Answering Your Questions: Homemade Dishwasher Detergent



One of the homemade recipes I’ve been testing, using, and learning about over the past few years is homemade dishwasher detergent.  It’s also one of the recipes that brings me a good amount of questions from readers because it can be a somewhat finicky and frustrating mixture that can leave us wondering if others are dealing with the same issues.

So today I thought I would share a few more things I’ve learned about homemade dishwasher detergent, as well as answer some of the Frequently Asked Questions that have been coming my way.

Let’s take a look:

FAQ about homemade dishwasher detergent

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent FAQ:

Q:  What recipe are you using for homemade dishwasher detergent?

A:  The current recipe I’m using (and the recipe I’ve been the most happy with and plan to keep using) is a mixture of  borax, washing soda, kosher salt, and a product called Lemi Shine.  (You can read more and get the recipe here:  Homemade Dishwasher Detergent.) Lemi Shine is a dishwasher detergent additive that helps get rid of hard water spots and cloudy films.


Q:  Where do I find Lemi Shine?  I looked around and couldn’t find it.

A:  I was able to find Lemi Shine at my local Walmart and have also seen it at my local Meijer grocery store.  It’s sold by the other dishwasher detergents, rinse aids, etc.  If you can’t find it at a local store, it’s also available on Amazon however you might pay slightly more for that option.  Here’s the Amazon link: Lemi Shine Original


Q:  Your recipe says to let the mixture set out and start to clump up and get grainy.  My mixture didn’t do that.  What went wrong?

A:  Because homemade dishwasher detergents always tend to clump up and turn hard, the instructions for this recipe were after mixing everything together, to let the mixture set out for a few days and keep stirring it and breaking up the clumps until you were left with a grainy mixture that stopped clumping.  BUT, I also had a mixture that didn’t turn clumpy or grainy during this initial process!  I believe it’s all dependent on the amount of humidity in the air.  When I make this in the summer, it gets grainy just fine.  In the winter, it doesn’t. So if your mixture isn’t clumping or turning grainy, it’s nothing you did.  It’s related to the humidity.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent


Q:  So can I go ahead and start using it even if it didn’t get clumpy at first?  What if it does start clumping up?

A:  Yes, you can go ahead and start using it, but if the mixture is in a new place that does have higher humidity, it might start getting harder and forming clumps.

The best solution for this that I’m using is to NOT put the mixture in a container for pouring.  Instead put the mixture in some sort of container with a tight fitting lid that allows you to keep stirring the mixture easily whenever you want to.  As much as I liked my homemade pour spout container at first, I’m currently using a Rubbermaid container instead and keeping a little plastic spoon in it.  This allows me to keep stirring it and breaking up any clumps as needed.  Instead of pouring the homemade dishwasher detergent into my dishwasher, I just spoon some into the compartment instead.

homemade dishwasher detergent

Q:  What if my homemade dishwasher detergent turned really hard?  Can I still salvage it?

A:  You will probably have to get it out of whatever container you had it in and then find some way to smash it up.  I wrote a little bit about this before as it relates to borax and washing soda (What To Do About Clumpy and Hard Borax and Washing Soda).   Readers have told me they use things like potato mashers and meat grinders to try to get them powdery again.  I have a broken wooden spoon that I use like a paddle for smashing down on clumps.  Once you have the hardest clumps broken down, you can also put the mixture through a food processor to try to make it powdery again – BUT when you open your food processor you might have a powdery dust cloud that comes wafting up so be careful not to get your face right in there so you don’t get it up your nose.  If you are able to salvage the mixture, transfer it to a container as mentioned above where you can keep stirring it.


Q:  Will this mixture damage my dishes or my dishwasher?

A:    This is a very valid concern as dishes and dishwashers cost money (especially dishwashers!)  I’m happy to say that everything is going just fine and I have not had any scratched or damaged dishes, nor have I seen any damage to my dishwasher.  In fact the Lemi Shine in this mixture does a very nice job of making the dishes feel smooth, shiny, and clean.


I hope this closer look at homemade dishwasher detergent has been helpful.  I do still think it can be a money saver and that it performs well.

And even though I gave those nice detailed answers above, I think the solutions to most homemade dishwasher detergent problems can be summed up this way:

Keep Stirring, folks.  Keep Stirring.



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  1. Can I use more than 1tbs if I’m running a large load, or will 1tbs be enough to clean all the dishes? Is it possible to use the detergent right away, or do I need to wait a few days for it to clump?

  2. Hi!
    The only issue I have found with Lemi Shine, do not use it on enamel. I have cast enamel and some enamel strainers. It dulls the enamel! I just make certain I hand wash all enamel dishes.

  3. What I’ve been doing because we have amazingly hard water here is I buy the cheapest stuff that Walmart sells and then mix it with Washing Soda and Borax.

    For every cup of the detergent I mix in 1/2 cup of Washing Soda and 1/2 cup of Borax.

    Obviously this is not really as frugal as your recipe but I’ve tried all other variations and none of them worked. 🙁

    Instead of LemiShine (which I can’t get here where I live) I just put in a few drops of Lemon Essential Oil at the beginning of the cycle. So far this is the best solution I have come up with.

  4. I live in SE Alabama. We had some hard water leaving lots of spots & mineral deposits. I mixed up the borax/washing soda combo & had to slowly reduce the borax to nothing to prevent cloudy dishes. Now it’s washing soda, kosher salt, citric acid, & ice cream salt. I added the ice cream salt as a scrubbing agent. I rinsed the dishes before putting in the dishwasher, but missed some spots & the missed spots were noticeable. I’ve not noticed any scoring on the dishes or plastic, just shiny clean dishes. Love your blog! Thank you for all the valuable info.