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Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Extender

>17 September 2009
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homemade dishwasher detergent recipe

Here’s a great way to extend your dishwasher detergent, and really get more for your money!

Mix 1 cup Borax and 1 cup Baking Soda

Add the 2 cups of that mixture to 2 cups of store bought powder detergent.

Use 2 Tbsp of this mixture in your dishwasher.

*Though I have never had a problem, I’ve read of others getting cloudy residue on their dishes after using a mixture similar to this. (It may depend on the brand of detergent you use.) If you seem to be getting a residue buildup, try using 1 Tbsp mixture.

Rinse with white vinegar (instead of Cascade or something) for sparkling clean glasses!

I store mine in an empty Cappuccino container from Costco. It has a scooper that is exactly 2 Tbsp, perfect for this purpose!

I did a cost breakdown for those like me who like to know the savings. Here are my costs:

Borax (4 lb 12 oz) $2.56 at Walmart

Baking Soda (12 lbs) $5.19 at Costco

Cascade (125 oz) $9.39 at Costco

Notice, one box of Cascade costs $9.39. To make the same amount (125 oz) of dish detergent using the above recipe it would cost you about $6.20.

Savings: $3.19!

For those who want to see how it’s all calculated (this would be helpful if your ingredients cost something different from mine), here is how I did it. I’ll try not to get you too lost!!…

1. Convert from oz to cups

2. Know: Baking Soda has 2 cups per lb

3. Know: 1 cup = 16 Tbsp


The Borax has 9.5 cups = 152 Tbsp

The Baking Soda has 24 cups = 384 Tbsp

The Cascade has about 15.5 cups = 248 Tbsp

Use the following equation to figure out how much each ingredient costs you:

16 Tbsp x (full price of product) ÷ (total Tbsp in product) = Price/cup

*Remember to round your answer up or down

*Don’t forget that you’re using 2 cups of Cascade, so multiply your answer by 2.

My costs:

Borax: 16 x $2.56 ÷ 152 = $0.27/cup

Baking Soda: 16 x $5.19 ÷ 384 = $0.22/cup

Cascade: 16 x $9.39 ÷ 248 = $0.61 (x2) = $1.21/ 2 cups

Then add them all up.

Mine totals $1.70. Remember this is for 4 cups of the mixture of all three ingredients.

Now find how much it costs per Tbsp:

*Remember the recipe above calls for 4 cups total

*Know: 4 cups = 64 Tbsp

*Remember: We’ll be using 2 Tbsp of the mixture for each dishwasher load


2 Tbsp x (total cost for 4 cups of ingredients ) ÷ 64 Tbsp = cost/ load

My cost:

2 x $1.70 ÷ 64 = $0.05/load

Compare cost of Cascade by itself with the cost of the mixture:


248 Tbsp ÷ 2 (since we use 2 Tbsp per use)= 124 uses

124 uses = $9.39 (cost to buy it at store)

Homemade Mixture:

124 uses x $.05 (our cost per load) = $6.20 (cost to make it)

So, you can see that it would save us a difference of approx. $3.19 per 124 uses.

I’m no mathematician, so there may have been an easier way to do this. But this works for me.

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  • Jessica said:

    I am confused as I was told to use washing soda, not baking soda. Does it work using baking soda?

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:

    Hi Jessica!

    I use baking soda. I don’t know about washing soda… maybe it works?! But I do know that baking soda works really well!

  • Rebecca said:

    I have used a washing soda and borax recipe before (only I didn’t add any store bought soap to it). It worked, but after a few weeks, the glasses started looking cloudy. We have hard water, and that was the culprit. Mineral deposits.

    I was told adding some citric acid (in the canning section of the store) or Koolaid lemonade packets (contain citric acid and won’t stain your dishwasher). The acidity will help keep the hard water spots or cloudiness from forming on the surface of the glasses.

    You could also just wash with store bought dishwasher detergent every few loads. I find that is enough to keep the cloudiness away.

  • Lanna said:

    Washing soda and baking soda are two different animals. I don’t believe washing soda is edible.

    The homemade stuff would only work depending on how soft your water is or if you have minimal minerals in your water. We have *major* calcium among other things in our water, so even with our Electrosol and Jet-Dry in our dishwasher, I have to do a pre-rinse with a dash of citric acid. Even tried using distilled vinegar instead of Jet-Dry, no dice. Otherwise we get cloudy mineral build-up within a day or four. My only other option would be to hand-wash every. single. dish. and mama’s too lazy for that, at least until the kids are old enough or I stop canning and cooking from scratch for most of our meals.

  • Kendra at New Life On A Homestead (author) said:


    Yeah, that makes sense. We have well water, but I think we have something in it to soften the water. I can see how this recipe would work differently for different people.

  • Siska said:

    I don’t know if it makes a difference, but one time I was out of dishwashing detergent and didn’t have time to do dishes by hand. I just grabbed the borax out of the laundry room and put about 1 tbsp in each compartment for soap and let ‘er rip. When I came back, I found my dishes to be nice and clean. Amazing for just using Borax.

    However, I don’t think that using just borax alone will work for more than a few times. There’s just not enough enzymes in borax to do the job permantely.


  • Denise said:

    Does anyone have a recipe for dish soap. I don’t have a dish washer (just me and my rubber gloves) and I do alot of dishes. I make my own laundry soap, cleaners, and fabric softener but have not found a dish soap recipe. Thanks

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