Saturday, October 26, 2013

Megan's Liquid Gel Dishwasher Detergent (Borax Free)

A wonderful reader, Megan, suggested that I try a liquid dishwasher detergent in lieu of my Non-Borax Powdered Detergent. To that I said challenge accepted!! I love when you guys give me thing to try!

Liquid Gel Dishwashing Detergent #DIY #cleaning

I gave it a shot when I ran out of my powdered dishwasher detergent and I have to say that I am very impressed. I thought it performed very well compared to the powdered formula which I posted about earlier in the year. The plus is that the ingredients are easier to find and it's a bit gentler without the citric acid.

Ahhhh! I love options!

Megan's Liquid-Gel Dishwasher Detergent 
Makes ~4 cups (64 TBSP)
  • 3 TBSP Dr. Bronner's Liquid Castile Soap
  • 3 cups warm water
  • 1 cup Washing Soda 
    • You can find this for only a few dollars at most Walmarts or many grocery stores in the laundry aisle.
Simply add the ingredients in a jar and shake until the washing soda dissolves. Shake it. Seriously. Shake it. A lot.
Megan suggests that you leave it upside down and shake it a few times throughout the day until it gels to prevent separation.

Use 1-2 TBSP per load in the main wash
Optional: 1 additional TBSP in the pre-wash or you can use vinegar, or salt for extra umph!

The unique thing about this dishwasher detergent is that you can use it as the main cleaner or as a pre-wash. Play around with it to find your best combo! You can even make the powdered version and use it in conjunction with the liquid version for extra tough jobs. For a gentler job, I'm a big advocate of vinegar so I usually use that for a pre-wash.

liquid dishwashing detergentThe detergent is a loose gel consistency and I did have some separation of washing soda at the base of my jar (see above picture). Most likely this happened because I got distracted and forgot to re-shake my jar later in the day. Oops! If this happens, just warm the jar in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes and shake it vigorously until it dissolves. Then remember to re-shake it again later.

Or repeat hot water bath.

I did NOT use any pre-wash for this test.

Before I used this recipe I washed a small load with my old commercial eco-friendly detergent so I could remember the nitty gritty details to accurately compare the products. The biggest difference was that the dishes felt like there was zero residue with Megan's detergent-- very squeaky clean! There really wasn't much difference in the quality of the detergents' performances. If you have hard water there will still be hard water stains, but you can decrease this with using vinegar in the pre-rinse and cleaning your dishwasher regularly.

I felt that Megan's detergent also held up to my DIY powdered detergent. If there was any difference it would be in how they handled tough jobs, like burnt pieces on pans. There was an increase in the ability to remove debris with the powdered detergent, but that is most likely because of the citric acid. The liquid detergent increased it's capabilities for tough jobs when you used 1 TBSP in the pre-wash in addition to the main wash. I felt that my DIY detergent left less residue than the eco-friendly commercial version, but I felt that Megan's left less. Again, if hard water is a factor, then there will be no difference between them in the amount of hard water stains.

Ingredients for DIY dishwashing detergent
None of the dishwasher detergents, including the commercial eco-friendly version, produces amazing, commercial worthy sparkling dishes, but I do not believe that is possible without harsh chemicals. The dishes looked clean and there were no debris left on any of the items.

I would definitely recommend this dishwasher detergent!

I don't believe this should go bad or needs to be stored in the fridge as it's very similar to DIY liquid laundry soap which apparently lasts forever, but I will keep you updated if I see anything fishy!!

Dr. Bonner Castile Soap:
Also, I think it's worth mentioning that Dr. Bonner's is generously supporting GMO labeling efforts so by purchasing his brand of Castile Soap you will not only be doing a favor to the environment, but you will also be showing your support for Dr. Bonner and the anti-GMO campaign. Yay! I call that a win-win!

So THANK YOU Megan for giving us a wonderful new recipe to try out!

If you don't know if making your own Dishwasher Detergent is for you, then you can read my review of two Green Dishwasher Detergents that you can buy: the Honest Company's Dishwasher Gel and GrabGreen's Detergent.

UPDATE: after using the detergent for a while I did notice that it wasn't cleaning as well as my powdered detergent so I've upped the amount to 2 TBSP of solution, then added cheap sea salt to the pre-rinse dispenser and put some vinegar on the top rack in a cup. It really helped with the cleaning power and removed residue.

Also, remember to clean your dishwasher once a month! It really does help.


  1. I just tried this and after about hours and shaking every now and then it almost completely solidified! I'm not sure what I did wrong.

    1. It does become thicker after a few hours, but it is definitely not supposed to be solid-- maybe you would need a little more water to keep it in the gel consistency.

  2. okay, I am going to give this a try. I hate the toxic detergents and try to make everything myself. I may add a drop of lemon essential oil. I'll comment back, if this works. Thanks Megan and keep loving animals, living and eating healthy !

  3. Ok i tried this but omg the dishes came out dirty the glassware was left with an awful film that very hard to get rid of. Any ideas why?

  4. Ok i tried this but omg the dishes came out dirty the glassware was left with an awful film that very hard to get rid of. Any ideas why?

  5. I made this tonight and it started to get really thick. So, I just put some in a silicone mold and let it dry out more. Voilà, dishwasher tabs!

  6. I tried this and had mixed results. The regular glass and porcelain plates came out very clean with no residue. My mugs and some glass storage containers came out with mild powdery residue. The plastic lids for my storage containers came out with a thick, gluey residue that I am having a lot of difficulty getting off. It is awful! Mine is also solid, not sure why. Any thoughts on what I did wrong? I used homemade washing powder, could that be the problem?

    1. I am not sure honestly. Homemade washing powder sounds AWESOME, but I'm not quite sure what goes into it. This gel can leave a mild residue, but I've never had the thick gluey issue so I'm not quite sure what caused that.


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