Natural Dishwasher Detergent and Rinse Aid

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If it’s one thing I’m really funny about, it’s what goes IN my body. So I’m really picky about what I choose to use on my dishes.

Dishes touch food. Food is consumed.

I don’t want to consume anything that may have adverse affects on my health.

A couple of years ago I decided to try and make my own dish detergent, you know, be all frugal and stuff. But the problem was, they either didn’t work, or they had borax in them. And while I’m ok with borax as a laundry detergent, I’m not ok with ingesting it myself since I also use it as an ant killer.

I’d love to know if you have a homemade detergent that actually works, preferably works with well water.

For now I buy detergent, and though it may not be 100% natural, I know it’s a safer alternative than conventional products. I’ve tried a few of them, and the one that works best for us is Seventh Generation. My dishes come out clean with little to no residue. Usually none, unless I stick a plate with peanut butter or a bowl with oatmeal in there. The only one that really, really didn’t work was BioKleen. This one left my dishwasher with a thick, gross film over the entire thing. I had to take out my racks and spray them off outside with a hose. Dishes came out….ok, but many had to be rewashed.

Natural Rinse Aid

To help offset the cost  of more expensive detergent, and to help keep my dishes toxin clean, I use vinegar in as a rinse aid instead of buying it. This simple ingredient keeps my glasses clear and dishes rinsed free from crud.

It doesn’t really take any directions either, but in case you need to how-to:

1. Open the rinse aid compartment in your dishwasher.

2. Fill with white vinegar.

3. Wash as normal!


What do you use in your dishwasher (or sink if you don’t have one)?


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About Donielle

Donielle is an amateur herbalist and natural momma to two littles (with another babe in heaven) after dealing with being less than fertile. She has a passion for nourishing nutrition, natural living, and spreading the word on how food truly affects our health.


  1. I’ve gotten rid of plastic storage in the kitchen so my glass and stainless steel storage items need a little help staying spot free in the dishwasher. I too use vinegar for a rinse agent and find that it works great.

    I have also been looking for a 100% natural detergent or a great recipe for one. Currently I use a smaller amount of detergent and add baking soda to the dishwasher for extra cleaning power. My dishes come out clean and my dishwasher has never been so white.

    Thanks for all your wonderful articles!

  2. I’ve been using the Method dishwasher detergent and it’s working for us. It certainly isn’t cheap and while I would love to have something completely natural and homemade, I don’t know of one. So Method works for us for now as the best I can do.

  3. I use Ecover dishwasher detergent. I order it from amazon in 6 month supplies and it is more expensive than conventional detergents (I was sometimes able to get them for free using coupons before I began to live more simply and naturally.) It works really well at cleaning the dishes though and I haven’t found that I need a rinising agent at all. I love that I don’t have to be concerned about the chemicals in it at all.

  4. I use the Trader Joe’s brand of dishwasher detergent. It works best for us and works better (for us!) and is cheaper than Seventh Generation. I stock up when I visit my family, or they bring some to me because there is not a Trader Joe’s where I live.

  5. Oops, I should proof read before I click submit :)

  6. I love doing this too! I just did a post on my favorite uses of vinegar, and totally spaced this one. I did mention using vinegar to clean my dishwasher, but forgot that it’s a great rinse aid! I’ve had the same experience you’ve had with homemade detergents – they’ve all been totally disappointing. There’s GOT to be a good homemade recipe out there somewhere, but I have yet to come across it. Now that’s going to be my mission: find a homemade dish washing detergent that WORKS.

  7. As far as I can tell, maybe you know more. The cleaning products called Nature’s Fresh by Natures Sunshine are all natural. I just bought my first set and so far it seems to work well. Here’s a link (let me know if you find its not that natural):! Hope this helps! 😀

  8. The rinse aid is supposed to work with the dws ability to dry dishes as well, has anyone noticed that the natural methods also help in drying?

  9. Can you tell me why you are not comfortable with borax in cleaning your dishes? I followed another link you had posted to Passionate Homemaking that was supposed to address this, but that page has been removed or the link no longer works. Thanks!

    donielle Reply:

    @Anna Kristin, Hmmm…I tried looking on her site too as I can’t really remember the “science” about it. :-/ From what I remember it was just about how when consumed, borax may not be safe. (ex. – I use borax for ant control. I leave it out, they take it home and die)


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