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How to Make Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Without Borax

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How to Make Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Without Borax

If you’re looking to save a little money, help keep toxic chemicals out of the water supply, and use more natural and eco-friendly cleaning products in your home, you can’t beat homemade dishwasher detergent.

Even better, these homemade dishwasher tablets are easy to make, only require a few ingredients, and you can use them exactly like you use commercial dishwasher pods.

Related: How to Create a Zero Waste Kitchen

Don’t have time to DIY? That’s not a problem! Just check out this list of the best eco-friendly dishwasher detergents that use plant-based cleaning power to give you sparkling dishes!

Why Doesn’t This Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Use Borax?

DIY dishwasher detergent tablets on blue towel

In the eco-friendly living world, you’ll find two areas of thought regarding borax. On one side, you have those who point out that borax is a natural mineral that people have been using for decades as a cleaning agent.

Related: Are Cleaning Products Toxic? Discover the Scary Truth

On the other side, you have people arguing that the FDA has banned borax as a food additive, it’s a natural pesticide used to kill ants and cockroaches, and it has an F score from the Environmental Working Group.

So which side do I fall on? The better safe than sorry side. Borax isn’t a necessary ingredient in homemade dishwasher detergent, so I’m not going to use it to clean dishes my family uses to eat.

Related: Over 100 Vegetarians Recipes Even Meat Eaters Will Love

Natural Cleaning Product Recipe Cards and Labels

If you’re like me, you love natural cleaning, but you find the biggest challenge is remembering how to make all of your natural cleaning products.

When it was time to make a new batch of cleaning products, I had to haul out my laptop and find my recipes again. In all honesty, it was a pain.

Natural cleaning recipe cards

If you feel the same way, you’ll absolutely love this DIY cleaning products bundle! It includes recipe cards and labels for over 25 natural cleaning products. It also has a cheat sheet on natural cleaning ingredients you should never combine and a guide on my favorite essential oil cleaning blends.

You’ll have everything you need to get started with natural cleaning in one convenient and stylish bundle. You’ll discover it’s never been easier to start cleaning your house with natural products today!

Ingredients for DIY Dishwasher Pods

Supplies for Homemade Dishwasher Tablets

Directions for Making DIY Dishwasher Tablets

  1. In a large bowl, stir together the washing soda, baking soda, citric acid, and salt.
  2. Add the water to the dry ingredients in the bowl. The mixture will start to bubble and fizz. Wait about 1 minute for the bubbles to reduce, and then stir to thoroughly combine.
  3. Scoop 1 tablespoon of the mixture into each mold of an ice cube tray. Use your fingers to flatten the mixture into the molds.
  4. Let the trays sit overnight.
  5. When the tablets have dried, give each tray a twist to help release them. Then turn the tray over, and tap it against the counter until the tablets pop out.
  6. Store the tablets in an airtight container.
  7. Pop one tablet into the detergent dispenser in your dishwasher, and run your regular cycle.

Tips for Using Your Homemade Dishwasher Tablets

Homemade dishwasher detergent tablets in clear container

You can also eliminate toxic and expensive rinse aids by pouring a ½ cup of distilled white vinegar into the rinse aid spout before each cycle. Vinegar aids in drying, which helps prevent streaks from forming on your dishes.

Related: Things You Should Never Clean With Vinegar

The kosher salt helps to soften hard water, so you might need to adjust the amount based on the water where you live.

In the case of detergent, more isn’t better. If your dishes come out with a light film on them, cut back on the amount of mixture you use to make each homemade dishwasher detergent tablet.

If you have a very small detergent dispenser in your dishwasher like I do, simply break up the tablets to make them fit. I also found that these ice cube trays tend to make skinnier tablets than other trays.

Related: How to Make Your Cleaning Routine More Eco-Friendly

More Homemade Cleaning Products

Interested in cutting out even more toxic cleaning chemicals from your life? Then be sure to check out a few of our other popular homemade cleaning products:

White dishwasher tablets on blue towel with text overlay How to Make Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Without Borax

Dishwasher tablets on towel with text overlay How to Make Incredibly Easy Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Clean wine glass, homemade dishwasher tablets, and hand pulling plate out of dishwasher

Homemade dishwasher detergent tablets text overlay Best Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Without Borax
DIY dishwasher tablets and dishwasher text overlay How to Make Homemade Dishwasher Detergent


Sunday 12th of April 2020

We have a water softener system. How should I adjust your recipe?


Monday 13th of April 2020

Since you have soft water, you might find that you don't need as much washing soda. If you find a lot of sediment remaining on your dishes, you can lower the amount of washing soda and see if that helps.

Julia Bass

Tuesday 31st of December 2019

Safe for septic tanks? My dishwasher manual says no lemon. What to use besides citric acid?


Wednesday 1st of January 2020

All of these ingredients are safe for septic tanks. The citric acid is a mild acid that helps soften water and fight hard water film and water spots. If you have soft water, you might be able to skip completely skip it. If not, vinegar is also a natural water softener. You could try replacing the citric acid with powdered vinegar. Another option might be to use white vinegar in your dishwasher's rinse aid dispenser.


Thursday 5th of December 2019

I followed these instructions and after several weeks of using my homemade detergent, my dishes look horrible. Often I would have to rewash a dish after the cycle was over. I add vinegar to each load and still get a lot of film, and not-clean dishes. I used one store-bought pod I still had and it was night and day with how my dishes looked. I'm afraid I will go back to store-bought detergent. any ideas on what this left-over homemade detergent could be good on?


Thursday 5th of December 2019

Do you know if you have hard water? It sounds like you might. We have hard water in our home, and the first time I tried making my own dishwasher detergent I ended up with the same results you're experiencing. Salt and baking soda are pretty good at softening water, but not nearly as good as washing soda. If your water is hard and you're having problems getting things clean, you might be able to ditch the salt and baking soda and simply use washing soda and citric acid. If you want to give it another try, I would recommend combining 1 cup of washing soda and 1/4 cup of citric acid and using about a tablespoon of this mixture for each tablet.

May I also ask how you were using the vinegar? Some people have had success putting a small mason jar filled halfway with vinegar in the top rack of their dishwasher when they run a load.

As far as the remaining homemade detergent that's not working, you can repurpose it into a general household cleaner. Simply dissolve a tablet into a bucket of water and you can use it clean tile floors, showers, tubs, etc.


Thursday 17th of October 2019

I've tried cubes using borax...not good, I put lemon essential oil in these cubes....smells good but not good for glassware. I began having film on my glasses having to rewash in the sink..ughhh! This batch I'm adding more baking soda....and NOTHING ELSE....follow this's a good one!


Friday 18th of October 2019

I'm glad you found a natural recipe that works for you!

Kelly M.

Thursday 15th of August 2019

I've let mine sit for about 24hours and they don't seem like they are drying at all. I live in Utah where it's very dry, so I was anticipating them drying quickly. Any thoughts?


Friday 16th of August 2019

That is unusual. I live in Florida, and when the humidity is high, I sometimes have to let them sit for more than 24 hours before they completely harden. To speed up the drying time, try putting them in the sun for a few hours. The next time you make them, I would recommend cutting back on the amount of water you use. Perhaps try a 1/2 cup and see what consistency you get. The minerals in your water might be reacting with the other ingredients to make it a little more soupy than usual.

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