All the online recipes make it sound so easy (and it is!), but I’m not really a fan of the results I’ve gotten from DIY powdered detergents. Things like hazy glassware, specks of leftover detergent and remnants of last night’s dinner are a total turn off when I’m unloading the dishwasher, no matter how well I clean and maintain it otherwise.
I’ll do everything in my power to avoid them, even if it means spending more money on the commercial stuff. But when I stumbled on a recipe for liquid dishwasher detergent, I thought I’d give making my own a go.
Homemade Liquid Dishwasher Detergent
The problem with homemade detergent powders is that they don’t always dissolve in the wash. And that means that your dishes often come out dirtier than before. But when you make a liquid detergent, you allow plenty of time for the particles to dissolve, so they break down food more easily and rinse clean.
I must say I’m pleasantly surprised with this homemade liquid dishwasher detergent. While it's not perfect (most homemade products aren't) it actually cleans my dishes without leaving residue, powdery flakes or lingering grime. Not to mention, it costs a fraction of the store bought detergents.
Dishwasher Detergent Ingredients
The active ingredient in most commercial detergents is washing soda, a nontoxic cleaner that helps cut through grease. Because washing soda is an easy-to-find and inexpensive natural cleaner, it's the perfect addition to any homemade dishwasher detergent.
I like to add in a little Borax to help raise the water’s pH and create hydrogen peroxide. This in turn removes hardwater deposits and disinfects your dishes. Despite what some in the online community say about Borax, I'm not afraid to use it use it on dishes (or anything else, for that matter).
According to one study done on mice, Borax may affect reproductive health when ingested in abnormally high quantities. That same study also shows that small amounts of Borax had no affect on fertility and were tolerated just fine.
The other issue some people have with Borax is that the dust can irritate the eyes, throat and nose. Be sure to measure out your Borax carefully so as not to kick any dust into the air and store any leftover Borax away from kids and pets. If you still feel uncomfortable using it, leave it out!
Last but not least, salt acts as a scouring agent to help remove tough dirt and stuck on food. And grapefruit and thyme essential oils are used for their antibacterial properties and fresh, clean scent.
To make it a liquid, simply add water until you get a pourable paste consistency. Keep it in a jar or store in an old squeeze bottle by the dishwasher.
Dishwasher Detergent FAQ
Can I use this for hand washing dishes?
This would be perfect for washing dishes by hand. You can even add castile soap, if you like.
Can I add castile soap to this dishwasher detergent recipe?
Yes, absolutely. If you would like more of soap-like consistency, castile soap can boost the cleaning power without creating too much suds or damaging your dishwasher.
Can I add citric acid to homemade liquid dishwasher detergent?
Most recipes also call for citric acid to add a sparkly shine to dishware. But if you’ve ever made bath bombs, you know what happens when you combine baking soda, citric acid and water. You’re left with a hot mess.
I learned the hard way that the same happens if you add citric acid to washing soda. While it can still give your dishes some added shine, make sure to introduce it as a rinse aid later in the wash cycle and not as an ingredient in your detergent.
Why does my detergent thicken over time?
The powder ingredients in this detergent absorb water as they sit. If you find that your detergent thickens too much, simply add warm water one tablespoon at a time and stir everything together.
Homemade Liquid Dishwasher Detergent
- Lidded jar or plastic squeeze bottle
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk to break up clumps as best you can. Transfer to a lidded jar or an old squeeze bottle.
- Use up to 2 tablespoons per load, shaking before each use.