Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Dishwasher Soap Sub


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.
 

49 comments:

  1. Hi Crystal, I did the same thing but I used borax, my dishes we're sparkling

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Crystal!
    I'm so glad you shared this. I had run out of dishwasher detergent last month and living rural, I too, cannot just hop in the car on a whim. I shared a recipe on my blog that uses the washing soda, borax, kosher salt and citric acid. I have well water and I found that it works for me when I use vinegar in my rinse compartment. It made all my dishes sparkly...not sure if that would help? Though I have to admit, your recipe seems much more cost friendly! :) I'll have to give it a try! :) I've been praying for the continued healing of your hand.
    Blessings! Jamie

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thank you so much for this recipe. I have been looking for one that used ingredients I have on hand. Can't wait to try it! Hope your hand continues to get better.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I use Dawn in the washing machine whenever I want to remove oil from kitchen towels or to "strip" my cloth diapers. All it takes is 1 tablespoon for a heavy load in the wash and my towels come out really clean and so do the cloth diapers. I've never had it bubble too much either. I've never thought of trying it in the dishwasher, thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I like the new Dawn: Platinum Power Clean.
      I have used original Dawn on hubby's greasy work clothes with good results, but the Platinum performs even better. I use it as a pretreat spot remover.

      Delete
  5. I have used 1 Tablespoon Oxi-clean, 1/2 teaspoon of Dawn dish soap, and about 1/2 cup of white vinegar in my dishwasher. It does get the dishes cleaned. I have a friend who does this. She puts the vinegar in a little dish on the top rack of the dishwasher. I will be switching back to this once I finish up my detergent in the next week or so.

    ~Cheryl

    ReplyDelete
  6. With our hard water I do exactly as Crystal describes but I also put 1/4 to 1/2 cup of Borax in the bottom of the dishwasher. The solution is way cheaper than Casscade or Finish!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Crystal... thank you for being the guinea pig and way-finder for womankind!

    I've tried the other version you mention with the lemon Kool-aid, and wasn't impressed. I already use baking soda and Dawn to clean out my tub/shower and it works better than anything I've ever tried from the store. So this would be right up my alley. I do need to google a bit and find out if I have hard or soft water, I've never known...other than, it's city water.

    Happy Healing of that hand! Planting season is right around the corner ;)

    Michelle Wood
    Holland, MI

    ReplyDelete
  8. I am in a pinch right now! Like you did, I'm scouring the internet for an answer. Thank you for this post! You're a life saver!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. LOL, We had a BIG dinner with company...filled dishwasher, discovered we're out of our dishwasher detergent, came here, got a solution to the problem. I am now going to bed happy knowing I do not have one more chore waiting for me in the morning! Thank you everyone for posting with results so people like me do not have to learn by trial and error !!

      Delete
  9. I agree with Rachel... thank you so much! Ran out of regular soap and needed something as I had a lot of greasy dishes!

    ReplyDelete
  10. just bought a dishwasher and was eager to try it out and had not bougth any detergent, tried this except, being in Iceland, we don't have this "dawn" soap but I gathered from what it says here it is just dish soap, so I used a few drops and some matarsódi (baking soda) lets see what happens!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dawn soap is Fairy liquid in the UK, it could be under Yes, or a different name in Iceland, but they are all made in the same factory in Eastern Europe! I was just browsing through, and i wondered if you still use that recipe, and how clean things come out? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairy_(brand)

      Delete
  11. Okay, I'm trying out your recipe! hope it works :D thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I had been on a mission to find a 'recipe' I can use in my dishwasher, but pretty much gave up. The most common one on the internet, (borax, washing soda, citric acid, salt), leaves an awful film on ALL plastic items and some of my other dishes as well. I have been washing by hand with home made hand washing dish soap, and then running a good rinse in the dishwasher. Will try your baking soda/Dawn combo. Oh how wonderful it will be if this one works for me!

    ReplyDelete
  13. Iv also been looking fur other ways other than the use if vinager as I didn't have any. So very pleased to have found some who has tryed and tested this method.

    So here goes. �� Xxx

    Thanks from the united kindom xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I use White Vinegar in my rinse agent dispenser in dishwasher. Much less expensive than store bought products and does as good as a job too. No spotted glasses even when I do not use the heat drying cycle.

