home + garden

Automatic Dishwasher Detergent That’s Sort of Homemade

Go Gingham Dishwasher Detergent

When I began this “get rid of our toxic cleaning supplies” and consumer products journey, I thought that I would be making all of our cleaners. What I’ve found is that there are products out there that meet my first two criteria: good for you and good for the environment, but they didn’t always hit my last criteria which is: good for the pocketbook. I want it all!

The store bought, automatic dishwasher detergent I used in this “recipe” gets an “A” on the rating scale from the Environmental Working Group (EWG) but even when I bought it on sale, it still cost more than every other brand. It could use a little stretching to make it hit my final criteria – “good for the pocketbook.”

Sometimes “stretching” can mean using less of the product itself. A lot of times, manufacturers suggest we use more of their product than we really need to (imagine that!). Mixing in another ingredient to make something less expensive can really bring down the cost-per-use and is another trick of mine around the house. I did both of these in this sort-of-homemade automatic dishwasher detergent and the result is working out quite well.

Eco Frugal Dishwasher Detergent
An old gravy spoon is our dishwasher detergent scoop. It works and is kept in the old coffee can.

This falls under the category of “sort-of homemade.” I’m mixing 2 store bought ingredients together.

Automatic Dishwasher Detergent

By purchasing Seventh Generation dishwashing detergent – powder (not liquid) and adding regular old baking soda – the same used for making a baking soda shaker for cleaning at the kitchen sink, my sort-of homemade mix is easy to make and gets our dishes squeaky clean.

Ingredients – think equal parts here –

  • 45 ounces – about 5 1/2 cups of Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwasher Detergent (free and clear) – 1 box
  • baking soda – about 5 1/2 cups – same amount of baking soda as the 1 box of detergent


In a large enough container, add 1-cup dish-washing detergent then add 1-cup baking soda. Switch back and forth until dish-washing detergent box is empty. This will make it easier to mix together. Place lid tightly on container and shake until well combined.

Seventh Generation recently changed their packaging since the last time I made this. Previously, it had 4 cups in the box. This time when I made this mixture, there were about 5 1/2 cups in the box. If it changes again, just do equal parts.

My automatic dishwasher detergent has lasted 6-months and counting. By using about 1-Tablespoon in the dishwasher, it has lasted a long time and the dishes are clean. The environment in our kitchen is also better for us and what’s going down our drain is much less toxic, too.

We keep the automatic dishwasher detergent in a metal coffee can with a lid under the kitchen sink. Inside the can is an old spoon. It’s just the right size.

If you want to know about the rinse aid we use, you’ll find it here (rinse aid alternative). It’s inexpensive and our dishes are clean and sparkly.

The bottom line for this “recipe” is that by mixing 2 “store bought” ingredients together and stretching them, my bottom line saw improvement and the criteria I set forth were hit: good for you, good for the environment, and good for the pocketbook.

Dishwasher Detergent Go Gingham

I like Seventh Generation’s way of doing business and respect their commitment to the environment. Look in the health food section of your market or grocery store to find them.

Are you trying to reduce the amount of chemicals in your home?

Go Gingham related links:

Cute and clean for the kitchen: make a baking soda shaker for soaking those stubborn pots and pans
The mop cover is a re-purposed t-shirt: how to make a mop cover
Rethinking our cleaning and laundry detergents – feeling duped
Cleaning and laundry detergent – progress on our switch over!
Creamy-dreamy hand soap – good for you, good for the environment, and good for the pocketbook

Other related links:

The Environmental Working Group (EWG), is an online, independent resource for consumer health products, lists all of what’s in our cleaning supplies and laundry detergents. They also share which ingredients have been banned in other countries, but not here. They rate the products based on their ingredients. It’s important to note that the EWG does not endorse any products or brands. I am not associated with them but I really like the work they do.

Disclosure: I have not received any compensation for writing this post and have no material connection to either brand or company listed above. This is being disclosed in accordance with the FTC’s guidelines.

9 thoughts on “Automatic Dishwasher Detergent That’s Sort of Homemade

  1. OK! This is great to know. My local grocery chain stopped carrying the powdered version of the Seventh Generation. Then I started finding it marked way down on their clearance shelves and I just kept buying it. I’m thinking I might not have to buy dishwasher detergent for many, many years now. Thanks for posting this!


  2. I would love to try this, but…… we were about to throw out all our dishes and glassware when it finally dawned on me that it was a hard-water coating on everything. It clicked when I noticed the same white crud in the cat’s water bowl and it doesn’t go through the dishwasher very often. We have seriously hard water. So, I have to use Finish Quantum and it works to break up the hard water stains. I wish I could go homemade on this since I run the dishwasher every day. But, it’s either Finish Quantum or buy a water softener and lug those horrible, heavy bags of salt! Fortunately, Publix (iconic Florida grocery store) runs BOGOs on the Finish periodically. But, I’m sure that someone else will be able to save money using this wonderful recipe. BTW, (off topic) but I recently saw an article about the Mom that bikes around Portland with her 6 kids, on one huge bike!


  3. Hi, thanks for the recipe…looking forward to trying it as soon as I can find the seventh gen~hopefully this won’t be an obstacle…I have also seen recipes for homemade laundry detergent that I am looking forward to try. Just love stuff like this, mostly cause it saves money but the healthy part is good also.

    Just love reading through your blog, just found it today. Thanks for your time and efforts to get us all more green~


    1. Hi Colleen,
      So glad you stopped by! Yes, I’ve seen lots of recipes, too, but the problem is most contain Borax which does not get an “A” from EWG. I’m looking for that sweet spot – good for you, good for the environment, and good for the pocketbook. That’s how I ended up with the Seventh Generation. Try the Sal Suds – I think that’s the most economical choice and the smell is yummy! Thanks for leaving a comment. 🙂


  4. Thanks for the tip on the Sal Suds, will give it a try. As far as the borax, there are recipes that call for just the washing soda w/ peroxide if needed as an add in, so maybe this would work for you? I have to do some reading on borax, always thought it was safe and used to use it as a booster when the kids were little~~E-GADS!!! they are fine and in their 20’s so no visible damage…..lol~
    Thanks again, great site and great info~


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