Dishwasher Detergent Substitutes (10 Best Alternatives)

Introduction: Dishwasher Detergent Substitutes

The dishwasher is a reliable companion in handling the aftermath of family dinners and busy gatherings. However, if you run out of dishwasher detergent, you need not worry. We have covered some practical and eco-friendly alternatives to commercial dishwasher detergents. Let’s discuss the best dishwasher detergent substitutes that will make your dishes sparkling clean and save you money.

Dishwasher Detergent Substitutes

While some homemade solutions or household items can do a great job of cleaning dishes, it’s necessary to remember that their effectiveness can vary depending on factors like the substitute used, your dishwasher’s design, and the hardness of your water.

Commercial dishwasher detergents are made with enzymes and cleaning agents that work best with the machine. So, while substitutes can be a great option, they may not always provide the same targeted cleaning power, which could lead to residue on your dishes or inadequate stain removal.

If you find the best substitute for your dishwasher detergent, experiment with different substitutes while adjusting the quantities and ingredients. Keep an eye on how clean your dishes are after each wash, and don’t be afraid to try new things. Here are the best dishwasher detergent substitutes:

1. Baking Soda and Salt Mix

Dishwasher Detergent Substitutes

Mix 1/4 cup salt and 1 cup baking soda well in a bowl. Sprinkle the mixture into the dishwasher’s detergent compartment like regular detergent. Close the dishwasher door, press the start button, and let it do its job. When you mix the substitute with hot water, it works to ensure that your dishes are spotless.

Baking soda is a superhero against stains, thanks to its slightly abrasive nature that helps to scrub away stubborn bits of food. Salt enhances the cleaning power of the mixture, ensuring that your dishes are brand new.

2. Lemon Juice

Dishwasher Detergent Substitutes

Cut 2-3 medium-sized lemons in half and squeeze out the juice. Keep the lemon peels; put them in the dishwasher too. The substitute adds an extra citrusy freshness to your dishes. Pour the freshly squeezed lemon juice into the dishwasher’s detergent compartment.

Lemons are natural cleaners that add great acidity for breaking down grease and grime on your dishes.

3. White Vinegar

Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of white vinegar to the dishwasher’s detergent compartment and let it do its job. You can even infuse the vinegar with lemon peels for an extra boost and a pleasant citrusy fragrance.

White vinegar is like a superhero for cleaning. It kills germs and leaves your dishes safe by thoroughly cleaning and sanitizing them.

4. Salt and Citrus Peel Scrub

Use a fine grater to grate citrus peels into small pieces. Grated citrus peels and about 1/4 cup of salt mix well in a bowl. You can adjust the ratio of salt to citrus peels according to your preference, adding more peel for a great citrus flavor or more salt for extra scrubbing power. Sprinkle your homemade scrub inside the dishwasher’s detergent compartment.

Salt is good for scrubbing your dishes gently and removing food particles and stains. Citrus peels can also help clean and make your dishes smell nice.

5. Cream of Tartar

Add a tablespoon or two of cream of tartar to your dishwasher’s detergent compartment. Use this with other ingredients like salt or baking soda for effective cleaning,

Cream of tartar is the best dishwasher detergent substitute; it works well on dishes because it has a slightly acidic quality that helps to remove grease and stains. Because of its strength, it can remove most food residues without scratching your dishes, but it’s not excessively harsh.

6. Cornstarch and Borax Blend

Another thing you can try as a dishwasher detergent substitute is mixing cornstarch and borax in equal parts (starting with 1/4 cup of each) and adding it to your dishwasher’s detergent compartment. You can adjust the ratio of cornstarch to borax according to your cleaning needs. More cornstarch will give you a gentler clean, while more borax will make the detergent more powerful.

Cornstarch and borax are two ingredients that can help you clean your dishes more effectively. Cornstarch has a slightly rough texture that can scrub away food particles and stains. Borax is a powerful cleaning agent that can tackle tough stains and grime. When these two ingredients are combined, they can enhance the cleaning power of your dishwasher detergent. Thus, to make the work simple and more efficient, include some cornstarch and borax in the dishes the next time.

