Homemade Dishwasher Rinse Aid--3 Recipes

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 overlay

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.

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.

WARNINGS ABOUT DIY RINSE AIDS

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)

3 DIY DISHWASHER RINSE AIDS

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

Instructions

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

Instructions

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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Ingredients

Vinegar Dishwasher Rinse Agent

Peroxide Dishwasher Rinse Aid

Citric Acid Dishwasher Rinse Aid

Instructions

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.

Notes

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 3 Ways 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 Shower Cleaner similar to Soft Scrub®
Homemade Moisturizing Foaming Soap
No-Streak Window Cleaner
Homemade Shower 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

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199 Comments

  1. Vinegar as drying aid is a TERRIBLE idea. Putting something as acidic as vinegar into a machine.. you'd save 5000 whatever % but be prepared to buy a new dishwasher unless you'd want your family to consume rust. Iron oxide.. yum

    1. These people are mentally ill. Quit being scared of stuff that won’t hurt you in this lifetime. Dishwasher rinse aid is harmless and it’s hysteria and propaganda like this that makes people think the world is ending. Quit living in fear. Christ.

      1. It really doesn't matter whether dishwasher rinse aid is harmless or not. It is a ripoff! There are many scare sites that will tell you that putting a "harsh acid like vinegar into a dishwasher will harm the seals". That is BS. Vinegar at 5% has an average Ph of 2.5 whereas Jet Dry clocks in at 2.2 (far more acidic). The rinse aid business is simply taking advantage of a lot of folks who don't know chemistry. Indeed, my dishwasher actually came with a free bottle of rinse aid, so the manufacturers are in on the scam. Obviously, they wouldn't include that unless the co-marketing partner included some cash into the deal.

    2. Acidic vinegar destroying a dishwasher? Don't really think so. The amount of vinegar being dispensed is very small amount per load. Probably less then the vinegar left on your dirty salad bowls you put in all the time. Normal auto dishwasher detergent often contains bleach which is a corrosive mush stronger in strength and dishwashers are designed to have exposure to that...ie stainless steel hardware etc. So no worries with vinegar to your dishwasher.

  2. I've had a Bosch dishwasher for the past two years and I doubt it's cleaned a full load yet. None of my other dishwashers (had a few over the years since 1974), performed like that. Dishes in the top rack are worse coming out than going in and need to be soaked in hot water then scrubbed with a "scrubby sponge". In fact, the computer in this thing increases the washing cycle drastically - upwards of something like 6 hours if the rinse aid compartment is empty. They recommend Jet Dry of course but I purchased a gallon jug of a commercial rinse aid. Once that is gone, it's vinegar for me. Spots aren't the problem; it's the hardened gunk that is baked on the glasses. Increasing the time of the wash cycle makes no difference. I have used vinegar in the past and it's worked great. BTW: my first dishwasher died of an overdose of bleach (Javex to me; Clorox, to you) so don't be tempted to try that.

    1. There are a number of comments on this and the follow up post - they are interesting. Not sure but you can read and see what you think.

  3. IMPORTANT: For anyone with a food allergy to "corn" you should know that white vinegar is completely made from corn and will now be coated on all u'r dishes. :-(. I like this natural rinse idea, but will try to use red wine vinegar as a substitute and see if that works. 🙂

      1. Cider vinegar is a GREAT idea. Why didn't I think of it? I've been using white vinegar for years - forgot it's made from corn. Thanks.

  4. The vinegar as a substitute in your dishwasher is a great substitution. Many years I've used jet dry or rinse aid and all the other brand names and when I got my new Hotpoint I decided to start with vinegar and it's been a great experience. I see my dishes in a better way!

  5. I've been using it in my new hotpoint dishwasher since 7/28/2016 and even my plastics are still looking new without the white dried on stuff from jet dry. So for me it's a go. I pour until it's full.

