Jessica: Dishwasher detergent is expensive! This is another one of those things that is so stupidly easy to make that once you figure it out, you can't believe you ever paid for it. Especially if you also make your own laundry detergent, because chances are you already have nearly everything you need on hand!
You will need:
2 Cups Borax
1 1/2 Cup Washing soda
3 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Cup Lemi-shine
Simply measure out all the ingredients into your container (I re-used my old dishwasher detergent packaging) and mix together well. That's it! Just pour it in the soap dispenser in your dishwasher just like normal. You can use 1-2 Tbsp per load depending on how dirty the load is.
If you like you can also add two drops of Dawn dish soap in with the powder, just to help things get really streak-free. And I also use good old vinegar in our rinse aid compartment. Poof! Now you have cheap DIY dishwasher detergent. Your dishes won't notice a difference but your wallet will thank you!
Hilary: I actually used a slightly different "recipe" since I have hard water where I live!
For a hard water recipe, you will need:
2 cups borax
2 cups washing soda
1 cup kosher salt
1 1/2 cup Lemi-shine
Measure out the ingredients into a container (I used an old juice pitcher since I like pouring the powder into our dishwasher). Put the lid on and shake it! You can use the same amount - 1-2 Tbsp per load.
I've seen several cost breakdowns, but in general, homemade dishwasher detergent costs about $.05 a load (compared to super cheap detergent which doesn't clean as well - $0.07 a load or the pricier stuff at $0.14-$0.29 a load).
For me, even though the cost per load difference isn't as dramatic as other homemade products, it is still worth making my detergent myself. I always have borax, washing soda and kosher salt in the cupboard, so buying a small thing of Lemi-shine every few months means that I don't have to spend $10-$15 on dishwasher detergent in a single shopping trip. Even if you have to buy everything from scratch, you'll be able to make multiple batches from the borax, washing soda and salt and it is still cheaper to make! I made a huge amount of detergent (about 96 loads) for $3.66 (the cost of the Lemi-shine). Definitely worth it!
We'd love to hear about your experiences with homemade dishwasher detergent! Any gripes or changes you've made that make it awesome?