Interested in making your own dishwasher detergent for just 6 cents a day? Read on!

A couple of weeks ago, we ran out of dishwasher detergent.

My husband, a wonderful man who does not shy away from “honey-do” lists, offered to stop by the market during the day and pick up a new bottle. I was so grateful, and went about my day.

Later on, after his errands, he came in and dramatically placed his market purchases on the kitchen counter, one by one: a loaf of bread, cat food, tea light candles, chips… and a bottle of
dish detergent. He smiled proudly at his completed task.

“Baby, you are wonderful, and thoughtful, but this is the kind of dish soap you use in the
sink, not the dishwasher.”

He was crestfallen, and I felt bad — I realized that I hadn’t really been specific about what kind of detergent I needed (after all, we expect our husbands to read our minds, right?) and told him I’d pick some up later. With a kiss on his forehead, I continued with my tasks.

A little while later, he loaded up our ten-year-old and went on a “guy errand” (probably the local game store, or an ice cream shop, or some other fun summer thing). When he returned, once again, with a flourish, he plunked a large plastic bottle of something on the counter, with the two-word proclamation, “Dishwasher detergent!”

I looked, and sighed within. It WAS a big bottle, and it did have the words, “dish,” “detergent,” and “liquid” on the label. But it was just a very big bottle of the same product he purchased before.

In his defense, the bottle was misshelved among the bottles of Cascade and other dishwasher liquids. They were all the same size and shape. It was a totally understandable mistake, and I felt terrible for him. He meant well!


“Necessity is the mother of invention.” –Anonymous

Because I still needed dishwasher detergent, I consulted my lovely Pinterest board on
Frugal Living and Homesteading, and my own pantry, and created a perfect homemade substitute for commercial dishwasher detergents — that only costs pennies a day! Since I’m always trying to live green, and love a good “make-your-own” project, this was right up my alley.


Clean Dishes, Without Harmful Chemicals, for $0.06 a Day!

The following recipe makes about 3 cups of dishwasher detergent. We made a quadruple batch, and still had all but citric acid remaining for more. Based on the cost of the items at our local Wal-Mart, we can wash dishes using our homemade dishwasher detergent for about $0.06/day (which includes the cost of the plastic container!), compared to $0.11 for Cascade powder, and even more for liquid dishwasher detergents.

If you’re up for an easy DIY project, and are working toward green living, read on about Making Your Own Dishwasher Detergent. You’ll find this money-saving, green alternative to commercial products easy to make and economical — and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing exactly what products you’re using to keep your family safe and healthy.
Making your own dishwasher detergent is easy, quick and economical! {Image via Creative Commons}



Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent


  • Purex laundry booster, 1 c.
  • Baking soda, 1 c.
  • Kosher salt, 1/2 c.
  • Citric Acid, 1/2 c
  • White vinegar


  • Large bowl
  • Measuring cups
  • Large spoon
  • Plastic container with a tight fitting lid

The “How-To:”

  1. In a large mixing bowl, place Purex laundry booster {NOTE: Any kind of laundry booster will work — this is what we had on hand}.
  2. Next, stir in baking soda. {NOTE: Some recipes call for washing soda, which is a different product — baking soda works well for us in this recipe. You can find washing soda in the laundry goods aisle; we bought a BIG box of baking soda in that aisle, too, instead of a small box from the baking aisle – hats off to buying in bulk and frugal living!}.
  3. To the mixture in the bowl, now add citric acid {NOTE: If you are a die-hard homesteader, you probably have citric acid in your pantry — it’s commonly used to add acidity to low-acid home-canned products. Look for citric acid where you shop for products for home canning}.
  4. Finally, add Kosher salt to the mixture in the bowl {NOTE: Kosher salt is iodine-free — don’t use iodized salt. You can find Kosher salt in the baking aisle}.
  5. Mix together thoroughly and store in a container with a tight-fitting lid {NOTE: Homemade cleaning products don’t have “free-flow agents” like commercial, not-so-green products, and may draw moisture if the lid is not tight, but this homemade detergent still retains its effectiveness}.
  6. To use: place 1 T of homemade dishwasher detergent in the detergent compartment of your automatic dishwasher. For an added cost-cutting bonus, fill the rinse aid compartment of your dishwasher with white vinegar instead of commercial rinse agent. A gallon of white vinegar costs about the same as a tiny, single-use bottle of Jet-Dry, and is superior (in my opinion). Frugal and green, in one bottle!


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{This lens, is featured on Be Awesome Linky Party #5 — For more low-cost DIY ideas, check out my Pinterest board, Frugal Living and Homesteading.}