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Homemade Dishwashing Solutions

10/17/2011 2:52:48 PM

Tags: baking soda, borax, dishwashing, green cleaning, homemade cleaners, natural cleaners, Storey Publishing

DIY Dishwashing SolutionsIn a recent poll on our home page, we asked readers which cleaning product they’d most like to find a homemade alternative for. Nearly half of the respondents named dishwashing formula as their most desired DIY cleaner. We aim to please, so here are three dish de-griming recipes from the book The Naturally Clean Home by Karyn Siegel-Maier.

Read a discussion of the possible health effects of borax.

Super-Easy Automatic Dishwasher Powder 

Because it stores so well, this formula can be doubled or made in bulk.

2 cups washing soda
1 cup borax
1 cup baking soda

Combine all ingredients and store in a plastic container. To use, add about 2 tablespoons to the soap compartment of your dishwasher. If you find your dishes developing residue, reduce this amount to 1 1⁄2 tablespoons.

Citrus Sparkle Automatic Dishwasher Powder 

Citric acid (sometimes labeled “sour salt”) is available in powdered form from many health food stores, stores that cater to homebrewers of beer and wine, soap-making supply outlets, and various online sources.

2 cups washing soda
2 cups borax
6 tbsp citric acid powder
25 drops grapefruit essential oil

Combine all ingredients in a plastic container or tub and mix completely. Use 2 tablespoons of the blend per load of dishes.

Herbal Liquid Dishwashing Blend 

Plant essential oils provide a chemical-free fragrance. Enjoy this nontoxic, leafy-fresh scent as you scrub!

Liquid soap
10 drops lavender essential oil
8 drops rosemary essential oil
4 drops eucalyptus essential oil

Fill a clean, 22-ounce plastic squirt bottle with liquid soap (diluted according to directions if using concentrate). Add the essential oils. Shake the bottle before each use. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the liquid to dishwater and wash as usual.

Photo by Fotolia/robynmac 

Megan Hirt is an Associate Editor for MOTHER EARTH NEWS. Find her on .

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Post a comment below.


Linda Stark
7/4/2012 3:07:39 PM
I couldn't get it to work either

Therese Lott
7/4/2012 2:46:56 PM
Link does work maybe you didn't highlight the whole thing because it is on two lines there.

Amy Stanley
7/3/2012 2:41:26 AM
The link isn't working, Andrea. Do I just go to your site and type in 'homemade...'?

Cassandra Foxley
7/2/2012 4:39:09 PM
Thank you for the article and information. My question; Are essential oils dishwasher friendly over a long period of time? I usually use my dishwasher on an economy setting around 50C.

5/7/2012 3:41:47 PM
Dr Bronner's has a new "Sal Suds" product. I've just ordered some (hasn't arrived yet). It's supposed to be an all purpose cleaner: laundry, dishes, hard surfaces etc.. It has different ingredients from the usual Dr. Bronner's - more grease cutting action. Might be something that will work in the dishwasher? I'm looking forward to trying this new item so I can eliminate a lot of the regular products I have around the house.

5/7/2012 3:41:40 PM
I read your note about "Plant essential oils provide a chemical-free fragrance." That falls short of saying that the essential oils have no other purpose. Being someone who absolutely can't stand chemical fragrances, and also prefers to avoid most natural ones, I'd really appreciate knowing if the essential oils are only for aesthetics or if they improve the cleaning power of, in this case, "liquid soap." I have the same question about other articles you've run in the past on non-toxic, DIY cleaners in the past.

Tawny Doll
10/24/2011 8:27:23 PM
I really like Karyn Siegel-Maier books on green cleaning and compared to other homemade cleaning books I think she has the best. The last recipe should however be ammended by replacing "liquid soap" with "Castile soap." Another commenter recomended Dr.Bonners which are castile soaps but if the ridiculous "religous" (term loosly used here) stuff he platers on every bottle bothers you like it does me then there are alternatives. Dr woods soap are just as good (if not better) and cheaper. Kiss My Face makes (really good and VERY natural) soap in bar form and can be grated and used with powders or grated and melted in a little hot water to make a liquid. Its very nice on the hands and the environment as well! Castile soap is also easy to make from scratch, if desired.

Megan Hirt
10/24/2011 6:06:36 PM
Thanks for your comments, everyone! I’ve asked around the MOTHER EARTH NEWS editorial team to find answers to some of your questions. For a natural liquid soap, we recommend Dr. Bronner’s: Regarding glycerin soap, it being natural depends on what kind of soap (toxic or nontoxic) the glycerin soap was made from, so we can’t make a blanket statement that glycerin soap is always “natural.”

Trish Hertel
10/24/2011 4:32:27 PM
Are these homemade formulas safe for use in Dishwashers? We used an Earth friendly Eco commercial dishwashing liquid made specifically for dishwashers and only after a few runs, the machine stopped working! We've just recently purchased a Miele dishwasher and I'm afraid to use a home-made product as it, too, will malfunction.

10/24/2011 2:56:18 PM
Hi Dawn. Check out this recipe! I know you'll love it:) (well I hope you'll love it)

10/24/2011 2:55:17 PM
I have a great Liquid Dish Soap that really, really works! It's amazing:) I'll never go back to store bought. You can check it out here:

Dawn Young
10/24/2011 2:24:58 PM
I have to agree with all, the last receipe was a let down. I looked at Jean's and it looks fine. But I was wondering what the health effects would be if any, if one used soap with added butters, etc. I'm trying to use up what we have and I know that it has items like Shea butter added. What about glyercian soap? Any comments on using that for dish soap? Thanks

Jean Nick
10/24/2011 1:46:54 PM
My experience with hard water suggests you will be disappointed in the long run unless you include citric acid in dishwasher powder. Check out my recipe for liquid hand washing soap, which starts with a bar of soap. Making liquid soap from scratch can be done, but it is a reasonably involved project, and many recipes call for making plain bar soap first and then dissolving that in water. Choose the plainest soap you can find and definitely one without added moisturizers.

10/24/2011 1:24:25 PM
I also agree with Kathleen and Karen, I have already found the powder ones online, yet nothing in the liquid department. I am going to try my own experiment next summer by growing soapwart, (they use to use this for cleaning quilts and clothing....) a natural plant-based soap and see how it fares with dishes....

roxanne shhircliff
10/24/2011 1:12:26 PM
I thought dishwasing liquid was a detergent and therefore different from "soap". Can anyone recommend natural/pure/organic/botanical liquid soaps that I can look into? Does glycerine soap fit in those categories?

10/24/2011 1:02:53 PM
I thought the same thing as Kathleen - I was disappointed that the recipe for hand dishwashing liquid was not really homemade. Can you suggest a way to make our own liquid soap?

10/24/2011 12:28:39 PM
I'm not sure how the last recipe (the dishwashing blend) really qualifies as a homemade "alternative". If I've got to go out and buy 22 oz. of liquid soap as the main ingredient and the only thing I'm doing to it is adding a few drops of essential oils, how is that really "homemade"? (Sounds similar to adding an egg to a cake mix.) Dishwashing liquid is already liquid soap and it comes in 22 oz. or so containers. I was hoping for something "made from scratch" from a few simple ingredients, similar to the dishwasher soap recipes. Hmmmmm...what am I missing here?

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