DIY Dishwasher Detergent without Borax!

by Amanda Hearn · 147 comments

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DIY Dishwasher DetergentI’ve been playing around with a dishwasher detergent recipe for a while now, and finally worked out one that leaves my glasses clear and does not use borax. I am happy to use borax in my laundry detergent, but I feel that using it on my dishes is probably not the best choice.

For some time now I’ve been stuck using uneco-freindly options, mostly. I’ve been using Cascade packs with Lemi-Shine. It was the only thing that cleaned my dished and left my glasses clear from film and yuck.  I have been using this DIY recipe with success. It used Lemi-Shine, which is completely safe and eco-friendly. The only thing I wish is that I could buy it in tubs.  I simply will not do a load of dishes without it.

Dishwasher Detergent Recipe

1 1/2 Cups Lemi-Shine (They come in 12 oz containers, so this is a full one – alternatively, citric acid can be used)
1 1/2 Cups Washing Soda
1/2 Cup Baking Soda
1/2 Cup Sea Salt (any will do I’m sure)

Store in an air-tight container and use 2 Tablespoons per load.

If you like, vinegar can be added as the rinse agent in the event that you have any cloudiness.

I haven’t had problems with hard clumping, but some have. If you do, a brown sugar bear should help.

If you’re new to Lemi-Shine, you can head to their site for a sample (no longer active – I’ll update if it comes back up).  I swear, this stuff is amazing if you have residue issues, hard water issues, etc!


This has been working wonderfully for me.  I hope you try it out and I would love to hear how it works for you!

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Amanda Hearn

Amanda Hearn

Founder of The Eco-Friendly Family, design geek, serial tanktopist, content creator, mother, coffee addict, & lover of fun. I am also a partner at Green Child Magazine & Put A Cup In It!
Amanda Hearn
karlamcurry October 17, 2011 at 11:35 pm

Hm, is the lemi-shine basically for the citric acid? I got some packets of lemon Koolaid, planning on making a batch of homemade dishwasher detergent, but I have yet to locate the recipe I've used in the past.

Sarah October 18, 2011 at 11:50 am

I'm planning on trying this. Thanks for the recipe!

simplymerry October 19, 2011 at 9:41 pm

Thank you! Right now we don't have a dishwasher, but I'll try this out when we get one.

C Squared October 20, 2011 at 6:03 pm

How exactly is borax different than washing soda?

JG Wright February 14, 2012 at 12:01 pm

Chemically, Borax is Sodium Perborate, a “salt” of boric acid while “washing soda” is Sodium Carbonate. (Note: Sodium Carbonate is VERY different from baking soda which is Sodium Bicarbonate. They are NOT interchangeable!!) Both Borax and Washing Soda are moderately alkaline and will act as water softening agents and mild bleaching agents. Borax, as you might intuit, is in part made up of Boron. While we need Boron in trace amounts, an excessive amount, like most things, is toxic. I use both as additives to my laundry and dishwasher and have suffered no ill effects. I make it a point to not eat either straight from the box. The rinse cycles seem to adequately remove the residues. Did I mention that I have grown a tail and horns? I don’t think that’s related to Boron though………..

Dave April 2, 2012 at 5:58 pm

Washing soda has a PH of 11. Baking Soda has a PH of 8.2. Washing Soda is far more alkaline. Baking Soda can be ingested but Washing Soda is too caustic. Washing Soda harms aluminum so don’t ever wash aluminum with Washing Soda. It will even strip paint. Handle Washing Soda with care.

Citric acid is mildly acid and is in Lemi Care. It will react with the washing soda and reduce the PH. The citric acid will be converted to Disodium citrate and Trisodium citrate in the reaction.

Dave April 3, 2012 at 10:13 pm

More on Citric Acid: Citric acid effectively removes the tarnish on copper and brass. It also removes rust and hard water stains by chelating with minerals. It is in a copper cream that I use for my copper pans. It’s an instant polish. I recommend the Wright’s Copper Cream as found in many grocery stores. It works wonders and is very economical too.

Gun collectors, I have read, use Lemi Care to clean gun brass. They claim that it reverses the tarnish rather than just clean it.

neuroticmom June 19, 2013 at 10:40 pm

Yes gun collectors that reload do use it! I wish I could get LemiShine in a big tub because since my husband started reloading I can’t keep enough in the house for him and my dishwasher !

Becky B. July 21, 2012 at 2:04 pm

Just a little FYI on the washing soda… It’s derived from baking soda. It’s just baking soda minus water, so if you happen to bake with baking soda, you theoretically end up eating washing soda, LOL. Anyhoo, side note, I just make my own washing soda by baking a sheet of baking soda in the oven for a while. It smells icky, and takes a little while to transform, but you can tell when it’s made it’s transformation.

Anjea January 25, 2013 at 12:55 pm

Boron ingested in large amounts is toxic, yes. The way that Borax works to soften the water is that it binds to the calcium and magnesium particles in the water, which then rinse away and leave the dishes free of mineral deposits. It is not left on your dishes and is perfectly safe to use in homemade dishwasher detergents.

