Green dishwashing

After something like a year and a half of being without a functioning dishwasher (thank God my husband washes the dishes the majority of the time), I am happy to report that we finally have a new (to us) fully-functional dishwasher. Woohoo! (Thank you to my hubby and my father-in-law for fixing the pipes and getting the “new” dishwasher installed.)

Now the question is – what dishwasher detergent should we use? I’d like to avoid phosphates and chlorine (for health reasons) and find something as environmentally-friendly as possible. We were using Seventh Generation or Method dish soap when washing them by hand. This topic was discussed a bit at the EcoMom meeting I attended last week, but I don’t recall what the consensus was.

What do you use in your dishwasher? Does it get the dishes clean? Leave a film on them? Would you recommend it to others? Thanks in advance! 🙂

34 thoughts on “Green dishwashing”

  1. We use Seventh Generation Automatic Dishwasher Soap. I think it works wonderfully in the dishwasher and in fact, I don’t fill up the entire dispenser. I usually fill it up 1/2 to 3/4 of the way. So it lasts a long time and it’s (at least I hope) better for the environment. Congratulations on the new dishwasher!

  2. Shaklee’s dishwasher powder is the bomb! All of their products are environmentally safe, etc, etc.

    Seriously, I don’t sell but I do buy. :o)They are a little more expensive to start but in the long run it is a cost effective choice. WIth the shaklee cleaning products a little goes a long way unlike other products that you pay a little for but use a lot of to get the job done. :o)

  3. I’ve been using 7th Gen powder. I also skimp on filling the dispenser, and for the most part it works just fine. Every once in a while it does something trippy to my cookie sheets if I try to sneak them in. Not sure what the deal is with that, but for the regular dishes it works fine.

  4. I make my own!!! Right now my glasses look kinda cloudy, and I’ve been advised to add a little bit of powdered cascade to get them spot free. Everything comes clean except the really caked on stuff, just pre-rinse to fix that problem.

    Dishwasher Detergent

    – 1 cup borax

    – 1 cup baking soda

    (add 1 cup of powdered cascade)


    1. In a small container, mix together the borax and baking soda.

    That’s it! 😀

    I keep a table spoon inside the container with my mixture, and when I run my dishwasher I put in 3 tablespoons of the homemade detergent.

    With each load I fill the rinse aid receptacle with vinegar.

  5. Ecover Dishwashing Tablets is the only detergent I have actually used that works. LOVE them. I really can’t cope with out them. Give them a try, I promise you will not be dissapointed.

  6. I use Shaklee and it works great. We have hard water which requires more soap, so to make it last longer, I make a mix of 50/50 borax/baking soda and put a little of that in with the soap. I also use vinegar in place of jet dry. My dishes come out clear every time.

  7. I am absolutely in LOVE with just about everything made by Biokleen. I really like their Automatic Dish Powder for the dishwasher and am completely, head over heels in love with their liquid laundry soap and the carpet cleaner called Bac-Out. Everything is super concentrated, only uses a TBSP or so, is made locally (to me), and smells great. All with no chlorine, phosphates or chemicals. The dishwasher stuff is the best one I’ve ever tried and I’ve tried almost all of them out there–7th Generation on down. And one more plug for the Bac-Out–it will take red wine and dog poop out of light-colored carpet, smells like lime, and is completely natural. I truly have never found another line of products, natural or no, where I truly like everything I’ve tried.

  8. I make my own laundry detergent, and I always see recipes for dish detergent as well (though I haven’t gotten around to making it yet). It is generally just Washing Soda and Borax, with White Vinegar as a rinse agent (in your Jet Dry dispenser). Worth a try, as it is unbelievably cheap to make a batch.

  9. I second Heather B on the borax/washing soda mixture. I also add a couple of drops of tea tree oil for disinfectant, and then I too fill the rinse tray with vinegar. It works great!

    I blogged about it here:

    it’s about the only thing that gets dishes clean in our dishwasher! An added bonus is that you can make homemade laundry detergent using more or less the same ingredients (

    In order to give credit where credit is due, I got these (and several other fabulously frugal) recipes from


  10. I used to use Ecover and just sucked it up and handwashed the stuff that didn’t get clean. Then I got a rockin’ deal on Biokleen and I’ll never go back. You use a lot less, it gets everything clean and it doesn’t smell.

  11. I just finally finished up a jar of home made borax / baking soda detergent…thank goodness. It left a nasty (looking and tasting) film on everything. And this was in the city (softer water) and at our new place in the mountains (hard well water). Hmpfh. I really wanted to love it. I even tried multiple variations of the recipe adding citric acid, salt, etc. I think we’re going back to the 7th Generation liquid.

  12. I’ve been using the Ecover powder (you get to control how much goes in the machine and use less than called for on the box, compared to the tablets). I have tried 7th Gen a few times and never liked how poorly it rinsed (and I use white vinegar as my rinse agent) compared to Ecover. I *do* love Biokleen for laundry and their Bac-Out for stains, so I might try it for washing dishes, but I think it’s more expensive than Ecover. 😀

  13. I use a locally made powder (Ecostore) and it works fine. They make a rinse aid too which is good because our dishwasher is still under warranty so I don’t want to void that by using white vinegar which I understand is another option.

    Ecover make a powder too.

  14. I haven’t found a good one yet- I’m trying 7th gen. next- but I heartily recommend NOT using Planet, unless you’re cool with dirty dishes encased in thick white film.

  15. I whipped up a batch of baking soda, borax, salt, citric acid to use when I switched completely over to green/homemade cleaners and we have not been happy at all with it. In fact, it’s the only cleaner my husband refuses to use up. We’re using store brand liquid detergent until we find something new.

    We’ve used vinegar in the rinse resivoir for a while so that’s not the issue. The homemade cleaner leaves an awful film on everything and it was only getting worse with each load so we had to stop using it.

  16. Palmolive has an eco-friendly line of dishwasher detergents and dish soaps. I have to go out of my way to get Seventh Generation or Ecover so I bought that the last couple of times so I wasn’t making an extra trip (and using gas OY!) and it works great.

  17. I’m another 7th generation powder user. Our dishwasher doesn’t have a heating element and 7th Gen works great with no spots, no residue, and no caked on food even at the lower temperature of our dishwasher.

  18. I love Biokleen – both the powder and the liquid work well in the machine. When I had to get my new d/w’s motor replaced right at the year mark (so still under warranty thank God!) the repairman told me that you always have to have the tap running hot before you start your d/w especially if using powder detergent. He also said that if you are leaving food residue on the plates for sev’l days in the machine, you will need to run a rinse cycle to get that off or else no detergent will do it’s job the best it can.

    I basically scrape the plates or let the dog clean them or I may do a quick rinse in the sink since I need to get the tap water hot!

    I have never had a problem since and I wonder if trying out the baking soda/borax would work well doing those things? Will have to give that a try.

  19. Another vote for Ecover tablets. We’ve tried several others and the Ecover tables are absolutely the best. I was worried they would leave that powder that – well powder – leaves on dishes, but it’s not a problem at all. And if you belong to or run a Frontier co-op, it’s much less expensive.

  20. We use 7th Gen too. I tried a few and this one seemed to work best for us. I also don’t fill the dispenser all the way up.

    Enjoy having a dishwasher again. Washing by hand is such a PITA.

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