semi-green, semi-frugal dishwasher detergent

I had initially planned on making a totally natural dishwasher detergent. I used it for a while and was somewhat happy with it – the problem is not the detergent, but my dishwasher setting of choice. I like to run my dishwasher on the “water miser” setting, which somehow uses less water. (magic?) Because the borax/baking soda combo does not dissolve food, and because the lower-use water setting does not power it off quite as well, I have added some commercial detergent.

If you are cool with using the normal water settings, the borax & baking soda combo works great!DSC_0943 

I just put equal parts borax, baking soda and detergent in a container with a tightly-fitting lid and shake it up. Here’s what it looks like:DSC_0944

The hardest part of this was finding the borax – I had to go to two different stores. I KNOW. My neighborhood grocery store doesn’t carry it, so I had to drive to the next store over to get it. sigh.

Along with this, I fill the jet-dry tank with vinegar. Plain old white vinegar. Works great!

It took some experimentation with the no-detergent mix, the water settings and how cleaned-off my dishes are going into the dishwasher. I think I found a mix that will work for me. If you want to go totally green and totally frugal, you can skip the detergent, but since I still want to use less water I use the combination. I really don’t know which is better – using more water and no detergent or less water and a little detergent, but for now this works, it’s cheap, and it’s less chemical-ly than detergent alone.

It’s just another small way I’m saving money and some environmental impact. Small things add up!


  1. I've been asked TWICE already this morning about my use of (gasp!) NAME BRAND PRODUCTS in this post! Let me defend myself!

    When I'm at the grocery store, I always buy the generic alternative when I find it to be comparable in quality/taste/experience. However at Costco, where I get my dishwasher detergent, baking soda, etc. there was either not a generic alternative (the baking soda) or the generic alternative was lemon-"enhanced" (the powdered detergent) which reacts badly with some metal utensils. So there we are. The per-unit cost of the name-brand items at Costco is comparable to (if not less than)the per-unit cost of generics in the grocery store. Whew!

  2. I made and was using backing soda and borax in my dishwasher for a month or so. I ended up having to add a package of lemon kool-aid to the mix to help with rinsing the mixture off my dishes. Our town has very hard water but the kool-aid was still not enough to help. I even use viniger as my rince aid but it was still not enough for our hard water.
    I might have to give it a try with some powdered dishwasher soap. Thanks =}

  3. give it a shot - there is a reason why the detergents sell so well - they work well. i just want to make them more environmentally friendly and a little less expensive!


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