null Skip to main content
DIY Natural Dishwasher Detergent that Really Works!

DIY Natural Dishwasher Detergent that Really Works!

Posted by Michele Zagorski on 15th Jul 2015


"If every household in the U.S. replaced just one box of 45 oz. automatic dishwashing detergent containing phosphates with phosphate-free products, we could save 60 million pounds of phosphates from entering our rivers, lakes and streams."  -Seventh Generation

A few days ago, I ran out of my favorite natural dishwasher detergent, and I live too far from town to make the trip just to buy some.  I can clean a toilet and it doesn't bother me, but for some crazy reason I really dishlike (OK, that was a typo, but I'm leaving it...I think I've created a new word!) doing dishes by hand, so I was starting to feel a little like this...

Then I realized I had everything I needed to make my own!  

It's something I've been wanting to try anyway, and this was the perfect opportunity.  

My favorite commercial dw detergent is made by 7th Generation, and it costs more than 11.3  cents/oz .

Compare that to the cost of the ingredients to make your own: 

Borax:   5.2 cents/oz    

Washing Soda:  7.2 cents/oz     

Salt:  1.9 cents/ oz

Citric Acid:  3.8 cents/oz link here

(Optional essential oils will increase the cost/oz, but I'm comparing this to the 'Free & Clear' unscented version of commercial detergent, which is what I usually use.)

For a GRAND TOTAL of less than 5.1 cents per oz!  A savings of almost 55% over my favorite commercial brand.  

It's so simple to make.  Just measure each ingredient into a bowl and mix it (slowly, so powder doesn't go up your nose) with a whisk.  Then store it in an airtight container.  I used a large canning jar.

"Ok", you say, "but how does it perform?"

Check this out...

Before(bottom rack)

Before (top rack) I turned over one of the cups so you could get an idea of how dirty it is.

After (bottom rack) My husband was about to put the clean dishes away...that's his foot in the picture.  :)

After (top rack)

I have to admit, even I was surprised.  It actually cleans as well, if not better, than my commercial detergent!  And I only need to use one tablespoon per load vs. filling the dispenser to the tippy-top.  As a bonus, since I added essential oils, I get to enjoy a clean, natural scent every time I open my dishwasher.

It's really kind of pathetic how excited I am every time I run the dishwasher now...I wait with anticipation for it to finish its cycle so I can see how clean and shiny my dishes are!  

Me unloading the dishwasher =>

Here's the recipe:


2 parts Borax

2 parts Washing Soda

I part salt

I part citric acid

Optional essential oils for scent, enhanced cleaning, & disinfection boost.

I used a combo of Citrus, Pine, and Rosemary essential oils.

Have fun with it!