7. Castile Soap

Mix a small amount of Castile soap with water and add it to the detergent compartment in your dishwasher. Castile soap comes in various scents, such as citrus or lavender, and is a gentle yet powerful cleaner. It can make your dishes smell good and leave them clean.

Castile soap is a natural cleaner from plant-based oils that can remove food residues and stains from your dishes without harming the environment.

8. Borax

Add a tablespoon or two of Borax to your dishwasher’s detergent compartment. Borax is a multipurpose household cleaner that works well for cleaning needs.

Borax acts as a powerful cleaning agent because it is a natural mineral.  It can help break down tough grime and stains on your dishes, making your dishwasher detergent substitute more effective.

9. Citrus-Infused Vinegar

Use citrus peels and vinegar in your dishwasher to keep your dishes clean and fresh. All you have to do is save the peels from 2-3 citrus fruits, put them in a jar with 1 cup of white vinegar, and let it sit for a week. Then, pour the citrus-infused vinegar into the detergent compartment of your dishwasher. You can use different citrus fruits for different scents – lemon for freshness, orange for sweetness, or lime for a zesty kick.

Citrus peels have natural acids that help vinegar clean better. It means your dishes will be cleaner and smell great. The vinegar with citrus infusions has an acidic quality that removes oil and grease from dishes.

10. Dish Soap

Another way to make your dishes cleaner is to add a little liquid dish soap to the detergent compartment. You only need a small amount; too much could result in excessive suds.

Dish soap is for handwashing, but it also works well in dishwashers. As the dishwasher runs, the soap creates a lather that removes food particles and stains from your dishes.

Important Note: If you run out of dishwasher detergent, you can use some temporary dishwasher detergent substitutes mentioned earlier. But it’s always better to use products specially made for dishwashers to get the best cleaning results and avoid any issues. Too much dish soap can make lots of foam, which can cause problems in the dishwasher. So, if you see too much foam, stop the dishwasher and rinse the dishes before continuing.


In conclusion, don’t worry when you run out of dishwasher detergent. You can get your clean dishes with everyday items you probably already have in your kitchen. You can mix baking soda and salt or use lemon juice or vinegar. These things can help your dishes look clean and shiny. You can also make your dishwasher tablets or use a mixer of cornstarch and borax to get dishes clean. You can try these easy and cheap options. The most important thing is to find what dishwasher detergent substitute works best for you and your dishes so you can get a clean kitchen without spending too much money.


How can I troubleshoot common issues when using substitutes?

If you notice that there are still some stains on the dishes, you can use fewer substitutes or add an extra rinse cycle. If your dishwasher isn’t cleaning well, try different substitutes or adjust the amount used. To avoid too much foam, use fewer substitutes, as dishwashers prefer low-suds options for smooth operation.

Can I use substitutes in all types of dishwashers?

Yes, most substitutes work well in standard dishwashers. However, keep an eye on the foam, especially if you have a dishwasher designed for low-suds detergents. You can go back with regular dishwasher detergent if you notice any issues.

Are substitute detergents as effective as commercial ones?

Sometimes, it takes a bit of trial and error to find the best dish detergent for your dishwasher. You might need to try different ones to see which works best for you. Once you find the right one, using it can save you money and be better for the environment.

Do homemade dishwasher tablets leave residue on dishes?

If you make them at home, dishwasher tablets can leave a residue on your dishes if they do not dissolve properly. To avoid this, make sure your tablets are completely dry before using them, and consider running an extra rinse cycle if you need to. You can find the best mixture for clean dishes by experimenting with different ingredient combinations.

Are there any health risks associated with using dishwasher detergent substitutes?

It is necessary to be cautious about using things that are safe for cleaning but not for eating. Always be careful and mindful when using cleaning products. For example, essential oils can be dangerous if you swallow them. If you have allergies or sensitive skin, you should be careful and test any substitutes in small amounts. If you are unsure whether something is safe to use, it is good to talk with a doctor.

Leave a Comment