Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

by Nicki on February 17, 2010

in Saving Money

A while ago I tried out making my own laundry detergent. I got the recipe from Matt Jabs over at Debt Free Adventure. I’m still using the laundry detergent and have even converted a few friends and family! Matt also has a recipe for dishwasher detergent that caught my interest when I was trying the laundry soap but in the interest of pacing myself, I waited on it.

When I was ready to try the dishwasher detergent I went back and found Matt’s recipe. It called for citric acid. He had a link to buy it on Amazon, and I thought about it, but upon doing further research I found some other people had made the detergent using Lemonade Kool-Aid packets, which are a lot easier for me to come by. The number 1 ingredient in those packets is citric acid. I wasn’t sure how many packets to use in a single batch, so I guessed. I used 4 packets. My dishes come out clean and sparkley – so it must be alright!

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

adapted from Matt Jabs

  • 1/2 cup Arm &  Hammer Super Washing Soda
  • 1/2 cup 20 Mule Team Borax
  • 4 packets lemonade flavor Kool-Aid powder (unsweetened – I buy the off-brand)
  • 1/4 cup salt (Kosher salt recommended)


Pour it all into a resealable container and shake it up. Use 1 tablespoon per cycle.

Need a rinse aid? Use vinegar.

I have been very pleased with the results of this detergent. My dishes seem to be a more sparkley clean, which I love, and making it this way is less expensive than buying it. It has officially been added to my ever-growing arsenal of homemade products!

Why I do what I do ~ Me- “Chloe it’s almost nap time.” Chloe- “I don’t want to sleep.” Me- “Well, you’re going to take a rest and the great part is that I’m going to let you pick which bed to sleep in.” Chloe- “That is NOT a great part.”

Creative Commons License photo credit: dno1967

~To support the ongoing production of this site, I use affiliate marketing. The links in this post for Borax and Super Washing Soda are both Amazon Affiliate links. Purchasing products through these links brings money to this site, however, I still encourage you to shop around and get the best price possible.~

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{ 2 trackbacks }

am i crazy? (part 2) « The Maness Family
October 9, 2010 at 9:46 am
DIY Homemade Dishwasher Detergent « Running Free In High Heels
March 14, 2012 at 5:56 am

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Matt Jabs February 17, 2010 at 8:55 am

Awesome Nicki, congrats on your success… we are still using our homemade detergents and loving it!

Yeah, I always had citric acid so I never had to use koolaid. I buy the citric acid at a local brewery, but a lot of people use my links to buy it off Amazon.

However you can get the citric acid, get it… it is the KEY ingredient. If it is not used the dishes come out really cloudy.


2 Beth @ Smart Family Tips February 17, 2010 at 9:16 am

I’m so excited — I can’t wait to try this. I’ve tried every eco-friendly dishwasher detergent out there and have yet to find one I’m really happy with. If this works, I’ll be thrilled.

I already make my own laundry detergent have saved a lot of money as a result.

Thanks for posting this!


3 Annie Jones February 17, 2010 at 11:12 am

Thanks for posting this. I had made some homemade without the citric acid and my dishes were cloudy, but I’m going to try this new formula.

BTW, I find citric acid at the health food store. But I bet the lemon drink mix makes it smell great.
.-= Annie Jones´s last blog ..Tired of Old Man Winter =-.


4 abracadabra December 2, 2010 at 11:03 am

Just a thought, I haven’t tried this, but I think that you can find citric acid in the baking/spice section of the grocery store. It would be sold with the canning goods (i.e., canning salt) often under the brand name “Fresh Fruit” though that also has ascorbic acid if memory serves (which would probably serve essentially the same chemical purpose and is only Vit. C after all) — it is what you add to when you are canning low-acid fruit to maintain the color.

Not sure how it compares in price to the generic Kool Aid but it might have fewer extras in comparison.


5 Nicki December 2, 2010 at 11:20 am

Thanks for the tip! I’ll definitely check that out!


6 Carrie April 3, 2011 at 10:12 pm

I made this tonight and it worked great! Actually it worked better than a few name and grocery brands I’ve tried. Thanks for the recipe.


7 Ace July 26, 2011 at 4:36 pm

The individual packets of Walmart brand lemonade mix go for about $0.12 a piece pre-tax. Haven’t found anything (online or otherwise) that was a more economical choice. With the Kosher salt, borax, and A&H super soda, I’d say a month’s worth of dishwasher detergent comes out to less than one copy of the New York Times. Great find!

I find the white vinegar to be critical, but I live in a region with hard water (Upstate NY).


8 Trina August 12, 2011 at 5:07 pm

Why specifically Kosher salt? I already have sea salt. Is there a difference?


9 Nicki August 14, 2011 at 7:03 pm

I’m not sure. I’ve used table salt and had no problem!


10 Terrie June 23, 2012 at 7:37 am

Kosher salt doesn’t have iodine added. I’m not sure it would matter. Read the label on your sea salt to see it they added iodine (usually not).


11 Rick October 16, 2011 at 10:08 am

One cup each of washing soda and borax.

One-half cup of citric acid and SLS powder.

Mix well together and use 1TBL in the main soap compartment and 1/2TBL in the prewash compartment.


12 Samantha October 31, 2011 at 10:42 am

Hi, I have been using homemade things for years. Mostly to save money, but also, because of the rash of chemicals in everything, it makes my kids breakout.
I have notice that the DIY dishsoap does leave a cloudy residue. Thanks a bunch for the lemonade idea. I am going to try. Thank you for your website. I am always looking for ways to improve on my recipes.


13 Karen R. December 30, 2011 at 3:11 pm

Awesome! I couldn’t wait to run out of detergent to try this. I was desperate and did a quick wash without the kool-aid. It did leave things a bit cloudy, but was I impressed! I just threw things in there that I KNEW wouldn’t come out clean with my regular detergent (Palmolive Eco..I’ve tried a lot..even Cascade Complete). I ran out to the store on hubby’s lunch break today and found generic lemonade kool-aid for .10 each. I covered an empty Sun Oxygen cleaner with green paper, made a little lemon with leaves that says “lemon fresh” next to it. Then I covered the lid and wrote “dishwashing detergent” on it. I sprayed it with some clear Krylon to avoid moisture from hands. Can’t wait to fill up my dishwasher again to try it! Thanks so much!


14 Nicki December 30, 2011 at 4:38 pm

Yay!!! Good for you, Karen!


15 Oz @ Gas Patio Heater February 22, 2012 at 8:28 am

This recipe is very impressive indeed. My wife just tried it out and was amazed at the results. The plates and cutlery was very shiny and clean and it is definitely an inexpensive alternative to other products bought in stores.


16 Terrie June 23, 2012 at 7:40 am

I read somewhere that the borax can gunk up the drain pipes. Commercial soaps have additives that prevent this. The writer said she had good results by using a dose of commercial dishwashing detergent every so often. I try to do it every 6 – 8 loads.


17 Nicki August 5, 2012 at 9:12 pm

Good tip, Terrie! Thanks!


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