How to Make Dishwasher Detergent Using Baking Soda & Lemon Juice

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Lemon juice gives the detergent a fresh scent.
Lemon juice gives the detergent a fresh scent. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Dishwasher detergent can be expensive, costing upwards of $10 for a container or bottle. In addition, many detergents are full of chemicals that can harm the environment, your children or your pets if they accidentally ingest the detergent. Additionally, some dishwasher detergents are ineffective if the home has hard water. An alternative to buying expensive, chemical-laden commercial detergent is to make your own dishwasher detergent from household ingredients. Homemade dishwasher detergent is natural and far less expensive than commercial options.

Things You'll Need

  • 1/4 cup Borax
  • 1/4 cup baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar, optional

Mix together 1/4 cup of Borax, 1/4 cup of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of coarse salt and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.

Pour the detergent mixture into the detergent receptacle in your dishwasher and close the compartment.

Run the dishwasher according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Tips & Warnings

  • To make a larger batch of detergent to store for fast use, multiply the amount of each ingredient by 10. Mix together the borax, baking soda and salt and store them in an airtight container. To use the detergent, measure out approximately 1/2 cup of the detergent. Add the 2 tablespoons of lemon juice right before you wash the dishes.
  • Use less detergent if you have an energy-efficient dishwasher. Check your manufacturer's instructions to determine the amount of detergent you should use. The proportion of homemade detergent you use should be the same as the amount of commercial detergent that the manufacturer's instructions recommends.
  • If you have hard water, add an extra tablespoon of baking soda to the detergent. The baking soda is a natural water softener.
  • Add 1 cup of white vinegar to the rinse agent compartment of the dishwasher before you start the wash load. White vinegar will help remove mineral buildup as well as powdery residue from the glassware without damaging it.
  • Do not add more than 1 teaspoon of salt to the detergent. The salt is abrasive, which helps to scour the food off the plates, but too much salt may cause the glassware to become scratched and cloudy. Omit the salt if you have fragile glassware or if the dishes are only lightly soiled.
  • Do not wash copper, aluminum or nonstick-coated pans with this homemade detergent. The ingredients may react with the metal or damage the coating.

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