Best Natural Dishwasher Detergent Options

Best Natural Dishwasher Detergent Options

Dishwasher detergent can be one of the tougher products to find good natural options for. Homemade versions can work, but getting the ratios right is really important.

On the other hand, there are some good options out there but separating the good from the bad can be difficult.

These are the options that I’ve tried that actually work and that I use at our house:

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent:

I use this recipe when I make homemade dishwasher detergent. It works but it can be persnickety and form clumps (that still work) if there is a lot of humidity.

The upside is that it is a simple and cost effective recipe and you know exactly what it contains. The downside is that it can leave a residue depending on your water, the temperature used, and other factors.
powdered dishwasher detergent lg

Tropical Traditions Dishwasher Detergent

Another option that I use often is Tropical Traditions Powdered Dish Detergent. It is also all-natural and an enzyme cleaner so it is a much safer option than many store bought dish detergents.

One canister lasts at least a month at our house (often much longer). This one is a little pricier but it cleans well and lasts longer than many of the other natural options.

Ecover Powder

Another natural option that works well is Ecover Powder. It is available locally in many places, it cleans well and it isn’t that much more expensive than store bought brands. It was pretty close between Ecover and Tropical Traditions as to which one cleaned better, and I’d use either one.

Mrs. Myers

Another natural brand that I’ve tried that actually gets the dishes clean is Mrs. Myers. It comes in a variety of natural scents and is also available locally in many places. It is more expensive than the other natural options, but it does a good job.

What I Do

I’m all for a DIY option whenever possible, but in the case of dishwasher detergent, finding a homemade option that works with your water quality and dishwasher can be difficult.

If the homemade options haven’t worked for you, I’ve used all three of the other above powdered dish soaps with good results and would use them again. Most often, I use Tropical Traditions, but it is only available online and the other two can often be found locally.

Your turn- what do you use in your dishwasher? Share below!

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Reader Comments

  1. I’ve tried many recipes with no luck… I don’t love any of them… it’s really hard with a 9mth old to care for as well… any suggestions?? Thanks so much 🙂

    • Depending on where you are, you could use a miswak if available. This is something I’ve seen some members of my family use (no toothpaste, no toothbrush, just miswak as oral hygience regimen) for an entire lifetime, especially in villages and especially when toothpaste was not available.

      This is essentially a twig of a Salvadora persica tree and the bark from one end can be cut away to use the wooden fibres as a brush. Overtime you can cut the worn out part away and cut away more bark to reveal a ‘new’ brush.

      • Oops.. wrong post window! apologies! meant this for the tooth powder post.

      • Where can i acquire a miswak stick . Thank you for sharing this information.

  2. We’ve been using Seventh Generation, and it cleans well, but we’ve noticed ALL of our flatware, old and new (stainless steel 18/10), are developing rust stains coming out of the dishwasher. I am now thinking it might be the detergent, but I’m wondering if you’ve had any issues with rust stains on flatware with any of the detergents you’ve used? I think we might have hard water, but not sure if that would somehow be affecting it. I try to rinse the flatware off before putting it in the dishwasher as well, so acidic stuff isn’t sitting on them before it’s all washed…

    • We have TERRIBLE luck with 7th Generation. We too have very hard water.

    • I have been using 7th Generation for a few months now. At first it was working great and my dishes were coming out cleaner than ever! There was some ingredient that was even shining up the copper on the bottom of my stainless pots and and pans. However, the last month or so all the dishes have been coming out cloudy and not near as clean (copper is not shiny and bright now either). I have cleaned out my dishwasher filter several times. Ran a dishwasher cleaner (with empty dishwasher) once and still cloudy film. I wonder if they have changed their formula? I used the packs at first but changed to the liquid because it was cheaper and I still had great results… until the last month. I may have to try Mrs. Myers but it is SO much more expensive here that the others. I need to order more toothpaste from Tropical Traditions so maybe I will try their dish detergent. Thanks for the reviews!

      • Dana, so interesting that you say that, I used to swear by 7th Generation, and most everything came out sparkling and clean, but these days, I find myself rinsing some of the glass bowls and drinking glasses by hand…they finish with a film.
        Seems they must have changed the formula.
        Judith

    • I have used the liquid and powder tablets I find the powder tablets work much better and don’t leave a film and so far no rust spots but I make sure all my silverware is scrubbed clean before it goes in.

