It’s been a long time since I have addressed the subject of homemade dishwasher detergent. I have written posts about a homemade dishwasher detergent and a homemade dishwasher soap. I guess I felt like I’d said all I had to say on the subject!
But a while ago I received a comment from a reader named Heather on Facebook. She had made my Homemade Dishwasher Detergent and while she loved the way it worked, her user experience was less than ideal. In Heather’s own (hilarious) words…
“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!!!!”
I owe Heather a “thank you” right back, because her comment inspired me to try something new that I think turned out pretty great – homemade dishwasher tablets!
It occurred to me as I read Heather’s description of having to hack away at her homemade detergent with a knife “psycho-style,” then surely the detergent should lend itself to being formed into a solid state without too much difficulty! So I went ahead and took a “stab” at it! ;-)
Just as a quick refresher about the detergent itself, each of the ingredients has its own benefits. Washing soda (or baking soda, you can use either) helps to cut through grease, and it’s a great all purpose cleaner. Borax is another great cleaner, and it also helps to disinfect. Salt helps mitigate the effects of hard water, if that’s a concern in your area, as does vinegar. (Vinegar also helps to bind the ingredients when making the tablets.) And finally, there’s a bit of lemon essential oil in the mix, added for it’s antibacterial properties, and its fresh, clean scent!
Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Tabs
- 2 cups washing soda or baking soda
- 2 cups borax
- 1/2 cup coarse salt or epsom salt
- 1/2 cup vinegar
- 15-20 drops of lemon essential oil
Mix all the ingredients together with a spoon. (The addition of the vinegar will cause a little fizzing, but not much.) Once all the ingredients are well combined, you will notice it actually will start clumping all by itself.
Transfer the mixture into a couple of ice cube trays or your favorite silicone mold, and press down until each compartment is hard packed with detergent.
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 out of sight so you won’t be tempted to mess with them before they’re completely dry) and let them sit for at least 24 hours.
When they are good and hard and DRY, remove them from the trays and store them in a container with a tight-fitting lid.
Using Your Dishwasher Detergent Tabs
Add 1 tablet to your dishwasher detergent compartment along with 3 drops of dishwashing liquid. (This is optional, but I 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, and no one wants to clean up a bubble explosion!
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, adding the vinegar is crucial if you want to avoid cloudy dishes!
Enjoy your sparkling dishes!