Amanda @The Eco-Friendly Family October 20, 2011 at 6:15 pm

They are very similar, but borax can be toxic if ingested. My understanding is that washing soda is great for washing/cleaning, and borax helps with whitening and deodorizing (making it great for laundry).

I have found many recipes online for dish detergent that include Borax, but for my own piece of mind, I wanted something without it. I also felt that for sharing and recommending, a recipe without Borax was what I really needed.

JG Wright February 14, 2012 at 12:21 pm

Adults need between 1 & 3 mg of Boron daily. Boron is readily available from dietary sources such as nuts and vegetables.
Any fear of Boron toxicity from Sodium Perborate residue left after washing dishes, assuming your dishwasher has a working rinse cycle, is a candidate for the “Chicken Little Award.”

Stephanie Barrett February 29, 2012 at 12:49 am

And actually, Borax is a remedy for parasites. It cures mange in dogs very well. You bathe them in a mixture of borax, hydrogen peroxide and water. And you can put a small amount in their water. It will kill parasites in humans as well. Read more here:

Amanda March 10, 2012 at 5:08 pm

According to the 20 Mule Team Borax MSDS (found on their website)

“INGESTION: May cause gastrointestinal disturbances such as headache nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and diarrhea, with delayed effects of skin redness and peeling.”

For this reason, among others, I will continue to choose not to use it on surfaces that come into direct contact with food.

Lisa @Retro Housewife Goes Green March 10, 2012 at 5:15 pm

Large amounts are harmful to wildlife and humans. Sure it’s not likely enough will get into water ways and around animals but if everyone was using it in theory it could be enough to become harmful. Here is a study on the safety-

It’s not the same application but the ideas apply.

Amanda March 10, 2012 at 5:44 pm

Thanks for sharing that Lisa!

Dave April 2, 2012 at 5:29 pm

From the 20 muleteam borax website:

•Boost the cleaning power of your dishwashing detergent by removing hard water minerals and residues from the wash water.
•Add 1/4 cup 20 Mule Team® Borax in the bottom of the dishwasher to reduce spots and film from dishes and glasses

They don’t think Borax is even toxic or harmfull at even higher levels than what is in homemade detergent of about 1/3 Tablespoon per wash cycle.

Dave April 3, 2012 at 9:57 pm

I just checked my notes on homemade dishwasher detergents with Borax. It is a water softener with its PH of 9.2. But most important to the recipe– it is a corrosion inhibitor which prevents the oxidation of ferrous/iron metals. It prevents rust. It’s an important ingredient to the recipe and does not seem to be a health risk.

Amanda @The Eco-Friendly Family October 20, 2011 at 6:28 pm

@Karla Lemi-Shine is natural fruit acids and citric oils. It is completely eco-friendly.

I've heard of people using Kool-aid, but I wouldn't. It contains artificial colorings, perservatives and other additives.

JG Wright February 14, 2012 at 12:13 pm

Virtually all citric acid products available in the US are produced from lemon juice. If one removes the sugars and water from lemon juice what remains is reasonably high grade citric acid. One of the side effects of using citric acid in a dishwasher is that it promotes rust and will even cause lower grades of stainless steel to rust. It might make glass sparkle, but keep an eye on your stainless if it isn’t 18-10.

AJ May 6, 2012 at 1:54 pm

That’s not true. I have a corn allergy and have to avoid foods that contain citric acid as it is often corn based. Lemons, lemon juice and lemon oil are all more expensive than corn and in years when there is a bad citrus crop they have even more motivation to use corn. Wikipedia explains how corn is turned into citric acid via mold. Yum. When I cook at home I use lemon juice but I’m fairly certain that the citric acid I use to clean is made from corn and sulfuric acid. Isn’t that exciting?

Amanda May 6, 2012 at 2:05 pm

I didn’t know this, thank you so much for sharing. I’ll be reading more about this for sure.

Practical Housewife April 22, 2013 at 2:23 pm

Lemi shine contains fragrance. I would be hesitant to call it “eco-friendly.”

Practical Housewife April 22, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Well, technically, we don’t know if it contains fragrance because the company won’t completely disclose the ingredients. They are listed as “supplier trade secret” on What do they have to hide? I, personally, am hesitant to purchase products from a company that won’t disclose their ingredients.

Amanda April 22, 2013 at 3:02 pm

I actually contacted them regarding the fragrance listed and was told that it is “a natural occurring scent derived from the fruit acids and natural citrus oils.”

Daisy and Ryan October 29, 2011 at 2:20 am

I am definitely going to have to try this out. We've tried other recipes for the dishwasher, but we could not stick with them b/c they did not work well at all. We kept going back to our other stuff…which was not bad. We use Ecover. We actually love it – works GREAT! My hubby was very skeptical when we first tried it, but after we used it, he admitted it even worked better than the Cascade we had been using. We've been using Ecover for a couple years now. But it would be nice to be able to just make some that really works, too, esp for the cost difference!

I do have a question, though… When we've tried this before, we just got citric acid from the bulk section at Whole Foods. Would this be different from the Lemi-Shine? Not sure if they're different enough or if one works just as well as the other. Thanks!!

