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Homemade Dishwasher Rinse Aid for Spot-Free Dishes

Did you know you can make your own homemade dishwasher rinse aid for spot free dishes? You’ll save money with this natural DIY rinse aid recipe, and your dishes will be sparkling clean.

You’ll also enjoy the peace of mind that comes from using a natural cleaning agent with no toxic chemicals, harmful phosphates, or artificial fragrance.

We love making our own homemade cleaning products from nontoxic ingredients, like our Lemon Orange Peel and Vinegar Cleaner and Homemade Liquid Plumber.

It’s been exciting to learn that we don’t need harsh cleaning solutions or chemicals to clean our house!

A bottle of homemade dishwasher rinse aid.

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Why You’ll Love This Natural Dishwasher Rinse Aid

Non-Toxic: By using a DIY rinse aid, you can clean your dishes without exposing you or your family to the harmful chemicals that are often found in commercial rinse aids.

Easy to Make: You can find the ingredients at your local grocery store, and we’ve provided clear instructions on how to make your own homemade dishwasher rinse aid.

Cost-Effective: The ingredients for the homemade rinse aid are readily available and inexpensive, making this natural rinse aid a much cheaper alternative to commercial rinse aids.

Spot-Free Dishes: Mineral deposits can leave unsightly spots on dishes, but the ingredients in the DIY rinse aid can help prevent these spots from forming, leaving your dishes looking clean and shiny.

Environmental-Friendly: The natural ingredients used in the DIY dishwasher rinse aid are biodegradable, meaning they won’t harm the environment.

What’s in Commercial Dishwasher Rinse Aids?

If you have an automatic dishwasher, you probably have a little dispenser that you’re supposed to fill with “rinse aid” to help the dishes come out sparkling and spot-free.

Rinse aid isn’t cheap, though, and it has another little problem. Have you ever read the back of the bottle?

Rinse aid label.

Many brands of dishwasher rinse agents contain chemicals and artificial fragrances that can irritate the eyes and skin. Is it just me, or does it seem counter-intuitive that we’re instructed to coat our dishes and eating utensils with potentially harmful chemicals?

In fact, the ingredient “alcohol ethoxylates,” which is found in some commercial rinse aid products, may damage the gut’s natural protective layer according to recent findings from the Swiss Institute of Allergy and Asthma Research.

Does Rinse Aid Harm the Environment?

You may also wonder, as I do, about the environmental impact of store bought rinse aid.

According to Grist: “Conventional rinse aid is one of the mystery products wherein manufacturers only need disclose active ingredients. We can find Material Safety Data Sheets for these products on line, which say reassuring things such as “The manufacturer’s MSDS does not state whether the ingredients are considered carcinogens or potential carcinogens.

Rumor has it that commercial dishwasher rinse aids do contain phosphates, the chemical compounds that can lead to marine dead zones.”

Cleaner Dishes and Great Results

Four yellow glasses, sparkling clean.

I tried running the dishwasher with just eco-friendly dish detergent, but the glasses came out with hard water spots.

Then someone told me you could use distilled white vinegar instead of rinse aid. According to the National Sanitation Foundation, white vinegar is about 5% acetic acid which helps it break down some oils, films and dirt.

The NSF recommends diluting vinegar with water for general cleaning, so I experimented by filling a shot glass with a solution of half vinegar and half filtered water and placed it in the top rack of the dishwasher.

A small shot glass filled with homemade rinse aid in a dishwasher.

As the machine runs, the vinegar solution is further diluted and gets rinsed away during the rinse cycle. (Remove the little glass and pour any remaining solution down the sink drain after the dishwasher runs.)

Eureka! Many years and hundreds of loads of dishes later, I’m happy to report that the vinegar rinse works perfectly.

The dishes are spot-free with no soap scum, white film, hard water stains, or cloudy glasses. Unlike with commercial rinse aid, your dishes will have no scent at all.

In fact, I think the dishes and dishwasher actually smell fresher since we made the switch. Vinegar is natural, and we paid less than two dollars for a 32-ounce bottle.

This all-natural rinse also helps keep the interior of our stainless steel dishwasher sparkling clean, with no toxic ingredients!

Materials You’ll Need for Dishwasher Spot Free Rinse

Here’s what you need to make your own homemade dishwashing rinse:

Distilled white vinegar

Filtered water

A 2-cup liquid measuring cup with a spout

A 16-ounce bottle – You can recycle a plastic or glass bottle, or you can buy a BPA-free squeeze bottle to store the mixture.

A sheet of 8- by 11-inch white paper to print label – You can also use a printable label

Clear packing tape to affix and cover label

Step by Step Directions

It couldn’t be simpler to make your own toxin-free rinse aid.

