Homemade Automatic Dishwasher Detergent with Baking Soda – It Really Works!


English: Sodium bicarbonate, sodium hydrogenca...
Sodium bicarbonate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’ve been reading about the miracle uses of baking soda. So, one day, we ran out of automatic dishwashing detergent. In a pinch, we decided to make some detergent with two tablespoons baking soda mixed with two tablespoons of Borax (we have a box in our laundry room just gathering dust). You cannot believe how beautiful our dishes came out! For pennies a wash! We are now converts and will not need to buy commercial dish detergent.

The cost: Since two tablespoons = one dry ounce, you can see how far this will go. A small 16 oz. box of baking soda costs under $1.00 and will last about 32 loads. A 76 oz. box of Borax ix about $5.00 and will last 152 loads of dishes. Assume you do one load a day, you will need 12 boxes of baking soda (or buy bigger versions, we just don’t have that on hand here…) and two boxes of Borax.

Total for the year to wash dishes if you do a load a day: approximately $22.00.

Total for the year to buy commercial dish detergent: average $5 a large box, which lasts about a month (or less), costs approximately $60.00 a year. We based this on our  frugal purchases of store brand detergent and Cascade. However, we know many people who use newfangled products such as cubes, gels, and  tabs–all of which are more money and promise better results, but we bet the results are just as good as baking soda and Borax.

Again, here’s the recipe:

2 tbs. baking soda

2 tbs. Borax

Put mixture into washer’s detergent holder as you would normally with any detergent. (NOTE: Some people find that this is way too much detergent for their dishwasher’s compartment. In that case, simply mix the solution up in a bowl/container and pour as much as fits. If you prefer, just mix bigger batches and keep in a glass jar or plastic container and scoop out with an old coffee scoop.)

Our dishes have never, ever looked cleaner–no scratches, no water spots, just crystal clear glasses, dishes, and silverware. Our dishwasher is cleaner inside, too. Typically, we don’t love homemade products because they may not work better than store-bought solutions, but this is different.


50 thoughts on “Homemade Automatic Dishwasher Detergent with Baking Soda – It Really Works!

  1. just came by to check out this site. It looks really informative and I enjoyed browsing it,
    thank you very much for the helpful article!

  2. I forgot I had even taken this picture but it appears to have been stolen from my portfolio over at Dreamstime.com. It is a copyrighted image registered with the Library of Congress. Photography is how I make a living and when people take pictures without paying for them it means lost revenue for me. If you go ahead and license this picture legally, there will be no need for me to take any action, if not, the law provides up to $150,000 per infringement. You can license the image at: http://www.dreamstime.com/stock-photo-dishwasher-image3815790

    Thanks! 🙂

    1. Hi Rob,
      Yikes! This was under the free Dreamstime images!!! I am totally sorry! I don’t make any money off of this blog that’s why I took free images. I will take it down right now — I definitely don’t have infringement $! As a writer, I completely understand when things are stolen. Thanks for letting me know, Rob!

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  4. For those with hard water mix 1 cup borax, 1 cup baking soda, 1/8 cup kosher salt. Use 1 tbs in your machine with 1 tsp of LemiShine and vinegar as your rinse aid!

      1. LemiShine is a hard water detergent aid that they sell at Target and Walmart. It helps with hard water and you are supposed to use it to aid your favorite dishsoap. You could also use striaght citric acid but keep both lemishine and citric acid is a seperate container or your detergent will get hard as a rock!

        1. Thanks for this great tip!!! I looked it up and it’s pretty inexpensive to buy ($4 for a bottle, but don’t know the size….). ~Marilyn

  5. I have been doing another version for 2 mts and everything is cloudy and the silverware is dark I will now try this.
    Thanks for sharing~~

    1. Let us know if it helps!! Let us know what the other version is so we don’t use it :–) ~Marilyn, TFF

    1. I’m so glad it worked — maybe just rinse some of the really dirty dishes a bit more before washing? Thanks! Marilyn

  6. Hi! I found your site through someone pinning my DIY t shirt dusting gloves / wipes, and I saw this tip for the DW – I do have hard deep well water but hate buying that expensive stuff, so I am giving this a try, with the white vinegar as a rinse. I will post the results soon. I’m see a lot of good things going on with white vinegar, baking soda, borax, and other “natural” less expensive solutions. Thanks so much for sharing you tip!

    1. Let us know how it works! Sometimes you have to adjust the mixture (though I haven’t had to, some people have to play with the parts to make it work). I love baking soda and vinegar–I use it as my everyday cleaner in a spray bottle. I should probably post that recipe ;–) ~Marilyn, TFF

  7. I swear you have the same contents in your dishwasher as I do. 😉 I was skeptical, but gave it a try and it works great. Thanks for the recipe.

  8. OK. We have another check in the “fail” column. We ran our dishwasher with 2 TBS each of Borax and Baking Soda, mixed, and White Vinbegar in the rinse compartment. Results: Awful chalky residue all over everything. Repeated the process without the vinegar—–results: Worse!

