DIY: Automatic Dishwasher Soap

You asked, Lehman’s listened…and set me to researching and washing load after load of dishes! When I searched for ‘homemade dishwasher soap’ on the web, I found over 95,000 listings! Here are recipes and links for two that I found most effective.

Find washing soda, borax and more natural cleaners at or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

Two of the Best
Earlier this year, American Preppers Network ran a feature on Lehman’s (, and I’ve followed them as part of my research reading since. In September, they ran a solid recipe for auto dishwasher detergent that is one of the best I tried. (Click the blue link for the article and recipe.)

Another recipe you may find useful if you have very hard water–click on the blue link:

As with most of the recipes I found, these two use washing soda, borax and citric acid (or Ball Fruit Fresh) as main ingredients. If you’re already making your own laundry soap, you should have these on hand. They’re great dishwashing, laundry, and general household cleaning supplies. These cleaners are reliable, biodegradable and act as powerful cleaners and disinfectants. They can easily replace the chemical-based cleaners you may be using.

Yoda, my accident-prone kitty, and the big reason I preferred to keep my detergent experiments sealed and out of reach.

Evaluation and Results
Many recipes say to leave the detergent mixture out a few days and mix it well several times after you initially combine ingredients to counteract the tendency of the citric acid to clump. I have three cats, so I’m not leaving anything out that resembles sand, if you catch my meaning. I can’t imagine leaving this out in a house with little ones either. Although these are all natural products, they are cleansers. One wouldn’t want one’s pets or children to eat it.

I kept my detergent mix in a salvaged and washed 4 quart deli container. I shook the mixture well a couple of times a day. It stayed fairly free-flowing. I have very hard city water, and the dishwasher in my rental house is about 9 years old. It was fantastic to see my glasses come out clear and my plates film-free for the first time since I moved in this summer.

You can have shiny dishes too! Get the basic ingredients for homemade dishwasher detergent at or Lehman’s in Kidron.

I used Ball’s Fruit Fresh in my rendition. It was simpler for me to pick this up at Lehman’s in Kidron (it’s also available at than to track down citric acid.

My husband is working out of town right now—I can’t wait to use this at his place, which has very soft water. Sometimes, the dishes feel almost sticky, no matter how light a hand he uses with the dishwasher detergent.

Extra bonus: You can use this powdered detergent as a scouring powder. Test it first on a hidden corner to make sure the surface on which you choose to use it won’t fade. As with all strong cleansers, protect your eyes and hands with safety glasses and rubber gloves.

It’s the guide to a fabulously frugal lifestyle. Available at or Lehman’s in Kidron, Ohio.

The Last Word
Is it really less expensive to run a fully loaded dishwasher than to do dishes by hand? Will the dishes be more sanitary? According to Amy Dacyczyn’s Tightwad Gazette, no, not so much. Overall, you’d still use less water by hand washing. So…I’m off to research homemade liquid dishwashing (by hand!) soap! I know there’s got to be something out there, my fellow frugalites, and I intend to share it with you.

7 thoughts on “DIY: Automatic Dishwasher Soap

  1. are you researching liquid dishwashing soap for the dishwasher?–if have always found that powder doesn’t work very well in my dishwasher and have always used liquid types. would LOVE to see a DIY liquid version.

  2. Pingback: DIY: Dish Soap? Really? | Lehman's Country Life