Have you ever finished loading the dishwasher only to look under the sink (or wherever it is you keep the detergent) and discovered that you’re out? That happens to me on occasion, and with the help the internet, I’ve developed a pretty reasonable substitute.
This isn’t a detergent that you can “make” a whole batch of and keep on hand because it’s only 3 ingredients, and two of them are wet. So whenever I need to rely on it, I just do it right in the detergent cup of the dishwasher. It’s so simple, and works great!
First, fill up your detergent cup with baking soda. This handy leavener of baked goods is fabulous for cleaning because it’s so abrasive. If you have a really tough item that needs cleaning, mix a lot of baking soda with a tiny bit of water to make a paste and scrub away! I used that to get all the caked-on stuff off of my kids’ high chair, and that humble wood chair has lasted through 3 kids thanks to this cleaning method. So yeah, add it to the detergent cup to help get all the bits of food off your dishes.
Next, add a splash of acid. It doesn’t really matter what; I’ve had success with lemon juice, lime juice, and vinegar (not at the same time). These ingredients give you a bit of disinfectant in your wash.
The final thing to add is a couple of drops of Dawn (or whatever dish soap you keep at your sink). It’s really important not to use more than 1-2 drops because that soap isn’t designed for the dishwasher. If you were to use it in lieu of dishwasher detergent on its own, you’d be living in a sitcom because your kitchen would be covered in suds! But by using just a drop or two in this recipe, there’s not enough to make bubbles and cause problems. This ingredient gives you the degreasing power you want for really clean dishes.
That’s it! I love knowing how to do this so that if I’ve run out of the “real” stuff I’m not stuck handwashing all of the dishes until I can get to the store.