Homemade Dishwashing Detergent

My kitchen is always full of things brewing and bubbling on the counter top.  So, it is a mystery why I wouldn’t stop chopping and fermenting to make a simple batch of Homemade Dishwashing Detergent.  I used to make this all the time, then I got lazy busy and went back to buying those expensive natural dishwasher powders.

But, really, these brands are ridiculously expensive, ranging from $6.00 – $10.00 for less than a month’s worth of dishwashing detergent.  It’s really easy to just toss a container into my shopping cart and be on my merry way.

However, as I was cleaning out my house for the move I ran into the long lost ingredients to make my own dishwashing detergent.

Homemade Dishwasher Powder

After smacking myself on the forehead, I took five minutes and whipped up a batch.

Homemade Dishwasher Powder

Homemade Diswashing Detergent
  • 2 C. Borax
  • 2 C. Soda
  • ½ Canister LemiShine (about 6 ounces)
  1. Add all of the ingredients into a container and blend until free of any lumps.
  2. Add 1 T. to dishwasher for a full load.
*If you live in a humid climate, the powder may tend to clump up. It's easy to break it up, but keeping a silica gel packet (that comes inside shoe boxes, etc.) will prevent clumping.

It’s so ridiculously cheap and easy.  Since I had all of the ingredients, I spent $0 on this batch.  All of the ingredients can be purchased on the cheap at Walmart or Target and you will have enough dishwasher detergent to last months and months.

About the Ingredients


What is it?  Is it safe?  If you have hard water, chances are you’ve heard of LemiShine.  It can literally save your dishwasher.  It’s made from natural fruit acids and citrus oils.  AND, it’s phosphate free.  I love this product because it keeps my dishwasher from leaving spots on everything.  It also keeps the stainless steel interior of the dishwasher from having that powdery build up that other natural dishwasher detergents leave behind.

There has been some controversy over LemiShine’s secret ingredient(s), which most folks say is just citric acid.  I’ve used basic citric acid and even lemon flavored Koolaid.  Neither did quite the job of LemiShine.  However, a few chemists decided to give it a thorough going over and you can read about it here.


What is it?  Is it safe?  Borax is actually a mineral called sodium tetraborate that is mined from the ground.  {It is not to be confused with boric acid}  As an additive to dishwasher detergent, I find it to be safe, natural, and doesn’t absorb through the skin.  This is what gets the dishes clean.

If you are still concerned about Borax, there are articles here and here that include actual scientific data.

Baking Soda:

What is it?  Is it safe?  I’m sure you know this, but baking soda is a natural mineral {sodium bicarbonate}.  As an ingredient in dishwasher detergent it will degrease, remove odors, and act as a scrubbing agent.   It’s about as safe as a product can get.

Safe ingredients, inexpensive, easy-to-make, and it works.  What’s not to like?

If you are passionate about natural products like me, you may want to visit some of my previous posts here.


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  1. Tammie says

    I have not heard of Homemade Dishwasher Detergent. Thanks! I will give this a try. I don’t like buying “store bought” dishwasher detergent. You don’t know what’s in it and it is expensive.

    I’ve never heard of LemiShine either. I will check my local Walmart.

    Thanks again.

  2. Marianne says

    I, too, have never heard of LemiShine. I have extremely hard water so I will begin the hunt for this product. Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and information.

    • Leslie says

      It’s the exact same. This gi-nor-mous size comes from Costco. I don’t use it for cooking, it’s my cleaning baking soda.

  3. says

    I’ve been wondering about this. I made my own laundry soap and have been dragon my feet to buy more dish detergent. I’ll definitely be making this! Thanks!

  4. says

    I just found your blog at Sumo’s Sweet Stuff link party. I love keeping house almost as much as sewing! :) I just subscribed via email and can’t wait to keep up with all of your great ideas!

