Cleaning Recipes

“Grandma Approved” Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

My grandma and I tried this recipe while I was visiting her in Texas last month. Ever since they took phosphate out of commercial detergents she has had a major problem with her dishes looking cloudy. Even her plastic bowls looked like they were starting to get a white residue on them. She actually went out and got a new dishwasher at first thinking that was the problem. She tried every major brand of detergent and nothing was working. I remembered seeing this recipe from Simply Designing on Pinterest so we decided to give it a shot.

Well the results were amazing! It took a few runs but we did start to see a major difference, the cloudiness was going away! She kept thanking me over and over again for showing her that recipe. I told her I would probably do a blog post about it and she said to mention that it is “Grandma Approved” hehe. Well I have noticed that our dishes are starting to look cloudy as well, this is one of our drinking glasses:

It is clean, but notice the cloudiness coming on? Well we can’t have that, time to make my own batch! 🙂 Its so simple to make and only takes a few minutes. You will only need 4 ingredients, and if you make your own laundry detergent you probably already have 2 of them! This is what you will need:

  • 2 cups Borax
  • 2 cups Washing Soda
  • 2 cups Lemi shine
  • 1 cup Kosher Salt

You literally dump everything together, stir and you’re done. I found the Lemi Shine in Wal-Mart right with all of the regular dishwasher detergents. One container is about 1 1/2 cups I would say… so that is all I used and it still works great. If you don’t have Kosher salt on hand, sea salt would work fine as well. After you mix your ingredients together, you will want to leave it sitting out on the counter uncovered for a few days. Every so often through out the day just give it a stir to keep from clumping. You will still get little clumps but that is perfectly fine, you just don’t want a solid lump that is hard to break up. After that just store in an airtight container. The recipe says to use 1 TBSP per load, my Grandma and I didn’t measure we just put a good size scoop into the pre-wash and main-wash compartments.

PLEASE do not buy those chemical filled rinse aids either, all you need is white vinegar…. yup that is it! Vinegar is awesome stuff I tell ya, I buy it by the gallon lol.

I do not have an after picture yet, but trust me it works or I wouldn’t be posting about it 🙂

❤ Ashley


28 thoughts on ““Grandma Approved” Homemade Dishwasher Detergent”

  1. I made a similar recipe(minus the lemi shine) and the mixture ended up turning into one solid lump. If I were to do it again, I think I would store it in a large yogurt plastic container and give it a shake every day to keep it from doing that again. It’s also probably not a good idea to store it under the sink which is the most convenient place to put it. I also felt like the DIY recipe didn’t clean the dishes as well as the commercial cleaner so I was driven back. But maybe I’ll give your recipe a try since it is a little different. I hope lemi shine is available in Canada. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Yes this one will clump up too if you don’t stir it quite a bit at first. The lemi shine should make a difference, good luck 🙂

  3. you could also use citric acid (found with the canning supplies) instead of lemi-shine – it works good. Also, double the citric acid if you have extra hard water.

  4. I also created a product to solve the problem of cloudy dishes. It works great with any cheap powdered detergent. I mix them right in my dishwasher and the dishes come out perfect again.

  5. Where do you get borax and washing soda? I have looked for it at WalMart and Lowes and can’t find it.

    1. I always get it at walmart in the laundry aisle. There is also a grocery store near us that sells washing soda in the laundry aisle. I would suggest calling around, maybe even double checking walmart next time you are there. I think a lot more people are making their own detergent now because they have been out a few times. If you still can’t find it I guess you could order some online, maybe through amazon? Good luck I hope you find some!

  6. I’m making a batch today! I had just bought some detergent when you posted this and I’ve been itching to try it since LOL Now that my detergent is finally running out I’ll be using this XD

  7. People are saying that it clumps and turns hard. My thinking is though, why can’t you just use that to your advantage. Measure out 1 tablespoon into a couple of icecube trays, let them harden and then use it like a pre-measured detergent. Would that work?

