6 Best Substitute for Dishwasher Detergent Without Baking Soda

It might be quite a conundrum when you open your dishwasher and discover that you are out of detergent. Baking soda is a common ingredient in do-it-yourself remedies, but what if you don’t have any? If you’re looking for a substitute for dishwasher detergent without baking soda, there are several alternatives you can try.

Substitute for Dishwasher Detergent Without Baking Soda

It’s important to comprehend why some homeowners might want to avoid using baking soda before exploring the alternatives. Although baking soda is a fantastic cleaner, some people worry about how abrasive it is. It may eventually scratch delicate glassware or dull the luster of expensive dinnerware. Some individuals may only not have it in their pantry.

1. Borax

Borax is a naturally occurring mineral component that is a component of several industrial dishwasher detergents. 

How to Use:

Add 2-3 tablespoons of borax to the dishwasher’s detergent compartment.

Run the dishwasher as usual.

Pros: It’s a natural cleaner and acts as a water softener, which is beneficial in areas with hard water.

Cons: Some people are concerned about borax’s safety, especially when ingested. Always store it out of children’s reach.

2. Castile Soap

This vegetable-based soap is a gentle yet effective cleaning agent.

How to Use:

Grate about 1 tablespoon of pure castile soap. Place it in the detergent compartment. Run the dishwasher as usual.

Pros: It’s biodegradable and gentle on the environment.

Cons: It can be a tad pricey compared to other options.

Also Read : Top 20 Benefits and Disadvantages of Granite Cookware

3. White Vinegar

White vinegar is a popular cleaning agent due to its ability to break down grease and deodorize.

How to Use:

Fill the detergent compartment with white vinegar. Run the dishwasher on a regular cycle.

Pros: Besides cleaning, white vinegar also acts as a rinse aid, ensuring spot-free dishes.

Cons: Might not be as effective on heavily soiled dishes.

Also Read: What is the Effect of Oven Cleaner on Kitchen Countertops?

4. Lemon Juice

The acidity in lemon juice makes it an effective cleaner and degreaser.

How to Use:

Combine equal parts of lemon juice and water. Pour the mixture into the detergent compartment. Run the dishwasher as usual.

Pros: Leaves a refreshing, citrusy scent.

Cons: Might require more product to clean heavily soiled dishes effectively.

Also Read: 9 Pros and Cons for Stainless Steel Cookware

5. Liquid Dish Soap

In a pinch, the regular liquid dish soap can work, but be cautious.

How to Use:

Add only a few drops (less than a teaspoon) to the detergent compartment. Run the dishwasher on a short cycle.

Pros: Readily available in most homes.

Cons: Using too much can lead to excessive suds, potentially causing a mess or damaging the dishwasher.

Also Read : How to Fix Worn Spots on Kitchen Cabinets?

6. Essential Oils

Essential oils, particularly those with antibacterial and antifungal properties like tea tree, lavender, or eucalyptus, can be great additions to DIY dishwashing solutions.

How to Use:

Combine a few drops of essential oil with another base, like Castile soap or white vinegar. Pour the mixture into the detergent compartment and run the dishwasher as usual.

Pros: Adds a pleasant fragrance while providing additional cleaning properties.

Cons: Might not be as effective on its own; best when combined with other ingredients.

Also Read : 10 Types of Kitchen Sinks Materials With Pros and Cons

Tips for Optimal Dish Cleaning:

Scrape Off Excess Food: Before loading your dishwasher, ensure that all the dishes have been scraped clean of larger food particles.

Soak if Necessary: If there are hard-to-remove residues or burnt food, soak the dishes in warm water and some dishwashing soap for a few minutes to loosen them.

Order Matters: If washing by hand, start with glasses and cups, then flatware, followed by plates, bowls, and lastly pots and pans. This helps in keeping the dishwater cleaner for longer.

Use Warm Water: Warm water is more effective in removing grease and food residues. It also helps the soap to lather better.

Don’t Overuse Soap: While it’s important to use enough detergent to clean dishes, using too much can lead to a soapy residue. If dishes feel slippery after washing, they might still have soap on them.

Use a Dish Brush: For dishes with crevices or stubborn residue, a dish brush can be more effective than a sponge.

Replace Sponges Regularly: Sponges can harbor bacteria if they aren’t replaced regularly. It’s also a good idea to disinfect sponges by microwaving them for a minute (ensure they’re wet and microwave-safe) or running them through the dishwasher.

Clean the Sink: After you’re done washing the dishes, it’s a good idea to clean the sink to prevent bacterial growth. You can use a mild disinfectant or a mixture of baking soda and vinegar.

Also Read: How to Clean Ceramic Kitchen Sink?


Even though commercial dishwashing detergents are designed for maximum effectiveness, unexpected events in life sometimes catch us off guard. These alternatives are practical and effective, whether you’re short on baking soda or just prefer a different strategy. Keep these alternatives in mind the next time your detergent drawer is empty, and your dishes will sparkle!

Frequently Asked Question

What are the common alternatives to dishwasher detergent without using baking soda?

Common alternatives include white vinegar, lemon juice, Castile soap, Borax, salt, DIY dishwasher tablets, and adjusting dishwasher settings.

Can I use Castile soap in my dishwasher?

Yes, you can. Mix a teaspoon of Castile soap with water in a spray bottle, and apply it to your dishes before loading them into the dishwasher. It creates a soapy layer that aids in cleaning.

What does using salt in a dishwasher do?

Adding table salt to the dishwasher’s salt compartment can help soften hard water, preventing mineral deposits on your dishes.

Can I use these alternatives in any type of dishwasher?

In general, these alternatives can be used in most dishwashers, but it’s essential to consult your dishwasher’s manual to ensure compatibility with specific cleaning agents.