Make Your Own Dishwasher Detergent Tabs

dishwasher tabs


It’s been a long time since I have addressed the subject of Homemade Dishwasher Detergent. I guess I felt like I’d said all there was to say on the subject. I have posted about my original Homemade Dishwasher Detergent, and my Revised Homemade Dishwasher Detergent, and my Homemade Dishwasher Soap (Not Detergent).

But yesterday I got a comment from a reader named Heather on Facebook who had made my Homemade Dishwasher Detergent and while she loved the way it worked, her user experience was less than ideal.

This is how she (hilariously!) described it….

Jillee!!! Simply awesome! My dishes were DIRTY and CAKED with food. This homemade detergent is fantastic! Everything looks gorgeous! One thing… The mixture in my container is already semi-solid. I had to knife it “psycho” style to be able to get my tablespoon filled. Still works great, but I was surprised by how easily it bonded!
Thank you! Thank you for the work you do!!!!

You are SO welcome Heather! :-) And I owe you a Thank You right back because your comment inspired me to try something new that I’m pretty jazzed about! Homemade Dishwasher Tablets!

It occurred to me as I read your description of having to hack away at your homemade detergent with a knife “psycho style” to get it out of its container…then surely it should lend itself to being formed into a solid state without too much difficulty! I was ready to take a “stab” at it! ;-)

I started with my Homemade Dishwasher Detergent recipe and made a couple of adjustments.


dishwasher tabs


Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Tabs



  • 2 cups Washing soda or Baking soda (cuts grease, great all-purpose cleaner)
  • 2 cups Borax (natural cleaner and disinfectant)
  • 1/2 cup Kosher salt or Epsom salt (reduces the effects of hard water)
  • 1/2 cup vinegar (added cleaning power, liquid to help bind the ingredients)
  • 15-20 drops of Lemon essential oil (added cleaning power, antibacterial properties, smells great!)


Mix all the ingredients together with a spoon. (The addition of the vinegar will cause a little fizzing, but not much.)


dishwasher tabs

Once all the ingredients are well combined you will notice it actually will start clumping all by itself.


dishwasher tabs

Transfer the mixture into two ice cube trays and press down until each ice cube compartment is hard packed with detergent. If you packed them all down really well, you should use all of the mixture in those two trays.


dishwasher tabs

Now the hardest part for me….waiting. These babies need to DRY good and hard before you use them. Put them in a dry, sunny spot (preferably one you won’t see so you won’t be tempted to touch them before they’re good and dry) and let them sit for at least 24 hours.


dishwasher tabs 13

When they are good and hard and DRY, unmold them from the trays and store in a container with a tight-fitting lid.


dishwasher tabs

To Use:

Add 1 tablet to your dishwasher detergent compartment along with 3 drops of dishwashing liquid. (This is optional…I just think it gives my homemade stuff a little extra cleaning/grease-cutting kick.) Do not use more than three drops. The dishwasher will overflow if you use too much dish soap! (It doesn’t have to be Dawn…that’s just what I had.)

Then splash 1/2 to 1 cup of white vinegar into the bottom of the dishwasher (or put it in a cup on the top rack of the machine) and start the machine. NOTE: IF YOU HAVE HARD WATER (like I do) A VINEGAR RINSE AGENT IS CRUCIAL TO AVOID CLOUDY GLASSES AND DISHES.


Since I have been using a variation of this recipe for a long time, I wasn’t really worried that it wouldn’t work, but here is a picture of my dishes after using one of the tablets yesterday.

dishwasher tabs

 It doesn’t get much better than that!



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  1. Michelle says

    Have you heard anything about not using vinegar in dishwashers & front loading washing machines? I have heard it wears away the gaskets??? I LOVE vinegar but have been too afraid to use it in those machines because I didn’t want to harm the machines.

