Cheap (and homemade!) Dishwasher Detergent

Last year I became enamored with Borax, an old timey household cleaner. Not because of its supposed “natural” qualities (natural, unnatural – I don’t really care. In fact, my other favorite household cleaner, besides vinegar, is bleach. Nothing smells as clean as bleach in my book!), but because it does a darn good job. The bathroom sink and tub sparkle after scrubbing with Borax.

This past week Mr. Tisdale and I ran out of dishwasher detergent. It was after a lovely meal made by Mr. Tisdale and a bottle or two of wine that we discovered we were out. Not wanting to ruin a buzz by walking to the local convenience store, I googled for a homemade recipe. We found an easy one with just Borax (which we had), washing soda (which we didn’t, but I found online you can get the same effect by microwaving baking soda for 10-30 seconds), and kosher salt. We combined the ingredients and ran the dishwasher. Not only did it work, but our dishes looked cleaner than they did with purchased detergent.

So this weekend, we purchased washing soda and more kosher salt and made a double batch. Here’s the recipe:

  • 1 cup of Borax
  • 1 cup of washing soda
  • 1/2 cup of kosher salt

The recipe I found (we used recipe #2 in the link) also recommends 5 packets of unsweetened Kool-Aid lemonade mix, but we didn’t have it.

You only need one tablespoon per load, and the recipe makes enough for 48 loads. Total cost? about 2 cents per load, compared to about 40 cents per load for commercial detergent.

While the savings is nice, that’s not really the point. Making dishwasher detergent is super easy, super cheap, and the dishes are super clean. So why not?

Maybe next week we’ll try some homemade laundry soap.


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