Natural Dishwasher Rinse Aid ~ Important Update

Avoid both water spots and harmful chemicals by making this DIY super simple & natural dishwasher rinse aid! Plus instructions on how to properly use it in your dishwasher.

In an effort to reduce toxins in our home, I try to make as many natural home care products as possible, like my no-streak window cleaner, shower cleaner, fruit fly trap, weed killer, foaming soap, and my not-so-homemade laundry soap.

I posted a super simple Homemade Dishwasher Rinse Aid previously, but it's been about a year (I can't believe it's been that long) since and I have a very important update to share with you.

And this homemade rinse aid is at least as simple, if not more so.

Why the need for an update?  And how could it be very important?

Read on.  Please.

You know I am always looking for easier, more natural, and less expensive ways to do things around the home, right?

Well, when I wrote that first post, I was super excited when I figured out that I could get super clean and shiny dishes and glasses just by putting white vinegar in the rinse aid compartment of my dishwasher.

And, I was pleased with myself when I thought to add food coloring to the vinegar so that I could see when it was time to add more vinegar.

I mean, who can beat saving that much money, doing in 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 :-).)

So–why the need for an update?

Well, here's what happened.

My super duper homemade rinse aid was doing a great job for awhile, but then our dishes started to have some sort of gritty residue on them.

I thankfully was able to negotiate with our manufacturer to have a repairman come out for free since I had called about the issue when the dishwasher was still under warranty.

Well, I proudly showed the repairman my frugal prowess and felt I had really beaten the system with my homemade rinse aid, but I did ask him about something that had been bothering me.  And I wondered if this was partly the cause of my gritty dishes.  (Turns out we have slightly hard water, but that's a different story.)

See, the rinse aid compartment was still full of green-colored vinegar even thought I hadn't refilled the compartment for maybe 4 months or so.

Well, the repairman told me something that I had no idea about.

The acid in the vinegar can damage the rubber components in the rinse aid compartment.

Well, shoot.

I mean, here I am trying to save myself and my readers money, and I might have created a big problem instead.

Now, I am not for sure about this, but another repairman told me the same thing.

This second repairman told me that on newer dishwashers, the rinse aid compartments have rubber components that aren't really compatible with acidic things like vinegar.

He recommended the technique that I am sharing with you today.

So—first of all, please accept my apologies for possibly steering you down the wrong road.  It's not fun for me  know that I might have steered you all down the wrong road.

And hopefully I can make it up to you with today's tip for a Homemade Dishwasher Rinse Aid that is at least as easy as, if not more easy than the original rinse aid that I shared with you.

Avoid both water spots and harmful chemicals by making this DIY super simple & natural dishwasher rinse aid! Plus instructions on how to properly use it in your dishwasher.



So there you have it.  Super simple.  You can avoid the step of the food coloring, but you do need to fill your little cup each time you run the dishwasher.

But at least it will work and you won't be possibly damaging any components in your dishwasher.

Here's a photo of our dishwasher for your enjoyment :-).   The vinegar is in the little plastic container in the lower left.

Dishwasher Rinse Aid

By the way, if you are wondering why we have rubber bands on our glasses, you can read this post here.

I can't confirm that the rubber components on my dishwasher were damaged by the vinegar, or that yours will be, but who needs to find out, right?

And I would recommend that even if you have an older dishwasher, that you use this technique.

Just.  In.  Case.

Or at least call your manufacturer to make sure it's OK to put vinegar in your rinse aid compartment.

Looking for other ways to save money and detoxify your life?  Here are some other posts you might be interested in:

Homemade Foaming Soap
Decongestant Chest Rub (like Vicks Vapo-Rub)
Amazing No-Streak Glass Cleaner
Moisturizing and Exfoliating Sugar Scrub
Jojoba Facial Cleaner
Easiest Baby Wipes 

(Top Photo Credit: 

Do you use a rinse aid?

These comments do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Whole New Mom, LLC.


