How to Make Dishwasher Powder at Home: An All-Natural Recipe

How to Make Dishwasher Powder at Home: An All-Natural Recipe

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Looking for a homemade dishwasher detergent recipe that actually works? Look no further! This all-natural homemade dishwasher powder is easy to make, and uses just four ingredients: washing soda, baking soda, citric acid, and kosher salt. Plus, it’s better for the environment than store-bought detergents – none of the harsh ingredients and NO plastic packaging. It’s highly effective at removing grease and grime from dishes, and costs pennies compared to store-bought alternatives. Give it a try today!

ingredients for homemade dishwashing powder detergent

What Ingredients do we use for Homemade Dishwasher Powder?

We chose our ingredients for this recipe to meet three criteria. They had to:

  • Be easy and inexpensive to source;
  • Be all-natural;
  • NOT come in plastic packaging.

Of course, they also had to be effective and the overall recipe had to work! Here is a bit of information on each ingredient in our recipe:

  • Washing Soda is one of the most common homemade cleaning agents. It is made from sodium carbonate, a compound found in nature, and has been used for a variety of cleaning purposes for almost 200 years. Ours comes in a cardboard box with no plastic or foil lining. The purpose of washing soda is to soften the water and cut through grease and grime. It is also an ingredient in our homemade liquid laundry detergent and dish soap!
  • Baking Soda is another natural compound, this one made from sodium bicarbonate. It’s a multipurpose cleaner and degreaser that has been used for centuries. Its purpose as an ingredient in dishwashing powder is to help scrub away food and grease, as well as to help keep your dishwasher free of bacteria.
  • Citric Acid is derived from citrus fruits like lemons and limes. As an ingredient in dishwashing powder, it helps to break down protein-based food bits. Note: You can buy citric acid online, but that would break our plastic rule. We were able to source citric acid in bulk at our local health food store!
  • Kosher Salt is salt that contains no iodine. We use it in homemade dishwashing powder because the sodium in salt does a great job of dissolving grease and food bits on dishes, as well as removing stains from cutlery. Again, you can buy kosher salt online but you can just as easily find it in your grocery store. Aim for purchasing in bulk or in a cardboard box to avoid plastic.

Combined, these four ingredients produce a dishwasher powder that is good at removing stains, cutting through grease, and breaking down bits of food. Combined with an effective rinse agent (hint: we use white vinegar in our rinse agent compartment), you have everything you need for effective dishwashing.

Is Powdered Dishwasher Detergent Safe for Septic Systems?

We have been using homemade powdered dishwasher detergent for years, and it is safe for our septic system. This dishwasher detergent is also phosphate-free, which is important for septic systems. Phosphate can kill off the bacteria and enzymes which help things break down in your septic tank; without those, your tank can become full faster or become clogged.

However, if you are concerned about this or unsure of your particular situation, we recommend consulting with a plumber who can assess the health of your septic system.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Recipe

This recipe makes just under 3 cups of detergent, which should be enough for about 44 dishwasher loads!


– 1 cup washing soda

– 1 cup baking soda

– 1/2 cup citric acid

– 1/4 cup kosher salt


Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl then transfer to a storage container. Or, place all of the ingredients in a container larger than 3 cups capacity and simply shake to mix!

That’s it! So simple 🙂

How to Store Homemade Dishwashing Powder

Because this dishwasher detergent doesn’t have any harsh chemicals, it can be stored in a variety of ways. We like to store ours in a glass mason jar with a metal lid (we recycle our old spice jars for this). The recipe makes about 2.75 cups of detergent so it fits well in a quart-sized container. You could also use a plastic container, as long as it is BPA-free. Store your detergent in a safe place and out of kids’ reach and label your jar clearly. Despite the ingredients being all-natural, they can still be harmful if ingested.

putting homemade dishwasher powder into dispenser
Use about a tablespoon for regular loads

How to Use Homemade Dishwasher Detergent:

Use about a tablespoon of homemade dishwasher powder for each load of dishes. We add it right to our dispenser and it works fine, but if you find that your detergent is getting clumpy, you can also mix with warm water before putting it in the dispenser. If you are using homemade rinse agent (white vinegar), add it to the compartment on your machine designated for that purpose. run a normal cycle, without

If your dishes are particularly dirty, or if you have hard water, you can try using a little more dishwasher powder (up to two tablespoons).

How much Money do you Save Making your Own Dishwasher Detergent?

Homemade dishwashing detergent is cheap to make! The ingredients are readily available and inexpensive, especially if you buy them in bulk. Here’s the breakdown:

Washing soda – about $0.75 per cup

Baking soda – $.75 per cup

Citric Acid – $1.40 per 1/2 cup

Kosher salt – $0.32 per 1/4 cup

Total Cost of this recipe: $3.22 – less than 7 cents per dishwasher load.

For comparison, the all-natural powdered detergent that we bought at the store cost about $13.00 for a box that would do about 65 loads. That’s about 20 cents per load. So, with this recipe, you’re saving about 14 cents per load, or 65% off store-bought prices.

We hope you’ll give our homemade dishwasher powder recipe a try! It’s easy, all-natural, and free from harsh chemicals + it works and it’s cheap – what’s not to love?

homemade dishwasher powder detergent pin
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Carrie Williams Howe
Blogger & Homesteader at The Happy Hive
Carrie Williams Howe is an educational leader by day and an aspiring homesteader by night and weekend. She lives on a small homestead in Vermont with her husband, two children, and a rambunctious border collie. She is a Founder and Editor of Homestead How-To and also blogs about her family's homestead life at The Happy Hive.

3 thoughts on “How to Make Dishwasher Powder at Home: An All-Natural Recipe”

  • I am not sure I will use this in my dishwasher, but I will definitely try it for other dish-doing uses! I have been using powdered dish soap from BlueLand to avoid disposable plastic containers, but it costs $$$. This mixture sounds good and costs pennies! I will try to comment again after I have tried it. Thank you!

    • We have found that having an air-tight container, and storing the mix in a cool, dry place is essential. If moisture gets into it, it can harden up, but I can usually free it up by stirring with a butter knife or shaking.

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