Detoxing your life and going green is very much in vogue. Using a homemade dish detergent every time you run your dishwasher is a great way to help you further your goals without busting your budget.

Commercial dishwasher detergents – be it powder, liquid or tablets – may not fit into your scheme of a green lifestyle. Dishwasher tablets are also quite expensive, hence the need for a homemade alternative that uses familiar ingredients, is easy to make and costs much less.


make homemade dishwasher detergent

Homemade dishwasher detergent recipes often contain borax, which recently has been under scrutiny due to its potential toxicity. What the studies indicate is that borax or sodium tetra-borate is potentially toxic when consumed in large quantities. The same can be said for baking soda and salt.

When used moderately for cleaning purposes, borax should be safe to use. While borax cleans the dishes more efficiently, we are providing a borax free recipe to make DIY dishwasher detergent pods. So, those of you who do not stand by borax can go with that option.

Here are two methods to make your own homemade dishwasher detergent pods with and without Borax.


Method 1: Use Borax

Borax and washing soda are two of the oldest laundry agents used for generations. Borax cleans and has disinfectant and mild bleaching properties. Washing soda and white vinegar are also effective cleaning agents. White vinegar also helps to bind the ingredients.

Epsom salt makes the detergent effective even in hard water. Food coloring is optional and can be skipped. It simply imparts a color to your detergent cubes. Essential oil imparts antibacterial properties and gives a light fragrance to the detergent.

Things you’ll need:

homemade dishwasher detergent things need

  • Washing soda – 1 cup
  • Borax – 1 cup
  • Epsom salt – ¼ cup
  • White vinegar – ¼ cup
  • Lemongrass essential oil – 8 to 10 drops
  • Food coloring – 3 or 4 drops (optional)

Step 1. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl

combine ingredeints in a bowl to make dish detergent

  • Put 1 cup of washing soda in a bowl.
  • Add 1 cup of borax and ¼ cup of Epsom salt to it.

Step 2. Add white vinegar, essential oil and food coloring

add vinegar, essential oil and food coloring

  • Pour ¼ cup of white vinegar into the bowl. Adding white vinegar will cause fizzing, but it’s nothing to worry about.
  • Add 8 to 10 drops of lemongrass essential oil into the mix.
  • Optionally, add 3 or 4 drops of food coloring as well. We used yellow food coloring, but you can use any color of your choice.

Step 3. Mix the ingredients well

mix the ingredients well

  • Stir all the ingredients thoroughly with a spoon. It is important that the ingredients are properly mixed together. After mixing, you’ll notice that the mixture will start forming clumps.

Step 4. Pack the mixture into an ice cube tray and let it set

put the mixture in ice cube tray

  • Fill an ice cube tray with the mixture.
  • You’ll need to press the mixture down with your fingers or the back of the spoon to pack it tightly into each slot of the tray.
  • Let the mixture set for at least 24 hours in a dry and sunny space, so that it solidifies completely.

Step 5. Pop out the detergent pods

pop out the detergent cubes

  • When the detergent has completely hardened, you can simply pop the pods out of the tray. You may need to remove them one by one to keep them from breaking.

Use the homemade borax detergent pods in your dishwasher.


Store the detergent pods in an airtight jar and use 1 pod for each load of dishes.

homemade dishwasher detergent

Method 2: Without Borax

This borax-free recipe uses washing soda and baking soda, both of which are great at cutting through grease and stains. The citric acid in lemon juice gives the detergent’s cleaning potential a boost. The Epsom salt will make the cleaning easier, even if you have a hard-water supply in your area.

Things you’ll need:

homemade dishwashing detergent without borax things need

  • Washing soda – 1 cup
  • Baking soda – 1 cup
  • Epsom salt – 1 cup
  • Lemon juice – ¼ cup
  • Water – 1 cup

Step 1. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl

combine the dry ingredients to make dish detergent

  • Put 1 cup of Epsom salt in a bowl.
  • Add 1 cup of baking soda followed by 1 cup of washing soda to the bowl.

Step 2. Add lemon juice and water

add lemon juice and water to make dish detergent

  • Pour ¼ cup of lemon juice into the bowl. Lemon juice will cause harmless fizzing in the mixture.
  • Pour in 1 cup of water as well.
  • Mix the ingredients thoroughly.

Step 3. Pack an ice cube tray with the mixture and let it set

pack an ice cube tray with the mixture and let it sit

  • Fill each slot of an ice cube tray with the detergent mix. The mixture should be tightly packed into each slot of the tray.
  • Leave the tray undisturbed in a dry and sunny area for at least 24 hours to let detergent harden.

Step 4. Remove the detergent pods

remove the detergent cubes

  • Carefully pop out the detergent pods from the tray, one by one.

Run your dishwasher with borax-free dish detergent. Store the detergent pods in an airtight jar and use 1 pod for each dishwasher load.

homemade dishwasher detergent


  • If you have sensitive skin, wear gloves while whipping up a batch of the detergent pods.
  • Kosher salt can be used as an effective substitute for Epsom salt in both recipes.
  • Adjust the amount of food coloring according to the shade you desire. You can also create a new color by mixing 2 or more food colors.
  • You can use store-bought citric acid or unsweetened lemonade drink mix instead of lemon juice in the borax-free recipe.
  • You can also use silicon molds or small muffin tins instead of ice cube trays to set the detergent pods.
  • Always make a batch that can easily be used up within 2 months.
  • You can put 2 or 3 drops of regular liquid dish soap or a bowl filled with ½ cup of white vinegar into the dishwasher along with the detergent tablets for more effective results.

Summary of How to Make Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Pods

make dishwasher detergent pods

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