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DIY: Home Made Dishwasher Detergent

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homemade dishwasher detergent

I am always looking for ways to save money. That being said, if a product or item doesn’t work the way I want it to, I won’t settle simply because its cheaper. It has to be economical, and practical as well as functional.

I’m not someone who stresses often about chemicals and such, but I think the less we put in our bodies the better, so when I can make simple changes, I am all for it.

To get right to the point, take a look at the current status of my dishes:


Do I even need to explain why this does not fly?

So when I was browsing Pinterest and spotted the Hard Water Dishwasher Detergent recipe from Simply Designing, I knew that I had to give it a shot. It promises to be:

1. Cheaper than it’s store-bought counterpart

2. Fantastic at tackling hard water “cloudies”

3. Safer for the environment and your family

You had me at “cheaper”.

So I perused the list of materials. Seemed simple enough. I decided I was willing to throw a few dollars at this project to test it out, see how it worked.

The recipe is quite simple. You’ll use the following:

  • 2 cups Borax (my husband calls it Borat. He thinks he’s pretty funny…)
  • 2 cups Washing Soda* (you can make it from baking soda in one step. Tutorial here)
  • 2 cups Lemi-Shine
  • 1 cup Kosher Salt

* Washing soda is different than baking soda. You can make it from baking soda in one simple step, but it is a different compound with different properties. You can “convert” baking soda if you can’t easily find washing soda in your local Walmart or Target. Washing soda is used in a lot of household recipes too so you can make a bunch, and save it in an airtight container. 

Mix your ingredients, and stir VERY well. It will be hard to tell if its sufficiently mixed, because *spoiler alert* the ingredients are ALL white powders. Be careful not to inhale the “dust” created. It’s not especially toxic, however it did make me sneeze a bit and the Lemi-Shine might irritate your nose!

photo (2)

Once you’ve mixed, make sure you stir this mix a couple times a day initially because IT WILL HARDEN. Perhaps consider storing your mixture in a large Ziploc gallon bag. I left mine in a glass container and by the next day it was already mostly hardened, but not solid yet, so I was able to break it apart. Keep an eye on it. You don’t want to have to break out the chisel 😉

That’s it! You’re ready to go. Use 1 tbsp of the mixture at a time, and supplement it with a few tablespoons of white vinegar as a rinse aid. You can put it in the rinse cup of your washer, or in a small open container in the upper rack.


Now for the cost breakdown. I got all my supplies at Target. Here’s the damage:

Lemi-Shine 12oz- $3.69
(note: the recipe calls for 16 oz. My store only carries the 12 oz size, and so I only put 1.5 and it worked fine, so your results may vary depending on how hard the water is in your area.  You can also substitute a packet of lemon Kool-Aid Mix or citric acid for an all-natural dishwasher detergent)


Baking Soda-$1.24

Kosher Salt-$1.69

Vinegar (gallon)- $2.59

Total: $10.01 plus vinegar

I didn’t count the vinegar in the total because technically its not part of the detergent, and this recipe works without vinegar. So think of it as a rinse aid like Jet Dry.

To figure out the cost per load:

7 cups of dry ingredients X 16 tablespoons per cup = 112 tablespoons (1 tablespoon per load)

Cost per tablespoon (load) = $0.08

I could have made this cheaper by purchasing the generic versions or by using coupons, but I was in a hurry. (I know.  Shameful!)

Cost of store-bought versions vary greatly, but the newest Cascade Platinum Action pacs retail for around $0.40 per load, and don’t work nearly as well in my opinion.

Overall this worked GREAT! It not only kept my dishes clean, but it also removed extensive existing hard water film and stains from my dishes. Some of the really bad ones look like they might need a second run through, but that is to remove months and months of heavy staining!

What do you think? Would you ever try this DIY Dishwasher Detergent Recipe? Have you done it before? What were your results?

DISCLOSURE: I may be an affiliate for some products that I recommend. For more information please check out my Disclosure Statement.

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Saturday 25th of April 2015

I have tried this kind if recipe before and it did harden a LOT! If you are meticulous about stirring initially, does it stop wanting to harden after a time or is this a constant issue?