Here's What You Can Substitute For Dishwasher Detergent

The dishwasher is one of the best inventions ever made. No need to wash and dry every bowl, cup, and plate. Not only is the appliance super convenient, but the detergent options run across the board. From pods to liquid to powder, it's all up to you. But what happens when you run out of your favorite soap? Here is what you can substitute for dishwasher detergent so you can still run that magical machine.

There are lots of alternatives that can be used, whether you want to go natural or go for heavy-duty stuff. Best of all, the ingredients needed to get your dishes sparkling clean are ones you have lying around the house anyway. Before we dive into what you can use, let's first discuss what you should never put in the dishwasher as an alternative.

According to The Spruce, unless you want to start a massive bubble party (which your kids will surely love), avoid putting dish soap, laundry detergent, body wash, shampoo, or multipurpose cleaner into the pod. The thick foam will eventually spill out the door and sink, making a mess that will take time to clean up and could clog the machine.

Dishwasher Detergent Substitutes

Now that we know what not to put in the dishwasher, there are some great options for either a stand-alone substitute or a complete DIY formula that might just inspire you to start making your own dishwasher detergent from now on. Here are our top stand-alone substitutes.

Baking soda, while not as powerful as dishwasher detergent, is the least natural and simple, according to Kitchen Infinity. Plus, you probably have a bunch of the stuff lying around the house already.

Washing soda, which is better known as sodium bicarbonate, is the strongest of single-ingredient substitutes, which means you need to handle it with care. Add just ¼ cup to the dishwashing compartment and run a normal cycle. Dishes should be squeaky clean!

Distilled white vinegar has cleaning power all over the home, from cleaning the washing machine to kitchen counters. Place ½ cup in a bowl on the top rack and run a cycle. The water will distribute the cleaning agent to the rest of the dishes. This is also a good trick if you have stinky dishes, as the vinegar will help eat away at the residue.

DIY Dishwasher Detergent

If you want to try a simple DIY recipe to use as a backup for when you run out of dishwashing detergent or want to start making your own solution instead of buying commercial products, we've got a recipe that works great. While not all of them may be pantry staples, they can be easily bought and saved for future use. 

According to RusticWise, you need:

1 cup of sodium bicarbonate

1 cup baking soda

1 cup borax

½ cup citric acid

1 cup coarse salt, like Epsom salt

Combine all of these ingredients and store them in an airtight container. Use the same amount you would normally use when running a cycle in your dishwasher. This DIY detergent will last for a while, and if you use it as a backup, you'll be able to run a cycle anytime you need to. Store it under the sink, in the garage, or in the pantry for easy access when you need it.