Homemade Borax Free Dishwasher Detergent Recipe

dishwashing detergentI am so happy to tell you that I’ve FINALLY came up with the perfect dishwashing detergent without using Borax but with a secret  ingredient.

I posted my recipe for homemade dishwashing detergent using Castile soap awhile ago and I’ve had results from “not-so-great” to “iffy” at best. And the main reason seems to be that Castile soap coats a thin film on some dishes and glasses. I’ve used vinegar as a rinse but it’s still not that effective in making everything spotless. Some people suggest using Borax but I’m not so sure it’s that safe either.

See the “old” and “new” images for my glasses and stainless steel lids and blades above? “Old” ones are using Castile soap. Very disappointing.

So frustrated, I was determined to find the perfect dishwashing liquid, using non-toxic ingredients. I still love Borax in my laundry detergent recipe but decided against using it for washing dishes and utensils.

If you have one of those dishwashing detergent brands that contain synthetic chemicals, throw it out. It’s gross. Use my formula. It’s much safer. Besides, I did all the work in finding the perfect formula for you. I ran my dishwasher a bazillion times to test them all and this is the formula that rocked in making my dishes and utensil spotless!

I’m going to list the exact amount that I use for one load of wash. You can multiply this for a larger quantity but it’s just as easy to scoop out individual portions each time. It only takes a few seconds and scooping it out individually, I know I am getting the exact proportions.

dishwasher detergent

Homemade Borax Free Dishwasher Detergent Recipe

  • 1 Tbsp of Washing Soda – a.k.a. Sodium Carbonate. It acts as a de-greaser and disinfectant.
  • 1 Tbsp Kosher Salt (or Sea Salt) – softens hard water. This amount can be adjusted, according to how hard or soft your water is.
  • Secret ingredient –> 1/2 TSP Plant Based dishwashing liquid soap – the kind you use for hand washing your dishes. Yes, the one that your dishwasher’s manual says NOT to use! But make sure you use no more than this amount. Otherwise, you’ll get a huge sudsy mess and you’ll cuss at me, like I did many times. And I don’t want that to happen. My hubby already did that….after using too much and got my kitchen floor all sudsy. (If by chance, the dishwasher spits out suds from using too much dishwashing liquid, stop the machine and drain the water. Then, pour/splash some vinegar into the suds. It magically makes the suds dissipate. And then, start the machine again, without  putting any more detergents.)
  • Full strength white vinegar in the closed second detergent compartment + in the rinse aid well – The idea is to have the vinegar rinse the dishes after the powder washes the dishes. NOTE: you do NOT want to put vinegar and the soap in the dishwasher at the same time as vinegar is acid and soap or detergent is basic so they will neutralize each other, making the whole thing useless.
  • 1 Tbsp Undiluted Citrus Enzyme (Optional) See the recipe here but you can omit it and you’ll still be fine. There are other detergent recipes that require citric acid (see below for links) but I didn’t want to buy another thing. So since I was going to use this for cleaning anyway, I decided to add it to my wash. If you can make this enzyme, you should. It really makes the dishes and glass squeaky clean! And you can use it in so many other places, including washing fruits and vegetables.


Dishwasher loading tip to maximize the machine: Make sure you load the dishes well so that water can reach inside the bowls, dishes, utensils, and glasses. In trying to be ‘green’, I used to really jam pack the machine and sometimes food residue didn’t come off because water flow was blocked. Make sure utensils are loosely placed and not too compacted. This is especially true if you are not running your dishwasher right away. Obviously, dried up food scraps won’t come off as easily. Also, open the dishwasher door when the wash is done and let air dry. It uses less energy if you let it air dry than use the heat.

Now with the instructions on using the detergent…..add washing soda and kosher salt in the OPEN compartment. Fill the second compartment with vinegar and close the lid. Add the dishwashing liquid (and citrus enzyme, if using) anywhere inside the dishwasher. That’s it! When you use this formula for the first time, just be mindful of the machine and stay nearby, just in case the machine overflows with suds. Using 1/2 Tsp of Ecover brand worked like a charm for my machine. But if you are using another brand, especially if it’s concentrated, you’ll have to adjust the amount. Start with very small amounts and see how your dishes turn out and then increase it little by little if you are not happy with the result.

So far, I am very happy with this formula for my dishes. If you have really greasy dishes and pans, you might need to add a little more of each ingredients, except for dishwashing liquid.

Do you want to know how to make your own Washing Soda? Check out my tutorial! It’s easy peasy!

NOTE: The information in this post is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Dr. Karen disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information. Opinions and statements on this website have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. The information is for general consumer understanding and education, and should not be considered or used as a substitute for medical advice and it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. I am not your doctor and you should consult with a qualified health care professional on any matter relating to their health and well being on one-on-one basis with thorough physical examination. Dr. Karen encourages you to make your own health care decisions based upon your research and in partnership with a qualified health care professional. Products Dr. Karen recommends and their properties have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition, consult your physician before using the products. For more info, visit the Disclaimer page.