How to Make DIY Dishwasher Detergent

August 10, 2015 by Amy Clark


“Would you like something to drink?” I ask my guest … and then cringe. Any hostess plagued with hard water knows the difficulties of keeping glassware tidy and dishes spot-free. It is a battle that has plagued me in every home that we have been in and twelve years after gutting and renovating our home, I know that it is a problem we will probably always struggle with since we are here to stay.

The problem is that I desire green cleaning solutions for our home and the green dish detergents I have used have not only been unsuccessful in helping me have spot-free dishes, but they have made it even worse, adding a film to everything that goes through the dishwasher. It’s not my dishwasher’s fault…it’s the products I use to try to get my dishes clean.

In the past, I have tried mixing up my own dish detergent and it has only been mildly successful in our house. At first it works great and then over time, our problems seem to resume. The one product that I did discover this year that has helped us is called Lemi Shine and I have used it with great success over the years. I started thinking about how great it would be if I could combine the power of Lemi Shine with the dish detergent recipe that I knew and loved from years ago. How would these two perform together? The results may surprise you!

Shop the full line of Kenmore dishwashers to use with your freshly mixed DIY dishwasher detergent.


What Is In This DIY Dishwasher Detergent?

Borax (in the laundry section of your local grocery store)

Super Washing Soda (also in the laundry section of your grocery store)

Kosher Salt (in the spice aisle)

Lemi Shine (this will be by the dish detergents)


What Do They Do?

If you have ever made your own laundry soap (you can see my tutorial here), you will be familiar with both the Borax and the Super Washing Soda, as they are used in both of my recipes. You may not know what each of these does so here is why they are in our DIY Dish Detergent recipe today:

Borax: This ingredient acts as a natural disinfectant.

Super Washing Soda: This ingredient acts as a deodorizer and can also cut grease on your dishes.

Kosher Salt: Not to be mistaken for table salt, this coarse salt assists in the scrubbing action, particularly needed to assist those of us with hard water issues.

Lemi Shine: The combination of ingredients seems highly secretive, but the product is usually compared to citric acid. Please note, this product is NOT RECOMMENDED for painted glassware, painted mugs, aluminum, enamel-coated silverware, or fine china. If these are the only types of dishes you use, you can create this recipe minus the Lemi Shine!


Will Making Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Save Me Money?

Just because you DIY something, doesn’t necessarily mean you will save money (wouldn’t that be grand?). I spent about $15 in materials to make this (not counting the jar that we already owned) so I wouldn’t say that this is a huge money-saver. That being said, the amount of money wasted on replacing glassware because of hard water build-up probably ended up costing me more, in the long run, than utilizing the cleaners I had been using.


How Do I Use Homemade Detergent In My Dishwasher?

There is a Main Wash and a Pre-Wash compartment on my Kenmore dishwasher. I take a little over a tablespoon of this mixture and split it (roughly) between the two compartments. In the Rinse Aid area, to the right of where I have placed my detergent; I fill this with white vinegar. The vinegar assists in keeping that glassware nice and shiny. If you are concerned at all about utilizing vinegar in your rinse aid compartment, you can achieve the same results by filling a small cup on the top rack of your dishwasher with a little vinegar and running your dishwasher with this dish detergent. It will achieve the same results!


How Does Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Perform?

I am happy to report that this is the WINNING COMBINATION for spot-free dishes. My dishes have never looked better. For five minutes of effort and $15 dollars in supplies, I can now confidently grab a glass for my guests and not cringe.

The only problem I have found is that the mixture can have a tendency to clump up over time (both the Borax and the Lemi Shine do that for me when I have purchased them) so you will want to break this up occasionally and definitely give it a good stir or two those first few days to really make sure everything is incorporated evenly.

I hope you love this recipe as much as me and can’t wait to hear about your experience with this DIY Dish Detergent Recipe!


DIY Dishwasher Detergent Recipe

2 cups Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda

2 cups 20 Mule Team Borax

2 cups Lemi-Shine

1 cup Kosher Salt

Mix the ingredients together and store in an airtight container. Add a heaping teaspoon to your dishwasher (divided between the pre-rinse & main wash compartments). Run your dishwasher on your usual cycle. Bask in the beauty of spot-free dishes!

Shop the full line of Kenmore dishwashers to use with your freshly mixed DIY dishwasher detergent.

Amy Clark

Amy Allen Clark has been the driving force behind MomAdvice since 2004. In addition to running a successful community for women and running after her two kids, she has appeared on The Early Show, and in Parents magazine, Redbook, Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food, MSN Money and The New York Times.