Y'all know this is my very first dishwasher, so I give the Internet full credit for teaching me how to use it! Readers assured me that generic dishwashing detergent was just fine. They were right. Walmart's brand made our glassware sparkle.
I just kept forgetting to buy more. (I keep telling you, half of frugality is procrastination!) After a heavy load of company dishes, I looked up a few DIY recipes. The easiest calls for one part Borax to one part WASHING soda. The accompanying article includes a helpful cost breakdown.
Amy at Momadvice uses a more kitchen-cabinet-friendly version: 1 cup Borax, 1 cup baking soda, 1/4 cup salt. Test a tablespoon's worth in your next load for effectiveness. If everything's not squeaky clean, add straight vinegar to the rinse compartment next time. I keep mine in a Tupperware canister that's just as easy to pour as Cascade.
Go ahead and buy the giant jug of vinegar. You'll use it to de-stink left-too-long laundry and concoct homemade volcanoes. Borax is handy, too, as a cheap laundry booster and natural insecticide.