Dave April 3, 2012 at 10:33 pm

Many of the eco-friendly detergent producers use either sodium citrate (salt of citric acid) or citric acid as an ingredient. Bulk citric acid is usually cheaper than Lemi-Shine and serves the same purpose. It cheates minerals and adds the shine to glasses and dishes.

Amanda @The Eco-Friendly Family November 7, 2011 at 10:47 pm

I am not sure if they would be the same or not. I do know that lemi-shine is natural fruit acids and citric oils.

You might try it in a small batch and see how it goes. Let me know if you like it!

A Daily Dose of Grace November 9, 2011 at 10:30 pm

I've been looking for an alternative to borax recipes for a while. Thanks so much!


Jennifer November 22, 2011 at 5:11 pm

Love this recipe – thank you so much for a borax-free alternative. This is a keeper!

Amanda @The Eco-Friendly Family November 22, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Thanks Jennifer, I'm happy that you like it!

Katie November 28, 2011 at 12:21 pm

THANK YOU for a Borax-free recipe! I have some citric acid (bought to make bath bombs) and will be trying it with that. I've seen other recipes calling for CA that say you can use Lemi Shine in place of it, so I think it's a 1-1 ratio. 🙂 Thanks again!

Gissel December 1, 2011 at 8:51 am

Do you have a recipe for those of us with no dishwasher?

kellyspenc December 6, 2011 at 3:29 am

Love this recipie! I actually just found some lemi-shine on clearance at walmart! I'm so excited to start trying it tomorrow!

Cindy Torrey December 30, 2011 at 10:54 am

I am interested in trying this but first I need to know if any of these ingredients test on animals. Thanks! 🙂

Amanda Hearn December 30, 2011 at 2:14 pm

From the searching I've done, it appears that the Borax is not tested on animals. I know that Lemi-Shine is also not tested on animals.

Arm & Hammer does however do animal testing, though they say it's policy to do so as a last resort. I can't find anything definitive on the washing soda or baking soda products.

Bob’s Red Mill Baking Soda is cruelty free. I am unaware of a washing soda alternative.

I hope that helps Cindy!

JG Wright February 14, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Do you understand that Bob’s Red Mill product are “private label” products? In all likelyhood his baking soda is produced and packaged by A&H.

Brenna @ Almost All The Truth March 10, 2012 at 4:37 pm

I actually live a few miles from Bob’s Red Mill and have toured their facilities. Every single one of their products are manufactured here in their own facility. They are really a great company. I have no ties to them, but as part of the community, they have always been great.

Becky B. July 21, 2012 at 2:11 pm

Just put some baking soda in the oven and it will convert to washing soda. 🙂 I found directions on how to do this online somewhere, sorry don’t have the link handy, but it works. The site I used the directions from showed how washing soda is simply dehydrated baking soda. When you bake it, water comes out and it transforms to washing soda. Ta da!

Lisa January 4, 2012 at 3:55 am

You can buy Lemishine in a huge quantity on their website.

Anonymous January 7, 2012 at 4:42 pm

Can you use regular salt instead of sea salt? Cant wit to try this!!!

JG Wright February 14, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Salt that is mined from deposits is salt that was left when ancient seas dried up. It is dissolved and recrystallized before resale. Sea salt is simply salt crystallized from contemporary sea water. Table salt is not manufactured and all table salt at one time or another was a component of sea water. Sodium Iodide is usually added to table salt in trace amounts as a dietary supplement to prevent hypertrophy of the thyroid, commonly known as “goiter.” Most “sea salt” lacks iodide.

Salt trivia: The difference in Kosher salt is that in order to be Kosher, the slurry must be continuously raked while crystallization occurs, thus the “flaky” appearance of Kosher salt. If left to crystallize by evaporation alone, salt forms crystals that are cubed shaped.

Dave April 3, 2012 at 11:03 pm

Kosher salt does not contain additives. Table salt does. And sea salt can contain other minerals and impurities that are in the sea which maybe not as good in a dishwasher? Sea salt made by dehydrating sea water in the sun will contain many other impurities, such as insoluble things like dirt, dead fish parts, bug debris, etc. Sea salt made by using pure water and filtration methods will contain less impurities, but will roughly be the same in terms of the constituent “salts” if the seawater comes from the same source. Kosher salt is both mined and evaporated but has more volume per weight than table salt.

Amanda Hearn January 7, 2012 at 4:45 pm

I don't see why not. I use sea salt because it's what I generally have on hand 🙂

I hope you love it!

Anonymous January 11, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Have you crunched the numbers to see how many loads it makes and what the actual cost to make it is?

organicpatchwork January 12, 2012 at 4:20 pm

I'm also wondering about loads per batch and a price breakdown if you've got one.

Amanda Hearn January 12, 2012 at 8:13 pm

I haven't done the math, I can next go around, but I saw someone else say that they added it up and it was comparable to the cost of store bought detergents.

What I like about this is that it works great for me, without needing additional products or rinse aids and I know what's in it.

Emily @ Random Recycling January 26, 2012 at 2:43 am

I've never seen Lemi-Shine, this looks like such an easy recipe.

