DIY Dishwasher Rinse Aid with Citric Acid – Safe & Effective Recipe

DIY Dishwasher Rinse Aid with Citric Acid

Making your own DIY dishwasher rinse aid is easier than you may think! In just a few minutes, you can create an effective, chemical-free rinse aid with ingredients from your kitchen cupboard. Low-toxin ingredients, such as citric acid and isopropyl (rubbing alcohol) are excellent at-home alternatives to store-brought rinse aid. And as a bonus, the homemade version is a fraction of the price of store-bought solutions. 

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Why Use Rinse Aid?

After the dishwasher cycle finishes, small drops of water are left on your glasses and dishes. When the droplets of water evaporate, they leave behind a mineral residue. This residue can make your dishes look cloudy and can also leave water spots. Rinse aid helps the water and detergent to rinse off your dishes more effectively, reducing water marks and making your dishes look fresh and shiny.

Why use rinse aid?

Can I use Citric Acid as Rinse Aid?

Yes. Citric acid is an effective chemical-free water softener. This means that it helps to break down the hard minerals in water. This helps to prevent minerals from building up on your glasses and making them look cloudy. As a result, it is an excellent addition to a DIY rinse aid. 

Citric acid is also excellent for keeping your dishwasher clean and bacteria-free. The limonene in citric acid helps to eliminate grease and grime in your dishwasher. This helps to prolong the life of your dishwasher and makes it more effective. 

DIY Dishwasher Rinse Aid Recipe (with Citric Acid)

Things You’ll Need:

  • 4 tbsp of citric acid
  • 1 cup (125mL) of white vinegar
  • 1 cup (125mL) of isopropyl (rubbing alcohol)
  • 20 drops of lemon essential oil (optional)
DIY Dishwasher Rinse Aid Recipe (with Citric Acid) 


  1. Pour the ingredients into a bottle. Measure 4 tbsp of citric acid, 1 cup (125mL) of white vinegar, and 1 cup (125mL) of isopropyl (rubbing alcohol) into a bottle with an easy-pour lid. If you want to fragrance your rinse aid, add 20 drops of pure lemon essential oil. 
  • Chances are that you don’t want your dishes smelling like vinegar! However, vinegar is odorless once it dries. As a result, you won’t be able to smell it on your dry dishes. 
  • Tip: you can find citric acid in the canning or baking section at your grocery store. 
  1. Shake the bottle to combine the ingredients. Make sure the lid is tightly screwed on (important!) and then gently swirl the bottle until the citric acid has dissolved. This should only take a few seconds.
  • Tip: Swirl the bottle each time you use your rinse aid. This ensures that the ingredients are evenly mixed and will make the solution more effective. 
  1. Pour the solution into the rinse aid compartment of your dishwasher. This normally lasts about a month. If your dishwasher doesn’t have a designated rinse aid compartment, add ¼ cup of the solution into the body of the dishwasher. 
  • Store the bottle in a dark place out of reach of children and pets. Make sure to label the bottle to prevent accidental consumption. 
  • Tip: If you are having trouble seeing how much rinse aid you have left, add a few drops of food colouring to the solution. 

Don’t have vinegar at home? Try our homemade rinse aid recipe with no vinegar

Can I Use Vinegar as a Rinse Aid in My Dishwasher?

Can I Use Vinegar as a Rinse Aid in My Dishwasher?  

On its own, vinegar doesn’t act as a true rinse aid. This is because it is not a surfactant. As a result, it won’t aid the water and detergent to rinse off your dishes. When used as a replacement for rinse aid, it can result in watermarks on your glasses. 

However, vinegar is an effective cleaner and can help to kill any bacteria on your dishes. As a result, it makes a good addition to DIY rinse aids – especially if the recipe contains other ingredients that help to rinse water off your dishes. 

Can I Put Vinegar and Baking Soda in my Dishwasher?

Can I Put Vinegar and Baking Soda in my Dishwasher?

When used alone, both vinegar and baking soda are excellent cleaners. However, if you put them both in your dishwasher during a cycle, it can cause a foamy mess! 

Instead, run a cycle using 1 cup (125mL) of white vinegar. Then, do a subsequent dishwashing cycle using ½ cup baking soda. This is a great way to deep-clean your dishwasher without creating a foamy mess. Vinegar and baking soda also have the added benefit of removing unpleasant odours – leaving your dishwasher smelling fresh and clean. 

Does Citric Acid Soften Water?

Does Citric Acid Soften Water?

Yes, citric acid is an effective natural way of combating hard water. Its safety, affordability, and effectiveness makes it a popular addition to both store-bought and DIY dishwasher rinse aids. When added to your dishwasher, it can help to reduce mineral deposits and watermarks. This helps to prevent your glasses from looking cloudy and also prolongs the life of your dishwasher. 

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