    Speak Your Mind


  1. Hi, on the last post a user named Jack warned about the gasket vinegar compatibility issue. He got an answer calling him an idiot (from an anonymous user, of course). He was right all along. The point is, there are always many considerations to everything and one should not do whatever without digging a bit. And one should NEVER give advice to others without knowing for sure!! You wanna mess your own stuff that’s your problem but just leave others out of it. And people, do your homework. For this issue, it’s called chemical compatibility and you can get charts on the web easily. Cole-Parmer is my usual

  2. Laura Mawer says:

    Thanks for the white-vinegar-in-a-cup idea. I’m going to try it. Just bought new flatware and they came out all water spotted during the first dishwasher run. I’m hoping your idea will do the trick.

  3. I know this post is old, but just thought I would add my 2 cents onto an older comment made my Lindsy on Nov 11, 2013., regarding the vinegar..her husband is the one that is a dishwasher repairman for one of the big name companies, so I thought it would be good to sight it so newer readers could go back to that older comment and hear from and expert..

    Let me say I have been using a formula similar to the recipe she gave of: (the following is hers)
    1 cup Borax
    1 cup Washing Soda
    1/2 cup Kosher Salt (Has to be Kosher or Epsom – something with BIG particles for scrubbing power and softener ability)
    1/2 cup Citric Acid
    15 drops of Young Living Lemon Essential Oil (I’ve tried seriously, every cheaper brand of Lemon Oil out there, and hand’s down – nothing compares to the YLEO quality.)
    I personally leave out the Borax ( I LOVE Borax, but find that sometimes it doesn’t dissolve and leaves clumps) so I opted to leave it out of my dishwashing detergent.

    I also leave out the essentials oils and here is why….MAKE YOUR OWN citrus scented vinegar for FREE!!!

    Then purity is not a question. When using your citrus peels, save them. (I only do this with my organic ones…every so often organic lemons are absolutely not available in my area, so I have to go with conventional,,,rarely, but uugg) You can dehydrate them for later use, or just toss them in a mason jar or old clean spaghetti sauce jar and top it off with white distilled vinegar. If using dried peels as opposed to fresh, only fill the jar half way with peels and all the way with vinegar, allowing room for the rehydrated herbs to reconstitute without breaking the jar. Allow it to sit for a few weeks, then strain and you have scented vinegar made from your trash!!!

    The vinegar acts as a solvent to pull the essential oil from the citrus rind in the same way they do at EO manufacturing facilities that use solvents (normally hexane in that case..yuck!!) instead of steam distillations. I have used this method for my rinse aid in my dishwasher for several years. Both an older model and since we replaced it with a new Kitchen Aid model. and have had great results and no problems with either machine. I also use it in my washing machine, window cleaner, and in my kombucha vinegar hair rinse.

    Not saying this should replace EOs, but a great way to make your own vinegar EOs from citrus rinds.

    Hope you enjoy as much as I do!!!

  4. Hello, such a great article and a natural solution to a rinse aid, but may I ask is there anything else you use to wash your dishes in dishwasher I mean normally I add salt, tablet and liquid, I use an eco brand but would like to replace it with something like vinegar for sure. Thank you for your reply in advance.

    • I am using a brand that I don’t trust any longer – Ava Anderson. I left them amidst many issues of labeling problems. I am going to be trying some more products out and hope to have something to share in the future – thanks!

      • Hi,
        Thanks for your website! A follow up question regarding the rinse aid dispenser. It seems that my dispenser is leaking and causing suds in the dishwasher. This started immediately after I cleaned the dishwasher, on my repairman’s recommendation, by pouring a gallon of vinegar in the bottom of the empty dishwasher, leaving it to soak overnight, and then running it through a cycle empty with no detergent. After that cycle, I noticed there was still a strong vinegar smell so I ran another cycle empty. When I opened the dishwasher, there were some suds there. I ran a load anyway, the dishes etc came out squeaky clean (hadn’t had that in a while!), but there were still suds in the bottom of the washer. i guess it’s possible the vinegar damaged something. I only used it once. A mystery!