LexisMom February 5, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Has anyone estimated the cost of this detergent compared to what you can buy? I just grabbed all the stuff at the store and am getting ready to make it today. But I looked at the receipt and almost $6 for the Lemushine, $3.50 for the Washing Soda..another $2.00 for the baking soda, and $3.50 for sea salt….makes the total cost about $15. That doesn’t seem to be a “savings”?

Anonymous April 23, 2013 at 12:26 am

well, how long are the boxes of baking soda & washing soda going to last? a lot longer than the single container of dishwashing detergent. I guarantee that.

TE January 15, 2014 at 1:45 pm

I did the math based in the amount of product used and I got $0.37 per load. (I added a cup of Borax) and I looked at the Finish cubes and got $0.60 per load. There’s a cost upfront but if you make more than just one batch there’s a savings.

Amanda February 5, 2012 at 6:23 pm

I pay $3.66 for the Lemi-Shine at Walmart, I would try looking there. You could also save by buying standard salt (I just have a preference for sea salt).

From what I have been told, this works out to cost about the same as purchasing dish detergent. The purpose of this recipe is not so much to save money (though saving is great), but to have a toxin-free detergent to use that works. I have found that this mixture works well, and doesn’t cloud up like some other eco-friendly detergents and recipes.

I use to use Cascade with Lemi-Shine to eliminate cloudy dishes. Personally, I do save money by making this recipe, because I was spending out for detergent as well as Lemi-Shine.

I hope that helps a little. I’m getting ready to make a new batch and I’ll be sure to add up the costs and update this post with it once I do.

LexisMom February 5, 2012 at 6:41 pm

Also — and not said sarcastically, but seriously wanting to know…..anyone know what the real deal is with Borax? I keep seeing people say its toxic if ingested….but I wasn’t planning on eating it, I was just planning to wash my dishes with it. I imagine drinking the soap I use to handwash my dishes would probably be toxic if I drank enough of it, too….but I still use it to wash my dishes! Anyone try eating washing soda??? It says on the side that if ingested, you should start drinking milk or water and contact a physician. Just wondering if Borax is getting an unnecessarily bad reputation — when it would be MUCH cheaper to use. Anyone with a chemistry or medical degree that can shine some light on this??

JG Wright February 14, 2012 at 1:13 pm

As I posted above, I add Borax to my dishwasher and aside from the tail and horns I have grown have seen no side effects. Boron is an essential element which we normally get from our diet. I also use a (white) vinegar rinse to remove any residues. Borax is alkaline so the acetic acid of vinegar removes virtually all residues. Like Boric Acid, Borax can be used as an insecticide. It works when the animal grooms itself and ingests the compound. Death occurs due to the crystals and not by Boron toxicity. If you think about it, it is quite probable that residues on clothing will be absorbed through the skin. We all know someone who has had a rash caused by some detergent or another. Same is true for using Borax in the laundry. We also know that more residues are left on clothes than are left on dishes. I feel quite comfortable using Borax for numerous applications in my household. (I have a B.S. in Clinical Laboratory Medicine.)

Practical Housewife April 22, 2013 at 2:28 pm

The Environmental Working Group gives Borax an “F.” Check it out on their website:

Amanda April 22, 2013 at 3:05 pm

I would absolutely refrain from using Borax in anything food related. That is my personal preference based on my comfort level, and I would say that many feel the same way given the popularity of this particular recipe. (Thanks for the resource link Practical Housewife!) 🙂

TE January 15, 2014 at 1:48 pm

I agree. It’s not like people eat the dish washing tablets! I added 1 cup of Borax to my batch. My dishes came out great. I may reduce the baking soda slightly.

Amanda February 5, 2012 at 10:52 pm

Thank you for asking! That is a great question.

My understanding is that while Washing Soda and Borax are similar, Borax ‘can’ be highly toxic “IF” ingested. I agree that no one plans to eat it (obviously), but given the residue that is left behind on most DIY detergent recipes that include Borax, I personally wouldn’t feel completely safe eating from dishes with a visible (possibly Borax) residue.

I am happy to use Borax for my laundry detergents and for some household cleaning and pest removal. I felt that it was best to lean to the side of caution when it came to dishes since it comes in direct contact with food.

JG Wright February 14, 2012 at 10:37 pm

As I previously said, add vinegar to the final rinse. That will eliminate the haze left by the alkaline components of your wash mix. The haze is left behind because the alkaline ingredients are not as soluble in tap water that contains high concentrations of minerals and is most likely slightly alkaline itself. Acidifying the rinse water with vinegar will dissolve the alkaline ingredients and they will drain away with the rinse water. Using a citric acid component in your wash mix is a roundabout way to accomplish the same thing albeit a more expensive one. The acidity of citric acid (pH) is about 3.0 while white vinegar (5.5 % acetic acid) has a pH of 5.5. What will work best for you will depend on what is in your tap water. I live in North Florida and our tap water contains high levels of calcium carbonate and magnesium carbonate, virtually no iron, and is slightly alkaline. Here, the vinegar rinse works like gang busters! If you have iron in your water, adding citric acid should help keep the iron from precipitating out as rust in the alkaline environment. What happens is that in the alkaline environment, the citric acid is converted to a citrate ion. Those citrate ions are highly attracted to iron ions which have available electrons and bind to each other in an alkaline environment. Iron ions otherwise are very prone to share those available electrons with Oxygen and form a solid precipitate which we all know and love as rust. In short, there is not a single recipe that will work in all places. It depends on what is in your tap water.