  3. I’m glad I read this today, I’ve been wondering how the Mrs. Meyers dishwasher products are.

  4. 1:1:1 homemade soap:borax:washing soda in the prewash dispenser, with about a tbsp citric acid in the wash dispenser. White vinegar in the rinse dispenser. I tried mixing the citric acid in with the soap, but the dishes came out very cloudy unless I put it in the separate compartment. I have very hard water.

    • One recipe I came across suggested, if you have hard water, cut down on the Borax by 1/2, add lemon shine or unsweetened lemonade packets to your powder mix. The add white distilled vinegar to the rinse aide dispenser.

  5. Seventh generation power or liquid work great

  6. YOUR HOMEMADE RECIPE WORKS GREAT WITH NO QUIRKS!

  7. I used to only use natural dishwashing products, Ecover, 7th Gen, and probably some others from Whole Foods. We had a very nice Bosch dishwasher and hard water and all of the products left scales inside the machine and clouded up all of the dishes. I had to uses several descaling products to clean out the machine and only use Cascade now. We’re in a new house though and I’m interested in trying a DIY version.

    • That Cascade will ruin your glass ware over time. Glasses will start to look like they have been sand blasted…..

  8. We have incredibly hard well water and I have to use Lemi Shine to help keep the dishes from spotting up and looking chalky and dirty. What is your opinion of that? Is it safe to use?

  9. I use Melaleuca’s dishwashing detergent. I’ve used it for over 10 years and it’s the best on the market.

    • I say Amen to that.

    • I too use Melaleuca’s Diamond Brite & love it! I can wash 50 loads with 1 bottle of the liquid detergent, so it’s very cost effective. They also have powder packs.

      • But don’t you have to become a Melaleuca member. I use to be a member. And it cost 80.00 monthly, So your not really saving. Product are very concentrated(they work really good) Just add water. But within the month I had lots of Melaleuca products storing in cabinets because their so concentrated a little goes a long way.

        • yep I agree. I was a mbr for yrs – finally had to cancel due to finances. It’s just too expensive. But now, I’m not stocked up on all my cleaning supplies! Wah!! I’m down to the last few loads of their dw detergent and I don’t want to buy cascade!

    • Great product! Love the gel!

      • I love melaleuca I to do have some.over stock but it doesn’t last long and is g
        Rear when I fined I’m running UT of other things ther are a few things I order every month ..I just got a new dishwasher and have never thought to use a rince aid not sure witch melaleuca product is best for that yet

  10. I use soap nuts as my detergent and white vinegar in my rinse aid. I use about 4 soap nuts in a bag that they come with and set it in my silverware tray. I use them twice then compost them and get new ones. Works really well.

    • Hi!
      Do you know what scrubbing agent could be used in combination of what you said? Difficult and not previously rinsed dishes are often a problem in my family’s dishwasher.

      Do you use white vinegar or which do you think works best?

      Thanks!

  11. I use one tablespoon Of 50% borax and 50% washing soda, plus a few drops of liquid dish detergent. Works really well (with a Samsung machine, and soft water).

  12. Perhaps this is a silly question, but how can I find out if I have hard or soft water?

    • You can have it tested, or you might be able to call your water company to ask.

  13. I use the dish washing detergent from the honest company & it works pretty good-still some cloudiness.

  14. Try adding a teaspoon or two of powdered cellulose to prevent caking. It works really well!

  15. I use the Honest Company for my dish detergent. It works well and I’m comfortable with ingredients. You can get it at the honest.com

  16. I do not like using powders (and liquids, made from powders) as they generally, add to the ‘solids’ that are pumped out of my septic tank (as required); unless the powders contain ‘No Fillers’. Generally, a ‘salt’ will flow out of the tank, into the leach-bed.

  17. We live in Alaska and hard doesn’t even begin to describe our water. I had a homemade version that worked pretty well, but the clumps drove us crazy. We started using the Seventh Generation powder. It works beautifully, and it’s cheaper than the homemade version I was using. Plus, it doesn’t clump!

  18. I’ve had good luck with Ecover! And I have a lousy dishwasher and hard water?

    • Me too!!! Just switched to Ecover a few weeks ago. Love it.

  19. Ahhhh, thank you SO much for this post!!!

    In the last 10 months, we’ve done a pretty good job switching out products and this is one area I haven’t comquered yet! We just purchased Ecover yesterday actually and, I’m looking forward to trying it now! Yay!

    We’ve been using a really harmful and toxic brand, and I usually end up rinsing most of our dishes again under our filtered water. I just couldn’t handle having dirty dishes anymore with the homemade stuff!!

