How to make dishwasher soap

I've been wanting to make my own dishwasher soap for ages. I tried it a few years ago, but it didn't work so well. Since then, though, I've found out the secret—citric acid. Last year my dishes suddenly started coming out of the dishwasher with a white residue on them, and I found out that citric acid (or lemon Kool-Aid powder) is the answer.

I don't like hunting all over town for mysterious items, so I just ordered the citric acid from Amazon.When I looked at the cost, I decided it was a bit cheaper to get the citric acid, and I don't have to deal with opening all those little packets of Kool-Aid.

If you want to try the recipe before investing in citric acid, try adding four packets of lemon flavored Kool-Aid instead. I don't know if that's enough, but it seems like a good starting point. If your dishes come out white, add more.

You can also use this for a strong abrasive cleanser. It foams when you get it wet. I use it on the kitchen sink.


Dishwasher detergent

2 parts borax
2 parts baking soda (or washing soda)
1 part salt
1 part citric acid

Mix together well. I put them in a quart jar and shook it. I use about 1 tablespoon per load. You may need to tweak the recipe to find what works best for you. You may need to use more in each load, or you may be able to get away with less. Very hard water would call for more borax or soda; very dirty dishes might need a bit more salt (we rinse ours before we put them in). If your dishes come out a bit white, add more citric acid.


Oh, and I fill the rinse aid compartment with vinegar. So much cheaper than buying actual rinse aid! I won't pretend it's just as effective—my plastic comes out completely dry when I use rinse aid, and with the vinegar it's still a bit wet. But vinegar is more effective than nothing, and I don't mind shaking off the extra water before I put away the dishes.


  1. Great idea! Makes me not want to drink the koolaid!

  2. OK, I just came back to this post because I'm about to embark on making my first batch of homemade stuff. I'm not sure if I'm saving money, but I just don't want to go to the store and buy more dishwasher soap!

  3. OH WOW! I just had a semi-brilliant thought! I wonder if sometimes people are using regular old table salt in this recipe and that is what is causing a white residue? Regular old table salt usually has something added to keep it from clumping. I try to use plain salt with no additives when canning to avoid a residue on the jars. Maybe that same residue is ending up on the dishes?

  4. Ooh, now I can't wait to try that out. That is a very brilliant thought.

  5. I'm trying this tomorrow.