How to Make Your Own Natural Liquid Dishwasher Detergent

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Dishes get done daily and can require a lot of detergent.
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Dishes get done daily and can require a lot of detergent. Homemade liquid dishwasher detergent is a fairly simple cleaning agent to make. It's affordable and highly effective when the right ingredients are mixed, stored and used in the correct measurements.

A good DIY dishwasher detergent and castile soap can take out grease and oil, and cut down on negative environmental factors. Some commercial dishwashing tabs and liquid detergents can be toxic to the environment or carry heavy perfumes that bother some people.

Basic Dishwasher Liquid Detergent Recipe

The easiest mix of natural ingredients requires castile soap as its base.

Combine the following in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid:

  • 2 cups of liquid castile soap
  • ½ cup of water
  • ½ cup of distilled white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered or crystalized citric acid
  • 2 to 3 drops of essential oil (this can be optional if you don't have any on hand)

Place all of the ingredients in a jar and shake until completely integrated. Put 2 tablespoons of the mix in the dishwasher per load of dirty dishes.

Homemade Natural Dishwasher Pods

Just because it is homemade doesn't mean it has to be inconvenient or messy. Homemade natural dishwasher pods can be made well ahead of time and popped conveniently into the dishwasher when its time to run a cycle.

Materials needed for making homemade natural dishwasher pods include:

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • ¼ cup of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar or more to mix to the correct consistency
  • 2 teaspoons of dish soap, preferably natural or organic but any mild brand will do
  • ice cube tray

Mix the baking soda and salt together in a nonreactive bowl. Add the vinegar until the mix feels just moist but not wet. It should cling and mold into a nice pack that can be placed in an ice cube tray.

Tamp it down and let it dry in a cupboard away from light for about 24 to 48 hours. Store the pods in a cool place in a tightly sealed jar. This makes about 15 pods.

Creating a Good Gel Cleaner

A well-made gel dishwasher detergent can keep for weeks in a dark cupboard. A tablespoon of this mix in the dishwasher will get the dishes clean and sparkling.

  • ¼ cup of soap flakes or finely grated castile soap
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tablespoon of liquid glycerin
  • 2 tablespoons of distilled white vinegar (citric acid crystals can be substituted)

Bring all of the ingredients to a boil in a medium-sized sauce pan. Stir slowly until all of the ingredients are completely dissolved. Remove from heat and place in a glass container once it is cool.

Maintaining a Clean Dishwasher

To keep the dishwasher running smoothly, add a few household cleaners to the appliance's cycle. Before running a full load of dishes, add 1 cup, or more, of white distilled vinegar to the bottom of the dishwasher tub. This will also act as a rinsing agent that can help the dishes come out sparkling clean. The acidic vinegar shouldn't affect dinnerware, ceramic dishes and general use eating utensils.

A powdered citrus-based cleaning agent placed in the detergent cup once a week will also clean out the arms and filters of the dishwasher. Run the dishwasher empty on the cleaning or quick washing cycle to rid the dishwasher of gunk.


Kimberley McGee is an award-winning journalist with 20+ years of experience writing for a variety of clients, including The New York Times, Las Vegas Review-Journal Home section and other national publications. As a professional writer she has researched, interviewed sources and written about home improvement, interior design and related business trends. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Her full bio and clips can be viewed at

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