    Anyway, thanks again! 😉

  20. I have multiple chemical sensitivity and have learned to be creative with finding solutions for just about everything. I use 1 tablespoon of baking soda, 1 cup of
    white vinegar and a couple drops of Friendly Planet Free and Clear Dishmate dishwashing detergent. I do rinse my dishes before they are put in the dishwasher. So far this works great, there is no residue left on my dishes, no scent or odor and the dishes are clean.

    • Susan,
      I would like to try this! Do you add this concoction in the soap compartment? And did you mean Earth Friendly Products Dish Soap for the sink?

  21. YOUR DIY RECIPE WORKS PERFECT WHEN STORED IN THE REFRIGERATOR! No clumping ever.

  22. After a lot of research (and trial and error), I came up with a homemade recipe that has been working pretty well. I melt bar soap in water and add some lemon juice (no exact measurements because I haven’t quite gotten it right–I made it too thick last time and have been diluting it to a consistency that looks good). I use that in the detergent compartment and washing soda in the prerinse. (I don’t use borax because there is so much back-and-forth about whether or not it is safe. I figure if I can easily avoid it, then I don’t have to decide.) I also use vinegar in the rinse compartment, but I don’t know if it’s better because I haven’t tried it without.

    • I simply use washing soda in the prerinse and wash. I use vinegar in the rinse. I have been doing this for a couple years and my dishes are consistently clean and unspotted after.

  23. Melaleuca sells a pretty decent natural dishwasher detergent in packets so it’s convenient as well.

  24. 7th Generation powder works great for us… the liquid, however, doesn’t work at all for us.

  25. I use white vinegar instead of Jet dry. My glasses sparkle and it is so much cheaper.

  26. Shaklee’s detergent is the best we’ve used! Environmentally friendly AND non-toxic, which cannot be said for many “Green” cleaners on the market.

  27. we love seventh generation powder and it got an “A” rating from the EWG! 🙂

  28. I have been using the dishwashing detergent from Melaluca. They are a company that uses natural products as well as smaller required amounts. Very reasonably priced!!

  29. We us Better Life products which are great!

  30. Try this, for me, it works better than finish.
    1 cup borax
    1 cup super washing soda
    1/4 ascorbic acid (canning isle)
    1/4 oxy clean (dollar store)
    1/2 cup kosher salt
    Mix all ingredients in a jar use 2 Tablespoons in wash compartment.
    I put 1 cup vinegar in the bottom of the machine with ever load.
    My glasses are spot free, and my plastics come out clear!

  31. I have hard well water and prefer Seventh Generation and have used Ecover with good results too. They do a great job, I have no spots and my silverware is not rusting. We rinse our dishes well before we load them. I love white vinegar for cleaning and mixed with baking soda it works well on almost anything. However citrus or acid is very hard on it and can cause rusting and other issues. The only place I don’t use vinegar is in my dishwasher. It’s great to add to laundry, though!

  32. I recently switched to the Method Smarty Dish tablets in Pink Grapefruit & I am having great luck with them. We have a 12 year old dishwasher & I tend to pack it very efficiently (stuffed full), having 4 kids and needing to run it near-daily. I really like them so far! I might try Mrs. Meyers as well but so far so good!

  33. I unfortunately haven’t had any luck with natural dishwasher detergent. I did try one by Palmolive but is really is just as poisonous as using Cascade. I did have great success using White Vinegar in place of the Jet Dry stuff, it made my plates and glasses squeaky clean and clear. However….I forgot about the fact that Vinegar decalcifies and learned that additionally it is a rust remover or loosener. I live in an Apartment and didn’t know how old my dishwasher and it spewed rust and lime out of the jet dry dispenser. Had to run a bunch of short cycles to get it all out. The Upside is: by accident, we know how to keep our Jet Dry dispenser rust and calcium free. I will try Mrs. Myers, I saw it in Target which also has their own brand of natural Dishwasher products. I’d like to do more research on how plant based they are. Companies tend to slip in the poison if you don’t know what you are looking for.

  34. I’m sorry to sound like a nay sayer. However, I’ve read some items about using vinegar in the dishwasher. Please read this post: http://wholenewmom.com/whole-new-budget/natural-dishwasher-rinse-aid-important-update/.

    As someone who has paid a lot of money to repair a dishwasher (different problem), I am very concerned about damaging my dishwasher.

    I did see a lot individuals recommend using vinegar to clean the dishwasher. This is probably okay since you don’t do it every day. But as an dishwasher aid or as the cleaner, I’d exercise some caution.

    I’d like to see some other people with newer sytled dishwashers and a long time experience. Does it damage your dishwasher?

