Powdered Dishwasher Detergent Recipe

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Homemade Powdered Dishwasher Detergent

Sick of paying entirely too much for powdered dishwasher detergent? This DIY recipe comes together in under two minutes, and only costs $.03 per load. It’s made with all-natural ingredients, and it’s an absolute cleaning powerhouse. But the best part: unlike other green dishwasher detergents, this one won’t leave residue behind on your dishes.

Since I try to keep harmful chemicals out of my home and out of the environment, this dishwasher detergent is also:

  • Biodegradable
  • Phosphate-free
  • Chlorine-free
  • Borax-free
  • Fragrance-free
  • Dye-free

Sound like the solution you’ve been looking for? Here’s the recipe, so you can try it for yourself.

Prefer the convenience of dishwasher detergent tabs? Get my recipe for those here.

Powdered Dishwasher Detergent Recipe


1 cup washing soda
1 cup Kosher salt
1 cup baking soda
3 Tbsp citric acid

Washing soda, Kosher salt and baking soda are available at just about any big-box store, but you’ll probably need to buy the citric acid online. I recommend buying it in a five-pound bag. It’s quite a bit cheaper than the one-pound bags. Once you have it, you can also use it to make my shower steamers.

What You Do:

Mix Powdered Dishwasher Detergent Ingredients Together

Mix the ingredients together in a large bowl, until well combined. Be sure to break up any clumps.

Jar of Powdered Dishwasher Detergent

Then, store your dishwasher detergent in an air-tight container, out of the reach of children and pets. Citric acid and washing soda have a tendency to harden when they’re exposed to humidity. Storing your detergent in a closed container, should prevent this. But if your detergent does go hard on you, just break it up with a spoon, or give it a quick pulse it in your food processor.

Label your dishwasher detergent, and list all the ingredients on the container, in case of accidental ingestion. Better safe than sorry.

Homemade Dishwasher Powder in Dishwasher

To Use:

Just measure one tablespoon of dishwasher detergent into the detergent compartment in your dishwasher. This recipe makes enough for 51 loads. So, if you typically run one load of dishes a day, you should only need to make 7-8 batches a year.


What the Purpose of Each Ingredient in This Recipe?

The washing soda and baking soda are cleaning agents. The citric acid is a water softener. It prevents water spots and film on dishes. The kosher salt is a water softener, and helps to remove stuck on food.

Will This Recipe Harm My Dishwasher?

Nope. All the ingredients used in this recipe are commonly found in commercial dishwasher detergents. They just use their scientific names on the ingredient list. Here’s how to spot them on the label:

Sodium carbonate = washing soda
Sodium bicarbonate = baking soda
Sodium chloride = kosher salt

Can I Substitute Something Else for the Kosher Salt?

If you don’t have Kosher salt on hand, or you live in a country where it’s not available, just use an equal amount of table salt in its place. Do not use Epsom salt as a substitute for the kosher salt. It contains minerals that are likely to leave water spots and film on your dishes.

I Have Hard Water, Will This Recipe Work for Me?

Make a batch and see. The citric acid and kosher salt are both water softeners, so they should counteract the effects of your hard water. If you see water spots or film on your dishes, try doubling the amount of citric acid in your dishwasher detergent. Washing your dishes on the hottest setting may also help, as could reducing the amount of detergent that you’re using in each load. Everyone’s water and dishwasher is a bit different, so you may just have to experiment a bit to find the winning combination for you.

My Dishes Look Cloudy After Using This Recipe, How Can I Fix This?

See my answer to the previous question. It outlines several things that you can try.

I’m Noticing a Funky Smell in My Dishwasher, What Should I Do?

Check your dishwasher’s drain to see if there’s anything you need to clean out. Since this dishwasher detergent is fragrance-free, you’re probably just noticing the smell of leftover food that’s gotten caught in the drain. That’s a good thing, if it prompts you to clean out the drain before it becomes clogged. If you just switched from a highly-fragranced commercial detergent, it was probably masking this odor before.

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  1. hi Erin, the powdered leaves white residue inside dishwasher; do you have a recipe for a liquid detergent for it?

    also, once a glass bowl/glass is “etched”, is there any way to get it back to clear again? I’ve tried all the old remedies, nothing works, guess its pitch it huh?

    thanks for all your great ideas! whats going on with the cabin these days? take care

    1. Hi Sue,

      I don’t have a recipe for a liquid dishwasher detergent yet, but I’ll give it some thought. It sounds like a good mad scientist project for me 🙂

      If powdered detergents don’t work for you, you may want to check out the tips at the bottom of this article. One of the things I’ve learned during all my research is that hot water is a big part of getting dishes to wash clean, without leaving any of that white residue behind (I know we frugal types often like to use the quickest, coolest setting possible when it comes to appliances, like dishwashers and washing machines. A lot of the commercial companies have added an ingredient to try to make the detergents wash clean better at lower temps, but I don’t think they’ve quite gotten it right. Before I switched to my homemade stuff, I used to be very frustrated by how much residue was left behind.

  2. Hi Erin
    Thank you for this recipe. I have one small problem. The supplier of citric acid has 2 types of citric acid available. One has a water molecule and the other has no water molecule in it. Which one should I buy? specifically one is monohydrate and other is annhydrate

    1. Some people using lemon flavored drink mix in place of the citric acid in homemade dishwasher detergents (because they contain citric acid), but I haven’t tested that in this recipe, so I can’t vouch for how that would work.

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