All Natural Homemade Dishwasher Detergent without Borax (and desiccant)

All Natural Homemade Dishwasher Detergent without Borax (and desiccant)

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent is really easy to make, and there are a lot of recipes out there. Lots of them contain borax. There is a lot of controversy over the safety of borax. As a popular ingredient in many natural recipes, the debates can get pretty heated. I personally resonated with this article from Crunchy Betty (borax is not the same as boric acid)… and I still occasionally use borax for some cleaning purposes. And when I first started making my own homemade dish detergent I used a recipe that called for borax.

For the most part I was really happy with the homemade dishwasher detergent recipe. It did the job. It was easy to make. It was a lot more natural than the commercial stuff I was previously using. And it was pretty frugal, to boot. But I did notice that it left a strange film on the few plastic items we use. (Still working on getting the plastic out completely. Baby steps.) I didn’t feel great thinking about my little girl consuming borax… even in tiny amounts.

After some research and testing, I was able to make a homemade dishwasher detergent recipe without borax. And it works just as well. Maybe even better, actually. And since I’m still not entirely convinced about the safety of borax, why not skip it. Right?

But before you make your homemade dishwasher detergent:

One thing I noticed about this dishwasher recipe, compared to my borax one, is that the mixture did clump up. Luckily, making your own desiccant is super easy. A desiccant absorbs the moisture that is in the container, keeping the intended product drier and less clumpy. Depending on the humidity level in your home, some of your home homemade cleaning products may need a desiccant to keep them from clumping. (Things like powdered laundry detergent or dishwasher detergent).

So are you ready to make some toxic-free, borax-free homemade dishwasher detergent and desiccant? Good! These are just two of the 70 recipes you’ll find in my ebook Toxic Free. Check it out for more great resources to toxic-free living.


Have you tried making homemade dishwasher detergent yet?

Learn how to make homemade dishwasher detergent without borax. 


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About the author

Hi! I'm and I’m passionate about healthy living: feeling nourished, having energy, getting good sleep, and feeling strong. I believe healthy living does not have to be complicated or stressful. I’m a Registered Somatic Movement Therapist (RSMT) and a Certified Laban/Bartenieff Movement Analyst (CLMA). I’m also an avid researcher and love to read about nutrition, the body, and toxic-free living. Learn more.

View all articles by Robin Konie


  1. Rachel

    Thank you!!! I’ve been needing a new dish detergent recipe! Question – will this work if you wash dishes by hand and let it dissolve in your dishwater?

    1. Post author

      That’s a great question, Rachel! I honestly don’t know as I’ve never tried it. If you do that sort of thing with normal powdered detergent it would probably work just as well I’d guess.

    1. Post author

      OH man… that’s a good question. Let’s be honest, pretty much EVERYTHING is toxic at certain levels. Water can kill you if you drink too much. Baking soda (and washing soda) can be very toxic if you use too much… but the amount in this recipe is hardly anything I’d worry about.

  2. Heather@Mommypotamus

    Bah, I just came across this article that says it’s impossible to know if Vitamin C is GMO after it’s been processed : /

    “It’s a difficult and lengthy process to test before the processing,” said Larry Cunningham, a spokesman for the world’s largest grain processor, Archer Daniels Midland of Decatur, Ill.

    “Then by the time the acids and enzymes and heat and so forth are applied, it makes it impossible to detect any evidence of biotechnology.”

    The company I just mentioned tests after processing, so that’s no good. I buy acerola powder for internal use, but that would be way too expensive to use in a cleaner. Looks like this company ( has a GMO-free,corn free version but again it’s too pricey. Can anybody recommend a good non-GMO source for Vitamin C?

    1. Post author

      Oh man, that stinks! Let me look into it and see if I can find one. Thanks for the heads up, Heather. You are always so on top of things! :)

      1. Heather@Mommypotamus

        Hmmm, it looks like my first comment didn’t go through but my second one did . . . so sorry for the lack of context.

        Basically just said that I use acerola powder for internal use but I’d been avoiding most Vitamin C since I learned the majority of it is made from GMO corn. Then I came across a company that says their Vitamin C isn’t derived from GM sources and wanted to pass it along, only to realize their testing is inadequate according to the Organic Consumers Association. So bummed!

        1. Post author

          Oh nuts. I hate it when comments get lost in my spam folder. (Which is what I’m guessing is what happened.)

          The vitamin C thing bums me out… not only because it’s hard to know what to brand to trust, but also because if we didn’t allow GM foods we wouldn’t have to worry about dumb things like this. Thanks for the heads up, Heather!

        2. Emm

          I use organic black cherry powder for vitamin C and as an anti-inflammatory for fibromyalgia and arthritis. I couldn’t stomach the taste of acerola.

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  9. Lindsay K

    I have been using this detergent for a few weeks, and at first, I loved it! Then, a film started to form on the dishes, and they didn’t get as clean. I use vinegar as a rinse, and that still isn’t preventing the film. Any suggestions? I’ve just been hand washing while trying to figure out what’s going on. Thanks!

    1. Post author

      Hi Lindsay,

      Do you know if you have hard water or not? I’d start first by running an empty load with some vinegar and a couple lemon peels. You can play with adding a little more salt if hard water is your issue… or more citric acid as it’s a natural rinse aid, too. Let me know if any of those help.

      1. Rachelle

        I’m having the same issue– it was fantastic at first– better than any of the “natural” dish detergents I’ve tried lately, but now everything is coming out cloudy, which is totally bumming me out. We don’t have hard water, so that isn’t the problem here. I’ll try adding more salt to the mix and see if that makes a difference, because I really don’t want to go back to store bought who-knows-what-is-really-in-this detergents.

