This homemade dishwasher detergent for hard water stains is so much better than what I have bought in the store. Since moving to an area that has particularly hard water, and with the mandated formula change to all dishwasher detergents, my dishes are an absolute mess.
They are clean, I promise. But they don’t look very clean, they look cloudy. My glass, my Tupperware even some of my metal items are all cloudy. It has been driving me nuts.
Wanna see how well it works? Here’s my before and after!
And just like magic, my dishes are now clean!! And this is definitely a cost-effective way to wash dishes too.**
How to Make Homemade Dishwasher Detergent for Dishes with Hard Water Stains
(affiliate links included for your convenience, this post has been updated since originally published changes are noted in red)
I found the borax, washing soda and Lemi-shine all at my local Walmart but I have included links so you can just buy them online without having to hunt for them in the store. They were near the laundry and dish soap section that are currently combined at my store because they are in the middle of a remodel. But you should find them in similar places in a similar kind of store. Kosher salt was with the baking items.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir until mixed.
- The citric acid in the Lemi-shine will make everything get a bit hard. The first time I made this I put it directly into my container and it all got really really hard. I had to use a knife to get it out. So I suggest letting this mixture sit out in a bowl for a couple of days, stirring often. You will still get a few little “balls” of detergent, but that is just fine! You just don’t want it all in one big piece! Believe me, this is the best way to go!! ***
- The Lemi-shine suggests running an empty dishwasher cycle with just that in order to clean your dishwasher. I followed their directions for good measure!
- Fill your rinse aid spot with white vinegar. Add a small container with white vinegar in it to the top rack of your dishwasher before running. Don’t put it in your rinse aid compartment! (see this post here for more details, but basically, the vinegar isn’t compatible with the rubber pieces in the rinse aid compartment!) (This is so much cheaper than your typical rinse aid and makes a big difference in how your dishes will turn out!)
- Use 1 tbs of detergent per load of dishes. I do about a 30/70 split with 30% in the pre-wash spot and 70% in the wash spot. If you don’t have a prewash spot, you can put it all in the wash spot.
Tips and Troubleshooting When Making Homemade Dishwasher Detergent for Dishes with Hard Water Stains
*You can experiment with the Lemi-shine amount. The recipes I based this off of called for only 1 cup but said to add more if you have hard water. I have really hard water, so I ended up using 2 cups and my dishes came out sparkly and shiny!! If you can’t find Lemi-Shine, citric acid should work as well and some have had success using a packet of unsweetened yellow kool-aid lemonade. I have never personally tried citric acid or Kool-aid though and be sure not to get colored lemonade as I would worry about it staining…stick with the original yellow kind 🙂
**I have not done my own personal cost analysis, but several other people have who use similar detergent recipes to mine and cost-wise I think they are pretty comparable. That being said, I am estimating my cost per load to be about $0.06. (Which compared to Finish Power Tabs 100 for $15.50 at Costco = $0.15 a load) is a savings.
***For those having issues with the detergent clumping, please be sure to try the following solutions:
- Please be sure to follow my instructions in #2 above and let the mixture sit out in a bowl, stirring occasionally. This solved all of my problems and is a simple solution.
- You can also leave the Lemi-Shine out of the mixture and add it directly to the dishwasher each time.
- Some readers have suggested blending it up, using a silicon packet you find in shoes etc, adding a bit of uncooked rice or putting your detergent into small muffin tins and purposefully letting it harden to create your own tabs. I have never personally tried these and can’t testify to whether or not they work 🙂
This homemade dishwasher detergent for hard water stains is eco-friendly.
If you are looking to decrease the number of chemicals you use in your home, homemade dishwasher detergent is a great option!
I love my sparkly clean dishes!!
Have you found a difference in how clean your dishes get since the dishwasher detergent change?
I did a LOT of research when coming up with my final dishwasher detergent solution and trial and error. This recipe is a combined effort of many sources, much research and a lot of trial and error on my part. But a lot of my final inspiration came from this post here.
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