A few weeks ago, as I was cleaning up after dinner, I noticed we were out of dishwasher detergent. I knew I wouldn’t be going to the store that evening, so I had a dilemma. Studies show if you run your dishwasher only when it’s full, you can save up to 1,000 gallons of water a month. This was a full load. I also know an automatic dishwasher uses less water than doing dishes by hand and, frankly, it saves time. I know people that make their own dishwasher soap, so I decided this might be an option. I enlisted the help of my 7-year-old daughter and we searched for a recipe. We found a few, then modified them to fit our needs.


Borax (Sodium tetraborate) Baking soda (Sodium bicarbonate)


Mix equal parts baking soda and borax together. Pour into your dishwasher’s detergent compartment. Run your dishwasher as usual. Some recipes also recommended putting white vinegar in your rinse compartment. Ours was full of Seventh Generation Free Clear Dishwasher Rinse Aid, so we’ll try that when we run out.


  • Uses ingredients I have on hand (I did not have to make an unscheduled trip to the grocery store)
  • Does not emit chlorine gas like other commercial detergents (no chlorine in my ingredients)
  • Is an effective sanitizer
  • Is an effective stain remover
  • Is environmentally friendly (contains no chlorine, phosphates, artificial fragrances or dyes)
We were extra critical when we removed the dishes after they went through the wash cycle. I couldn’t see any difference between our homemade dishwasher soap and our usual Seventh Generation Free & Clear Dishwasher Detergent. My daughter thought ours was “completely sparkly and cleaner.” Whether or not it did a better job or the same, it was nice to use ingredients we had in the house to solve a problem. We not only avoided making a special trip to the store, but we also didn’t have to purchase a new product.

One common sense tip

Keep all detergents and cleaning products out of the reach of children!