Because I’m Cheap: Dishwasher Detergent

So, in an effort to not only reduce cost, waste and my family’s carbon footprint, I’ve decided to start making what I can of the products we frequently buy premade. Like, laundry detergent, dishwasher detergent, baby food, baby wipes, and butter.

The butter, while tasty, isn’t actually cheaper in my area. The cost of the cream and the volume of butter it creates (even with the bonus of buttermilk as a byproduct) is actually more expensive than just buying a one pound (4 stick) box of generic, unsalted butter. So, unfortunately, that “thrifty” way isn’t actually thrifty.

The next thing, or actually, chronologically the first thing, I made was my own dishwasher detergent. I was raised to put my faith in Dawn as a dish soap and it (and the occasional bottle of palmolive green apple) is all I’ll buy. No, thank you, I don’t need Joy, or generic brands, or your fancy-schmancy Oil of Olay dish soap. I’ve got Dawn. And Dawn, is the Terminator of grease and tough, cooked or baked-on junk! Couple that with having grown up seeing all the commercials for Cascade dishwasher detergent, (and ruefully daydreaming about having a dishwasher instead of having to wash the dishes all by hand!) how could I help but purchase the love child of Dawn and Cascade when I had a dishwasher of my own? I mean, look at it:

Don’t they just say “I will freaking clean!”?

I’ve never seen more competent-looking cleaning supplies in my life. And I’ve used/tried/purchased/perused quite a lot of them over course of the past 15 years that I’ve been cleaning. I mean, they’ve got the gel, they’ve got the scrubby-looking powder part. And they’re all sealed up in some space-age dissolving packets! They’re awesome!

Anyhow, on (which I pronounce Pin-ter-est, anyone know the correct way?) I stumbled across this recipe for homemade dishwasher detergent which I promptly put on my Tips, Tricks, Ideas, and DIY board.

So far, it’s worked absolutely wonderfully! Even better than my beloved Cascade Complete All In 1 Actionpacs.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent


  • 1 box of Borax
  • 1 box of Super Washing Soda
  • 24 packages of unsweetened lemonade drink mix
  • 3 cups of Epsom Salt
Use 1 tablespoon of the mix per load. If you need a rinsing aid, white vinegar will do the trick and you can also use a single package of unsweetened lemonade drink mix to run a cycle through your dishwasher to clean it.
I was curious about this recipe so I did some research and it turns out that the reason you use lemonade is because of the citric acid in it. Now, because of this, you could just buy citric acid from a health food store or vitamin shop (like GNC) to add to it directly instead of using the drink mix, but I think I rather prefer the lightly lemony smell when I open the container.
Also, the container I purchased happens to be the same one the original poster used, a 32-cup dispenser from Walmart, which was around $5.
Never fear, next I’ll be posting the recipes I used to make my own laundry detergent and baby wipes as well as the basic how-to’s of making your own baby food with links to resources and information regarding it!

Lastly: Long live the Oxford comma!