  5. Shirley says

    Thanks so much for this automatic dishwashing detergent recipe! I have been using a liquid dishwashing detergent from another source but was hoping to be able to make my own recipe. I wish it was liquid or tabs but will still give it a try…until I find different at least.

  6. Shirley says

    Does anyone have a good laundry (clothes) recipe that will whiten/brighten clothes? All my whites start getting yellow after awhile with my recipe. Hoping someone will have a better one. Thanks.

    • danielle says

      Fels Naptha or Ivory Soap (3 bars/grated)
      Super Washing Soda(x1)
      Baking Soda(x2)
      OxyClean(1.3 lb tub)
      add Purex Crystals or Downy Unstoppables for a wonderful scent
      Use a Tsp or so per load and be amazed! I’ve been using this for about a month- and I refuse to go back to tide (and I have an eight yr old boy and a one yr old girl- they are a mess and so is everything else they seem to go near) but their clothes are wonderfully clean and fresh!

      • Leslie says

        This is a recipe for Laundry Soap. I’ve seen Fels Naptha but never Ivory Soap. I may have to give this a try.

  7. says

    I am so excited to try this. We have been making our own liquid laundry soap for a couple of years, but I’ve never seen a recipe for dish soap. I’ll be making it this week. Thanks.

    I just found your blog from a linkup, and look forward to reading more.

    mama of 12

  8. says

    I love this idea! I’m totally going to have to try it! Thanks so much for coming out to the party at Clean and Scentsible. I’ll be featuring this today. Happy Mother’s Day!
    Jenn :)

  9. says

    Love this. I dont have a Dishwasher but my 2 hands. Need to know if i can use this in the sink to wash my Dishes by hand..And can you share a household cleanser for counters to floors.

    • Leslie says

      I don’t know if it would work for hand washing – I’ll have to give it a try. I am planning some future posts on household cleaners….

  10. Suzanne says

    My question is we have a water softener, in that case do I need the Lemishine or is it good for the dishes as well??? I am so excited to FINALLY have found a dishwasher detergent, now can you make this into pellets please???? :)

    • Leslie says

      I have never worked with soft water, but my best guess would be to only use a small amount of the detergent. LemiShine is for hard water, so I don’t know how it would react with a water softener.

  11. says

    I have been using this for 2 weeks and it is working well. Dishwasher soap is so expensive, and with the exception of the Lemi-shine, I had the other ingredients. I do add a couple of drops of Dawn dish soap and it helps with cleaning. Thanks

      • Aleksandra says

        Hey Leslie,

        I use 1 cup of vinegar, 1 cup of water, and 1 drop of dish soap. I mix everything in the bottle and spray on the cloth for cleaning. Also, I use vinegar as my dishwasher detergent. Normally, 1/2 of cup of vinegar and 2 drops of dish soap will do the trick. Just place the mixture on the bottom rack and run the cycle. You will have clean and disinfected dishes and your machine will be thankful too :) I recommend to try it. It is super cheap and so effective!!! My daughter has some sort of skin problems, so I can’t use most of the products from the store. I’m sure that once you try it, you won’t go back to pellets or harsh detergents. Good luck!

  12. says

    What a great idea! I will have to try this one. Economical and less “mystery” ingredients. Thanks for sharing this tutorial!

  13. Kaitlyn says

    I found your recipe and was so excited I rushed to the store and bought the ingredients. I did as your recipe called but im not sure if I am doing it right. The detergent isn’t dissolving and its not cleaning my dishes….Is there anything that you can suggest that I try or add?? Thanks

    • Leslie says

      Since I’m not there, it’s hard to know why it’s clumping. If you read the Lemi-Shine container, it recommends you run an empty dishwasher with Lemi-Shine. I did this and it made the inside of my dishwasher look brand new. It could be that there is a lot of build up in your dishwasher’s plumbing. Also, instead of borax, try Arm and Hammer’s Washing Soda.

  14. says

    Fab idea. I never knew it was so easy to make dishwashing soap. I figured there’d be a ton of ingredients and grating like with the laundry soap recipes. I can handle three ingredients!

