It’s easy to make your own homemade dishwasher detergent. All you need are a few basic ingredients. You probably already own them. The only thing you may need to buy is washing soda.
You might be able to find this non-toxic natural cleaning product at your local grocery store. (Mine doesn’t have it.) Walmart does carry it. You can also order it online.
I’ve also included an alternate recipe that uses borax instead of washing soda. Some people are concerned because borax can cause skin irritation and possibly respiratory problems, even though it’s a naturally occurring mineral.
While I’m not comfortable inhaling borax, or eating it, I have no trouble using it in my dishwasher or washing machine. Personally i have no qualms about using borax as a non-toxic alternative to commercial cleaners.
Some DIY dish washing detergent recipes call for citric acid. You don’t really need this. Your dishes will still get clean without it. The recipes you’ll see below don’t use citric acid.
DIY cleaning products are a great way to reduce your exposure to environmental toxins. I started going all natural a number of years ago. That’s when I cleaned up my diet, and then began thinking of all the noxious chemicals in my house. Natural cleaning substances work really well. With few exceptions, that’s all we use now.
Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Without Citric Acid
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You can buy brands that market themselves as natural and non-toxic. However I think it’s better to make your own dish detergent, for a number of reasons.
One is that it’s more economical. In general, anything you make will cost less than something you buy off the shelf. That’s because you – and not someone else – supplies the labor.
Also, with DIY cleaning products, there’s build in quality control. You know exactly what goes into it. You know there are no hidden hazardous chemicals listed under a natural-sounding ingredient.
Many supposedly “natural” dishwasher products still contain an assortment of chemicals you don’t want in your house, or on your kitchenware. I found one “all natural” product that contains the questionable ingredient alcohol ethoxylates, which may be potentially carcinogenic.
DIY Dishwasher Detergent Without Citric Acid
Another benefit is that homemade dishwasher solutions are relatively mild. So they don’t tend to fade your good dishes as readily as commercial detergents. This is the reason many people tend to wash their good dishes and fine china by hand. It preserves the color.
Commercial dish detergents are generally harsh. That’s why you see patterns fade after repeated washing cycles.
Homemade Dishwasher Soap With Baking Soda
There are various recipes for making your own dishwasher soap. Some contain citric acid. (But this ingredient is not really necessary.) Citric acid occurs naturally in citrus fruits. However, the citric acid that’s sold commercially is made in a laboratory, and some citric acid on the market is made from genetically modified corn or sugar beets.
I try hard to keep genetically modified ingredients out of my home. (They’ve been shown to cancer in laboratory animals.) So any chance I get to avoid GMOs is one I’ll take.
Also, most people don’t have citric acid in the cupboard. I’m a big advocate of using what you already have in the house. So many of the items we already own can be used to make powerful cleaning solutions.
DIY Dishwasher Detergent Without Citric Acid
Anyway, below is my really easy recipe for DIY dishwasher detergent without citric acid. As long as you pretty much stick to the measurements here, you’ll be okay. It won’t hurt to add a little less baking soda, or a little more washing soda.
I’ve also used homemade detergent tabs without borax. But I think it’s a good idea to add either borax or natural washing soda. Borax has a lot of cleaning power. Otherwise, unless you’re very careful rinsing, you can end up with dishes that are half clean, and still contain a greasy residue. I clean my dishes pretty thoroughly before loading them into the dishwasher.
But other people in the family (the men) typically don’t. That’s why I need to use a recipe that will actually clean. Hence the need for borax or washing soda. Washing soda seems to be the better choice, in terms of potential toxicity. But it is more difficult to find.
If you’re not familiar with borax, it is a naturally occurring mineral. It appears to be safe enough for use in DIY cleaning solutions. I like having it in the house. It’s also good for non-toxic pest control.
Non Toxic Dishwasher Detergent Recipe With Essential Oils
This recipe also includes essential oils. They’re not absolutely necessary. But it can’t hurt to include them. They add extra cleaning power. Aromatic oils contain natural antimicrobial compounds. They’re excellent natural disinfectants.
Plus, putting your essential oils in a DIY detergent is a great way to use up essential oils that are just about to expire. So here’s how to make all natural non-toxic dishwasher detergent with essential oils.
1 cup of Washing Soda (You can find it here)
1 cup of baking soda
1/2 cup of Epsom salt (You can find it here)
15 drops of the essential oils of your choice. (You can use a wide range of essential oils, especially if they’re about to go bad. But I like to use lavender essential oil, lemon essential oil or sweet orange essential oil.) These are the same scents typically used in commercial cleaning products. Except chemicals, instead of plant-based essential oils, are generally used.
Mix these ingredients together and store in a clean glass jar with a lid. Use as needed, just as you would regular powdered dishwasher detergent. I notice my homemade recipe cleans my dishes well. But it doesn’t clean my dishwasher quite as well. Sometimes I see a little bit of brown residue on the inside of the door. One potential solution would be to use a commercial brand of non-toxic detergent about every 20 cycles, either with or without dishes in the cycle. Choose the least toxic brand you can find.
DIY Dishwasher Detergent Tabs
Some people prefer dishwasher tabs, instead of powder. These are also very easy to make. Simply use the above recipe. Then add 3 teaspoons of natural liquid Castile soap or black soap. (I like to use Dr. Woods brand.)
Then add enough lemon juice so the tabs are formed enough to drop into plastic or silicone molds. I think silicone molds are better. They come in a variety of shapes. So you could use a pretty silicone mold to make these and then put them in a jar with a ribbon.
Homemade non-toxic dishwasher tabs would make a nice housewarming gift or hostess gift. Trust me, I’d be thrilled if someone handed me non-toxic dishwasher tabs. But I already own an old plastic ice cube tray that works just fine for bath bombs/melts and DIY dishwasher tabs. So that’s what I used, as you can see below.
These will have to dry for a day or two (or three) to harden. If you live in a warm climate, you can put them out in the sun to speed the process. Then pop them out and store them in a clean glass jar with a cover.
How To Make Dishwasher Detergent at Home
If you don’t have washing soda or have difficulty finding it, you can use borax instead. There are some concerns about irritation. It would be toxic if ingested in large enough quantities. But, for me, not enough to make me stop using it, both for cleaning, laundry and natural pest control. Even water can kill you, if you drink way too much.
Washing soda is relatively difficult to find. At least it is for me. My local grocery store doesn’t carry it. I can’t find it at Family Dollar either. Walmart isn’t that easy for me to get to. I have much fewer concerns with borax than I do with commercial dishwasher liquid or powder. So for me it was an easy decision to use borax instead of washing powder.