    • says

      me too! you only have to watch if you use too much vinegar. 1/2 cup shouldn’t harm anything. I’ve been using it for 4 years with no problems so far :)

    • Karen says

      I’ve been using vinegar as my rinse aid for years and my dishwasher is still running (now 12 years old). I have read that it shouldn’t be used with a stainless steel interior, mine is all plastic. Perhaps someone with that interior could comment on that.

      • Anna says

        I have had my stainless steel interior dishwasher for over a year now, and have always used vinegar as my rinse-aid. I have not noticed any change in its appearance, but it hasn’t been that long. Just thought I would add this to your comment!

  2. Dee says

    I am definitely doing this! One question: where do you get your essential oils?? I can never seem to find them – unless I’m not looking in the right places. Thanks!

      • Kat says

        There is no regulatory body responsible for sorting essential oils and assigning them grades. “Therapeutic grade oils” is a claim based on a standard that doesn’t exist and can’t be proven. In plain English: it’s plain and simple marketing BS.

    • Kathy says

      Dee, I use Young Living Essential Oils and they are fantastic! Just another option if DoTerra doesn’t pan out.

    • Beth says

      I tried this recipe and my dishes and utensils had a cloudy powdery feel when they were done. I followed the recipe except I used lemonade Crystal Light which I had in my pantry. I added the vinegar also. The detergent hardened and smells great. Do you have any suggestions? I have tried your laundry detergent with great success!

      • jess says

        Crystal Light has sweetener in it, which is why everything ended up cloudy. it is not just citric acid (like the little Koolaid packets are–you have to add sugar to those.)

    • TMama says

      I saw a recipe for the same thing except instead of the essential oils use Lemon Juice.

    • Kristin says

      I get my essential oils at bulk apothecary onilne, good quality and priced very well. You can also get them at many health food stores, just not as large a selection.

  3. says

    Love this! Can I put the drops of dishwashing liquid on top of the tablets in the trays when I set them out to dry? Or will this prevent them from setting up properly? Love your ideas and posts and can’t wait to try this:)

    • Jill says

      I made a very similar recipe yesterday (mine called for lemon juice, rather than vinegar) before I saw this post. I mixed Dawn right into the other ingredients and they set up just fine. I haven’t tested their effectiveness yet, but the consistency of the mixture was not an issue. Hope this helps

  4. Tammi says

    Thanks Jillee! I just love all your “inventions.” I’m going to try this out this weekend. :-)

  5. Marybeth says

    I have tried this before and was dismayed to find it took the designs off glasses and plates. :-( You might want to try it on a plate or glass you don’t care too much about before putting it in to your usual routine.

    • Shasta says

      they never recommend putting dishes with designs on them in the dishwasher ,you are supposed to hand wash them

  6. Marcia says

    Your recipe sounds like it would work great. I have one question though. Does the vinegar do enough to get through hard water deposits? What would happen if you added citric acid to the batch? Would that help or be too much?

    • Lisa says

      I’ve been looking for homemade dishwasher detergent recipes and, before finding this one, had decided to try a different recipe that is exactly the same as this but calls for citric acid. I was just hesitating because the citric acid is rather expensive (could only find a big bulk size) and was afraid I wouldn’t like the recipe and then be stuck. I may give this a go and then decide if the citric acid is necessary. Below is the link to the recipe with citric acid.

      • says

        Try Lemi Shine instead of citric acid, it works AWESOME! That’s what I’ve been using in the place of the Lemon drops. Totally cuts the hard water issues :) I get mine at the Canadian Tire.

      • Brenda says

        Thank you for sharing your tip about LemiShine, I can buy it here at the hardware store.

      • Melissa says

        How much Lemi Shine or Citric Acid? I have both from making other cleaners. For the Lemi Shine I usually use a tsp. per load, which would equal 32 tsp or 10.6 T. ? Seems like a lot. Thanks.

