Buying dishwasher detergent makes me grouchy. A bottle of the natural stuff runs $6, and if you buy the tabs or pods, that $6 only gets you enough for 20 loads – that’s not even a month’s supply for my family!
I’ve tried several homemade recipes over the years (just stuff that I found on the web), but I’ve never been impressed with the results. I always ended up with a white residue on my glasses, and the detergent would harden into a brick after I made it (even if I stored it in an air-tight container). And the fact that the recipes always contained Borax was an issue for me, too. I use Borax for lots of things, but I’m just not keen on using it on our dishes. It is, after all, toxic when ingested.
Clearly, it was time to come up with my own solution.
So, I did a bunch of research on the active ingredients in dishwasher detergent, how they work together, how to address hard water; etc.; and then I experimented until I came up with a recipe that really works. It’s all natural, just like the stuff I was buying (honestly, probably more natural than what I was buying), and it’s in tab form, so it’s really easy to use.
Because I want this recipe to work as well for you as it has for me, I’ve even experimented with the size of the tabs. These should fit the detergent compartment on your dishwasher perfectly. I’ve tested other people’s tab recipes, and that was a problem that I ran into again and again.
Ready to give my dishwasher detergent tabs a try? Here’s the recipe:
What You’ll Need:
- 1 cup washing soda
- 1 cup Kosher salt
- 1 cup baking soda
- 3/4 cup lemon juice
What You Do:
Measure all the dry ingredients into a bowl, and stir to combine. Then, add the lemon juice. The ingredients will foam for a minute.
Mix everything together.
Then, press the detergent into a mold to form your tabs. I tested a bunch of molds (including the ice cube trays that most recipes seem to call for), and I found that a silicon candy mold works best. It’s easy to fill; the tabs are easy to remove; and it’s easy to clean, too. This Peanut Butter-Cup Mold is perfect for the job. It results in tabs that fit in the detergent compartment beautifully. My recipe makes 50 tabs, so I use two of these molds (each makes 30).
If you decide to use something you already have, aim for tablespoon-size tabs.
Allow the tabs to harden completely. Then, pop them out of the molds, and store them in an air-tight container.
To use: Simply drop one into the detergent compartment; shut the door; and proceed as usual.
Tips and Warnings:
- Always store cleaners out of the reach of children and pets. As an added safety measure, label your dishwasher detergent and list the ingredients on the container (I hope to have a printable for that soon)
- Add vinegar to your dishwasher’s rinse agent compartment for spot-free glasses
- Lots of homemade dishwasher detergent recipes call for Epsom salt. It contains lots of minerals (and is the reason so many homemade detergents leave a cloudy residue behind). Do not use it as a stand in for the Kosher salt called for in this recipe. If you don’t have Kosher salt, you can use table salt instead
- You should be able to find washing soda on the laundry aisle of most grocery and big-box stores. You can also buy it online
Cost Per Load: $.04