      Delete
  14. Thank you!

    I'm doing this now, with the addition of 3 or 4 drops of tea tree oil.

    ReplyDelete
  15. I am trying this also as I type. Hope it works!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Could I use baking powder instead of baking soda

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Anon, no .. they are two completely different things. Crystal

      Delete
  17. Being one of the few men looking for direction, I came across your site looking for an answer. I have a full dishwasher and an empty detergent box. I've got a couple of boxes of baking soda that have been awaiting use for something, I'll give this a try. Thanks for sharing.

    KM

    ReplyDelete
  18. I tried the dish soap and baking soda recipe several days in a row. My glasses and silverware are now covered in a white film that absolutely won't come off! I tried hand washing them and running them through the dishwasher with real dishwasher detergent! Any ideas????

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Try pouring some lemon juice in the bottom of the dishwasher. It always does a nice job on my dishes!

      Delete
    2. @Anonymous Nov. 30th: you may have hard water. Try adding 1/4 cup of Borax at bottom of dishwasher before starting cycle.
      Today I was practically out of generic Cascade, I watered it down and added the 1/4 cup Borax and it helped tons!

      Delete
    3. Fill your sink with very very hot water and add about 1/4 cup of Ammonia. Let your glasses and cutlery soak in it for a while before PUTTING ON GLOVES! Very important!!! and physically washing them with a cloth or scrubber. Rinse very well and they should be better than before.

      Delete
  19. YAY! Thanks for this! I've eliminated all traditional cleaning supplies from our home (after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, I detoxed me and the house) and I'm running out of my "safe" dishwasher soap. It will take a week to get here and I keep forgetting to order it. I wondered about just using baking soda (I clean with baking soda and vinegar) and I'm SO SO happy you posted this! I have plenty of safe liquid dish soap. Thank you so much! (why don't more ppl do this? it would be so much cheaper and so much better for the water supply!)

    ReplyDelete
  20. Whoa ladies-Not just for you-I often get home before my wife and like her to come home to a as stressless kitchen as possible which obviously includes dishes. Out of detergent and tried this and BOOM clean load. Thanks a bunch

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your wife is one lucky or blessed woman

      Delete
  21. Hi Crystal, Been using borax for a while; seems to help with dwasher remain cleaner.I went to you site as I wanted to find something to use for gold & silver rimmed dishes.
    No brand recommends you put them in the dishwasher. Might your recipe work?

    ReplyDelete
  22. Worked very well for me with well water as she posted. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have well water also did you just use the baking soda and dawn dish soap?

      Delete
    2. I'm glad to hear this because I have a load running right now in hard water! The last thing I need is a white film to deal with! If this works, I'll never buy the expensive stuff again! Thanks so much & hope your hand gets better soon!

      Delete
  23. if smaller amounts of dish soap liquid need to be used or controlled dispensed. Dilute the dish soap with water and place in a spray bottle and squirt in the dishwasher.
    Dude1650

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hi, I would like to try this homemade detergent out, however, my worry is that will this detergent harmful to the dishwasher?

    It has been almost a year after you all have tried this new formula, is there any implication to the dishwasher?

    ReplyDelete
  25. I have been reading so much and everyone says put borax in the bottom of the dish washer.... But I only have the dawn dish soap antibacterial and the baking soda.. Will this be ok? Or do I need other things?

    ReplyDelete
  26. Hi! Tried it last night. I tried the lady's suggestion above to use a 1/2 teaspoon of Dawn (by the way the blue ore green Dawn is the grease-cutting ones). I place baking soda in the top pocket, and borax in the bottom pocket. I got way too much suds. We have soft water, so I discovered a 1/2 teaspoon is too much here. Probably great for the lady with the hard water. We had to dip out some of the suds, because the dishwasher tried too hard to suck them out. The dishes were clean, but they didn't have that dishwasher detergent smell. But that is okay. Anyway, I will definitely do again with 3 - 5 drops. Times are hard, and we run out of things frequently, so very nice to use what we have on hand.
    --JJ