  5. Back again. I have now washed 4 loads in my dishwasher, using a small plastic container of white vinegar on the top shelf as my rinse agent. I am even using Sun dishwasher soap that I picked up at Family Dollar for a DOLLAR! 20 ounces. (It is now phosphate free, like everyone else.) I bought a gallon of white vinegar for 2.49. The Finish Quantum Max that I was using cost 5.49 for 14.6 ounces (25 loads). Did not pre-rinse the dishes or silverware. Even a fork crusted with dried cat food (YUK). Everything came out sparkling clean, shiny! Too old to actually do a happy dance, but believe me I AM HAPPY! Thanks!

  6. I will be trying this idea today! I, too, have hard water and was going crazy with the white haze that was showing on my stainless steel dishwasher tub, dishes, etc. I used to spend a small fortune and buy a case of dishwasher soap that still had phosphate in it, but it still wasn’t perfect. Besides I just really have to cut expenses at this point. I have always cleaned my dishwasher with a cup of white vinegar on the top shelf and run it with just that. Voila! Nice shiny interior again. But at what cost? I will be really anxious to see if the film builds up on the interior or if it at least takes a lot longer time. I am really glad I looked at your website BEFORE I filled my rinse agent dispenser with white vinegar. Let’s hope this works! Thanks!

  7. I believe that we may be overcomplicating things a bit here…. just add (pour) some white vinegar in the bottom of the dishwasher before starting the load. Works great for me. No cup necessary.

  8. NEVER use vinegar in dishwasher, clothes washer or car windshield washer reservoir. The vinegar (especially undiluted) will eventually ruin the rubber components (rubber hoses, rubber gaskets, etc.)

  9. Pretty similar to people who use gas line antifreeze and other chemicals to help get rid of the water in gas tanks and lines. Many newer cars mostly Honda and Toyota use rubber seals in the engine that break down from the wood based alcohol in these products. And you see a lot of cars on the road today with black smoke coming out of the tail pipe. Many are because of these additives people put in the gas tanks. To know if your car has the same type of sensitive rubber read the owners manual as it will state in the manual to avoid wood based alcohol additives.

  10. Well, wish I would have read this earlier last week! Just tried vinegar as a rinse agent for the 1st time. I actually wondered about this because using vinegar damaged the wiper fluid section on my car. Maybe using it once won’t damage my dishwasher. Still wondering if using it in a cup won’t cause damage as it drains? Think I’ll just skip any rinse agent.

  11. Bick Bickerson says:

    Rinse aids work because they contain surfactants, which break the surface tension of the water, allowing it to drain more freely/quickly from the surface of the dishes. Vinegar is not a surfactant. Sure, it has many great uses, but this isn’t one of them.

  12. I am in the process of having to purchase a new dishwasher. After reading the many reviews of the current models , I see that I will have to use a rinse aid from here on out. While vinegar sounds great , I personally don’t want to take a chance with a new machine. Hydrogen Peroxide (3%) was recommended on another site. It seems to be a safer alternative.

    • There was another interesting comment that came in about a lady who used epsom in her dishwasher – and vinegar too, I believe. Look through the most recent comments.

  13. I have been requested to comment on this thread because I have above average intelligence and I am able to solve the most complex mysteries of life in short order. First, the answer to life the universe and everything is indeed 42. Now as to the vinegar issue…. Did your vinegar come in a plastic container? Is it damaging the plastic container in any way? Probably not. But perform your own test by placing a few good quality rubber bands in a small vinegar container and letting them sit for about a year. What happens to them? In the meantime, while you are waiting for a year to pass, why not dilute the vinegar you place in the rinse aid container with water, and increase the amount of rinse aid released at each cycle? So dilute the vinegar by 50% and have the dishwasher release twice the amount of rinse aid as you would normally do.

  14. I don’t understand how your new method would work at all. All the vinegar would be drained away during the wash cycle leaving none during the rinse cycle when it is needed.

    • I didn’t understand it either. Maybe if it’s upright it doesn’t all come out in the wash?

