How to Make Dishwasher Powder (That Doubles as Scouring Powder)

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by Daisy Luther

Yesterday I ran out of dishwasher soap. And by out, I mean completely. Nary a tab in sight, either store bought or homemade. There sat my dirty dishes, anxiously awaiting a hot cycle through the dishwasher while I searched through the area where I usually keep my extra supplies.

Since I’m in the midst of the first month of the Once-a-Month Shopping Challenge, running to the store was not an option. Homemade tabs have to sit overnight to harden. Then I remembered a relic from long, long ago.

Dishwashing powder.

Remember that? Back in the olden days of, oh, say, 5 years ago, we scooped the powder into the little compartment on the door of the dishwasher, closed it, and it magically opened during the cycle and washed our dishes. Then it became too much work to do that, and we all got the convenience bug and started buying the tabs that dissolve.

Why make dishwashing powder?

Well, because I ran out. But there are more reasons, lots of them.

First of all, you can pick what goes into it. Not so with the things you buy from the store. With all of the spot free, gunk-dissolving bells and whistles, I can only imagine the chemical poop-storm in the brand name versions.

The store bought stuff is insanely expensive. For less than a dollar, I made enough less toxic dishwashing powder to last a month at the rate of a load per day. To purchase the ready-made higher quality stuff, you’re looking at $17 for a two-month supply.

Making dishwashing powder is about 12,589 times easier than making dishwashing tablets, and since making dishwashing tablets isn’t that hard, that means it’s unimaginably easy.

This doubles as scouring powder

And there’s something even better about homemade dishwashing powder. It’s dual purpose. Remember Comet and those other scrubbing powders? This is the most awesome scouring powder cleaner I’ve ever used. It works just as well as the major chemical laden cleaners, and way better than plain baking soda.

If you happen to have an old-fashioned porcelain sink, you know that a good scrubbing is necessary to keep it looking white after the daily wear and tear. This stuff works brilliantly.

How to make it


You probably have everything you need kicking around your house already.

Dishwasher powder ingredients

  • 1 cup of Borax (buy it in quantity HERE)
  • 1 cup  of washing soda (This is much cheaper locally for me, but if you can’t find it, you can buy it HERE)
  • 1 cup of baking soda
  • ½ cup of salt
  • 2 packets unsweetened lemonade: Don’t skip this ingredient. The citric acid will help get things cleaner while reducing spots, and cheapo lemonade packets are an inexpensive, simple way to acquire it. My grocery store had these 10 for $1.
  • Lemon essential oil: I use lemon essential oil in this because a) it smells like clean sunshine and b) it has disinfectant properties. My favorite one is from Spark Essential Oils. (Use DAISY as the coupon code to save 10%!)


This is so ridiculously easy these hardly deserve to be called “directions.”

Dishwasher powder in a bowl

  1. Put all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Stir with a fork.
  3. Add about 30 drops of lemon essential oil. Stir it again.
  4. Store it in an air-tight container.

Use 1 tablespoon for a regular load of dishes, two for an extra dirty load.

homemade dishwasher soap

How to Make Dishwasher Powder (That Doubles as Scouring Powder)
How to Make Dishwasher Powder (That Doubles as Scouring Powder)
Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger. She is the founder and publisher of three websites.  1) The Organic Prepper, which is about current events, preparedness, self-reliance, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, 2)  The Frugalite, a website with thrifty tips and solutions to help people get a handle on their personal finances without feeling deprived, and 3), an aggregate site where you can find links to all the most important news for those who wish to be prepared. She is widely republished across alternative media and  Daisy is the best-selling author of 5 traditionally published books and runs a small digital publishing company with PDF guides, printables, and courses. You can find her on FacebookPinterest, Gab, MeWe, Parler, Instagram, and Twitter.

Leave a Reply

  • Hey Daisy, do you have problems with this clumping? I have used a similar recipe and have always ended up having to add the citric acid separately to avoid one big block from forming. Wondering if the lemonade packs somehow prevent this.

    • I haven’t had an issue thus far, Amanda, but I only made it on Thursday. I wonder if it’s the citric acid or the addition of the oils causing clumping? If you suspect it could be the oil, leave the jar open for a day to let it dry out and then give it a good shake on a regular basis afterward. 🙂

  • You can use tri sodium phosphate which was removed from dishwashing liquids by commies, it is sold in the paint isle of hardware stores.

  • I just use 1T BAKING SODA,1T SALT, AND 3-4 drops of dishwasing liquid (that is drops, not squirts, unless you want bubbles oozing out of your dishwasher and all over the floor – ask me how I know? 🙂 ). Sometimes I use 2T soda to 1T salt but either way works fine. Really, Im not sure why I keep buying the tabs when this is so much cheaper and works just fine. If I had lemon E.O on hand, I would include it for the disinfecting properties though.

  • You can freely add any essential or fragrance oil to the mix also. Citrus, eucalyptus, tea tree, …. don’t overdue it …. a couple of drops per gallon is sufficient.

  • Hi Daisy;

    Are you able to provide a photo/brand name for the packets of unsweetened lemonade that you used? Can one use straight up Citric Acid in place of the lemonade – if so, how much citric acid would one use?
    Thank you for such a money-saving post.

    – Lou

    • Lou – I just used the cheapest ones that the grocery store had, a generic brand. ALl you have to do is be sure that they are unsweetened. I’ve never worked with citric acid but it could definitely be used. I’d probably put in 2 tbsp in a batch this size. 🙂

  • Hey all…….here’s a ton of good info on citric acid. Be sure and read all the comments and questions and reviews.

    I haven’t been without citric acid in over 10 years. I love it. It stores easily in a regular jar in the cabinet with no clumping. If I run out of homemade detergent I simply put a teaspoon of citric acid in the dishwasher cup along with a tablespoon of baking soda. It works !
    I’ve also ordered from this company in the past and I highly recommend them.
    Hope this helps!

  • Can I use Emergen-c as the citric acid? I have a bunch and since I don’t want to drink it since I really looked at the ingredients, it would be nice to have a use for it!

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