By now I’ve learned how to make most of my bath, beauty and cleaning essentials myself. But there are still a few products that I’m afraid to mess with. One of which is my dishwasher detergent.

All the online recipes make it sound so easy (and it is!), but I’m not really fan of the results I’ve gotten from DIY powdered detergents. Things like hazy glassware, specks of leftover detergent and remnants of last night’s dinner are a total turn off when I’m unloading the dishwasher. I’ll do everything in my power to avoid them, even it means spending more money on the commercial stuff. But when I stumbled on a recipe for liquid dishwasher detergent, I thought I’d give making my own a go.

The problem with homemade detergent powders is that they don’t always dissolve in the wash. And that means that your dishes often come out dirtier than before. But when you make a liquid detergent, you allow plenty of time for the particles to dissolve, so they break down food more easily and rinse clean. And I must say I’m pleasantly surprised with this homemade liquid dishwasher detergent. Unlike other recipes it actually cleans my dishes with no residue and no lingering grime. And it costs a fraction of the cost of store bought detergents. You can’t go wrong with that.

Homemade Liquid Dishwasher Detergent with Essential Oils

Homemade Liquid Dishwasher Detergent

The active ingredient in most commercial detergents is washing soda, a nontoxic cleaner that helps cut through grease. Add in a little Borax to help raise the water’s pH and create hydrogen peroxide. This in turn removes hardwater deposits and disinfects your dishes. I also use some salt to help mitigate the effects of hard water, but if hard water isn’t a problem for you, feel free to leave it out.

And last but not least, grapefruit and thyme essential oils are used for their antibacterial properties and to add a fresh, clean scent. Then just add water to create a liquid you can keep in a jar or store in an old squeeze bottle by the dishwasher.

Homemade Liquid Dishwasher Detergent with Essential Oils

Most recipes also call for citric acid to add a sparkly shine to dishware. But if you’ve ever made bath bombs, you know what happens when you combine baking soda, citric acid and water. You’re left with a hot mess. I learned the hard way that the same happens if you add citric acid to washing soda. While it can still give your dishes some added shine, make sure to introduce it as a rinse aid later in the wash cycle and not as an ingredient in your detergent.

Homemade Liquid Dishwasher Detergent
  • 1 cup salt
  • ½ cup Borax
  • ½ cup washing soda
  • 1 cup water
  • 10 drops grapefruit essential oil
  • 5 drops thyme essential oil


  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl and whisk to break up clumps as best you can. Transfer to a lidded jar or an old squeeze bottle. Use up to 2 tablespoons per load.
  • If your detergent starts to clump, just add more water and give it a good stir. Or do like I do and simply use it as, clumps and all.

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