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Does Inexpensive Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Work?

homemade dishwasher detergent

homemade dishwasher detergent

A few weeks after posting a recipe for an inexpensive, homemade dishwasher detergent, Susan emailed this:

…I made this exact recipe a few weeks ago. At first it seemed fine but after 3 or 4 loads, everything was cloudy and coated with an unpleasant film. I have since gone back to the trusty Cascade packs…

Making this recipe was on my to-do list so I moved it to the top so I could try it myself. After using it a few times, I noticed the same same thing Susan did: my dishes were not getting clean!

So, I experimented with a few solutions:

Surprisingly, dishwashers need to be cleaned on a regular basis since they get dirty like everything else. Dishwashers can harbor bacteria and debris which can hinder its ability to clean the dishes properly. Since it had been a while since I cleaned my dishwasher, that was my first step in this little experiment.

The Result: The dishes were slightly cleaner but they still weren’t spotless.

I noticed after using the detergent a few times that a huge chunk of the lemonade portion of the mix had fallen out in one of the loads. Since citric acid is a very important part of the detergent, I added another packet of lemonade, mixed well and tried again.

The result: No change.

Finally, I added straight citric acid to the mixture hoping that it was just the lemonade powerder that wasn’t doing it’s job and tried again.

The result: Still no change. The homemade dishwasher detergent wasn’t working for me.

So, I’d love to hear from you. Have you tried this homemade dishwasher detergent recipe? Did it work for you? Do you have another recipe that does work?

  • Miriam September 15, 2011, 6:52 am

    I have tried that recipe before, and with similar results. Most things got clean enough, but there were always a couple pieces that still had food chunks on them that I had to wash by hand. And any clear glass stuff started getting cloudy. While I liked the inexpensive-ness of the homemade, it was costing me time to rewash dishes. In the end, I switched back to my Finish detergent that is not cheap, but pretty much never lets me down. I have heard that some people have good success with homemade dishwasher detergent and homemade laundry detergent – I wonder if it has anything to do with your water type and/or source (well, city, etc.)? We are on a well and while our water is not soft, it is not hard, either.

    Reply
    • Alicia's Homemaking September 15, 2011, 11:27 am

      Hm, that’s a good point, Miriam!

      Reply
  • Jenni September 15, 2011, 8:20 am

    I haven’t tried the homemade soap yet (plan to soon!), but I have had a cloudy problem with regular soap… I put vinegar in the part of the dishwasher that you would put Jet Dry and it worked like a charm! If you are worried about the smell, it does go away when the dishes are dry. Hope that helps! :)

    Reply
  • Jena September 15, 2011, 9:20 am

    I have not tried this yet, but I have had that problem with other detergents until I started adding vinegar to each load. We have very hard water and most of our friends in our neighborhood with the exact same dishwasher have had a lot of problems with their’s breaking or have extremely cloudy glasses. We have had no problems like that at all. I would try it with some vinegar and see what happens. (We just splash about 1/4-1/2 cup vinegar in each load.)

    Reply
  • Julie September 15, 2011, 3:16 pm

    I have been using homemade dishwasher detergent for about a year and am more than satisfied with it. We have hard water here so it took some experimenting. I always make sure to shake the jar well before I scoop the detergent and like Jenni said, I add vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser. The vinegar works like a charm. I’ve even started adding it to my rinse water bin for the dishes I have to hand wash. The hard water here is merciless without it.

    Reply
  • Jen @ Happy Little Homemaker September 15, 2011, 8:26 pm

    I’ve had the same results. I’ve tried all sorts of Eco friendly dishwasher stuff & keep going back to cascade packets.

    Reply
  • Tiffany October 4, 2011, 12:20 pm

    What I’ve tried used boax and baking soda, but used salt instead of lemonade.
    The results? Pretty much what you experienced. I really want something more eco-friendly, and while I have found a few green products that work well, the price has just been too high for me to justify in the end. It’s a real conundrum! Cascade seems to work the best for me, even though I cringe when I buy it.

    Reply
  • Kristin November 11, 2011, 1:52 pm

    I also recently made some dish washing detergent, and do not like the results. My cups were disgusting and it does not get grease off. I will be going back to my cascade packs. I love those things.

    Reply
  • Laurie April 15, 2012, 9:20 am

    I make a similar recipe with the addition of salt. I do notice that after a week of using my homemade det. that it’s loses a little “power” so I go back to store bought det. for a few days. Also using vinegar along with the homemade det. helps.

    Reply
    • iDreamOfClean April 17, 2012, 9:12 pm

      hmmm…the salt is an interesting option…I’ll have to try that!

      Reply