  68. I've just tried this recipe for the third time and I can't seem to stop the citric acid from fizzing. Even before I put in the essential oil. It seems to be absorbing what little moisture there is in the soda and salt and clumping together. Any ideas??

  69. Erin Cott says:

    I’ve been using your laundry detergent recipe for a few weeks now and am loving it. We just ran out of commercial dishwasher detergent and I want to give this recipe a try. I really dislike powdered dishwasher detergents though, just a personal preference; what are your thoughts on adding enough water to this to make it the consistency of the ‘gel’ dishwasher soaps on the market?

    • You will get a reaction when you add water. The water will activate the citric acid vs. the washing soda and will basically neutralize it. You don’t want this to happen too soon. I think this recipe is only going to work as a powder. In any case, if you try it and have luck, let me know!

      • Erin Cott says:

        Thanks for the info! One last thing: iodine keeps being shunned. Can you explain why one would want to avoid salt with iodine it it when making homemade cleaning products? Also, I have the end of a container of Morton’s fine sea salt that I’d like to be able to use up rather than just toss, but it contains yellow prussiate of soda (an anticaking agent). Do you have any experience that would lead you to believe this will impact the detergent?

        • Iodine causes oxidization (rusting) so it will damage the dishwasher and/or the dishes over time. The coarse salt is non iodonized and has larger crystals that won’t potentially clog the drain.

  70. I just wanted to say that this works like a charm! I have been using this recipe for two weeks now (we just got a dishwasher put in!), and it has made all of our dishes and silverware spotless. We used the baking soda (not washing soda) without problem. Thank you for sharing this! So happy I do not have to use the commercial detergents.

  71. Joe Nollendorfs says:

    We have found that using a container brand name "snapware" works very well. we had issues with clumping though not after using this recipe even with the borax in the brand name containers

  72. i heard that too. I have heard of using peroxide instead but I am worried about that too.

  73. I made mine and measured it out into Ice cube trays let it sit for a couple of days and let it dry out then put the hardened cubes in a bag. and just take out a cube and use it.

  74. I have never had any problems.

  75. Thank you Free Range Mama. I’ve now used this recipe a dozen times and it works perfectly well. Would anyone have any experience or ideas about replacing the citrus essential oil with eucalyptus oil? It’s cheaper and easier for me to buy in bulk.

  76. Hi and thanks for the recipe. I have tried a similar recipe before, minus the citric acid. I have a couple of questions:
    1. Does this recipe need the salt even if I use dishwasher salt in the appropriate compartment? If so, why?
    2. The previous recipe I used worked really well on everything EXCEPT tea stains. I am in the UK, I drink a lot of tea… not handling tea stains was a no-no. Can anyone comment on whether this recipe can handle the tea stains?


  77. I have heard that as well and the work around is to put it on the top rack in a bowl instead of the rinse aid compartment

  78. You can not add the citric acid to the mix, but add a little to the compartment. That fixed the issue for me regarding the clumps.

  79. about ingesting factory made detergent. Dishwashers have at least 2 hot rinses – how are we ingesting it?

  80. Was the price of $.08 a load based on the recipes posted, or the prices for the 5lb. bulk products? I'm trying to decide if I want to buy 7th Gen or Method detergent, or make my own!

  81. Anonymous says:

    I really like this recipe, but I keep getting a film on all of my dishes. Any suggestions how to prevent that?

  82. This won't leave a film on plastic?

  83. What exactly is the washing soda?


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