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Homemade Dishwasher Soap (Not Detergent)

In my seemingly never-ending pursuit of an acceptable HOMEMADE version of something to clean dishes in the dishwasher…I think I may have finally hit on something GOOD! I’m personally pretty excited…but I’m kinda weird that way. lol.

Yesterday I decided to do a little more research on this subject because I’ve had several people ask recently about a LIQUID dishwasher detergent option. After reading THOUSANDS of websites/blogs and MILLIONS of comments (well it SEEMED like it!)…I still have not found an acceptable homemade liquid version. Yet.

BUT….while I was reading the MILLIONS of comments I came across a “dishwasher recipe” by someone named Babsy that intrigued me enough to give it a try. (thenewhomemaker.com)

It’s not a RECIPE per se (because you don’t need to mix it up beforehand)…but a combination of liquid soap and oxygen bleach, with a vinegar chaser as a rinse aid. Babsy said she used liquid castile soap as the soap part of this recipe…but I tried that and while the dishes/glasses LOOKED pretty clean…there was still a powdery film on them.

I almost gave up at that point….but decided to try the method one more time, this time using Dawn Dish Soap. I was actually a little afraid to open the dishwasher when it was finished because I didn’t think my heart could take another disappointment, but this time I was TICKLED PINK with what I found! All the dishes appeared to be CLEAN, CLEAR and FILM FREE!

Here are some pictures I took to TRY and show the sparkly-ness of the glasses:

Here is the “recipe” I used:

  • 1 teaspoon oxygen bleach (I bought a 5 lb bucket of SUN brand at the Dollar store for about $3, but you can make your own oxygen bleach as well)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dawn dish soap
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar (poured into a bowl or cup on the top rack of the machine)

The nice thing about this is there is no need to mix up a big batch…so there are no clumping/hardening issues to deal with. All you need is a teaspoon to add the oxygen bleach to the dispenser and then you can add the Dawn directly from the squeeze bottle (just eyeball it).

Finally, find a small container that can sit upright in the top basket and fill it with 1/2 cup vinegar. I have been using vinegar as a rinse aid for a long time…but I usually just pour it into the bottom of the dishwasher when I start it up. By putting the vinegar in a bowl or cup, it will overfill as the cycles goes on, and the diluted vinegar will be evenly dispersed throughout the dishwasher.

I know that MANY people put vinegar in the rinse aid dispenser…but I’ve tried that and it hasn’t worked for me.

A word of caution: Don’t use MORE than 1/2 teaspoon of the Dawn dish soap or you could have a sudsy overflow on your hands. That being said, if you peek in the dishwasher during the wash cycle…you WILL see a fair amount of suds. Don’t be alarmed. It’s just “washing” your dishes! It will be gone when the cycle ends.

In conclusion….I realize that this homemade dishwasher cleaning stuff is tricky business! What worked for me may not work for you! But hey…it MIGHT….and if you’re interested….now you know how. 🙂


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    Hi, I’m Jillee!

    I believe we should all love the place we call home and the life we live there. Since 2011, I’ve been dedicated to making One Good Thing by Jillee a reliable and trustworthy resource for modern homemakers navigating the everyday challenges of running a household. Join me as I share homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make life easier so you can enjoy it more!

    Every day I share creative homemaking and lifestyle solutions that make your life easier and more enjoyable!

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