JG Wright February 14, 2012 at 10:59 pm

Regarding using Borax in your laundry vs. your dishwasher: Keep in mind that your skin is the largest organ of your body. Unless you do multiple rinses when doing laundry, quite a lot of residue is left in your clothes especially if you wash in “cold” water. Borax, for instance, is less soluble in cold water than in warmer. I feel very comfortable saying that if you wash clothes using a single normal cycle you expose yourself and your family to much higher levels of Borax through skin contact than you will from residue from dishes washed with Borax as a component of the wash mix. That skin contact is a readily viable route of introducing toxins systemically is well documented. Whether you use Borax or not washing your dishes, try using some vinegar in the final rinse and see if those spots don’t disappear.

Tabitha February 8, 2012 at 3:40 pm

Is this safe for septics as well?

Amanda February 13, 2012 at 1:39 pm

Yes! 🙂

JG Wright February 14, 2012 at 3:39 pm

Not only that, it’s great for soaking dentures!

Abroad February 11, 2012 at 5:51 am

Thanks for a borax-free recipe! I live in a country where borax is hard to come by, so this came in handy. I also don’t get Lemi-Shine, so I used citric acid instead… Is there supposed to be a chemical reaction? My detergent turned liquid, and hisses at me… LOL Does yours do it, too? I thought Lemi-Shine was basically citric acid, but now I’m wondering if my detergent is safe to use.

Amanda February 13, 2012 at 1:40 pm

The bottle says that it is “real fruid acids and natural citrus oils”. Perhaps it’s the grade of citric acid that you are using? I am not familiar with purchasing citric acid, other than in the Lemi-Shine formula.

I know that some people use Lemon powdered drink mixes with a level of success.

JG Wright February 14, 2012 at 3:38 pm

If one of the ingredients in your cleaner mix is alkaline, such as sodium bicarbonate or sodium carbonate and you mix in an acid like, say, citric acid, there will be a reaction. In the case of the two alkaline ingredients listed, carbon dioxide (CO2) will be produced and the mixture will very likely fizz. Same thing will happen if you add limestone (Calcium Carbonate).
Sounds to me like “Lemi-Shine” = citric acid (plus citrus oils) = lemon juice = citric acid = “sour salt” = lemon Kool Aid. In the end, it’s more about comfort level than reality.

Cleaning Tip: To remove rust stains from garments, wet the rusty area with lemon juice, rub area with table salt (no it doesn’t matter what kind), and place in direct sunlight. The magic of photochemistry will cause the reduction of the oxidized Iron and the rust stain will be gone. Some who believe in intelligent design theorize that cavepersons cleaning their garments (pre-PETA) using this method caused the extinction of the dinosaurs which, as everyone knows, lived at the same time.

Adrienne September 3, 2012 at 1:40 pm

I like you, JG Wright.

GR Wright September 14, 2012 at 1:25 pm

I like you too JG Wright 🙂 Do you have your own blog/website?

GR Wright September 14, 2012 at 1:27 pm

I should also say that I use the same formula with the borax added and a vinegar rinse. It has worked well for me. And same last name helps too though no kin lol. I like the science behind your answers…

Kaelin February 20, 2012 at 2:29 pm

Thank you so much for posting this recipe! I was searching for a borax free detergent due to the possible adverse health effects of borax. I just made this now and ran my dishwasher. Here’s to hoping for good results! 🙂

Sherry February 28, 2012 at 10:44 pm

Love ur ideas!!

Rebecca P March 2, 2012 at 9:24 pm

Just stumbled onto this. Thanks! Wondering how exactly to add vinegar to the rinse cycle…do you put it in the Jet Dry dispenser or just pour it in at some point? My dishwasher doesn’t seem to tell me when it’s rinsing…Just wondered.

Amanda March 2, 2012 at 11:14 pm

That’s right, simply add it where you would any other rinse aid. It works great and is very inexpensive!

Niki March 6, 2012 at 4:21 pm

Looking forward to trying this! If it works anywhere near as well as your cloth diaper detergent did for me, I will be hooked! Thanks for posting. 🙂

Donna March 7, 2012 at 7:55 pm

I want to talk directly to JG Wright! Not only are you funny, but you seem to know your “stuff!” Anyway…I made my own dw detergent using Borax, Washing Soda, Kosher Salt, and unsweetened lemonade (since I couldn’t find citric acid). The instructions say to add 1-2 TBLSP and then no more than 3 drops of Dawn and 1/2 – 1 cup of vinegar. Everything came out with a white film…so I re-washed using my Finish (with the little red ball?), the 3 drops of Dawn, and Lemi-Shine…everything came out clean! What can you tell me about my water from these 2 scenarios?

