The Best Natural DIY Dishwasher Detergent

This article hopes to explain why you should ditch your storebought dishwasher liquid, and try our DIY dishwasher detergent instead. We’ve tried all the recipes and have nailed the perfect combination of ingredients.

Read on below to get the full rundown.

diy dishwasher detergent

I don’t know about you, but doing the dishes by hand is one of my least favorite kitchen activities.

I actually dread the thought of tackling a days worth of dishes produced by my household.

The first time I moved into a house with a dishwasher in the kitchen, I was over the moon! I could simply load it up, close the door and come back to sparkly clean dishes, with not a streak or water spot to be found.

No more piles of dirty dishes on the bench and no more sinks full of dirty dishwater.

Like everything though, they have some drawbacks to go with their convenience. Specifically, having to buy a constant supply of liquid dish detergent that is not only expensive but terrible for the environment.

After years of flushing money (and toxins) down my dishwasher drain, I decided I needed to be able to make my own homemade dishwasher detergent (otherwise known as dish soap).

After many failed attempts, which led to a kitchen full of suds on more than one occasion, I finally struck on the perfect recipe. One that left my dishes perfectly clean, contained no harmful chemicals or toxins and only cost a fraction of commercial detergents.

Before I share the recipe with you, let’s have a look at why you would want to make your own homemade natural dishwashing detergent using natural ingredients.

Why Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent?

natural dishwasher detergent

There are three main reasons why you should want to make your own homemade dishwasher detergent:

It’s Better For The Environment

Commercial dishwasher detergents have a high energy cost associated with their production and shipping all around the world.

A huge amount of plastic waste is generated each year from the plastic bottles and packaging they come in, as well as their labels.

In addition, most store-bought options are not biodegradable and can be damaging to our natural waterways and aquatic life, and even if they are ‘biodegradable’, there is a significant resource cost in their production.

A homemade DIY detergent can be easily kept in sustainable refill pouches and reused time and time again.

It’s Better For Your Health

Most store-bought dishwasher detergent will contain harsh chemicals for the cleaning process as well as coloring and fragrances.

Why does your dishwasher detergent even need to be a bright color?

Common chemicals in liquid dishwashing detergent include:

  • Sodium Hypochlorite (better known as bleach)
  • Artificial fragrances which often contain formaldehyde (yes, that formaldehyde)
  • Artificial colours which have been shown to cause cancer in some studies
  • And a vague definition of “cleaning agent” which they don’t even have to explain.

Even store-bought natural detergents contain ingredients such as dyes that can be harmful to our health.

It’s Better For Your Bank Account

Take a look at a bottle of liquid dishwashing detergent and take note of the main ingredient… water!

That’s mostly what you’re paying for when buying off the shelf, along with the fancy packaging and marketing to convince you theirs is the best. Even store-bought natural detergent is guilty of this.

By using homemade dishwasher detergent you’re able to use ingredients that can be bought cheaply and easily. You might even have most of them around the house already.

What You Need To Make Your Own Homemade Dishwasher Detergent:

homemade dishwasher detergent

As mentioned, you probably already have most of these ingredients lying around the house – and if you don’t, they are easy to find and cheap.

1.) Distilled White Vinegar

Vinegar is the king of DIY cleaning products. When used in your homemade dishwasher detergent it cleans, disinfects, deodorizes, and even acts as a natural rinse aid. We buy this stuff by the gallon! You can add vinegar to everything.

2.) Citric Acid

If you have soft water, you might not need citric acid. It helps to avoid water spots caused by hard water. Feel free to leave this out of your recipe if it’s not needed.

3.) Castile Soap

This is what makes up the bulk of your homemade liquid dishwasher detergent, and has the grease removing power you need.

It’s important to not use any old liquid soap in your recipe as they make too many suds in your dishwasher leading to a bubbly mess. Ask me how I know!

4.) Salt

The salt has two roles in your natural dishwasher detergent.

Firstly, it acts as a fine scourer for added cleaning power.

Secondly, it will help thicken your DIY dishwasher detergent, making it more like a gel and easier to add to your machine.

You can substitute baking soda for salt if you would prefer.

5.) Essential Oils

Essential oils offer a boost to the grease-cutting ability of your liquid detergent but are mainly there to leave a nice fresh scent after the wash cycle.

You can use whichever is your favorite, I like lime or lemon essential oil.

diy dishwasher detergent

How To Make Our DIY Dishwasher Detergent:

There are many dishwasher detergent recipes out there, but this is our tried and tested formula. We’ve found that it leaves your dishes clean (even without a second rinse cycle), your dishwasher smelling fresh, and works just as well as a commercial detergent.

Other recipes for homemade detergent might call for boric acid, washing soda or lemon juice, but we have found these ingredients don’t really add any benefit.

So here it is, our DIY dishwasher detergent recipe.


  • 1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup pure castile soap
  • 1/4 cup salt
  • 1 teaspoon of citric acid
  • 5-6 drops of your favourite essential oil – I like to use citrus oil such as lemon or lime.
  • Medium-sized squeeze bottle or glass jar (a wide mouth jar is perfect)


  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl and combine well, making sure there are no clumps of citric acid.
  2. Carefully pour the mixture into your squeeze bottle or glass jar. I prefer to use a squeeze bottle as it makes it easier to add directly to the dishwasher.
  3. Simply squeeze or pour about 2 tablespoons into the dispenser of your dishwasher and run it on your chosen cycle.

I recommend doing a ‘dummy run’ first with no dishes in the machine and using a single tablespoon of your homemade dishwasher detergent just to make sure everything runs fine. I’ve never heard of anyone having an issue, but I’d hate for you to be the first!

diy dishwasher detergent

That’s It!

You’ve done it! If you followed the recipe carefully, your natural dishwasher detergent will cut through grease, scrub away stubborn baked-on food and leave your dishes sanitized and odorless.

Not to mention save your health, bank account, and the environment!

Your eco-friendly homemade dishwasher detergent can be stored easily for 2-3 weeks – keep it in a cool dark place and. make sure you shake the container well before each use.

You can make your own dishwasher detergent, as well as your own rinse aid simply and easily using common household ingredients. Give it a go and you’ll thank us that you did.

Now that you’ve made your DIY dishwasher detergent, how about giving the dishwasher itself (and any other stainless steel appliances) some love with our homemade stainless steel cleaner.

Be sure to check out some of our other cleaning and care guides, you’ll find some super handy tips, tricks, and homemade cleaning recipes.

For a different recipe for a DIY dishwasher detergent check out this video from ehow.

About Darcy O

Loves good coffee, good design and a good nap on a good couch!

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