  8. Hi Ashley! I just discovered your blog and love it! I have been trying to get all those harsh chemicals out of my house, too, and have been using a similar dishwasher soap recipe. I was having a problem with a cloudy residue and spotty silverware until I added a couple drops of Dr. Bronner’s to each load. Voila! Cloudiness gone and silverware sparkles again! 🙂

  9. Hi Kathy… Thank you I am so glad you like it. My great aunt also told me you can fill the soap compartment with baking soda and add between 3-5 drops of dawn. I have not tried it myself but she washes hers that way now. Thanks for your tip about Dr. Bronner’s! 🙂

  10. okay I made this yesterday and followed directions exactly, trouble is, today it seems to clump sometimes one big clump that I have trouble breaking up. It also has a damp texture to it I tried it in the dishwasher last night and it works great. how do I get past this issue? I have it on the counter in 2 bowls right now and I keep stirring it

  11. Try breaking up the clump and stirring it more often. That is just what it does unfortunately. Kind of a pain but still better than using yucky chemicals in my opinion. It takes several days of stirring and drying out. Hope that helps 🙂

  12. So, is it ok if it’s still clumpy? It’s like the texture of pop rocks but definitely not one large clump. I just ran a wash it as clumpy so we will see if it still works. And yes, I love vinegar as a rinse aid! 🙂

    Thanks for this recipe!

  13. I just dropped by to check out this website. It appears
    really informative and I enjoyed browsing it, thanks for the good

  14. Ashley,
    I found that when I put a larger silica gel packet in the mix that mine didn’t clump at all but the silica packet DID pick up some moisture! I found out that if you have a cat or know someone that does and uses the MIMI cat litter from Walmart (about $ 4.52 a bag) that is the silica that is in those packages that come inside shoes, purses, etc. I happen to use that kind of cat litter as that is the ONLY thing that my finicky Siamese will use, so I am going to make me some silica gel packets by using some coffee filters and sewing around part of the way then filling somewhat with the “cat litter” and sewing it up the rest of the way. Voila! for a few pennies I have made a huge silica gel packet and not used much of her precious litter! I am putting a bag into my detergent in a plastic container that will fit under my sink. thanks for a great recipe!!

  15. I m so excited to try this as all of the other recipes I have made have made my clear plastics cloudy even with the vinegar added. I will take what I have left and add lemi shine and the Dr. Bronner’s to see if that works

  16. Just mixed my first batch. I live in a very humid area, and put together a couple of ideas I had read on this blog and another one to prevent clumping. I used rice and a coffee filter, just made a little pouch and stapled.

  17. I made without LemiShine the first time because I have soft water and did not think I needed it. Wrong! I needed it! my glasses looked awful. My perfect batch was your exact recipe with a dash of vinegar to the mix…this made it a little moist and I was able to push the mixture into individual molds. Into each pod, I dropped 1-2 drops of Dr. Bronners. I bought 2 new glasses and have run them through 10 times now. They look perfect! thanks so much!

  18. I know this is a bit of a delay in the original topic,,, but had to offer my 2 cents worth. . .

    1. Borax is not as toxic as people make it out to be.. It comes from Boron, which is actually a necessary mineral that our bodies need (in rather small microns).
    2. Borax is NOT good to use in a dishwasher recipe, as it will tarnish and even pit your aluminum. Note that this “tarnishing” is Not reversible.

    It would be better to use Baking Soda, washing soda and /or an oxy-cleaner (which is washing soda and peroxide), and epsom salt instead of any other salt. . .

    -I have also added a small amount of finely ground castile (bar) soap. . . to the mix. . . and have Never had a problem with anything ever clumping up…. Mix it up, put it in an air-tight container with a scoop, and Viola` instant dishwasher powder!

    One drawback to any handmade soaps. . . Hard water will make the dishes get spotty, no matter what you use for ingredients. . . . I had to go back to commercial dish soap & shampoo, as our super hard water (with sulphur) is just miserable. . . I have a filter for drinking & cooking water, but not for everything else. . . I only use my handmade liquid soaps for hand & body wash, and sell to others for their use.

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