Simple, Natural: DIY dishwasher detergent

I’ve been using this formula for about a year now in my Bosch Automatic dishwasher, which is by now around seven years old.  For me it’s been the best alternative (I tried a few recipes along the way) to my previous commercial brand.  It’s quick and easy to make with four basic ingredients, it saves me money and is a healthier option compared to the chemically based powder I was using previously.  I also use use less: One tablespoon is sufficient for a load, whereas my previous brand took about three tablespoons.  I have also replaced my previous rinse-aid with good old white vinegar, so a greener, healthier option and a money saver there too 🙂



Notes on Ingredients and Suppliers:

  • See ‘Suppliers and Outlets’ at the foot of this page to source your ingredients.
  • Remember to consider the issue of packaging: ask your suppliers if they will accept returns on reusables, before resorting to the recycling bins.
  • Don’t overlook the supermarket brands: for instance Robertsons and Moirs use cardboard and paper packaging for their Bicarbonate of Soda and some other salts, as opposed to plastic.


Baking soda/ Bicarbonate of Soda: one and the same



Ingredients and Instructions

Mix and store in an airtight container:

  1. 1 cup washing soda
  2. 1 cup baking soda (bicarbonate of soda in ZA)
  3. 1 cup citric acid
  4. A half cup of table salt.



To Use

  • Load your dishwasher and select your settings as you would for your usual dishwasher detergent.
  • Add your usual amount of powder to the soap dispenser (I use 2 Tablespoons for my normal load)
  • Fill the rinse section with white vinegar.
  • Wash as usual. (I normally use the 35 degree setting, which takes just over a half hour)



My homemade brand (washing soda, baking soda, table salt and citric acid): 1 tablespoons per load


The Environmental Working Group’s Consumer Guide gives details about harmful ingredients commonly contained in some supermarket detergent brands…..


My previous supermarket brand : uses up to 3 tablespoons per load




I find that tea and coffee stains are sometimes a problem even after a wash in the machine. To solve this, I give cups and mugs a light sprinkle with baking soda (I keep some in a glass salt and pepper shaker next to my kitchen sink) and simply wipe clean and rinse clear.

Remember that dishwashers, like other electrical appliances, need some TLC from time to time! Most manufacturers recommend a regular service to keep things in working order. I do the following every few weeks: empty about 1 cup of vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher, and place a cup half-filled with baking soda in the top rack. Run the dishwasher on empty on the hottest setting.

Results may vary depending on the age and brand of your dishwasher, and other variables such as the hardness or softness of your water.

My homemade version doubles up nicely as a surface cleaner for the kitchen sink and draining board. Just sprinkle a bit onto surfaces, add water, scrub, and wipe clean.

And there you have it!! …one step closer to greening and simplifying your household clean….



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