Homemade Dishwasher Rinse Aid–3 Recipes

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Dishwasher rinse aids work great, but they are pricey and loaded with chemicals you just might not want in your home. Thankfully, there are options for making your own homemade dishwasher rinse aid that call for using just a few simple ingredients. Your dishes, your wallet, and the environment will thank you!

You’ll love these options, PLUS I’m also sharing what you DON’T want to use in your dishwasher. Not all recipes on the internet are safe!

dishwasher with plates and cutlery with text saying DIY Dishwasher Rinse Aid

In an effort to reduce the toxins in our home and environment, I’ve been working at making homemade cleaning products for awhile now.

Some I’ve made because I just wanted to, but some I’ve made due to a problem that I had to solve. This time it was a case of the latter.

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Dirty Dishes in New Dishwasher!?

When we had to get a new dishwasher, I chose a really good model (on sale of course) and thought we’d have fabulously clean dishes as a result.  Instead, I found myself having to clean at least 1/4 of the top rack every single load.  Ugh.

Washing dishes by hand after they’ve gone through the dishwasher cycle is for sure not efficient and not what this already-too-busy-mom needs at the end of the day.  Something had to change.

I called the dishwasher manufacturer and they sent me a few samples of dishwasher rinse aid saying that that would help, plus they recommended a specific (expensive) type of detergent.

Well, the detergent I was open to trying, but this frugal-minded mom was determined not to spend even more money and put even more toxic chemicals into our home and the environment.

So off to figure out how to make an all natural homemade dishwasher rinse aid, I went.

I read somewhere that putting straight vinegar in the rinse aid compartment was a quick and easy DIY Jet Dry alternative.

So I tried it.

And it worked.

However, soon after making this “genius” discovery, a dishwasher repairman warned me of the dangers of doing just this, saying that the acid could possibly at away at the seals of the compartment. Yikes!

Instead, he recommended the first super simple homemade dishwasher rinse aid technique that I am sharing today. It’s my favorite because–well–it’s SO simple and it works.


Before we get to the recipes, however, there are some very important things you should know about other homemade rinse aids on the internet. Not all of them are safe and here’s why.

Don’t Mix Acids with Peroxide

There are some recipes online for DIY Rinse Aid made by combining citric acid with peroxide. This is apparently NOT a good idea.

Also don’t mix peroxide with vinegar. Or with any acid. Mixing peroxide with acid makes a super strong oxidizer that can etch metal. NOT a good idea. (source)

Be Careful with Essential Oils

Essential oils don’t mix with water. So if you put essential oils in with peroxide or with water and citric acid, the oils will sit on top and likely will end up creating gummy residue in your machine that might cause a problem.

Don’t Use Rubbing Alcohol

There are also some DIY Rinse Aids that recommend using rubbing alcohol as an ingredient. This might ruin your dishwasher that I know of, but it’s pretty noxious and rubbing alcohol’s fumes are flammable and should be kept from any heat source.

I don’t think that the dishwasher’s heat source would necessarily be a problem, but better to be safe than sorry and I think that the fumes would get pretty intense. Since rubbing alcohol’s fumes aren’t considered the best to be exposed to, let’s just not do this. (source)


Now here are the 3 Easiest Rinse Aids you can make. So easy, you’ll never go back to buying it again!

Vinegar Dishwasher Rinse Agent

  • Place a small cup in your dishwasher’s top rack.
  • Fill said cup with a 1/4 – 1/2 cup of white vinegar.
  • Run dishwasher as usual.

I mean, who can beat saving tons of money, doing it naturally, and not mucking up the environment with all of those chemicals and extra packaging?  (Not that I’ve ever bought rinse aid in my life — I haven’t :-).) White vinegar is soooo cheap!

Here’s a photo of our dishwasher for your enjoyment :-).   The vinegar is in the little plastic container on the lower left. By the way, if you are wondering why we have rubber bands on our glasses, you can read this post here.

Dishwasher Rinse Aid

Now….I know it seems crazy, but this really did work for me. You’d think that the action of the dishwasher would cause all of the vinegar to be diluted greatly before it could help, but it didn’t.

I’m sure the effectiveness of this method will depend on the position of the dishwasher arms in your dishwasher.

If this doesn’t work for you, another option is to pour a 1/4 – 1/2 cup of vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher when the rinse cycle starts. Of course, you have to keep an eye on the dishwasher while it’s running to do that.

So here is that Super Easy Rinse Aid plus two other options that are basically just as simple!

