Frugal Tip I Tried: Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent

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I read a lot of magazines, but one of my favorites is All You.  I’ve had a subscription since the beginning, and I keep renewing it over and over.  It has tons of coupons and some great articles.

In the recent issue date November 19, 2010, there was a money saving tip (page 17) to make your own dishwashing detergent.  I’ve read a million frugal make-your-own tips but never tried one until now.

I hate dishwasher detergent.  It smells bad (mostly like chemicals) and the only stuff that cleans really well smells really, really bad.  This seems like a cheap deal.

To make, you need these three items:


I purchased the 20 Mule Team Borax (76 oz) in the laundry section of the store for $3.99.  76 oz = 9.5 cups at $.42 per cup.

Baking Soda

A 4 lb box of Arm & Hammer in the baking section of the grocery store was $2.39 (I would have purchased the store brand, but I wanted a really big box).  4 lbs = 8 cups at $.30 per cup

Kosher Salt

A 13 oz container of Diamond Crystal Kosher Salt was $.99, and was right near the baking soda in the baking section of the store.  13 oz = 3.25 (1/2) cup servings at $.31 per 1/2 cup.

Total for supplies:  $7.37

To make the dishwasher detergent:

1 cup borax  ($.42)

1 cup baking soda (.30)

1/2 cup kosher salt  (.31)

Put all ingredients in a resealable plastic container and shake to mix.  Measure out however much you need for your dishwasher.

This makes 20 oz. of laundry detergent at $1.03 total (the article says $.81 per mixture).  A 20 oz. container of prepared laundry detergent is usually in the neighborhood of $1.89 and up where I live.  That’s a huge savings, and I have enough to make at least 5 more batches.

So does it work? Yes.  Cleans the dishes just as well as prepared detergent with no icky smell.

Is it natural? Yes.  Borax, the components of baking soda, and salt occur in nature.  Borax and baking soda are already recommended for use in clothes washing, and are used for water softening and cleaning dishwashers.  Win-win.

Does it save money? Yes, absolutely.  I could have saved even more money if I hadn’t been buying these items on the fly.  There are coupons available on the website for 20 Mule Team Borax and Arm & Hammer.

Unless I’m out of town or in a hurry and have a dishwasher detergent emergency, I will be making my own detergent from now on.