  6. Hi
    I have lot of rinse aid left. Unused. Can it be used for something apart from dishwasher?
    Thank you

  7. How much vinegar would one use if washing dishes in the sink? I fill it about 1/2 full or less.

    1. I would guess about 1/4 cup? I have never done that with vinegar and hand washing. Hope it helps!

  8. When I was at the dollar tree yesterday I spotted imitation Jet Dry in the cleaning aisle..Has anyone ever tried this product? I did the vinegar thing but its messing up the rubber compartments in my dishwasher.

    1. Have used $ Tree rinse aid. Does ok, but not nearly as effective as jet dry in leaving dishes without water on them (Eco wash with no heat dry cycle).

  9. AcK I can't believe I did it! I just started making lye-based soap and what did I do? I put all my dishes with the leftover lye into the dishwasher with my regular dishes. Any ideas how to get the lye film off of everything? Say it's as easy as vinegar!

      1. I tried just the cup of vinegar on just the dishes that have no business having lye on them, and that helped a little, so I ran the dishwasher again with vinegar on the top shelf and a heavy bottle with some lemon juice on the bottom shelf. That took the lye off the glass and the metal, but I'd say the plastic is history. At least, it seems that I wouldn't want to be storing food in plastic permeated with lye. I'm just strange that way. And thank you for an excellent idea. I ran out of rinse this weekend and I'm disabled so I don't drive (I fall asleep) and my assistant got sick so no ride 25 miles to town to get rinse. The vinegar is saving the day on normal rinse jobs.

        1. Lye at 100% and hot water will mark glass. Permanent damage. Automatic dishwashers need hard cleaners like TSP or Sodium meta-silicate.and/or TKPP. I did not say these were environmentally friendly. Phosphates make algae happy and lakes unhappy.

  10. How are your rubber seals doing with that toxic chemical acetic acid.

    I would get them checked out regularly especially if you see hard crumbly bits sticking to your dishes.

    The acid has just eaten away your seals. Expensive replacement here we come

    1. Dude, you're an idiot!
      Please stop scaring people with your ridiculous claims.
      Where did you get your degree in chemistry anyway?
      Sheeesh!

        1. Guess what, dude? Jet Dry is highly acidic. With a pH of 2.2 it is MORE NOT LESS acidic than 5% vinegar, which has a 2.5 pH. So, if a dishwasher's seals are going to wear out from acid, they are going to wear out faster with the expensive rinse aid than with natural vinegar.

  11. thank u for the tip
    u can add to you list
    (difficulty in finding the Rinse aid)
    seriously I am looking for this Aid in 3 supper market no luck
    I guest I am going used ur recipe
    thank you

  12. I am doing at school report about some natural alternatives to different detergents. I have a question. Wont the dishes smell like vinegar afterwards?

  13. The real problem isn't needing a rinse aid. Rinse aids increase surface tension allowing water to bead off dishes rapidly preventing spots.

    Your problem is hard water. In the past dishwasher detergent manufacturers put phosphorus in the formula to soften the water preventing the white dust effect on the glassware and dishes.

    Phosphorus was banned by the EPA I believe around 2010. Ever since then people have been complaining about how terrible they're dishwashers often create more work than if they were just washed by hand.

    The vinegar solution is a great answer at a low cost as it is acidic and cuts the calcium and other hard water minerals that cause scale. Lemi shine and other products that are more expensive do exactly the same only with food grade citric acid versus the aceatic acid in vinegar. Both work one is less expensive.

    The only real permanent solution is to have a good softener and filtration systems that are changed regularly and you won't need the vinegar. But if you don't care about the water system and plumbing and just want your dishes clean vinegar does the trick and it doesn't break the bank. Although, once you have a good filtration system it is pretty easy and cost effective to maintain considering the plumbing work and damage to fittings the hard water causes.

    1. I'm in the process of buying one. Our water is on the border of being hard but I think we need to make the move. Thanks. I do care about my plumbing but our water tested 6 or 6.5 the last time we tested and now it's either a 7 or an 8.

  14. I use vinegar and a few drops of orange essential oil. (It helps cut the smell of the vinegar and aids in the wash cycle as well). I like the idea of the coloring! Thanks!