Michelle March 27, 2012 at 10:16 am

I’m having the same issue – mine a always come out with a film (which appears much worse on plastics). I wind up wiping down each item with a dishcloth, adding another 10-15 mins to the ‘putting dishes away’ routine. No fun.

I’m going to try adding more Lemi-shine (I followed the original recipe exactly) and see if it helps, but this is my second homemade dish detergent attempt (first was liquid) with similar results and I’m beginning to lose my husband’s confidence.

I’m also not totally opposed to using Borax, so I guess I’ll give one of those a whirl before throwing in the towel. I’m in Baltimore, and have no idea what’s in our tap water but I bet I could figure it out.

Amanda @ The Eco-Friendly Family March 27, 2012 at 2:21 pm

You might try a different wash setting too, I notice a difference between my normal and heavy cycles. I notice that if I use too much detergent I also get a bit of film, though much less than standard detergents without using Lemi-Shine.

Amanda March 8, 2012 at 10:40 am

I also have a question for JG Wright. I use borax in my laundry as a booster since it is less expensive than oxi-clean. I also use vinegar in my laundry in the fabric softner dispenser. Would this help get the borax residue out of my clothes?

Practical Housewife April 22, 2013 at 3:01 pm

A cheap alternative to Oxi-clean is hydrogen peroxide and washing soda. Those are the basic ingredients- and they are much safer than borax! Check out:

(Note: Try pouring hydrogen peroxide on a blood stain and watch it disappear!)

Willow March 11, 2012 at 8:10 pm

Thanks for posting this recipe! I am looking forward to trying it out. I have been searching for a borax-free dish recipe for awhile and haven’t found one until now. My only concern is the lemi-shine. I went to the their website to check the ingredients: Real fruit acids, natural citrus oils, fragrance. Sounds okay except for ‘fragrance’. What is in this so called ingredient ‘fragrance’?
Sadly, fragrances are typically laced with any number of horrible toxins including, phthalates, benzyl alcohol, limonene and linalool to name a few. Under law, manufactures do not have to reveal this dirty fact. If you are trying to stay clear of toxins, avoid fragrances listed in your products. Read this to learn more on toxic frangraces: Great Read!
Any suggestions for an alternative to lemi-shine? Is the citric acid needed? Thanks!

Practical Housewife April 22, 2013 at 3:06 pm

I am using Kool aid packets until I find something safer… perhaps crushed vitamin C tablets? Or bulk citric acid? Have you found anything yet?

Lucy March 14, 2012 at 10:46 am

Hi Amanda! I’m having a hard time with this recipe, because it keeps totally clumping up in the jar and is hard to break back up into powder. Have you had this problem, and do you have any ideas? I know to keep it in an airtight container, but even so it’s clumping. I’m stumped…. 🙁 Thanks!

Amanda March 14, 2012 at 10:58 am

I haven’t had any issues with it becoming hard, but maybe it’ll break up easily with a fork and give the jar a shake?

I get that with my diaper detergent sometimes and when I can break it up a little and then it all breaks up easily.

Sorry I’m not more help, maybe someone else has had this happen too and can offer some advice.

Practical Housewife April 22, 2013 at 3:03 pm

Washing soda will clump if it is exposed to water. Just break it up and shake to remix. 🙂 Try to keep it dry!

Lucy March 22, 2012 at 10:27 am

Thanks for replying. I have tried breaking it up, but we’re talking major serious hard clumping. It takes serious effort to break it back up. I guess I’ll try a liquid recipe. Thanks!

Anonymous March 29, 2012 at 12:46 pm

It would help to put it in a large bowl and stir it every time you think about it for a couple of days. Then, you can store it in a glass jar without it clumping too bad. The hardening has something to do with the citric acid.

Jennifer May 24, 2012 at 1:33 am

I had the same problem with clumping… It turned into one giant clump. So, after breaking it back apart (it was pretty hard, i used my knife sharpening steel break the brick into smaller pieces that were easier to break-up with a fork). I made little satchel of rice by putting a couple of tablespoons of rice onto a bit of cheese cloth (that is what I had, but I’m sure other cloth would work), closed it up with a rubber band and tossed it into the container. I then stirred the detergent every time I used it for a few days and there was progressively less clumping. I left the satchel in the next time I made it and have not had anymore clumping problems!

I hope this helps! I love this recipe because my dishes come out without weird residues on them, the cascade packets were the only commercial product that worked before. This is the first recipe I tried and I like it better than the cascade! I do think that lemi-shine is a little pricey (even at Walmart), so I might look for a cheaper alternative at some point, but it is hard to be motivated for lowering the cost when I know it doesn’t cost more than cascade and it works so well.

Amy Hartman April 25, 2012 at 2:45 pm

So excited to try this! I did some number crunching, and it will cost me $4.62 to make one batch of this detergent, roughly $0.14 per load! (Lemi-Shine at the grocery store for me is $3.69, A&H Washing soda $3.39, store brand salt and baking soda at $0.49 and $0.59 each 🙂 ) Awesome, awesome recipe! Thank you!

