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 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 cubes 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 cleaning 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
- 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 hold together. Add a little more water if it becomes too crumbly to hold together.
- 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.