    ReplyDelete
  27. I was scared to use regular dish soap because of the horror stories I have read about over suddsing but after reading your post, the comments and being out of dishwasher detergent I liked the fact about baking soda reducing the suds effect so I tried it out last night. I put a 3 count drop of Palmolive dish liquid in soap dispenser filled with baking soda then in the second dispenser I filled with white vinegar.
    1st reaction very pleased to see no suds seeping out :) 2nd reaction OMG sparkling clean load of dishes. Very impressed especially with the sparkly clean glasses and silverware.
    I will continue to use and save $$$ an added bonus. I think the vinegar is the real booster will see with further use and hope to continue to see thru my sparkling clear glasses
    Thank u

    ReplyDelete
  28. Was in a pinch myself tonight! So glad I found this. Hope it works long term to save on some $$

    ReplyDelete
  29. Same story.. rural.. hard water.. trying for first time. regular user of vinegar, baking soda and Dawn dish liquid. So far so good.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Tried it Like you I probably didn't add enough dawn so will try it again. Super hard well water.. didn't get the results I was wanting even with added vinegar. Just have to rewash the clear stuff. Works as good as any Cascade I've ever used. thanks for the post.

    ReplyDelete
  31. This mixture goes in the tray that latches shut, right? Nothing in the open tray? Excited to try this...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am interested to know also. I usually put soap in both trays so I put this in both trays. I will let you know how it turns out

      Delete
  32. The baking soda will soften the water if you have hard water as well as cut down on the suds. If you have a place for rinse agent (one of those little holes to pour the stuff in and close it with a lid), pour vinegar in there. Vinegar is an excellent rinse agent and prevents spots. The brand and type of liquid dish soap is also important. Cheap-o brands don't suds much, b/c they don't have as much detergent in them (hence they're so cheap). I'm able to fill the entire soap dish with cheap-o dish detergent, and no suds come out of the wash. But, if I fill both pre-wash and normal cups, suds come out of the wash (that's way overkill...lol... only a mistake if you don't learn from it.) For ultra concentrated brands, just fill the dish cup until the bottom is covered (very light layer). Liquid dish soap (and liquid hand soap) make for inexpensive washing detergent replacements, too. Liquid dish soap can't get mixed with bleach, though, so I use it + pinesol (grease cutter) for colors while I use liquid hand soap + bleach for whites & towels.

    On the plus side, if you do put too much liquid dish soap in the washing machine, you'll be able to clean your kitchen floor with all the suds. lol

    ReplyDelete
  33. Crystal, your original article talked about doing this for an extended time to see if you could save some money. What did you learn? (please update the article). Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Crystal, I really like your blog. A lot of good stuff here. This Dishwasher Soap sub was Great when I ran out. The only problem is you say "One of the most common emails I receive is ladies asking if I have a good homemade substitute for dishwasher detergent." Well....... I am not a lady! I am a 50 year old man who stays home during the day and invests in the Stock Market while my wife goes and works for the man. I do house work and 95% of the cooking. I'm not the greatest house keeper, But I try, and you blog has been a great help. Just want to let you know that it is not just "Ladies" who are coming here for info. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  35. Hi Crystal!! Do you have any updates on this?? I'm gonna try this out this week and see what happens. I have used other homemade recipes that left the white film on everything-I strongly feel its the borax that leaves the film for me, I have hard water...I have used a more natural one found here with decent results but I only make it with fruit that is almost gone (I've used lemons limes and oranges- any citris I think will work http://www.mannsmooring.com/?p=939 Yours would seem the most easy one as I always have both items near the sink for hand washing and scrubbing dishes anyway. When I dont make anything I just use SUN from our local 99 center (dollar store) that works well and saves a ton as it's only 99 cents a box. Touch back and let us know if you have any more info on longer term use....THANKS!!

    ReplyDelete
  36. I found the home made version works as long as you put in vinegar as the rinse dispenser !

    ReplyDelete
  37. I ran out of tabs last night so this morning I stumbled across your recipe. Working on it now. I read through the comments and I will try some of these. We have hard water so I was glad to hear of some ideas for that. So excited to be freeing myself to a more natural way!

    ReplyDelete

All messages are moderated. After approval your message will be posted. Thank you for your comments!! Crystal :)