7 Alternatives to Dishwasher Detergent

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You don't have dishwashing detergent, and you need to wash the dishes. The good news is that there are a few things you can do in this situation, they won't be as effective or convenient as using your usual dishwasher detergent, but they will all do in a pinch. 

Try one of these alternatives to dishwasher Detergent and save yourself from all the hard work that comes with cleaning dishes. Read on.

1. Baking Soda as Dishwasher Detergent Alternative

This is the simplest and least wasteful way to wash your dishes. All you need to do is fill up one compartment of your dishwasher's soap container with baking soda and run your dishwasher as usual. This method isn't as powerful as an actual dishwashing detergent, but it does work in a pinch.

B baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is a good cleaner for its gentle abrasive qualities and helps control odors. You can also use baking soda as a DIY degreaser, especially when you've got stuck-on grease that you can't beat.

All you need to do is combine equal parts dish detergent as you could use to hand wash dishes and baking soda. Stir to form a paste, then paint the detergent-soda mix on the sticky surface and scrub with a towel moistened with hot water.

2. Washing Soda as Dishwasher Detergent Alternative

Washing soda, also known as sodium carbonate or soda ash, is another good cleaning agent for your dishes and works well in hard water. Fill the detergent cup with the powder and use a regular wash cycle.

Washing Soda
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Yes, washing soda is more effective than baking soda, but it's more harmful to the environment. Also, some people are particularly sensitive to it. If you're not sure whether your skin will react badly to this product, test it on a small patch of skin first before trying it on dishes. Rinsing off soda ash can sting if it gets in or irritates broken skin.

3. Citric Acid to Get Rid of Debris

Citric acid is often used as a preservative and an additive in baking soda, but it can also be used as an alternative to dishwasher detergent. Fill the cup with citric acid and run it through a regular wash cycle. It will eat away all mineral deposits from hard water that can build up in the base of the tub and holes and crevices of the spinning arms of the dishwasher.

Citric Acid
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You can buy citric acid in powder form online or at big box home improvement stores. In a pinch, powdered lemonade or other citrus-based powders that are added to water can clean dirty dishes. A basic citric acid dishwasher detergent has a base of one cup of washing soda mixed with a 1/4 cup of citric acid and a half cup of grated unscented body soap.

4. Liquid Dishwasher Detergent

After loading the dishwasher, add a few drops of mild liquid dish soap to the appliance's detergent cup. Add one and a half teaspoons of baking soda and one teaspoon of salt. Open your dishwasher's detergent compartment, then squeeze two to three drops of regular dish soap, the one you would use to hand wash your dishes normally.

Next, pour baking soda until the compartment is full, then run your dishwasher on the normal cycle. Do not use a compartment full of dish soap as the soap will produce too many suds and could flood your kitchen floor. Baking soda helps keep the suds under control, so the ratio is important.

You can also mix two teaspoons of liquid dish soap to four teaspoons of baking powder and 4 cups of warm water. Baking soda is mild and abrasive, so if combined with soap, it does a wonderful job of removing food particles and germs on your dishes. If you've got particularly stuck-on food, you can add a bit of kosher salt for extra scrubbing power.

5. Distilled White Vinegar

You can use distilled white vinegar in place of dishwasher soap. The acidic quality of distilled white vinegar will cut through any greasy residue on the dishes. Fill a bowl with one-half cup of vinegar and place it on the top rack. The force of the water will distribute the vinegar during the wash cycle to the other dishes.

Distilled White Vinegar
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6. Powdered Dishwasher Detergent

A classic dishwasher detergent alternative uses borax for washing dishes. Baking soda can be used in combination with borax. Borax is an all-natural mineral powder that combines well with water; use one tablespoon of borax per load of dishes, and add a bit extra if your dishwater tends to be on the hard side.

Powdered Dishwasher
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The powdered dishwasher detergent recipe needs 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda, half cup citric acid, and half cup kosher salt. Mix the dry ingredients and keep them under the sink for three months. It should cover 10 to 12 washing cycles. Throw in a cup of vinegar in the base of the tub before each cycle to use as a rinsing agent.

7. Storing Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

Having items to use in a pinch to clean dishes in the dishwasher is a good idea. Making homemade detergent is also better for the environment. People with skin allergies or aversion to strong chemical smells prefer to go through the minimal effort of mixing household detergents to create a dishwasher soap alternative.

After putting these ingredients together, you'll want to ensure they can make it to the next wash without disintegrating or turning into a hard lump. You can only achieve this by storing your dishwasher soap substitute in an airtight container.

FAQs on Dishwasher Detergent Alternatives

What are some of the products to avoid as dishwasher detergent alternatives?

Unless you want a flood of bubbles on your kitchen floor, avoid products such as dishwashing liquid, body wash, shampoo, single-laundry detergent, and all-purpose household cleaners. You should also take your time to learn some dishwasher brands to avoid if you want to take care of these precious utensils.

Final Thought on Dishwasher Detergent Alternatives

As you can see, these products will leave you with clean dishes when you run out of dishwasher detergent. However, keep in mind that these substitutes won't provide the level of cleanliness for daily use you need from the dishwasher.



Kristina Perrin

Kristina Perrin

Kristina is a stay-at-home-mom and an expert chef. When she's not cooking or experimenting with new recipes, you can find her writing about her favorite kitchen appliances on Kitchen Infinity blog.

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