    We are thinking that our lack of success may be due to our very hard country well water. I’m curious if others who are having problems also have hard water. Does everyone who gets sparkly dishes have soft water?

    1. Yikes! I’m so sorry! It could be the hard water. I have not-so-soft water, but not too hard, either. I’m wondering….maybe two tbs each is too much for hard water? ~Marilyn/TFF

    2. I have seen recipes that use washing soda rather than baking soda. Perhaps with your hard water, this would help.

      I have used the baking soda/borax/vinegar rinse combination for the past two nights with great results.

      1. Hi Lynn, I think I read somewhere that washing soda is “harsher” than baking soda. Not sure how that would work on glasses. I have yet to use washing soda in any recipe yet, but want to try that next. Thanks!! ~Marilyn

    3. I have two suggestions: 1 – maybe your water wasn’t hot enough and 2. If the borax/soda combo sat for awhile and formed a “cake” by absorbing moisture it would be harder to break it up. Just a thought.

      1. Neither one of those was a problem. And we tried it twice. Are any of you other folks here who are having the same poor results washing with hard water, as we are?

        1. In doing some research, I read two things that seem to contradict one another, but maybe one will help: 1. Borax is supposed to condition hard water. 2. If you have hard water, increase baking soda and decrease Borax in the recipe Well….maybe some wisdom in one of those?? ~Marilyn, TFF

          1. To “condition” hard water means to soften it. Both products soften hard water.

            1. Yes, “condition” means to soften hard water ;–) Just thought one or the other idea may help. Wondering if the culprit is your dishwasher??~Marilyn

        2. Yes, I finally filled a cup with white vinegar and ran with the dishes to get the white film off all the dishes. I used less of this mixture and I think it was okay.

          1. Hi Marcia–I’m so glad it’s working ok now. I think each dishwasher will process the mixture differently. I love, love, love white vinegar for everything, too! Marilyn

    4. As a commercial dish machine Tech, sounds as if there was too much product which does not allow a proper rinse. I’d use less and check to make sure that your machine has HOT water (run water in sink first to get up to max temp) and if still getting residue then take off covers inside to see if there is residue/food build-up blocking the drain. Often cakes soap and food is the culprit. never hurts to shop vac the line from where it connect to the disposal to ensure no food blockage. Hope that helps.

  9. With two children in college, I’m always looking for cost effective alternatives. With my VERY soft water, I have found that 1 tablespoon of Borax and 1 tablespoon of baking soda is perfect. I also add vinegar, instead of a commercial rinse agent, in the the rinse compartment. My dishes are sparkling! Thank you!

    1. Thank YOU for the great alternative recipe!! I want to try that since I have all the ingredients on hand. Marilyn at TFF

  10. I’m going to try this! Hope it works! I make my own laundry soap so I always have these ingredients on hand thanks for the tips

    1. Hi! Pls. let us know about your homemade laundry detergent! I’m sure all TFF readers would love to see that. I’m actually hoping to post a homemade furniture polish recipe today…Marilyn @ TFF

  11. Um, wow?! I just did this and my dishes have never looked so clean. You may want to edit your original post, as I made the same mistake as Anne did–(trying to put 2T of both Borax and baking soda into the soap compartment of my dishwasher.) Also…have you had any luck mixing up large batches of this? I can see my husband and older children refusing to pre-mix these ingredients each time.

    1. Thanks for the note to edit! I will. I keep a batch of this in a glass jar and just use a coffee scoop to transfer it to the dishwasher compartment. Marilyn @ TFF

  12. OK, what am I doing wrong? I made the mixture of 2 tablespoons each of baking soda and borax. First, that amount won’t fit in my dishwasher’s soap holders, so I had to put in just 3 tablespoons and it barely fit. Then my dishes came out with a film on the glasses that makes them look terrible. Any advice from anyone?

    1. Hi Anne, I’m so sorry you had this problem. Actually, you can mix up the recipe in a separate plastic or glass bowl with a top so you can keep it under your sink. Then, you spoon it out into your dishwasher’s soap holder. You don’t put the whole thing in at once–I’m glad nothing worse happened! And what I’ve found out through trial and erroris that this recipe is precise. Meaning….if you deviate anything in the recipe, dishes turn out not-so-great. I only get great results when I follow the recipe exactly. Hope that helps! ~Marilyn from TFF

  13. nd go to work!!~~~This is an old tip and it makes your windows sparkle, alot better than Windex, etc. and you know how much that costs!!~~Hope this helps someone get cleaner windows without much effirt and for less money!!~~

  14. Hmm it appears like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I had written and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any tips and hints for first-time blog writers? I’d really appreciate it.

    1. Hi! Thanks for your comments! I didn’t see the first comment, I guess, sorry about that. My only advice is to be more consistent than I am! And don’t worry about low viewership at first. Just keep going. And, try to leave comments on other like-minded blogs with the name of your blog so people can just click into it. Lastly — be passionate about your subject! Good luck! TFF

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