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Thursday, February 7, 2013

DIY: Dish Detergent!

Are you tired of spending way too much money on dishwasher detergent/tabs/liquid? Fortunately for me, just before I got married and my husband was living the final bachelor days in our townhouse, I found a big box of 85 dishwasher tabs for about $12. We only just now ran out so it lasted us about a year, which is great! I found this great recipe on Being Creative to Keep My Sanity on Pinterest and it was actually one of the first things I had pinned on my DIY pinboard. I wanted to wait till we ran out of our existing tabs before making more dishwasher detergent. 

Today was that day! Well, it was a few days ago but I knew it could wait. Even better, my awesome husband hand washed all the dishes that had piled up last night! Gave me some extra time which was great because I was having a hard time finding the Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda. Note: I couldn't find it at Food Lion, CVS, or even Target but they had it at Kroger. 

All you need is: 
  • 1 box of Borax (4lb 12oz - Found in the detergent isle)
  • 1 box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (3lb 7oz - Found in the detergent isle) 
  • 0.5lb/24 Tbs citric acid (Found in the canning isle but I got mine at a local farm Auburnlea Farm)
  • 3 cups Epsom Salt (Found in the health isle near hydrogen peroxide and such)
  • LemiShine Rinse Aid or Distilled White Vinegar (Especially important if you get hard water spots)


Are you ready for how easy this is?

Mix everything together in a huge bowl. Or even a big bucket. My bowl was just barely big enough. 

Now pour it into your jar/container. I saved this Oxi-Clean container and the dishwasher tab container from before. Everything fit into these two containers and I counted about 16 cups of detergent. And get this...all you need is 1 Tablespoon per load!! Can you imagine how long this will last? My guess is a VERY long time. For my husband and I, we run a load of dishes at least once a week but sometimes twice so this should last us forever!

If you have a problem with hard water you'll definitely want to use the rinse aid, whether it's vinegar or LemiShine. With either one, just sprinkle a little bit in the bottom of the dishwasher before running it. Don't worry, your dishes won't smell like vinegar! 

Price breakdown:

Borax                 $4.80
Washing Soda    $3.29
Citric Acid         $2.65
Epsom Salt         $3.00 (Estimate)
Vinegar              $2.35

Total:                 $16.09

Now that comes to 256 Tablespoons in 16 cups...that's a lot of dishes!!

If you buy LemiShine instead of Vinegar, it's about $4 for a small container. Not sure how long it lasts.

Verdict: Well, not sure yet! I just made it today so I haven't had a chance to use it yet but I will update as soon as I do! I'll do one load without the vinegar as a rinse aid and one with it so I can let you all know how it does.

Oh and here's a fun story for you all. Last week I used a sample detergent that I had. I just assumed it was dishwashER liquid...until the next morning when we got up. My husband was the first one into the kitchen and he called to me to let me know our kitchen floor was FULL of suds. Uh oh. Ok so it wasn't that bad, just a quick clean up with some towels. But, moral of the story...read the label. I felt like such a dummy but it helped us start the day with a good laugh!

UPDATE: I have since washed dishes several times and have not used LemiShine or vinegar as a rinse aid and I haven't gotten any spots on my glassware. I guess we don't have hard water! Just keep in mind if you do have hard water you'll need a rinse aid. Otherwise, the dishes are coming out sparking clean! 

How much do you spend on dishwasher detergent every month? It adds up quick! Or do you wash all your dishes by hand?

Till next time,


  1. Hey Catherine - OMG I HATE DISHES! Right now I have to handwash everything because I don't have a dishwasher, but when my boyfriend and I rent a house together this summer, we will have a dishwasher. And guess who will be doing dishes??? Not me... haha. I volunteered to do laundry instead. Still, even though it's not my responsibility, this looks like a great idea for a huge money-saver - that's at least a couple years' worth of detergent! Thanks for sharing :)

    1. I'm the same way. I hate doing dishes but I don't mind laundry. My husband hates doing laundry but doesn't mind doing dishes...it works out great! I'll put them in the dishwasher but I hate hand washing everything!
      Definitely! I'm soo looking forward to not buying any dishwasher detergent for a LONG time!


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