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Of all the DIY experiments I’ve messed around with, dishwasher detergent ended up being one of the hardest to figure out.  I ran into all sorts of problems.  At first, our dishes simply weren’t getting cleaned.  After I worked that out, I was finding that our dishes were getting clean but they had water spots/residue still left on them which made them look dirty…and no one wants that!

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It turns out that I was running into problems because of our hard water.  After taking this into account, I tried following the dishwashing cycle with a vinegar rinse cycle…but I’m going to be honest: it was an enormous pain.  There’s no way I want to spend that much of my time or thought on my dishes.  That’s when I decided to try adding citric acid to the mix…and it worked!

I was happily using my successful batch when I discovered that the dishwasher detergent was starting to harden and clump up in a very not-user-friendly way.  So I used some of the best moisture-absorbers I know and filled a sock with bentonite clay and rice.  Now the mix is just the cleaning without all the clumping!

Experimenting aside, it actually just takes about 5 minutes to make a batch and costs less than a regular bottle of dishwasher detergent…and that’s something I can get behind!


  • 2 cup borax
  • 2 cup washing soda
  • 2 cup citric acid
  • 2 cup kosher salt (I couldn’t tell you why, but I got better results with it over regular salt)

For moisture-absorption, you’ll also need:

  • an old sock
  • 1/4 cup bentonite clay (if you don’t have any, double the rice)
  • 1/4 rice


1.  In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the borox, washing soda, citric acid, and kosher salt.

2. Stir until everything is very well incorporated.

3.  Take your sock and fill it with the bentonite clay and rice (or just rice, if that’s all you have). Tie off the end so that it looks like this:


4.  Place the bentonite clay/rice-filled sock at the bottom of your dishwasher detergent container.  I used an old cereal storage container since we don’t each much cereal these days.

5.  Pour in the detergent mixture into your storage container and make sure you cover it with a secure lid in between uses.

Have you tried making your own dishwasher detergent? Share your experiences in the comment section below!