Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Thrifty Tip Tuesday: DIY Dishwasher Detergent

Jessica: Dishwasher detergent is expensive! This is another one of those things that is so stupidly easy to make that once you figure it out, you can't believe you ever paid for it. Especially if you also make your own laundry detergent, because chances are you already have nearly everything you need on hand!

diy powdered dishwasher detergent for hard water

You will need:
2 Cups Borax
1 1/2 Cup Washing soda
3 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Cup Lemi-shine

Simply measure out all the ingredients into your container (I re-used my old dishwasher detergent packaging) and mix together well. That's it! Just pour it in the soap dispenser in your dishwasher just like normal. You can use 1-2 Tbsp per load depending on how dirty the load is.

diy powdered dishwasher detergent for hard water

If you like you can also add two drops of Dawn dish soap in with the powder, just to help things get really streak-free. And I also use good old vinegar in our rinse aid compartment. Poof! Now you have cheap DIY dishwasher detergent. Your dishes won't notice a difference but your wallet will thank you!

Hilary: I actually used a slightly different "recipe" since I have hard water where I live!

For a hard water recipe, you will need:
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
1 cup kosher salt
1 1/2 cup Lemi-shine

Measure out the ingredients into a container (I used an old juice pitcher since I like pouring the powder into our dishwasher).  Put the lid on and shake it!  You can use the same amount - 1-2 Tbsp per load.

diy powdered dishwasher detergent for hard water

I've seen several cost breakdowns, but in general, homemade dishwasher detergent costs about $.05 a load (compared to super cheap detergent which doesn't clean as well - $0.07 a load or the pricier stuff at $0.14-$0.29 a load).

For me, even though the cost per load difference isn't as dramatic as other homemade products, it is still worth making my detergent myself.  I always have borax, washing soda and kosher salt in the cupboard, so buying a small thing of Lemi-shine every few months means that I don't have to spend $10-$15 on dishwasher detergent in a single shopping trip.  Even if you have to buy everything from scratch, you'll be able to make multiple batches from the borax, washing soda and salt and it is still cheaper to make!  I made a huge amount of detergent (about 96 loads) for $3.66 (the cost of the Lemi-shine).  Definitely worth it!

We'd love to hear about your experiences with homemade dishwasher detergent!  Any gripes or changes you've made that make it awesome?


  1. Hmmmm.

    96 loads at store price is 96 x .05 = $4.80
    96 loads at home price is $3.66
    Your saving is $1.14 across 3 months, or about $.40 a month.

    I'll pass.

    1. Definitely! This kind of stuff isn't for everyone! Where we are, good dishwasher detergent tends to be closer to $.15 a load, or about $14-$15 for that amount, so $3.66 is a big enough savings to justify it!

      However, if people have access to really cheap, good quality detergent for $4.80, it may be worth it just to buy it! Hard water definitely complicates things, so we've had to buy more expensive detergent in the past!

      Sometimes the fun is in the creativity too.. :D

  2. Excellent post, ladies.
    Clayton Cramer sent me. Can't wait to try it out.
    One question, where in the world DON'T they have hard water?
    Retired Geezer

    1. Well one place I know of is way up in the Austrian Alps. They have soft water.
      Soap, Detergent and Shampoo stayed on everything.

  3. Considering that modern detergents really suck at actually cleaning, rolling your own to get away from the EPA-inefficient junk is a benefit all it's own.

    1. And the state Jessica lives in requires that you not buy dishwasher detergents of any kind with phosphates...it's quite literally not sold in stores. There's a 'ban' on them. Do you know how Eco-friendly dishwasher detergent works? Poorly. This stuff actually works the way real actual phosphate laden dishwasher detergents used to! We've been using it here for over six months!

  4. Is it the extra salt in the second recipe that helps with hard water? I've used the top recipe but the hard water stains it leaves is atrocious. I have a hard time wanting to use my mix and I'm so bummed by it.

  5. Is it the extra salt in the second recipe that helps with hard water? I've used the top recipe but the hard water stains it leaves is atrocious. I have a hard time wanting to use my mix and I'm so bummed by it.

  6. I am anxious to try the hard water version. The recipe I have been using is not doing very well. I use unsweetened lemonade packs instead of Lemishine, too. I wonder if that makes a difference as well. The rest of the recipe I have is the same except for the amount of salt.

  7. If your water is especially hard, use extra detergent. Avoid detergent that is damp or of low quality. Sort and load dishes per manufacturer's instructions. In general, larger and dirtier dishes should be on the bottom rack, while less dirty items should go on top.best cooktop


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