Sarah May 13, 2012 at 9:57 am

We just ran out of dishwashing detergent so my first load is in! I’ll let you know how it works!

Melissa May 21, 2012 at 6:11 pm

Thanks so much for this! I didn’t want to use borax. My hubby and I tried this last night, except I left out the Lemi-Shine which is WAY too expensive for me. I used lemonade packets (unsweetened) instead. Worked like a charm! I love this and will never use store bought again! Thanks!!

Anonymous June 10, 2012 at 10:51 am

How much of the lemon packets did you use? Same amount as calls for in the original recipe?

Sarah May 30, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I am having a hard time with this recipe, HELP!! I, too, am having the clump problem so I am eager to try out the rice and mix method, thank you! I am also having cloudy dishes with the recipe. I am not very science minded so I dont really know what sort of tweaks I should make to the recipe to get a better outcome. Here is what I am thinking: First of all, I used large crystal sea salt and am wondering if this recipe requires a finer salt? I also do not have hard water so is it okay to continue to use Lemi Shine or would it be beneficial to switch to the drink mix? Maybe the problem is adding too much or too little as well?! On a final note, I am adding white vinegar to my rinse cycle. Any help would be great, thank you all!

Bethany June 13, 2012 at 2:34 am

Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe! I’ve been using it for about 6 months now and won’t buy store bought again. One thought for the people who are having problems with it clumping: Make sure that you’re storing it in an air tight container. If it’s sitting under your sink, or next to your sink, and gets damp it will probably clump.

betty July 16, 2012 at 12:58 am

You can buy lemi shine in 5 gallon buckets through the company y, we just finished our bucket we got in February.. just go to there website and call the number and order direct..

Mary Horowitz August 21, 2012 at 1:47 pm

We made this about a month ago, and while it was about the same cost as traditional detergent, I love that I know what’s in it. (We’re big fans of your cloth diaper detergent and laundry detergent powder around here). My husband is continually complaining that it doesn’t get our dishes clean (we’ve tried pre-rinsing and not pre-rinsing), and it leaves a white film on our black pots, that he then has to go back and re-wash. We’ve tried both the regular cycle and the pots & pans cycle, hot start and normal start–so unfortunately, he’s not a believer and we’re going to have to switch to something else after this batch is used up. But I’m glad we were able to try it and figure out for ourselves that it wasn’t 100% right for us. Thank you for posting this!

T OB August 25, 2012 at 4:14 pm

I LOVE lemi-shine… and it has always worked with my dry spot/hard water problem.
And it smells so fresh and yummy:) I definitely will try this recipe thank you!

Itri19 August 29, 2012 at 8:25 am

I researched a lot & was hesitant to try a homemade dishwasher detergent due
To mixed reviews. But went ahead finally & tried this one. Have only done one
load so far, and added vinegar to the rinse cycle. Dishes came out better than
With regular detergent, & I love knowing what is in it. Thank you!!

Candace August 29, 2012 at 12:12 pm

I love this, however it clumps really bad is there something you guys suggest for the clumping?

Amanda August 29, 2012 at 4:22 pm

I saw this product on Amazon ( ) and wondered if it might not help keep moisture for causing clumping.

Itri19 August 30, 2012 at 2:43 pm

HELP – :). Was wondering if anyone has had any trouble w/ their dishwashers after using this? We bought a brand new dishwasher 2 weeks ago. My first load w/ this homemade detergent went great, the second Laod the dishwasher stopped mid cycle & started blinking, now won’t work. I also added vinegar in the rinse dispenser. But I have heard many people suggest that, so I assume that’s safe. Having a technician coming out in a few days. Thanks!

Jenn September 2, 2012 at 10:14 am

I’m having a hard time with this detergent! I’ve washed with it for several weeks and there’s filmy residue every time. My dishes are also not getting as clean as when I used the Palmolive Eco. What am I doing wrong?!?!

Susan September 15, 2012 at 9:30 pm

Made this tonight and tried it. Great job on the dishes, but it left a big clump in the dispenser. Didd I do something wrong?

Julie J October 5, 2012 at 11:22 am

Thank you for sharing this recipe! I’m currently trying a variety of different ones to find what works best for my water and dishwasher. I’ll be trying this one in the future!

A.B January 5, 2013 at 4:07 am

Just a comment on the clumping issue… if you place a small clay pottery shard (unglazed) in the jar with your detergent, you should not have any more problems with clumping.
Thanks for the recipe.

Beth Rees February 9, 2013 at 8:59 pm

Thanks so much for sharing. For some reason the powder just doesn’t work well with our dishwasher. I am not sure if that is because it is older or not. I appreciate the post though

Lori M. March 8, 2013 at 6:04 pm

I love this dishwasher detergent recipe and I thank you so much for sharing it with me. I’ve been using it for probably about 6 months and I will never go back to using store bought, ever. My first batch clumped but after putting it into a air tight container I have not had any clumping issues and it stays free flowing powder. Thanks again!

