I recently read a news article about a young child who died after eating a dishwasher detergent pod. This is a heartbreaking and unnecessary casualty of the toxic and chemical-filled world we live in.

Homemade less-toxic dishwasher detergent, from Cheap Recipe Blog

This tragic story makes me wonder:

  • If one dishwasher pod can kill a toddler, what does long-term exposure to a small amount of dishwasher detergent residue do to our bodies?
  • What about all the other questionable ingredients and substances we are exposed to on a daily basis? (Chemical cleaners, air fresheners, sulfates in soaps and shampoos, etc.)

I’m not attempting to answer that question. But I am on a personal mission to reduce the amount of chemicals I expose my body to on a day-to-day basis.

That is one reason why I have started making my own dishwasher detergent at home.

This is a less-toxic cleaning agent that leaves my dishes clean and sparkling without using questionable ingredients.

ingredients for homemade dishwasher detergent

How To Make Less-Toxic Dishwasher Detergent At Home

This homemade dishwasher detergent is made out of readily available ingredients that are low in toxicity (most of these ingredients are ingestible) and also quite affordable:

Baking soda – Buy at any grocery store.

Washing soda – I bought a big box at Walmart for $3.00. You can also use washing soda to make homemade laundry detergent (photo below).

Citric acid – I bought mine, oddly enough, at an Indian grocery store. Check at your local drug store, natural food store or buy online.

Salt – Buy anywhere. Any type of salt will work.

Essential oils – I used lemon essential oil which I bought at Whole Foods. Citrus essential oils (lemon, lime, grapefruit, and orange) tend to be low cost and are great for kitchen use.

Make your own laundry detergent at home for much less

Remember To Pre-Rinse

For sparkling clean dishes, it is advisable to pre-rinse your dirtiest, most caked-on dishes.

Because this recipe doesn’t use harsh cleaning chemicals like those found in commercial dishwasher detergent, your best results will be obtained by removing some of the caked-on food on your dishes.

Learn how to make homemade dishwasher detergent, using less-toxic ingredients.

An All-Natural Home

Check out more DIY body and household product posts.

Join me while I attempt to reduce the amount of toxic chemicals I use in my house and on my body.

If you are on a similar journey, I would love to share ideas with you! Please stay in touch via Facebook or feel free to leave a comment below.

Homemade less-toxic dishwasher detergent, from Cheap Recipe Blog

Homemade Less-Toxic Dishwasher Detergent

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

I would recommend making a small batch to begin with. This detergent can dry out over time.


  • 2 parts baking soda
  • 2 parts washing soda
  • 1 part citric acid
  • 1 part salt
  • Essential oils, optional (I used lemon)


  1. Mix all ingredients together according to ratios given above. If the citric acid is granular, you may wish to blend the ingredients to make a finer consistency. However, if your citric acid is the consistency of salt or sugar, you can skip this step.
  2. Use this detergent as you would use normal dishwasher detergent: Two to three tablespoons per load or so.

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FAQs About Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Here are answers to some of the most common questions I get about making your own dishwashing detergent:

Why would I make my own dishwasher detergent?

Commercial dishwashing detergents contain many ingredients that many want to avoid, like zinc carbonate, acrylic copolymer, artificial fragrances, and more. When you make your own dishwasher detergent, you know exactly what is in the product. This particular recipe only requires the use of 4 ingredients.

What ingredients are needed to make this detergent?

This homemade detergent only requires 4 ingredients: baking soda, washing soda, citric acid, and salt. You can also add essential oils (optional) for scent.

Does this detergent work as well as store-bought?

This homemade detergent works well – but may not work as well as the commercial detergent you’re used to. However, since this homemade version contains less harsh ingredients, you may consider this a fair trade-off. I use this detergent all the time with good results and it currently has a 4.4/5 rating from  171 people who have made it.

Will I save money by making the homemade version?

This recipe is made with low-cost, easy-to-find ingredients like baking soda, salt, and washing soda. Depending on where you buy your supplies, this may be cheaper than name-brand detergent or dishwasher pods.

What is a good amount to make?

The recipe above uses ratios, so you can make as little or as much detergent as you wish. If you use a dishwasher frequently, you could start out with this amount: 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup washing soda, 1/2 cup citric acid, 1/2 cup salt, and optional essential oils.