Peroxide Dishwasher Rinsing Agent

  • Hydrogen Peroxide


Pour some peroxide in your dishwasher’s rinse aid dispenser and run the dishwasher as usual.

Genius Tip: Add a few drops of food coloring (natural preferred) so you can see how much is left if you have a compartment that holds a lot of rinse aid.

Pitfalls of this method

Peroxide can bleach cloth, so take care to not get it on your clothes or kitchen linens.

Citric Acid Dishwasher Rinse Agent


Mix ingredients and store in a jar.
Place one tablespoon of mixture in rinse aid compartment prior to each load of dishes.

Pitfalls of this method

Citric Acid can get clumpy if you live in a humid environment. If this happens, you can place a tablespoon or so of bentonite clay in a baby sock or small cloth / rag, seal it with a rubber band, and keep it in the jar with your citric acid blend to absorb moisture.

Dishwasher Rinse Aid

This Easy Homemade Dishwasher Rinse Aid is the perfect non-toxic and frugal solution to spotted glasses and silverware.
5 from 3 votes
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Vinegar Dishwasher Rinse Agent

Peroxide Dishwasher Rinse Aid

Citric Acid Dishwasher Rinse Aid


Vinegar Dishwasher Rinse Agent

  • Place a small cup in your dishwasher's top rack.
  • Pour vinegar into the cup.
  • Run dishwasher as usual.

Peroxide Dishwasher Rinse Aid

  • Fill your rinse aid compartment with peroxide.

Citric Acid Dishwasher Rinse Aid

  • Combine the citric acid and essential oils (if using) and store in a jar. Place one tablespoon in your rinse aid compartment before running a load of dishes in the dishwasher.
  • You can also blend the citric acid with water and then add that to the rinse aid compartment, if you like, but it's really an extra unnecessary step.


Pitfalls of Peroxide Dishwasher Rinse Aid method.

Peroxide can bleach clothing so take care to not get this on your clothing.
NOTE: Some recipes online recommend mixing peroxide with citric acid. Do NOT do that. Also don’t mix peroxide with vinegar. Or with any acid. Mixing peroxide with acid makes a super strong oxidizer that can etch metal. NOT a good idea. (source)

Pitfalls of Citric Acid Dishwasher Rinse Aid method.

Citric Acid can get clumpy if you live in a humid environment. If this happens, you can place bentonite clay in a baby sock or small cloth, seal it with a rubber band, and keep it in the jar with your citric acid blend to absorb moisture.
Tried this recipe?Mention @wholenewmom or tag #wholenewmom!
Pinterest collage for Dishwasher Rinse Aid post

Other Homemade Healthier Home Products

Looking for more ways to save money and detoxify your life?  Here are some other DIY green cleaning formulas to try.

Easy Homemade Non-Toxic Laundry Detergent
Homemade “Soft Scrub”
Homemade Moisturizing Foaming Soap
No-Streak Window Cleaner

How to Clean Your Dishwasher

To help your dishwasher rinse aid work even better, try these tips.

If you have particularly hard water, try running your dishwasher with vinegar or citric acid every so often or even once weekly to clean it. Simply put 1 cup of vinegar or 1/4 to 1/2 cup of citric acid, or 1 cup of lemon juice either in the bottom of the dishwasher or in a container of the center rack before running it.

With these tips and recipes, you’ll have your dishwasher running great, spotless glasses and silverware, without breaking the bank or spending a ton of time!

(Note this post was originally published on September 11, 2011. It was republished with loads of new information. This is the original photo for reference.

Cups and glasses in a dishwasher with text saying DIY Dishwasher Rinse Aid

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  1. I’m a little leery of using non-commercial rinse agent.
    DH just bought me a new dishwasher and it specifies over and over that it’s made to be used with a rinse agent. There was 23 load Jet Dri included, and the dishes are VERY clean but something about touching the surface bugs me – almost tacky, and feels coated. (Maybe it’s just super clean – I haven’t used a dishwasher since the old one died 5 years or so). So, while I’d like to go back to H202 like I used in my old dishwasher, I’m wondering if there’s any feedback about newer models needing whatever cr@p is in the commercial rinse agents.
    As a “coupon-er” I have a bunch of peroxide I got for free. I had read that vinegar is bad for the seals, although am encouraged from reading comments here that it can be done safely. And TYSM for the info about mixing acids with H202 – that’s new info to me.