    Jenn

  35. Yea bc Kosher salt is any different than non rabbi blessed salt. Give me a break. Oxy clean? Would you drink oxy clean? Do any of you actually test these products to prove what they claim? I hear crickets… Most of you have no idea how to enumerate a strategy. Is baking soda and vinegar safe? Yes. So why not try that? Did any of you with cloudy problems ever stop to think that just maybe the dishwasher needs cleaning? Also, why would you want to make this girl more and more wealthy? She obviously receives kickback from every company she endorses. Hell i bet she erases this comment just after she reads it to stop you from leaving this crap site. Uea, welness mama bc shes an expert on the subject with no formal education on the subject. I bet she is a housewife wth no job because she doesnt want to work like her husband and has no degree.

    • “enumerate a strategy” lololololol.

    • Just for your information, Kosher salt isn’t salt that has been blessed by a rabbi. In fact, no food (kosher or not) gets blessed by a rabbi. Kosher salt is coarse salt that is used in the process of removing blood from the meat, thereby rendering it kosher (since blood is NOT kosher). People use kosher (or coarse) salt in recipes as opposed to fine-grain salt.. NOT as opposed to salt from a pig!

  36. You screen your comments? Now I know you’re a fake. Keep faking it. Zzz a community of fakes.

    • NO, I don’t. A spam filter does. If you have comments that haven’t appeared, it is because it somehow views you as spam. Also, if you don’t like my blog or consider me a fake, save both of our time/energy and go read one that you do agree with.

    • Wow, hopefully you have found something better to do with your time than this. If you don’t like and/or agree with her blog, go start your own. I bet you won’t get many followers

  37. Grab Green is the best! I have a subscription to it on Amazon.

  38. I use baking soda and or borax.

    • Hi Rachel wld that be a 50: 50 ratio? How much wld you use per wash? So I can try out. Also borax is very hard to find where I live is there an alternative? Thanx in advance.What do you use as a rinse aid?

  39. I’ve used Trader Joe’s powdered dishwasher soap for years, and love the outcome. Sparkly clean dishes, with no residue.

    I’m still trying to find the perfect homemade version for our dishwasher, but everything i’ve tried hasn’t even come close the clean I get from Trader Joe’s brand. Theirs is fairly inexpensive too, so I have a hard time putting too much time or effort into it right now.

  40. I too have had great luck with Method Smarty dish tabs. Not the 100% best rating on EWG but I can live with it. I use one tab plus a small squirt of seventh generation dish soap in the tab compartment and the pre-wash compartment. Coupled with the Seventh Generation rinse aid, my dishes come out sparkling clean 99% of the time.

    Next time I am Trader Joe’s, I am going to try their tabs and I am excited to try the Honest Company’s tabs once they are available at Target mid-June.

    I sadly have not had much luck with make your own dishwasher tabs.. might be my water or I haven’t gotten the receipt right yet but I was not happy with my results.

    For rinse aids, I have had great luck with Seventh Generation’s rinse aid and we are going to try Ecover as it was on sale 🙂

    I do caution people to read up on using white vinegar as a rinse aid with every wash. I read a blog post (I think it was on 100 days of real food’s blog) about how great this was as a rinse aid. A follow up blog posting was made a few months later about how the white vinegar (according to the dishwasher repair guy) was extremely corrosive in the rinse aid compartment and damages it. I don’t personally know this from experience and I will admit, white vinegar leaves dishes sparkling and is so inexpensive however as someone who does not have the money in the budget to replace their dishwasher right now, I would exercise caution with this.

    Love your blog Katie! Your lip chap and deodorant recipes are some of the best ever!

  41. Has anyone ever tried Ava Anderson’s products before? specifically their dish detergent? Heard good things about them too- but after reading all these comments, it seems like if you have hard water, find the right recipe is difficult! bummer

    • I use the Ava Anderson dish pods and they work really well. Other natural dishwasher soaps I have used (including Seventh Gen and Honesty Co) did not do a good job of rinsing the last bit of food off. I basically had to hand wash everything just to load my dishwasher. That was a pain. But I love the Ava Anderson pods!!

      • Love all of Ava’s cleaning products! They WORK!

  42. What is washing soda?

  43. Hi Katie,

    Do you use a rinse aid for spots of glasses? If so, what do you use?
    Thanks!

  44. Ava Anderson Non-Roxic dish pods are the best cleaning product I have ever used. The dishes actually FEEL and look different when they come out if the dishwasher. I had Waterford crystal that I thought were ruined years ago. One wash and they sparkle like new. I also use the pods to clean hardwood floors and toilets. Nothing short of amazing.