      • says

        I also use Lemishine. We have VERY hard water here and no matter what one uses, the glasses are foggy and icky. I got some Lemishine and used 1tsp a load. By the 5th load, the glasses were back to nice and shiny. Continued use keeps them so. I’m going to try adding it to this mix. It is an acid but as there is vinegar too, it won’t neutralize the Lemishine.

        I don’t always find Lemishine, but there is a brand name one too in a bright pink plastic can that I have substituted. It is a bit more expensive, but works about the same if not a tad better.

      • says

        The citric acid definitely works! I broke down and bought the bulk size and must say it was well worth the investment. It takes very little and will last a long time! It has transformed the cleaning power of the dish detergent with no film or build up. We have well water so I have extremely hard water. Another thing I played around with and figured out is now instead of mixing the citric acid in with the detergent as some dry versions call for, (since it can offset the cleaning power of the washing soda), is to mix 2 oz of water and 3 TBS of the citric acid, mix well and let it totally dissolve. I then pour this into my rinse aid dispenser. Wa la it only gets dispensed in the rinse cycle, the dishes are clean and sparkling! Another great thing about the citric acid is it can be used for many items. I used a spoonful in my carpet cleaner to rinse the carpet and wow the difference that made to rinsing all the grime out of my carpet! I use a spoonful and put it in my toilet at night before I go to bed, when I get up the next morning the toilet bowl is clean and free of the hard water deposits / scum. I have done this once per week and it is amazing!

      • Jennifer M says

        Instead of citric acid I used 2 packets of koolaid lemonade. Just make sure its unsweetened. Total was .40 for the two per batch of tabs. I plan on stocking up during the summer when they go on sale for only .10 each. I might still add a few drops of the lemon essential oil for extra kick.

      • Tracey says


    • TMama says

      The vinegar is wonderful for hard water spots. I use it in my dishwasher instead of the jet dry. It is great and cheap!

  7. MOLyn says

    Why do you need the three drops of dishwashing liquid? It seems like that would be adding chemicals and dyes to a basically natural product. Just curious!

    • Amanda Harding says

      Everything, including ANYTHING natural, is a chemical. Every ingredient in this recipe is a chemical! Baking soda + vinegar fizzes because there’s a chemical reaction taking place! Water is a chemical! And p.s., arsenic is a naturally occurring element. Rat poison. Natural. Found in some soil. Not all chemicals are bad, and not all natural ingredients are good. I know this is a product of ignorant advertising personnel, and companies that use any tactic to sell their product, but it’s nevertheless wrong. Just putting this out there in the hopes of changing this stereotype one person at a time…

      • Meadow says

        Said perfectly. Thank you very much. It is very frustrating to try to talk to people who are so convinced that natural is the only good way and chemicals are evil. Many things are good and bad on both sides.

  8. says

    Can’t you put the dishwashing liquid with the ingredients in stead of the vinegar? It’s one step less when you are starting the dishwasher …

    • Michelle says

      I figured it out and if you substitute 1/2 cup of Dawn for the vinegar then for 2 ice trays that make 32 tablets, it would be 3/4 teaspon of Dawn for each. That is much more than the three drops of Dawn recommended. I would think that 1/4 teaspoon for each tablet is what you would want to use, so I would use 8 teaspoons and water to equal the 1/2 of vinegar. I like the idea of using Dawn/water instead because from what I have read vinegar and baking/washing soda neutralize each other.

      • Jennifer says

        Have you tried this out on your own dishes? I may go with your measurements to save the step!

    • says


      • Eriykah says

        Just add the 3 drops to each ice cube before you sit in outside to dry. (I haven’t tried that, but it was the first thought to come to me). :)

      • JP says

        mom read the article again please she said and i quate: Add 1 tablet to your dishwasher detergent compartment along with 3 drops of dishwashing liquid. (This is optional…I just think it gives my homemade stuff a little extra cleaning/grease-cutting kick.)

  9. Terri S says

    i’m not sure whether the coarse salt i have in the kitchen is kosher or sea salt (i poured it from the original box into a jar)–does it matter?