    • I think she means not the detergent dispenser you fill every time you run a load, but the “jet dry” tank that you can put the rinse aid in, in large quantities, and only have to refill occasionally. The rinse aid does sit in there because only a little is used per load.

      • The new method was using a cup upside down so he is right – I don’t know what to think about it. There’s conflicting information in the comments and posts about whether or not the vinegar would damage machinery.

  15. Thanks for this post. It is very informative. I was just wondering if vinegar would work for the rinse aid, so it is very timely.

  16. I’ve been doing it for awhile and my dishes haven’t been cleaning well. However, they’re not gritty, just not clean.

    1) Did you flush out the vinegar that was in the rinse aid compartment?

    2) Did you have to replace components in the rinse aid?

  17. Well like you I made a transition starting years ago to the natural side. First food, then cleaning products. In short, I too did the vinegar in the rinse aid, but I also used to splash some at bottom of dishwasher. I’ve even used just baking soda in soap dispenser and vinegar at bottom when we ran out of regular dishwasher detergent. I wanted to share with you and others that we had to replace dishwasher after about a year of doing this because it essentially did the same to your rinse aid. It stripped some rubber parts so that the motor stopped working. I won’t be using, nor do I recommend vinegar, in any home appliance (still LOVE as a cleaner among other uses though!).

  18. Firstly I will start that we live in Perth, Western Australia. The dishwasher I own now is a Miele – owned for apx. 13 years. This is used with generic dishwasher powder which cleans MOST THINGS beautifully ( now & again for really heavily used items I do use a Fairy tablet ) however, I still think the generic brand of powder would do the trick. For the salt , I add swimming pool salt into the container as the dishwasher states when it needs more. ( This was recommended by the company ) For rinse aid – always white vinegar – why pay ridiculous prices for a manufactured rinse aid when the solution is one that most of us have on hand anyway ? Apx. once a month I wash the machine with epsom salts in the detergent container @ the highest temperature ( whilst empty of course ) to thoroughly clean out all the pipes & drainage of any residue dirt & grease. This is one very happy, hard working dishwasher who continues to clean & give good service year in & year out. Look after your appliances & they will give you back years of good service & value for money.
    My previous dishwasher which came with us when we emigrated to Australia back in 1988 was a Zanussi – this one gave us 20 years of no problems because of all the loving care stated above It was purchased in 1982. Unfortunately, one day its’ heart gave out & it had to be transported to the big landfill for burial. Still love the Zanussi brand though ( also had a washing machine which also lasted 20 years ) & still have a Zanussi clothes dryer which still works beautifully – now over 30 years old !! ( although don’t have to use it too often here in Aus.! ) Unfortunately Zanussi are not available here.

  19. Our dishwasher recently had a fire in the electronic part on the front door. We use the citric acid version of soap because we don’t want borax residue on our dishes. Would this have possibly caused a breakdown in the components to cause the fire? The dishwasher is only a few years old. 🙁

    • I have no idea. There are comments in this thread indicating that it isn’t the case, however. Maybe check them out. Did you talk to your repairman?

      • I have not heard back from our repairman, but he is very anti-natural solutions, so I’d bet he’d not give an accurate answer. Though I read the comments above and my soap uses salt, citric acid, washing soda, and essential oils, which seems like what the others use and what the brand soaps are using, so I don’t think that is what caused our fire. When I opened the door, the fire started in the door where all the electrical wires are and it fried them all–shouldn’t have any water or soap in that area, so we think it was a faulty machine. I’m thankful because I really love being chemical free and I love the chemical free facials our dishwasher provides–didn’t want to go back to Cascade! 😀

        • Thanks for responding. I think you are probably right. What is a “chemical free facial”? 🙂 And I am returning my Finish to Costco soon. Does your soap work well? I haven’t found a good DIY ever. Tried several. Even most of my natural store-bought ones don’t work well, but I just started w/ a new one that I love.

  20. Sandy Beatty says:

    I would also add a word of caution about hard anodized cookware. I did this and it actually removed the finish from the outside of one of my skillets. Seems the acidity isn’t compatible with the exterior finish. FYI….