DIY Automatic Dishwasher Soap That’s Naturally Effective

Drive-through windows, microwave ovens and liposuction. These seemingly oddball things share one distinctive quality in common – they cater to our instant gratification society. After all… why wait until tomorrow for something that we can have right here and right now? Part of the pure convenience of living in our current day and age is that we don’t have to break a sweat in order to have access to infinite goods and services that make our lives all the more easy-breezy. Do I hear a ‘heck yeah’ from the peanut gallery?

It wasn’t always that way, though. You’ve probably heard stories from your grandparents about how their parents – just a few relatively short decades ago – would scrub the dirty clothing produced by their household of 7+ people on a washboard… by hand. (On the positive side, that’s a great way to score some seriously enviable Madonna-style guns, but I digress.) Of course, laundry and dish scrub-a-dub-dubbing both scratched the surface of the countless things that our homesteading predecessors had to do manually. Even their basic cleaning supplies had to be whipped up from scratch.

This is the part where you might be anticipating the sales pitch. You know… the bit about how enjoying modern conveniences is one thing, but going full-on DIY is far more hip. In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that I’m a rabid greenie and while I can easily offer you 6 different reasons why making your own automatic dishwasher soap is better for the planet, I’m not going to. What I am going to do is explain why making the switch will positively impact your life.

Aside from the simple satisfaction of creating something handy-dandy with your own two hands, cleaning your dishes with poisonous ingredients is just a really bad idea. Say whaaa? Poison? In my Cascade dishwashing powder?!?! Chemicals such as sodium carbonate and potassium carbonate – both found in conventionally manufactured automatic dishwasher detergents – always seem to have a sneaky way of entering the human body and causing health problems, so why tempt fate? Once you realize just how ridiculously simple it is to make your own naturally effective DIY version, you’ll become a convert and probably even relentlessly woo your friends so they finally join your automatic dishwasher soap cult!

All you really need are a few basic ingredients to get your dishes, utensils and glassware as right as rain again.


Mix the following inside a container with a removable, snap-top lid:

Seriously, that’s it! Add 2 tablespoons per load along with a splash of white vinegar in the rinse chamber of your dishwasher to prevent spots and/or residue. You can even make a fancier version by following the basic recipe above with the addition of several drops of your favorite essential oil (naturally antiseptic tea tree oil is an excellent choice).


Pour the following ingredients into a recycled plastic bottle with a squirt-top and shake until thoroughly incorporated:

  • 2 cups of vegetable-based castile soap (such as Vermont Soap Organics or Dr. Bronner’s)
  • ½ cup of water
  • ½ cup of white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 3 drops of your favorite essential oil

Prior to each use, shake your homemade dishwashing liquid well and then measure out 2 tablespoons per load.

If you’re a DIY diva, don’t forget that you can even make your very own liquid castile soap for this recipe! Time consuming? Yup… a little. Worth it? For the DIY greenie badge alone, definitely. 

Image: Photonoumi

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