  45. I wanted to leave a msg to Jenn, Don’t know how she can read it. I’ve been using Finish for my life and I tested her recipe. It’s not working any better than Finish. I was wondering if you can point out which Finish product you’ve been using.

  46. I use Charlies Soap… since 2007. Love it. It lasts forever takes a pinch for a full load. Katie I’m sure you’ve heard of it? Any comments?

  47. Homemade liquid (Castillo “ish”) soap baking soda salt to make a liquid dishwasher gel. Vinegar in the rinse agent. Sparkling dishes and dishwasher. ..The borax version was leaving a terrible film on my glasses and greasy plastic as well as encouraging pink slime growth in my dishwasher (which is run twice daily) no matter how much citric acid I used. My hubby even switched to store brands trying to fix this and they did the same. My gel works great.

    • What are the amounts that you use of the soap, baking soda, & salt Tina? And how is it turned into a gel?

      • I apologize for taking so long to answer. I had to go back to the original recipe because I kind of tweak it as I make it. It worked great from the start so here is where I began…

        In a saucepan warm a cup of white vinegar and a cup of lemon juice. Do not boil just warm enough to melt three tablespoons of kosher or sea salt into the liquid. Remove from the heat and stir in a liquid soap (I use homemade olive oil and coconut based soap) until it reaches the desired consistency. It may continue to thicken as it cools depending on the soap used. I sometimes use fermented citrus cleaner instead of lemon juice although in smaller amounts. At times I use only vinegar but add citric acid if I am running low on supplies along with a pack of unsweetened lemonade I keep on hand for such purposes. I don’t like to waste it but if I have a but of freshly squeezed citrus juice handy it will serve the same purpose as the lemon juice.

      • In the recipe I forgot to add one tbsp of baking soda added slowly to avoid a volcano effect at the very end. I find that leaving it out is not an option however it is possible to add a tsp per load along with the gel if you prefer to use this much.

  48. I use a borax free recipe from thank your body site. Put all the ingredients in a zip lock and gentle massage it or swish it around, or if it’s gotten a little hard, bang it on the counter. Two days later it won’t harden and clump. I put a little vinegar in the rinse cycle. Works awesome. I have hard water and only have some clouding issues. Planet dish soap for hand washing. I’ve tried dozens and it’s the best. It suds, cleans, and gets a great rating from EWG. Thanks Wellness Mama? have a happy day.

  49. Might just be me, but the link for Tropical Traditions if taking me to the laundry detergent, not the dish detergent. Just to let you know! I still find the dish detergent without a problem. 🙂

    • Doesn’t matter – Tropical Traditions is discontinuing their dish detergent. This really bummed me out and I’ve been a loyal user and combined with vinegar as a rinse aid, their product works great. They gave me no reason as to why they are discontinuing and they said they are looking to replace the products with another option later this year. The same will be happening with their laundry detergent. I need supplies now, so I think TT will be losing a customer.

  50. I just started using, baking soda, salt, and a couple drops of Dawn. Love it. My dishes are clean and glasses clear.

  51. Please remove mrs meyers liquid products from the safe list: they contain benzisothiazolinone and/ or methylisothiazolinone. Nasty biocide pesticidal preservatives. Powdered products are safer for you -the water , the planet. Liquid rinse aids containnthese biocide skin sensitizers as well . look up allergy to isothiazolinone
    On facebook

  52. I’ve found Seventh Generation dishwashing powder to be the most effective over all the commercial products listed. I haven’t tried making my own yet, because this works so well.

  53. I use Young Living’s Thieves Dish Soap. It’s not actually for the dish washer but I just put a few drops in both compartments and white vinigar in the rinse compartment and it works great! The best natural option I’ve tried so far. Didn’t see anyone mention it yet so I thought I’d post.

    • I was just thinking about Thieves too, but using the washing soda in both detergent compartments and adding a few drops of Thieves to the main wash one, and vinegar for the rinse. I would think that will work, I am going to try that?

  54. we use a cup of baking soda in our dishwasher, and it works great…..and its more economical!

  55. Okay…this may seem a little out there…I’m the one in my fam that is most conscientious on plastics…vynils…aluminum foil and etc. That being said after 9 yrs of marriage and 6 children (blended)…I am READY for a dish washing machine HOWEVER it’s my hubby that is leary of taking that step until we “research” the best kind as far as off gassing and so forth…none of that even crossed my mind. Any suggestions as to a “green”-safe dish washing machine?

  56. I like biokleen automatic dish powder. In my dishwasher I only need 2 teaspoons. I order it from Vitacost.