Alex Hughes April 7, 2013 at 8:28 pm

THANK YOU so much for sharing. I tried it today and it is great. I bought a new fancy dishwasher with it’s own salt added to soften the hard water where I live… and it did not work with my green dishwashing products. I used yours today and it is GREAT! Thank you! P.S. I broke my last dishwasher from ‘lack of use’ because I could not stand the nasty products that took the spots and food deposits off of the dishes. The ‘off the shelf’ cleaning products are killing Americans with all the toxic ingredients and smells.

Stephanie May 10, 2013 at 8:06 pm


Thank you for sharing the recipe so we can make our own dishwasher soap. I followed the recipe and most of the items in the dishwasher look pretty clean, except the silverware, it looks streaky or smudgy with bits of food on it, but not clean looking. Do you have a suggestion for how I could enhance the recipe to make my silverware look sparkly clean? PS We have a brand new dishwasher where the silverware stands upright in a basket on the right of the machine on the bottom.
Thanks I appreciate your help.

Amanda May 11, 2013 at 9:34 am

I would try flipping the silverware over to start – if you put it all point up, put it point down or vise versa. Also be sure to get any big stuff off of it before washing. I find that peanut butter is our trouble food. It just refuses to wash off fully on its own. If that doesn’t help enough, I would try adding vinegar to your rinse aid compartment, that should help with streaks. One other thing you might try is doing a higher wash cycle, like regular vs. light or heavy vs. regular.

Nikki June 11, 2013 at 10:27 am

This makes me very happy! 😀
Dishwasher detergent was the last item that I just could not get right. I have tried so many different combinations of the same products and tried different recipes from others as well. For some reason I always ended up with residue on my dishes. BUT, I made a very small batch of this (using lemon Kool-Aid instead of LemiShine) and IT WORKED! I have a blog post with lots of cleaning recipes…. I would LOVE to link back to this (and the Eco-Friendly Family)…. it WORKS, it WORKS!

Nikki June 11, 2013 at 10:28 am

This makes me very happy! 😀
Dishwasher detergent was the last item that I just could not get right. I have tried so many different combinations of the same products and tried different recipes from others as well. For some reason I always ended up with residue on my dishes. BUT, I made a very small batch of this (using lemon Kool-Aid instead of LemiShine) and IT WORKED! I have a blog post with lots of cleaning recipes…. I would LOVE to link back to this…. it WORKS, it WORKS!

Amanda June 11, 2013 at 10:53 am

I’m so happy this worked for you. Finding a detergent that doesn’t leave film is tough, let alone one that is safe!

neuroticmom June 19, 2013 at 10:55 pm

I tired to read through all the comments to see if my question was there but there were a lot about the borax. My question is about the salt – won’t the salt etch my glasses and plates?

Elisabeth June 25, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Can you substitute lemon juice for citric acid or lemishine?

Julie August 1, 2013 at 3:44 am

I love the idea of being able to make my own health friendly detergent like this. Unfortunately after a few weeks of use and experimenting with varying amounts, I can’t seem to avoid this dirty dusty coating that winds up on anything and everything plastic. I have no idea what to do to fix this, but I’ve been using the vinegar rinse almost since the beginning and that hasn’t resolved the issue. Anybody solve this problem and have some tips? I’d welcome any help I can get on this bc I really really want to be able to make detergent for us. I have noticed if I have dirty dishes using more soap helps for dirty stuff but adds to the dust issue. Feeling confused, all help welcome.

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Michelle Brewitt March 22, 2014 at 4:20 pm

When I put all these ingredients together they just fizz and go into a foamy mess. What am I doing wrong? (An using citric acid)

Sherry April 17, 2014 at 8:34 pm

I’ve been using this for awhile now, am finishing up my first batch and ready to make my second. It works great! Thank you. I used to use the borax, washing soda and lemonade koolaid mix. it worked sometimes, but other times left me with cloudy glasses and dishes. I haven’t had any of those issues since I switched to this ! Thanks again.

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sharon b November 4, 2014 at 8:18 pm

I think I will have to try to make this. I’m getting tired of buying Cascade and tasting it in my cups. This looks easy to make and inexpensive.

Amy Lovell November 5, 2014 at 6:44 am

This sounds awesome! Would def save alot of money and cut down on chemicals used. thanks!

A. Non March 29, 2015 at 1:40 pm

How much do you use per load? Just fill the compartment?

Amanda Hearn March 29, 2015 at 10:19 pm

I use about 2 tablespoons per load. It basically fills the compartment.

Laura F. July 22, 2015 at 10:11 pm

Can’t wait to try this!

Christi October 20, 2015 at 3:17 pm

Hi there! Made this recipe recently, and it is now hard as a rock! Any suggestions on how to soften the mixture in order to scoop it out? I’m not even sure at this point if if will ever come out of the container! I tried putting bentonite clay in the end of panty hose, but it hasn’t done a thing for the hardness.

NK May 29, 2016 at 6:28 pm

I’ve been using this recipe for awhile and just noticed the element in my dishwasher is corroding. This may have started earlier but I didn’t notice. Has anyone else had this problem?

Kara July 24, 2016 at 12:15 am

The sugar bear am I soaking it or not soaking it to prevent clumping?

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