After making (and totally loving!) this grease-fighting lavender dish soap, I decided it was time to ditch my automatic dishwashing detergent tablets, too. Sure, they work great, but I was ready to go a more natural route.
And let me tell you, I’m even more in love with this than the liquid dish soap! Making all-natural dishwasher tablets is as easy as can be, AND they cost less than store-bought tablets. Hurrah!
How to Make Dishwasher Detergent Tablets
I wanted to make mine without borax. There’s some debate about whether or not it’s really safe to use in natural dishwasher detergent, so I opted to leave it out.
I wasn’t sure it was needed anyway, and lucky for me, it definitely wasn’t! Instead, I used five ingredients I always have on hand: super washing soda (my new favorite natural cleanser), baking soda, kosher salt, citric acid, and water.
All you need to do is mix the dry ingredients together in a big bowl, then add the water. If you prefer to make a detergent that’s not in tablet form, just skip the water.
There’s roughly 1 tablespoon of dishwasher detergent in each tablet, so I would use 1 tablespoon of the dry detergent per load if you don’t make tablets.
It will fizz up a bit because the liquid creates a chemical reaction between the citric acid and the sodas. It doesn’t cancel out their cleaning power, though. I was a bit worried about how they would clean at first, but they worked perfectly.
Also, you want to be careful when working with super washing soda because it can cause skin irritation. I haven’t had a problem with this, but I did wear gloves while forming the tablets.
The mixture will look soupy at first, and then it will become more like slightly crumbly modeling clay. It starts to dry out quickly, so you have to work kind of fast.
I got about 3 dozen tablets out of this batch. I really packed the wells of the ice cube trays tightly, so you may get more or less than 36, depending on their size.
A few months ago, I also started to use white distilled vinegar as a rinse agent instead of the blue stuff. We have very hard water, so my dishes would still come out with a little bit of a film on them. Swapping that out really helped.
Since then, I’ve been thrilled with both the natural dishwasher detergent tablets and the vinegar rinse agent. My dishes and flatware have never been cleaner or shinier!
Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Tablets FAQ
I made this recipe, and the mixture seems too thin. What should I do?
The mixture should be soupy at first, so don’t panic. It will become more like slightly crumbly modeling clay as it starts to dry out, which happens quickly. Once you put the mixture into the ice cube trays, allow them to harden for the full 30 minutes before turning them out.
The bottoms of the tablets may be a little soft or damp once you’ve removed them from the trays. Turning them upside down after removing them will allow the bottoms to dry out. Remember to let them harden fully before storing them.
What can I do if my dishes come out of the dishwasher with a film?
The hardness of your water might be the culprit. When you use these natural dishwasher detergent tablets, you can also add vinegar as a rinse agent before the next cycle. If that doesn’t do the trick, try adding a bit more citric acid to the powder mix of this recipe the next time around.
What is super washing soda, and where can I buy it?
Super washing soda is 100% sodium carbonate, and it helps to soften water and raise the pH, both of which boost the cleaning power of your DIY dishwasher detergent. You can buy washing soda in the laundry section of stores like Target, Walmart, and other well-stocked grocery stores or online.
And in case you’re wondering, washing soda is different than baking soda, so you can’t use just one or the other for this recipe. You’ll need both.
Can I use regular table salt instead of kosher salt to make dishwasher detergent?
When it comes to DIY dishwasher detergent, not all salt is created equal. Kosher salt is coarser than table salt, which is what makes it a better choice for this recipe.
Because table salt has much finer granules, it can block your dishwasher and cause damage down the road. The larger Kosher salt granules dissolve more slowly and are less likely to cause any dishwasher blockages.
DIY Natural Dishwasher Detergent Tablets
- Silicone mold
- Medium bowl
- 1 cup super washing soda
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup citric acid
- 1 cup water
- Equipment needed: 3 ice cube trays
- Mix the sodas, salt, and citric acid together in a glass or stainless steel bowl (not plastic).
- Add the water a little at a time, waiting for the fizzing to die down before adding more. Stir very well.
- Used gloved hands to press 1 tablespoon of the mixture into the wells of several ice cube trays. Press hard on the mixture, so the tablets will hold together. Add a little more water if it becomes too crumbly.
- Let the tablets stand for about 30 minutes or so in the ice cube trays, then turn them out and let them dry completely.
- Transfer to a glass jar and store under the kitchen sink.
Femme au Foyer says
Made this recipe & I think there was way too much water. I just added a bit of water & the whole batch turned into a gooey mess! I have made these tablets before but think it called for 1-2 tbsps of white vinegar & no water.
Lisa Perrin says
Hello, so I made these tablets exactly as the recipe calls for and I’m finding everything in my dishwasher is coming out with a white residue on them and I even put vinegar in my rinse aid compartment…do you have any suggestions about what I could do differently?
I have exactly the same problem. The white residue is pretty heavy and vinegar in the rinse cycle didn’t help either. Also I was making a mix, not tablets and ended up with mix getting hard as rock in the jar, I had to hammer it with a knife to get some out.
I would so much appreciate finding a earth friendly recipe that worked.
I’m in the uk & super washing soda is not available here.well it is on Ebay but for £25 which is unreal-do u know what the uk equivalent would be or what I can use as an alternative please?
Thanks so much Hun-I just had a nice guy at whole foods tell me the uk equivalent is soda crystals so I may give them a try but would love to make my own so thanks so much for checking xxx
Hey there, love this site! To say I’m obsessed is an understatement. Can you use something else besides citric acid?
Apologies regarding my previous message I meant the homemade dishwasher tablets not the all natural bleach alternative, doh!
Hi there, love your website & ideas, just one simple question about the all natural bleach alternative. Any reason why it should be Kosher salt? Apologies if this is a stupid question. Thanks Julie-Anne.
Lindsey Johnson says
Hi Julianne, I’m sure you could use any kind of salt. That’s just what I use.
Can you buy the ‘super washing soda’ in Australia? or is there an alternative?
Mo Winter says
What is super washing soda?
I can’t wait to use this! Two questions:
What is “super washing soda?”
Can I add in essential oils to create that “clean” smell such as lemon?
Cindy Lyde says
Lindsey, this was a very good help to me. I was helping out my friend with home made detergents and never found a good result. Thank myself for searching it online and finding your blog.
Now I guess, the work would be completed in no time. Will let you know about the results. :)
Lindsey Johnson says
Let me know what you think! So glad you found us! I’ve been using the homemade tablets for a few weeks with really good results. The only time things didn’t come out sparkling clean was when I did a little experiment and put a measuring cup I used to measure sunflower butter. I didn’t rinse it at all. I just wanted to see. That was the only thing that wasn’t 100% clean, but everything else in the load looked great.
I made this up not using the water to make the cubes. If i use a tablespoon I get this gritty cloud left on my dishes and if I use just a teaspoon they don’t come clean. My dish washer has 2 soap dispensers. I have been dividing the soap between the two. I have been using vinegar as a rinse aid for a long time.
Lindsey Johnson says
Hi Violet! I would try adding some more citric acid to the powder. I’m still using the tablets for my dishes and so far so good. I am also wondering about water hardness. Our water is very hard, so I have had issues with other detergents leaving dishes cloudy. Unfortunately, I think it’s just a matter of trial and error until you find the right ratio that works with your water. Feel free to email me firstname.lastname@example.org and I can troubleshoot more with you.