Inexpensive Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

After going through my recent reader survey, I noticed that many of you classify yourself as “sort of green” when it comes to cleaning. Green (or “sort of green”) cleaning can mean different things to each person, but for many it means making your own cleaning products.

Whether you’re a veteran to making your own cleaning products, a newbie, or someone who wants to get started, here is an easy 3-ingredient recipe for making your very own dishwasher detergent.

dishwasher detergent you can make at home

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Recipe


  • 1 cup Borax
  • 1 cup Baking Soda
  • 1 packet Lemonade Cool-Aid


  • Mix together thoroughly and store in airtight container.
  • Pour 1 tablespoon of mixture into dishwasher detergent cup (just as you would any dishwasher detergent).
  • Wash as usual.

Easy right?!

Have you ever used this dishwasher detergent recipe? Do you use another one? If you have a cleaning recipe you’d like to share, I’d love for you guest post or request to see it on iDreamofClean. Just email me.

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  1. says

    This is a great way to not only be “green” but also a great way to save some “green” money! I’ve heard of people having great success with this recipe and I’m sad I’m not one of them :( I tried using vinegar as the rinse agent and using Jet-Dry (high quality stuff in my book), but my dishes never did get as clean with the homemade detergent as they do with store-bought. I ended up rewashing (by hand) probably 1/3 of the dishes that went through the d/w. As much as I loved saving the $, it wasn’t worth it to me to have to spend more time handwashing stuff that had already been “washed”. I don’t want to “rain on the parade”, but wanted to share that this might not work for everyone. I hope it does, because that would be wonderful :)

    • iDreamOfClean says

      What a bummer that this recipe hasn’t worked for you. I suppose with coupons and sales you could save as much money on the real deal, right? :)

      Have you noticed a decrease in the way your detergent cleans your dishes since the manufacturers took out phosphates about a year ago? I’ve heard many say they’ve had to to rewash quite a bit of their dishes since then as well.

      Perhaps we should conduct a study comparing homemade and store bought detergents! :)

  2. says

    I’m looking forward to trying homemade detergent. (I need use up my store bought stuff first!) It seems like EVERY store bought kind I’ve used leaves a film on my dishes! I’m hoping the homemade stuff works! Thanks for this recipe! :)

    • iDreamOfClean says

      I know, right?! Just make sure it’s LEMONADE flavored Kool-aid or your dishwasher will be red/purple beyond belief :-)

  3. Melissa says

    Won’t the stuff get sticky? Or is that only when you add the sugar when making the Kool Aid? If it doesn’t get sticky I am SO making this! LOL

    • iDreamOfClean says

      It’s definitely just the sugar and water that makes it sticky. Using powder only should work just fine :)

  4. Will says

    You need the lemonade powder, or any other citric acid powder to make this work. We tried it without the citric acid and it just didn’t work. You can also get Citric Salt in place of the lemonade powder, and it might be a little cheaper.

  5. says

    I did some research when I noticed my dishes weren’t getting clean. As someone noted, they took the phosphates out of the detergent. If you have a white film all over your dishes, the first thing you need to do is get it off. Letting them soak in a strong vinegar solution will solve that problem. Now, to keep it from coming back, something needs to change. In general, the tablet detergents now work better than the powders. However, if you want to keep using the powders, go to the hardware store and buy some trisodium phosphate (TSP) and add a half a cup or so to a box of detergent and mix well.

  6. Rosie says

    I have had good success with 2 parts Borax, 2 parts baking soda and 1 part salt.
    I mix up a batch and keep it in a nice glass jar on the counter next to the sink. I use 1Tbsp in each cup of the dishwasher.
    I still use a Jet-Dry rinse agent as I have a GIANT bottle and it hasn’t run out yet. I figure that even if I use this every other cycle it is a savings vs store bought all the time.
    Also re: phosphates in the detergent: they were removed because of harm caused to water supplies (particularly lakes) and thus adding the phosphates back (by using TSP) defeats the benefit to the environment that was the point of the new regulations.

  7. Michelle says

    If you can’t find the kool-aid, you can use Lemishine instead. That’s what I use. Both have citric acid which is the ingredient that keeps the film off the dishes. I made this recipe and LOVE it!

  8. Jessica Edde says

    I’ve found that adding two small drops of liquid dish soap helps cut through grease. I also rinse my dishes of all food particles before putting them in the dishwasher. I mainly do this because I don’t run the dishwasher everyday. I don’t want bacteria to grow over night.

  9. Carol says

    I simply went back to washing dishes by hand, but can’t get over how quickly it effected my hands! Yes, something’s gotta give.

    • Linda Stone says

      did you add salt? here’s what I have from
      Ingredients in Homemade Dishwasher Detergent:
      Your environmentally friendly dishwasher detergent is going to have four main ingredients.
      – Washing Soda—This stuff has been around forever. It is a natural substance, made from salt and limestone. Scientifically it is known as sodium carbonate. It cuts grease on anything and can be used for many (if not most) of the cleaning projects in your home. Arm and Hammer puts it out in the United States. If you can’t find it at your grocers you can find it on Amazon and other places online.
      – Borax—Borax occurs naturally in the environment and can be mined as well as created in a lab. It is toxic in concentrated amounts, and you should keep it out of the reach of children. You can find it by the laundry detergent; Borateem is one brand.
      – Kosher Salt—Kosher salt is a pure salt. I use it for cooking because the food tastes cleaner. It it what my recipe calls for, I am not sure why.
      – Citric acid—You can buy food grade citric acid like Fruit Fresh or just use unsweetened lemonade packets.
      Recipe for Homemade Dishwasher Detergent
      – 1 cup Washing soda
      – 1 cup Borax
      – ½ cup salt
      – ½ cup citric acid
      Mix together and store tightly covered in a Mason Jar. Use one tablespoon per load. Add vinegar to the rinse dispenser for the best results.

      • iDreamOfClean says

        I’ll try the salt to see if that makes a difference! I would LOVE if this would work as well as the store bought detergent. Thanks for the tip!

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