Replace Your Dishwasher Rinse Agent With This Frugal Substitute

Glass bottle of vinegar sitting on opened dishwasher door with tray of dishes behind

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Dishwasher rinse agents help to get your dishes cleaner and dryer, so they come out spot-free and ready to put away—but they're so expensive, most people forgo them. Fortunately, there's an inexpensive alternative that works just as well for a lot less coin: vinegar.

Yes, you can use that bottle of vinegar sitting in your pantry as a replacement for dishwasher rinse agent. Compare the price of a gallon of vinegar to that teeny tiny bottle of rinse agent, and it would be silly not to try it. Read on to learn how to make dishwasher rinse agent at home for pennies, compared to the dollars you would spend on store-bought varieties.

Create the Rinse Agent

Before starting, finish using up any commercial rinse agent that remains in your dishwasher. It's never a good idea to mix chemicals. Then follow these simple steps to create your own:

  1. Unscrew the cap from your dishwasher's rinse agent dispenser, and fill the well with white vinegar.
  2. Replace the cap, and run your dishwasher as usual.
  3. Refill the dispenser as needed.
  4. Enjoy your dry, spot-free glasses every time you unload your dishwasher, and pat yourself on the back for being so smart.
Glass bottle of vinegar added to rinse agent dispenser in dishwasher door

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

Benefits of Using Vinegar as a Rinse Agent

Vinegar has many advantages over commercially produced rinse agents. Vinegar leaves no water spots on cups and glasses. Other benefits include:

  • Dryer, cleaner dishes
  • No harsh chemicals
  • No cleaner residue left behind on your dishes
  • A cleaner dishwasher


Is your dishwasher looking a bit dirty or not cleaning as well as it should? Fill the detergent dispenser with vinegar—no detergent at all—and run it through a cycle. This will clean the washtub, racks, and even the heating elements, so everything continues to look nice and function properly.

To keep your dishwasher running at peak efficiency, clean your dishwasher every few months. Following these steps will take you 15 minutes, at most. That's definitely worth cleaner dishes, don't you think?


Consult the owner's manual that came with your dishwasher before using something other than a commercial rinse agent. You don't want to do anything that would void your dishwasher's warranty.

Make Dishwasher Detergent

Save more money by switching to homemade dishwasher detergent. It's easy to make and doesn't rely on all the harsh chemicals found in commercial detergents. It only takes two ingredients and two minutes to make dishwasher detergent. Start with a small batch to see what you think. Then, make a big batch if you decide the recipe's a keeper.

Glass container of homemade dishwasher detergent surrounded by dishes and utensils

The Spruce / Ulyana Verbytska

More Uses for Vinegar

Vinegar can do a lot more than clean your dishes. Use it to remove mildew, grease, and tarnish; to clean your clothes; to make your own beauty products; and to eliminate weeds and pests. Indeed, there are more than ​​50 uses for vinegar for cleaning, cooking, and even outdoor work. Make vinegar your go-to cooking, cleaning, and gardening ingredient, and you'll have fewer products to buy and lug home from the store.