  1. Combine the cup of water and cup of vinegar. It’s easiest to use a 16 ounce measuring cup with a spout to do this.
  2. Slowly pour into the bottle and shake gently to blend.
  3. Label the bottle and store in a cool, dry place. (Under the sink is perfect.)
  4. Fill a small glass like a shot glass with the rinse aid, set the full shot glass in the upper rack of the dishwasher, and run as usual.

If you make the switch from a chemical rinse aid to this natural cleaner, I’d love to hear how it works for you.

Get Your Printable Label

A bottle of homemade DIY dishwasher rinse aid, with a measuring cup and bottle of vinegar in the background.

Here’s the printable DIY dishwasher rinse aid label, which you can download, size to fit your bottle, and print on a regular laser printer.

You can print it on plain white paper and use clear packing tape to affix the edges to the bottle. I also cover the label with one layer of tape to keep it from getting damaged if the dishwasher rinse drips on the bottle.

You can also print it on label paper, remove the backing, and stick it to the bottle.

If you enjoy this recipe, click on the stars ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ below to leave a rating! It helps us so much, and we love reading your comments, too!

A bottle of homemade DIY dishwasher rinse aid, with a measuring cup and bottle of vinegar in the background.

DIY Dishwasher Rinse Aid

Eliza Cross
Make your own nontoxic, inexpensive dishwasher rinse aid for spot free dishes. You'll save money, enjoy a healthier alternative, and keep dangerous chemicals out of the water supply.
4.5 from 16 votes
Print Directions Pin this Project Rate this Project


  • 1 cup filtered water, room temperature
  • 1 cup white distilled vinegar


  • In a 2 cup measuring cup, combine the water and vinegar.
  • Slowly pour into the bottle and shake gently to blend.
  • Label the bottle and store in a cool, dry place.
  • Fill a small glass like a shot glass with the rinse aid, set the full shot glass in the upper rack of the dishwasher, and run as usual.
  • After the dishes have run, carefully lift the shot glass out and pour the contents down the sink drain.


Stored in a cool, dark place, this rinse aid will last indefinitely.
You can download and print our custom Homemade Dishwasher Rinse Aid label for the bottle if you like. It’s a good idea to affix and protect the label with clear packing tape.
Did you make this?We love seeing your creations! Be sure to leave a review, and show us your projects by tagging #HappySimpleLiving.

Save for Later

A bottle of homemade dishwasher rinse aid.

About Eliza Cross

Eliza Cross is the author of 17 books, including Small Bites and 101 Things To Do With Bacon. She shares ideas to simplify cooking, gardening, time and money. She is also the owner of Cross Media, Inc. and founder of the BENSA Bacon Lovers Society.

25 thoughts on “Homemade Dishwasher Rinse Aid for Spot-Free Dishes”

  1. I’ve been using vinegar in the dishwasher for a couple of years now. I agree that the dishwasher does smell better and my dishes are spotless as well. My old dishwasher had a plastic liner and vinegar kept it stain-free. The new dishwasher (stainless interior) is nice and clean too!

  2. Great add to vinegar’s universal cleaning purpose. I heard that it even has anti-bacterial properties. My dad uses it as a soak formula for his false teeth.

  3. Our dishwasher has been dead since January (very sadly), but we had been using vinegar in the rinse for a couple of years, and agree 100%, totally effective. commercial rinse aid is not only probably bad for the environment and quite like us as well, it is also a colossal waste of money, in my experience!

  4. http://freetobgreen.com

    I am amazed at the many uses for vinegar. I will definitely have to give this one a try. I have been using BioKleen automatic dishwasher detergent which is eco friendly. We have noticed that our glasses are coming out much cleaner than when we used the traditional store bought brand. We also don’t seem to get that white film on our dishes with the BioKleen product. However, it never hurts to add a little something extra to get your dishes clean and shiny so the next load will have a vinegar boost. Thanks for in the information!

  5. Wow, yet another use for vinegar! Is there no end to what it can do? We mostly clean with either vinegar or baking soda at our house; not only are they versatile and inexpensive, but I don’t have to worry so much should my little boys accidently get into them. Thanks so much for the tip – I can’t wait for my rinse aid to run out so I can make the switch.

  6. That’s simply amazing! I had no idea vinegar could do the trick. I’ve tried different products that are supposed to remove spots, but they never worked very well, and definitely cost a lot more than vinegar.


  7. Dear Happysimpleliving,
    I just stumbled across this and, As the holidays approach, many of us will be hosting family and friends – and nothing inspires a person to give their home a thorough clean than knowing guests will be arriving soon. Before you grab the usual store bought, commercial cleaner, remember that many of them contain harmful chemicals such as phthalates, alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEs) and ethanolamine, which have been linked to asthma attacks, reproductive harm and other issues that hurt humans, pets and the environment.
    Keep up the posts!

  8. Awesome! Vinegar…you really can use it for anything! I would have not thought to use it in the dishwasher though! Thanks for the tip!

