Natural Homemade Liquid Dishwasher Detergent

February 16th, 2010 - filed under: The Farm » Home


A few months back I posted a recipe for a powdered dishwasher detergent. I got a ton of positive feedback, and the recipe seemed to work great for most of my readers. However, there was a subset left unsatisfied – which is totally unacceptable to me!

I had requests for a liquid version, as some machines will only do well with liquid. As well, my readers with hard water were experiencing less-than-stellar results. I knew I had more work to do . . .

And here’s my answer! An all-natural, all green, liquid dishwasher detergent that *should* stand up to hard water. (I say ‘should’ because I haven’t tested it myself – I don’t have hard water. But I’ve corrected for the issue as best I understand the chemistry of it. You’ll have to let me know how it works!)

Sayward’s Homemade Liquid Detergent Recipe

1 1/2 cups water
1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
1/4 cup liquid castile soap
2 tablespoons pure lemon juice (not concentrate)
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon washing soda
**10-15 drops antibacterial essential oil, if using an unscented castile

extra white vinegar for the rinse cycle

In a small saucepan, combine water and vinegar over medium heat. Bring to just boiling and then reduce to low heat. Add each additional ingredient, one at a time, whisking as you go. Make sure everything is dissolved before removing from heat.

Allow to cool and then transfer to a storage container. When completely cooled the solution will separate into two layers, so shake it up real good before use.


I use 2-3 tablespoons per load. I also fill the machine’s rinse indicator with white vinegar – a very important step. Don’t skip this part! It will keep the dished ‘soap-scum-free’ and extra sparkly.

Enjoy, and happy green dishwashing!

  • plumer’s wife

    I am a plumber’s wife and he ONLY recommends liquid detergents for dish washer or laundry. The powder form will eventually turn back into a solid powder form that is more like concrete in your plumbing. Not good for you or your local plumber. Just an FYI.

  • Amy

    okay i like made a big batch of this and my dishes came out so cloudy. I used vinger for the rinse..what did I do wrong? And is there a way to salvage what i made? We have really hard water here. Do you think adding Lemonshine or citric acid to the receipe would help?

  • Snarky Navy Wife

    If you can stomach shopping at Target, I’ve seen Dr. Bronner’s there. I’ve also seen it at Kroger in the pharmacy aisles, so your local grocery might have it (just not shelved with…you know…soap).

  • MaddieLoo

    Hi there, I have LOTS of questions….Are you ready???
    1.Is there a cleaning difference between table salt vs. Kosher salt for the dishwasher detergent recipe?
    2. I have soft water, do I need to alter the dishwasher det. recipe?
    3. Can I use the homemade dishwasher detergent for those times I want to wash some dishes by hand? Because I just went out and bought all the ingredients for a dishwasher detergent recipe I found on another site, it uses mostly all of the same ingredients.
    I couldnt find the “Castile” soap in our little grocery store, maybe they were out.(anyway… could I alter the disherwasher recipe to make it work as dish soap?)

    Here are the ingredients- super washing soda, borax, baking soda, white vinegar and 3 essential oils, tea tree ( to disinfect , the recipe said), lime( for the citric acid, can I use an essential oil instead of a food-grade citric acid?) and lavender ( for the scent). I bought the oils for some other cleaner recipes. But maybe one or all would work for a dish soap recipe too.??
    I appreciate your willingness to experiment !! Thank you so very much, cant wait to find out what you came up with!
    Getting ready to GO GREEN…

  • Tiffany Brower

    I found the Castile bar soap in my Wal-Mart, it was with all the other body wash and bar soaps. Not with the laundry soaps. But i never found the liquid castile soap. Not sure if u could use the bar soap and just melt it down, cause thats what i do to make my baby wipes

  • Sayward Rebhal

    1. Not sure, but I think any salt will do.
    2. I don’t have soft water so I can’t say for sure. If you read through the comments though, here’s a lot of discussion from people who have both hard and soft water.
    3. I wouldn’t use the dishwasher detergent as a handwashing soap. You can order castile soap online for super cheap – check sites like Amazon (there’s a few links in my store if you want)

    I’m not sure the essential oil will actually contain citric acid. I’d look into that, but I’m thinking it wouldn’t have any citric acid in effective quantity.

  • Amanda

    Where can I find Castile Soap and essential oils?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Health food store/co op, or online! Amazon has great prices.

  • Abaker115

    Target carried Castile soap, it is located in the aisle near Burt’s Honey Beauty items.

  • Rgilchrist

    You should never mix castile soap and an acid (vinegar, lemon juice). It’s not a toxic combination, but the castile soap is a base and the vinegar and/or lemon juice is an acid. They will completely cancel each other out. In fact, the acid will break the soap down back to it’s original oils and end up causing a gross, greasy mess which will end up on whatever you’re cleaning with it. Sad, but true. I got this information from Dr. Bronner’s website.

  • Reesercolvin

    Nellie’s NLS-100T All Natural Laundry soda is not animal tested and can be found on

  • Flamechica

    FYI It says on Dr. Bronner’s site not to mix Castile Soap with Vinegar or Lemon Juice. It says you will end yo with an oily curdled mess, which may be why some people have mixed results. You can read the article about it here:

  • Amy T

    I’ve read to not mix vinegar and/or lemon juice with the castile soap? It’s even on the Dr. Bronner’s website:

  • Brandi

    can you use this as liquid dish detergent as well as dishwasher detergent?

  • Vee

    The castile soap has oils in it, as far as I know. It is not recommended for septics either b/c it builds up in the pipes. Wa, wa, I so wanted to try this!

  • facebook-37524428

    I’ve seen it at market basket if you have one in your area. But I’m going to try and find some at my local dollar store before I buy it there. I would save so much if I bought it at Walmart but I am trying to shop there less and less.

  • facebook-37524428

    I think it depends on the order you mix the ingredients.

  • Paige R

    just ordered a 50lb bag for $9!! THank you for this!

  • Paige R

    Did it stay like that? or did it eventually separate? I make a lot of these products I find for gifts & things & I would feel better about it if it were less separated.

  • Joann

    Hve you heard of soapnuts? I use them for hair shampoo, laundry soap, dishsoap, dishwasher, clean windows, etc etc….and they are so cost effective. Go ahead, I dare you, google it!!!!

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  • Puzzled

    I thought you just said don’t mix castile soap with vinegar and or lemon, but your recipe for dish washing soap has lemon and vinegar in it…..confused with this!!!!