        1. Post author
          Robin Konie

          Hmmmm… yeah, play around with the mixture a bit. More salt or maybe more citric acid will help with the cloudy issue.

        2. Lisa

          Apparently it’s the aluminium in pots that causes the milkiness on glass. It’s been suggested to wash glasses and aluminium separately.

          1. Jacqui

            Lisa, I never wash my pots in the washing machine. It consists of glassware, china, and stainless steel silverware and I still get water spots and cloudy milky looking stains.:-(

  10. Dani

    Riddle me this,
    Can I use Kosher Salt? Is Sea Salt a must? I realize that it has more minerals than kosher, but just checking! Thanks in advance,

  11. RN

    I normally resist the temptation of leaving a comment on a blog, but I couldn’t this time because this is my second time brought to your website.

    The first time was when I was looking for information about liquid intake. You wrote on the topic, detailing how your habit of water intake—too much and too frequent—was affecting your health and how changing it made a difference. One of the comments left on the blog was, I thought, nasty and also baseless. Then you wrote a very thoughtful response to it. I was impressed!

    Thank you for the dishwasher detergent recipe. It’s been working pretty well. Keep up with the good work!

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  13. Taylor

    I was looking at this recipe and your borax-free laundry detergent recipe, and I noticed you use BOTH washing soda AND baking soda. Is there a purpose behind that? I thought the washing soda and baking soda work as a water softener, and that baking soda is not nearly as effective, therefore washing soda should be used instead? Is there another purpose for the baking soda? Also, what is the purpose of the salt in the laundry detergent? I have been using a recipe that is just soap and washing soda, so I’m not sure what the salt and citric acid are for.

    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      I like the subtle difference in what baking soda and washing soda do, but you could easily just use one or the other. The salt also helps soften the water and provides a bit of abrasive agitation action. The citric acid helps brighten and whiten (without bleaching colors.)

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  15. Jennifer

    Hi there. Thanks for the recipe, I’ve been slowly replacing all my household cleaning products and most of my personal care and beauty products with homemade alternatives as they run out.
    I had a question in response to Heather’s info regarding GMO’s. For use in a cleaner, would the fact that the Vitamin C came from a GMO source matter all that much? I understand that the cleanser is being used on dishware, but I would think it’s ultimately getting washed away. I don’t know much about the ways in which GMO’s effect the body so I just wasn’t sure whether or not a small bit of residue may be toxic. Thank you!

    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      It probably won’t matter much. I hate to buy GMOs for any reason, but sometimes it’s hard to avoid and this is an instance where I try not to stress too much about it.

  16. Debby

    I have been making my homemade laundry soap and dish detergent and dish washer soap to… I’ve been using the DIY ones but it doesn’t do good when it comes to cutting grease for pot and pans.. and other things that get of the things i don’t like about it…besides reading about what you say about the borax…I have your recipes now and will be using them instead now… does your recipes cut the grease???? also I found that using DIY recipts… to keep your glasses and silverware from the film everyone is talking about i put vinegar in my dishwasher in the rinse compartment container and that helps…your glasses come out shiny and silverware to shiny So Does your recipes cut the grease?? Is what I’d like to know and if for regular dishes done by hand ? by dish washer? and or by washing machine? and would i still need the vinegar in the dish washer? thx..i signed up for your site and will be coming back a lot !!! Keep up the good work…finally i found maybe a better site i was looking for !!! God Bless !!! Thank you !! :-) :-)

    1. Post author
      Robin Konie

      I haven’t had an issues with grease, but a lot with depend on your water and dishwasher. I’d still do a vinegar rinse, but may I suggest putting the vinegar in a small cup or container and placing that in the top shelf (right side up, of course). Vinegar can damage your dishwasher by putting it in the rinse compartment. You can also try adding a few drops of lemon essential oil to help with grease… or a lemon peel. Good luck! :)

  17. Hollieann

    Great to see another recipe without Borax. It is very toxic and not at all friendly to the environment. In the European Union, Borax is listed as a toxic substance. All products manufactured in, or imported into Europe containing more than 6.5% of Borax Pentahydrate are labelled as “Toxic”. You need a special permit to get access to it, here in Sweden, as it is known to be toxic for the environment and a hormone disrupter. This goes for all forms.

    About rinsing agents and potential harm to your dishwasher, call your manufacturer and ask them. Many rinsing agents have vinegar in them. I called Miele, and they told me my model would handle vinegar in its rinse compartment just fine.

    Now to go check out the rest of your blog :)

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  19. anne

    Hi Robin! I saw that your previous detergent recipe did not include the soap. I haven’t gotten any yet and am wondering if I can use prep it all and use it as listed above with the exception of no castille soap (until I get it). Would that work? Thanks!!! LOVE your site! I’m making this and your deo. today!! : )


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  21. Sarah

    I normally put vinegar in the rinse aid compartment, but wasn’t aware of the possibility of it affecting the dishwasher, so I will probably stop doing that- thanks for the heads up! However, if I start putting it in a cup on the top rack of the dishwasher, will it all come out during the wash cycle rather than the rinse cycle? I just worry that if the vinegar emptied during the wash cycle, it would react with the baking and washing soda and neutralize and not really help rinse residue during the rinse cycle. I have tried to think through this a few times because I am still getting residue on my dishes and thought perhaps my rinse aid compartment wasn’t releasing enough vinegar to cut the residue.

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