Make your own dishwashing detergent that’s green, all-natural and non-toxic in less than five minutes at home using ingredients found at the grocery store with this easy recipe!
For a year now, I’ve been on a mission to make my house as green as possible. I feel like Mr. Clean, only with way more hair (on my head that is!) and sleeker biceps. My mission first began over a year ago when I decided to start making my own shampoo from baking soda – it’s cheap, green, and very gentle on my very dry, curly hair. It has worked very well and has sparked my desire to make more of my own products to continue saving money, the planet, and my family’s health! To see all my green living recipes and posts, click here.
I came across this homemade dishwasher detergent from diynatural.com in my searches and have been using it for almost nine months now. I’ve found it cleans just as well as commercial detergents, and love that it is safe for the environment and our house (many detergents omit gases into your home that can irritate those with asthma and harm ground water and aquatic life). It is also super cheap to make!
Important Information About BORAX
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) no longer recommends Borax (source) as a green cleaning agent claiming it “can cause skin and eye irritation and may disrupt hormones and harm the male reproductive system.” I have written on this blog before on my green cleaning products post that Borax is a controversial ingredient and is easily left out. If you so choose to leave it out, simply increase the kosher salt and citric acid that you use. I really don’t know what my opinion is on this issue. There are many controversial subjects like this in natural, green living (even lavender and tea tree oil have been defamed in one study and I swear by them!), so I have a hard time knowing what to do believe. Crunchy Betty, a green blogger I really like and respect, has the opinion that it’s safe. It’s so hard to know as a consumer, isn’t it? One year new studies show that coffee causes cancer, the next year, they’re telling us that it isn’t true and it’s healthy to have a cup a day! It makes my head spin, but I stick by the simpler and more natural, the better!
How Cheap Is This Recipe?
Here is a cost breakdown (if you buy the products on Amazon). The closest measurement to these ingredients is sugar, so I’m comparing sugar to use as the weight. So, this an approximate cost breakdown!
- Super Washing Soda - 4 lbs. for $10.17 and we use 1 cup per batch (2 cups sugar = 1 lb., so there are 8 cups in a box. We use 1 cup for one batch, which is 1/8 of the box, so $10.17/8 = $1.27 per batch
- 20 Mule Team Borax - 4.8 lbs. for $5.56 and we use 1 cup per batch (2 cups sugar = 1 lb., so there are about 9 cups in a box. We use 1 cup for one batch, which is about 1/9 of the box, so $5.56/9 = $0.62 per batch
- Citric Acid - 5 lbs for $19.23 and we use 1/2 cup per batch (2 cups sugar = 1 lb. so there are about 10 cups in a box. We use 1/2 cup for one batch, which is about 1/20 of the box, so $19.23/20 = $0.97 per batch
- Kosher Salt - 3 lbs. for $9.99 and we use 1/2 cup per batch (2 cups sugar = 1 lb. so there are about 6 cups in a box. We use 1/2 cup for one batch, which is about 1/12 of the box, so $9.99/12 = $0.83 per batch
- GrabGreen: $6.39 for 24 loads
- Seventh Generation Auto Dish Pacs: $4.59 for 20 loads
Homemade Dishwashing Detergent Recipe
- 1 cup Super Washing Soda (not baking soda)
- 1 cup 20 Mule Team Borax (I like to take mine out of the cardboard box and put it in a smaller container)
- 1/2 cup Citric Acid
- 1/2 cup Kosher Salt
- Optional – vinegar as a rinse aid and 1/2 cup white rice (see option #2 below)
Mix the super washing soda, borax and kosher salt together and keep the citric acid separate. For each load, measure out 1 tablespoon of this mixture and put in the detergent compartment and put 1 teaspoon of Citric Acid (2 if you have hard water) in the pre-wash compartment.
Mix all the dry ingredients together and add 1/2 cup of white rice (I tried brown and it didn’t work, it must be white!). The rice will absorb the moisture from the citric acid and keep it from hardening. I have not found that the rice harms my dishwasher or has any ill effects on the cleaning power of the detergent. In fact, I think it acts as a natural scrubber to get off stuck-on food! But, if adding rice seems strange to you, then go with option #1.
Vinegar as a Rinse Aid
White distilled vinegar makes for a fantastic, natural rinse aid. Just add it to the rinse compartment of your dishwasher (usually it’s on the door with a screw top). For added cleaning power and a wonderful citrus smell, use my recipe for citrus-infused vinegar!
Make Your Own Super Washing Soda
Super Washing Soda is much more expensive that straight up baking soda, and reader Maria reports that you can make your own at home. My good blogging buddy from Nature’s Nurture has an excellent tutorial on how to do just that!