Tips to Avoid Clumping
This detergent will clump because of the citric acid. Here are a few ways to make it clump less.
- Add a teaspoon of rice to the detergent to help absorb moisture.
- After combining ingredients, leave mixture out (without a lid) and stir several times each day for a day or two before storing with a lid.
- Add ½ – 1 teaspoon citric acid separately to each dishwasher load rather than adding it to the detergent.
Some people have had success forming blocks of detergent by using ice cube trays. We have never tried this so we can offer no help here; if you want to try it look to the comments for help.
Note: To answer other common questions we wrote a dishwasher detergent FAQ page to help you better succeed with this recipe.
Cost Savings Breakdown
Prior to making our own, we were using Palmolive eco+ liquid detergent. Here is the cost analysis:
- borax | 76oz = 4.29 | 8oz=.45/batch
- washing soda | 55oz = 2.19 | 8oz=.32/batch
- citric acid | 80oz = 27.00 | 4oz=1.35/batch
- kosher salt | 48oz = 1.99 | 4oz = .16/batch
- total for 24 oz = $2.28/batch
- white vinegar (as rinse agent) | 1gal = 1.79 | 4oz=.06/fill
Use 1 rounded tablespoon of this homemade detergent per load. If you feel it necessary use a heaping tablespoon, but we do not.
- Palmolive® eco+ gel 75 ounce detergent – $3.79 – 28 loads = $0.14 per load
- Homemade powder 24 ounce detergent – $2.28 – 48 loads = $0.05 per load
Here are the cost savings for the homemade rinse agent that goes along with this recipe:
- FINISH® JET-DRY® Rinse Agent 4.22 ounce solution – $3.99 – 1 fill = $3.99 per fill
- White Vinegar as a Rinse Agent 1 gallon solution – $1.79 – 1 fill = $0.06 per fill
That is a huge savings of 6650% on an effective rinse agent. Sounds too good to be true… but it is indeed true! The rinse agent costs just pennies and detergent only half as much.
Note: No time or desire to make your own dishwasher detergent? You can always purchase natural brands like these.
Is Borax Toxic?
After thorough research, I concluded borax is only as toxic as baking soda or table salt; if you ingest it in high quantities, it may make you sick. If you use it as described in our recipes, it poses no toxic threat.
Just make sure you don’t confuse Borax with Boric Acid, the two are NOT the same. Use borax (I recommend 20 Mule Team brand), steer clear of boric acid.
For those of you who want more info, read this excellent Crunchy Betty article where she expounds the toxicity levels of borax; I couldn’t have said it better myself, thanks Betty.
At the end of the day, decide for yourself to use it or not, and afford others the same courtesy.
There you have it folks… simple, easy, and effective homemade dishwasher detergent.
What are you waiting for? Go get started.
References and Resources
- Borax on Wikipedia
- Toxicity reports for Borax on PesticideInfo.org
- Washing Soda (a.k.a. Sodium Carbonate or Soda Ash) on Wikipedia
- International Chemical Safety Card for Sodium Carbonate at the Center for Disease Control
- Sodium Carbonate on the National Center for Biotechnology Information PubChem
- Citric acid on Wikipedia
- Citric acid in the Comparative Toxicogenomics Database at CTDbase.org
- Kosher Salt on Wikipedia