    Visiting from the Nifty Thrifty Things party.

  15. says

    Hi there! I am co-hosting this week on the Raising Imperfetion Sunday Link Party. Thanks for sharing your creations with us! I hope you found inspiration in all of the terrific posts.

    I host a (Not SO) Wordless Wednesday Blog Hop and a TGIF Link Party at my place — A Peek Into My Paradise… http://apeekintomyparadise.blogspot.com/ I would love for you to link up and follow if you like what you see. =) I follow back – I love making new friends!

    I can’t wait to see what you link up next week!

    Hugs, Cathy

  16. Leslie says

    I am putting these items on my shopping list! I made my own laundry detergent and I love the idea of making my own dishwasher soap. Thank you!

    Thank you for linking up to Raising Imperfection!
    Make sure to check back on Friday to see if you were featured.

  17. says

    Thank you so much for sharing! I’m looking forward to making a batch up and using it. I’m in the process of renovating my kitchen but as soon as the dishwasher is hooked up I know I’ll be using this.

  18. says

    This is so great! I’ve made my own laundry soap, but not this. When I run out of my current dishwashing “tabs,” I’m going to give this a try! Very cool. I need to check out your other natural products. I seriously need to study up. =D


  19. Corinne says


    I’m thinking of making this to help my mom out. How long does one batch usually last? We have an average use of the dishwasher, once or twice weekly.


  20. says

    This recipe has worked great! I hope you do not mind that I have linked your blog and this recipe to mine, Spread the wealth I always say:) Thank you again!!!

  21. Bethany says

    Hi! Love how easy this recipe is. I made it last night, but then I read the warning on the LemiShine and I’m kind of scared to use it. I just got a whole new set of dishes for my wedding and I don’t want to ruin them. Do you find this recipe safe to use on all your dishes?

  22. says

    Hi there…I’m on month 3 of using this recipe, and have had generally good success. However, my husband and I have noticed (and this is even after running LemiShine through on a cycle regularly to clean the dishwasher) that my glasses are clean but they are cloudy. Do I need to adjust the “titration” of the soda or borax or lemishine? I am still using rinse aid as well, as I’ve not really found a particularly good natural alternative. Any ideas or suggestions? I really don’t want to go back to buying regular old dishwasher detergent. :( Thanks in advance!

    • Leslie says

      Thanks for such a great comment. When we first moved into our new home I had cloudy residue on my dishes. I found that running an empty dishwasher with Lemi-Shine cleared that up. I also use liquid Lemi-shine as the rinse aid and haven’t had any more problems. My best guess is first try cleaning the dishwasher with Lemi-Shine. They have a product for this at Walmart and Target – just follow the directions. If that doesn’t fix the problem, then try adjusting the amounts of the soda, borax, and lemishine.

  23. says

    This still happens even after running an empty cycle with Lemishine. It doesn’t matter, other than my dishwasher is clean! :) Maybe I’ll try using the liquid lemishine for rinse-aid next time I run out.
    Which ingredient would you try adjusting, and more or less of it? I don’t really know where to begin!

  24. says

    You are a total live saver! I ran out of dishwasher detergent today, and thanks to plumbing emergency am too broke to go buy more. I did a Google search for DIY detergent based on the ingredients I had on hand. Your post was the first to pop up. I’m going to have to sub the Lemishine with plain citric acid as that’s also what I have on hand.

  25. Sara says

    Hi There! Thanks so much for this recipe. I’ve been using it for a while now. It works well, only with our hard water I have to use at least two tablespoons, one in the main wash cup and one thrown into the bottom of the dishwasher. I might try adjusting the ingredients a bit to see if a higher LemiShine ratio would make it more effective with our water. Also, I noticed that the mixture tends to “goo” up and stick to itself despite the fact that I have it in a sealed glass jar. Any idea why it does this?

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