    As an aside: I enjoyed hand washing, used boiling water to really get utensils & glasses sterile and could use the old machine as a “hidden drainer”, but that wasn’t a great idea. It gets moldy in there after awhile(!) and very difficult to clean inside by hand. Just in case anyone else wants to experiment in such a fashion LOL.

    1. Hi there. I understand your concern – I think the concern is the straight vinegar in the receptacle and not how I recommended it since other detergents actually put citric acid in their cleaners.

      About the drainer – yes good tip! Mold city!

      And you’re welcome about the H2O2 info. Thanks for reading – stay tuned for more :).

    2. They tell you to use a specific rinse aid because they have advertising contracts. In other words, it’s all about the benjamins.

  2. First you say not to use essential oils then you put it in one of the recipes?

    Vinegar (an acid) and soap or detergents are a base and mixing the two cancels each other out….So putting the vinegar in where it can mix with the DW cleaner (DW detergent/homemade soap, etc. ) will cancel each other out and your dishes won’t get clean…..

    Also, almost ALL white vinegar is petroleum based….You can’t find many that are grain based, and even then, petroleum may have been used to “start” the process…..
    It sucks, but there is the fact of the matter. I searched it once and that is what I found.

    I actually have hard water and I rarely use a rinse aid. Don’t have issues not using it. Sometimes I remember, and put some in the rinse cup, but not very often…maybe once a year?

    If I get a white residue on my dishes, it is because I used too much DW ‘detergent’ (I make my own) so I just cut back on it and all is fine then. Try using less DW detergent and I’ll bet you won’t need any rinse aid.

    1. Hi Carol – the comment about essential oils was that if you add them to water etc and they aren’t mixed in when you add them to the dishwasher, they will coagulate and get gummy. In the recipe that I had them in, they are mixed into a solid so that shouldn’t happen.

      I hear you on the vinegar and detergent, and I did look at that possibility, but it seems that the cancelling out might only be a bit and not the whole thing especially since they are both highly diluted. I can’t say but that is my hunch.

      It sees that people disagree on this and it’s worked for a lot of people.

      I’m glad to hear about your history for why you don’t think people need it…that could be the case but aren’t there people needing rinse aid even if they are using a standard dishwasher tab?

  3. This is interesting. At our previous residence, and of course previous dishwasher, I had tried vinegar in the rinse aid compartment but I never felt like it worked. So, I gave up the vinegar and have been buying the rinse aid product.
    But I’m going to try your suggestions!!! Thank you!

    1. I hope they work for you! Please do let me know :).

      I’m working on a dishwasher detergent….hope to have that available soon…..

  4. I’m confused, you said you were told by a repair man not to use vinegar and yet your recipes have vinegar. Can you explain please.

    1. Sure! He said not to put it directly in the rinse compartment – and the first recipe doesn’t do that. Does that help clarify?

  5. 5 stars
    Peroxide doesn’t bleach colors. You can pour peroxide directly on blood stained clothes and watch it bubble up. You may have to repeat that several times.
    Peroxide is in bleach for colored clothes. Works great

    1. Nice! Thanks for the tip! I did read that if they aren’t colorfast it can be a problem. So for some fabrics not the best thing to use, sounds like!

  6. 5 stars
    Great tips here, thank you Adrienne!!

    I’m have a background in science, including chemistry, and the info in this article made sense. Thanks again and God Bless all who write and read such blog articles for the good of all, including Mother Earth!!

    1. Awww thank you so much. I have a lot more posts to go through and new ones to write while trying to make them accurate but I so appreciate this!

    1. It seems to be something that isn’t determined, but I think best avoided. Did I make something not clear in the post? Please let me know :).

      1. HI Adrienne,

        Thanks for your response! What confuses me is that you say in the main text that one should not use vinegar in the rinse-aid container because it could damage the dishwasher seals – I assume you meant in the door of the machine. But below, in the suggestions that are okay, you say that vinegar in a cup on the top shelf is okay per the repairman. Wouldn’t this also cause degradation problems?


        1. Hi there! You are so welcome. In the upper shelf it would end up being a lot more diluted so shouldn’t be an issue. It’s still not certain that it would harm the seals in the rinse aid container but I am not doing that at this time.

  7. I’ve used this method before and it does work well but then I was told that vinegar can damage the seals. Has this been anyone’s experience?

