One of the most common emails I receive is ladies asking if I have a good homemade substitute for dishwasher detergent. After making my own homemade laundry detergent and having such great success I was eager to try and find something that worked as well in my dishwasher. I found and tried a couple different recipes. I was not happy with the results at all. The most common recipe I came across was a combination of washing soda, borax and citric acid (some recipes used Kool-Aid in place of the citric acid). What I discovered is that this combination left a cloudy film all over my dishes that was hard as heck to remove. I quickly went back to Cascade and gave up trying to find a substitute.
Well, last week I ran out of dishwasher soap. Because I live rurally just hopping in the car to run and pick up one item is out of the question. Plus, at that point my hand had not healed enough to be able to drive (I have a stick shift and could not shift with my right hand). I had the choice to wash the dishes by hand (also not easy with my injured hand) or find a substitute that would work at least until I could go shopping. I scoured the internet looking for options other than the washing soda/borax combo. Here is what I found….
I know you are thinking.. but wait you can’t use regular dish soap in your dishwasher. But this is what I discovered. You can use a “little”. The purpose of the baking soda is to keep the suds down low enough to keep them from foaming out the dishwasher door.
Here is how I did it: I put 3 or 4 drops of Dawn dish soap (I’m sure any type of liquid dish soap would work) into the soap dispenser and then filled it the rest of the way with baking soda. I ran my load of dishes. When they were done, I had a load of sparkly clean dishes…
I was impressed and decided to keep trying to use it and see what the long term results would be. I did buy a box of Cascade when I went grocery shopping just in case. Here is what I’ve found after doing several loads now: the dishes are still clean, I’ve noticed a few spots on my silverware. I put a “little” more Dawn in the next load (not wanting to push it too far as I don’t want a big foamy mess to clean up) and had no spots on that load. I should add that I have soft water so I don’t know what the results would be with hard water. And a few loads of dishes is not showing me any real long term results yet. I am going to continue to try this for a while and see what happens. The cost savings would be great if this did work for the long term.
For now, I can recommend this method if you are in a pinch and suddenly realize you ran of dishwasher soap and you need a quick and easy substitute.