DIY Dishwasher Powder

Posted by Bonnie

*Update*: I’ve had a couple of questions on whether this is safe to be used with septic systems and the answer is…. Yes! In fact, we have a septic tank / field system ourselves. There has been some controversy about whether powdered detergents are safe… What I can tell you is that some are and some aren’t, but the ingredients in this formulation are totally safe. The powders to avoid are commercially produced ones that contain fillers (like montmorillonite clay) which can damage septic systems.

To be on the safe side, ensure that all of your waste water flows into your septic tank before going to the field and use the hottest water possible to ensure powders dissolve completely.

We are slowly in the process of converting everything we can in our home to a homemade equivalent. From soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, cleaning spray, beard oil, hair pomade, bath bombs, lip balm, skin balms, you name it. Something new we have tried recently is dishwasher powder – And with two kids under 3 in our home we do a lot of dishes.

Prior to making our own soapy version, we had been using the Kirkland brand dishwasher pods which cost about $0.10 per load. I am able to make my dishwasher powder for around $0.02 cents a load (1 Tbsp). Of course I buy my citric acid and essential oils in bulk for my soaping, but even without bulk pricing a DIY detergent would come in around $0.03-$0.05 cents per load (depending on ingredients and quantity used per wash).

So, how much money do you really save by making it yourself? Honestly, probably not that much. If you are already using a generic store brand powdered detergent it is cheap and it can be hard to touch Wal Mart’s margin. But if you’re like me the lower cost isn’t the only benefit to making something yourself. Sure, cost is a BIG part of it – I love saving money – but knowing how to do something is almost more important to me than the potential cost savings. In addition to the self-sufficiency aspect, you can easily control exactly what touches everything that touches your food. You know that it is all natural. You know there’s nothing hiding in there that wasn’t on the ingredients list. By using a reusable container like a coffee can or mason jar you are keeping waste out of the landfill one container at a time. And, you get to choose your own fragrance!

I use lemongrass but you can use any essential oil you like!

There are loads of recipes you can try online, but I’m going to share mine with you. We have pretty hard water and our water softener is out of commission (frozen pipes… our plumbing bypass has to go around the softener until the pipes thaw – maybe it will be working by June!) Since our water is so hard, I have increased the amount of citric acid by 50 ml which you can reduce if you don’t have the same issue I do. I also add regular white vinegar to my rinse aid reservoir which really helps with hard water spots.

Washing Soda, Kosher Salt, Borax and Citric Acid

DIY Dishwasher Powder

  • 200 ml citric acid
  • 150 ml kosher salt (or other coarse grain salt)
  • 250 ml borax
  • 250 ml washing soda (aka soda ash)
  • 0-60 drops essential oil of choice (I use lemongrass)

I place about a tablespoon of powder into the soap reservoir at a time, but it is super easy to add more for really stuck on mess or less for pre washed / pre rinsed items. Seems simple if you were using a powdered detergent already, but coming from using pods I am loving the flexibility.4547870470003846695

Give it a try and see if it works for you!


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