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How to Make Homemade Dishwasher Powder

Updated on August 31, 2013

Always Label Containers!

store homemade powder in a reusable air-tight container
store homemade powder in a reusable air-tight container | Source

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

For years we didn't have a dishwasher and then someone was remodeling their kitchen and asked us if we wanted one. Once I got the dishwasher installed, I realized I needed to figure out how to make my own dishwasher powder just like I had done with laundry detergent, stain remover, and home cleaning products.

I found that making your own dishwasher detergent is easy to do and only takes a few simple ingredients. As with any detergent, it is not a magical cleaner. You should still rinse your dishes and use the proper settings on your dishwasher for the best outcome. You should also adjust the salt level of the mixture based on the hardness of your tap water.

I had to go through a few recipes and several loads of dishes until I found the right mixture for my machine and water. I have tried different types of salt, both lab grade and food grade citric acid; as well as Kool-aid powder. I have found with my water and my dishwasher, kosher salt and either type of citric acid works better than regular salt and Kool-aid powder. Your dishwasher and water may be different so feel free to adjust the ingredients to get the best result. If this recipe doesn't clean as well as you would like, just make some minor adjustments until it works just right.

homemade dishwasher powder ingredients
homemade dishwasher powder ingredients | Source


  • 1 cup of borax
  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • 1/2 cup of salt (add a little more if you have hard water)
  • 1/2 cup citric acid

You can find food grade citric acid in the canning aisle of your local Walmart or you can use a 1/2 cup of UNSWEETENED lemonade Kool-aid powder packets instead of citric acid


  • glass storage container with wide mouth and tight lid
  • clean, unused painting stick for mixing
  • measuring cup

You may want to mix all the ingredients and keep it in a Ziploc baggie and then put the baggie inside the container. The citric acid absorbs moisture, so if you don't have the mixture sealed well it will clump up or form into one hard mass.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
mixing the ingredientsmixture is ready to be used after it has been mixed and shaken
mixing the ingredients
mixing the ingredients | Source
mixture is ready to be used after it has been mixed and shaken
mixture is ready to be used after it has been mixed and shaken | Source


  1. Put the borax and baking soda together in the container and mix well using the painting stick
  2. Add the salt and mix well
  3. Add the citric acid and mix well
  4. Close the baggie or container well and shake the mixture vigorously for about a minute
  5. Use about 2 TBS of mixture per load and use vinegar in the rinse agent compartment

Nice and Clean Glassware

Glassware comes out clear when you have the right ratio of ingredients
Glassware comes out clear when you have the right ratio of ingredients | Source


I recommend the first time you make this dishwasher powder you make 1/2 the recipe so that you can adjust it as needed in small quantities until you find what works best for you. The first time I used the powder my glassware was cloudy. I also had some powder residue on some of the dishes due to the clumping of the powder and citric acid. I have found that keeping the mixture in a Ziploc bag and then putting it in a glass jar with a tight lid has helped reduce the clumping dramatically and makes it rinse clean in the dishwasher as well. As for cloudiness on glassware, I found it to be salt related. When I use kosher salt and add a little extra, my glassware is clean and clear.


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    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      I have been using it for several months and haven't noticed the borax hurt the glasses, I even put crystal glasses in and they have been fine. The only problem I ever had is the cloudiness and honestly you need to make a few small batches until you get just the right combination with your water. I also store it is a 2 ziploc bags to keep it as looses possible, in containers, even airtight ones, it clumps too much for my liking. Hope this helps!

    • profile image

      Ladah 5 years ago

      I have spots and cloudiness on my glasswear and even some plastics. I will add more salt for the cloudiness, but what about the cleaning issue? Which ingredient should I use more of to increase cleaning power? My husband recommended the Borax, but we are worried it may eat away at the glassware. Please lemme know...thanks :)

    • josh3418 profile image

      Joshua Zerbini 5 years ago from Pennsylvania


      Excellent hub, very informative! My sister is into this kind of thing and in fact, she may even do the same thing you have described here! I know she has made detergent from time to time. Very clear presentation Chrissie!

    • Cristale profile image

      Cristale 5 years ago from Cali

      Great hub. I like the info and I know what I can do the next time I run out of dish soap.

    • chrissieklinger profile image

      chrissieklinger 5 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Honestly, making the homemade laundry detergent was easier for me than this was to start. But, now I can make either in a matter of minutes. Stock up on the citric acid if you find it because some times of the year it can be impossible to find. Good luck with the recipe!

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 5 years ago from Hawaii

      I make my own laundry detergent and I was recnetly wondering about how to make my own dishwasher soap, too! Thanks for this very helpful tutorial - I know I will be making this soon!