  9. I’m going to have to try this. I never had good luck with cheap chemical rinses anyway.

    You can get white vineagar by the gallon really cheap at Costco.

  10. I will try the tip of a small glass in the bottom rack. I have a steam cleaner and when I use it to clean walls and shelves I never use tap water, which is full of contaminants that can be vaporized and inhaled. I always use our well water. If you don’t have a well, you can probably buy water purified by double osmosis, which we use for drinking.
    Another money saving tip, we clean our coffee pot every month with vinegar, as recommended by the manufacturer. I then take the pot full of hot vingar, pour it on the bottom of my dishwasher, and run the hottest, longest cycle to clean the machine.

  11. I tried your suggestion about putting 2 oz of diluted white vinegar in a shot glass in the corner of my dishwasher. What a marked improvement! Thank you.

  12. I use the glass on the top rack method. It has the approval of the service man. Glad you found a way to naturally clean your dishes.

  13. Hurrah! I don’t know why I didn’t think of this myself, although, if it didn’t work in the rinse dispenser, I would never have thought of the shot glass idea – THANK YOU! I use vinegar for almost everything else — hair rinse, substitute for fabric softener [and soap nuts are a great substitute for detergent, btw!], cleaning up spots on the carpet & washing kitchen/bath floors, and on and on. The concept of a “rinse agent” is kind of beyond me in the first place, so I’m extremely happy to know about this additional use for vinegar! Many many thanks to Eliza and to the rest of the “comment-ers”!

  14. Why limit the use of vinegar as a rinse-aid only? I’ve tried using 1/2 cup vinegar INSTEAD of dishwasher soap a couple of times now and all my dishes (and dishwasher) came out sparkling clean with no rinse-aid required. My only concern is harm I might be doing to my dishwasher, but how can vinegar be any more harmful than all those harsh chemicals in dishwasher soap? I’d love to hear feedback on this idea. Thanks!

    • Hi Jan,

      I did not realize that you already answered my question that I just posted today!!!
      Thank you so much!


    • I am glad to have found this discussion. I have been using white vinegar instead of dishwashing detergent for the last few days, and I have no reason to go back to even the green product I was using, which left a hard-to remove film. The $1.69 bottle of white vinegar cleans better than anything else I’ve ever used (I’m an AARP member …), and there is no ‘after’ smell, taste, or reason for concern about what my family is ingesting.

  15. I am so glad I found this site. Thank you for sharing this information.
    I was curious to know if vinegar is used to clean almost everything, do you think it can be substituted for the dishwasher soap? I mean, has anyone ever used just vinegar to wash the dishes in the dishwasher?
    Thank you!

  16. Doing the smart thing for all the WRONG reasons.

    Vinegar works, because it’s acidic.

    Any very acidic substance will work, like Lemon Juice.

    Acids binds to the particles that cause white deposits, and instead of ending up on your dishes, it goes down your drain.

    As far as harsh chemicals, Vinegar when used wrong is about as harsh as you can get. Don’t splash it in your eyes, don’t drink it.

    That’s the basis of the warnings on the extremely overpriced rinse aids, most of which depend on ACIDIC properties of the stuff the use to make it.

    The blue stuff depends on surfactants.

    If you think surfactants are bad chemicals, then don’t use any kind of soap for washing anything your clothes, dishes, yourself ever again.

    The surfactant properties of ALL soaps are what make it work.

    Commercial soaps, including rinse aids are not going to use dangerous chemicals to do their stuff.

    The reason why they do NOT have to list all their ingredients is simple.

    The MSDS does NOT list PROVED, HARMLESS substances.

    Rather than do the right thing for wrong-headed conspiracy thinking, do the right things for the right reasons.

    Rinse aids are extremely overpriced, and we already have in our kitchen to do the same thing just as well.

    In this case vinegar works or lemon juice.

    There is no reason to believe nonsense that they have harmful chemicals. They don’t. There is no need to do such an insane thing.

  17. I’m a huge fan of DIY cleaning products so many thanks for the ‘recipes’. We keep vinegar in a spray bottle and use it full strength when one of the dogs pees on the carpet. Keeps it from staining and removes the odor too.

    Best regards! Merton Park Carpet Cleaners Ltd.

  18. I agree vinegar is great in the dishwasher and also a tablespoon in dishwashing water removes hard water spots. I also use vinegar to descale the kettle (or saucepans), I then use the water while it is still warm (not boiling) to descale the shower head and finally put the cool vinegar in the washing machine to disinfect it. It works a treat and really stretches a single bottle. I also find malt vinegar is just as good at descaling as white vinegar and can be cheaper too.

  19. I will be trying this soon. Once the Rinse Aid stuff is empty. Going phosphate free has left all my dishes with a film on them.


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