      1. Thanks, I reread it but I’m still confused. The dishwasher guy said not to put it in the rinse aid compartment but what about the other seals and the hoses etc which I’ve heard can be damaged in the long term if using the plain vinegar method. Do you use a particular type of vinegar? I read that 5% acetic acid was less damaging. Maybe I’ll try one of the other methods…

        1. I know it’s a bit hard to know what to do–my understanding is that the method I recommended works fine b/c the vinegar will be diluted when the machine runs. I use regular vinegar.

    1. Yes, we had a repairman come out to service our dishwasher and he told us not to use vinegar as a regular rinse aid. Once in a while, like once a month was all he said was even advisable. So I’m searching for another rinse aid recipe. Vinegar does it’s job but it’s very hard on the dishwasher. Being that it would benefit the dishwasher repairman, I felt his advice was sound. He could’ve said, sure go ahead… but he didn’t. He also advised against commercial products due to the chemicals, which I also appreciated. So I’m going to try other recipes. I am running my dishwasher daily…with a large family an all. Bummed about the vinegar. I use it for a fabric softener in my washer and that service repairman seemed to like the idea. So vinegar is great for some things but not everything.

      1. Yes, that’s a puzzle. I don’t know why it is ok (maybe) for some things but not for others….and also why it would be the case that it’s OK for a washing machine. I wonder what the difference could be? The section that you are putting it in, perhaps?

        (Note – this comment was edited after the following reader clarified the comment that I misunderstood.)

        1. I don’t think she meant putting fabric softener in the dishwasher; I think she meant she uses vinegar as a fabric softener in the clothes washer and that her repairman didn’t see any harm in that to her washing machine.

          1. Oops makes sense, LOL! I’ll go back and change my reply. Maybe I read her comment too fast and missed that it likely meant that. Thanks!

            1. So great! I do stuff like that…anyway, you can remove my comments if you want, no problem! 🙂 (Now my first doesn’t exactly make sense anyway!) Thank you for your post by the way! I’m glad to have the warning about vinegar!

              1. Thanks much – I left it and edited mine. You are so welcome. It’s such a confusing topic when we hear different things from different people!

  8. Good tip. My turn.
    You cannot save 5800% on dishwashing detergent, or, anything.
    All you could save is 100% (if it was free.) You CAN say that Jet Dry is 5800% MORE EXPENSIVE, but you cannot SAVE 5800 %

    Hope you can adjust your article. Keep up the work.



    1. Hi there. You are totally right! Changing right now. Thanks so much for reading…..I wrote this forever ago, btw. Not an excuse, b/c I make all kinds of mistakes even now….but wow that whole post needs so much updating. Hopefully soon. Thanks again!

  9. I used to put vinegar in the washing machine, to remove chemicals from new cloths. It ended up making my machine rust. I would love to try the vinegar in the dishwasher, but the dishwasher is new and I really want to ruin it.

    1. I know – it’s all so confusing to me!! Some say it’s a problem and others say no and even the manufacturers say to use citric acid to clean the dishwasher!!!

  10. I think the theory is if you put vinegar IN the rinse aid portion of the dishwasher, it will destroy that compartment. that’s why it’s recommended to put it in the top rack in a cup or glass.

    1. Hi there.

      Yes, I heard that as well but then a number of people commented on this and the follow up post and they had different information. Let me know what you think after reading them :).

  11. I did a bit of research, trying to find the MSDS that I read which indicated that some major rinse aid variant has a pH of 2.2 and I am unable to find it. However, I did find a Proctor & Gamble patent which states and I quote:

    “…The rinse aid dispersion has a pH in a range of from 2 to 6…”

    So, apparently, that is the range of pH for currently marketed rinse aids. Perhaps, there are several versions of some of them, with different power factors. Vinegar, of course, falls well within that range, clocking in at about 2.5 pH, so it will not harm anyone’s machine. But, think about the lost profits for P&G and the others that are making big bucks from selling rinse aids, if everyone started to use vinegar…

    Keep up the good work.

  12. I got the pH of 2.2 from a material safety sheet I read some time ago. I think it was Jet Dry, but it might have been another big time rinse aid, like Finish.

    1. I know – I have heard this but others have commented that it’s not the case. Please read the comments and let me know what you think!

      1. a repairman that was at my house told me to run my empty dishwasher with a cup of vinegar in the top rack every so often once a week at least, said it helps keep the dishwasher and the lines clean and unclogged…pretty sure it must be safe as a rinse aid…

    2. a repairman that was at my house told me to run my empty dishwasher with a cup of vinegar in the top rack every so often once a week at least, said it helps keep the dishwasher and the lines clean and unclogged…pretty sure it must be safe as a rinse aid…