A few months ago, I shared my recipe for Homemade Dishwasher Detergent, and it was a huge hit! A few readers have emailed me or commented asking if I knew how to make homemade dishwasher tabs, and I am happy to report, I finally found an easy way to make your own that actually works! Believe me, I tested a few methods that were not so great. These dish tabs not only do a fabulous job, they smell great too!
Here is what you will need to yield 16-20 dishwasher tablets...
½ Cup of Borax
½ Cup of Washing Soda
½ Cup of Baking Soda
½ Cup of Citric Acid
½ Cup of Kosher Salt
15 Drops of Lavendar Essential Oil
15 Drops of Lemon Essential Oil
¼ Cup of Water (may not use all of it)
An Ice Cube Tray
Mix all of the ingredients together with a whisk except the water. Mix really well, making sure that the oils are mixed well with the dry ingredients.
Slowly mix in water, a little bit at a time. I start with about a tablespoon, mix really well, then check the consistancy. Keep adding water until you can form a loose snowball. DO NOT OVER WATER OR THEY WON'T DRY WELL.
Once your mixture is the right consitancy, fill your ice cube tray, pressing down to be sure there are no air pockets.
Let them dry for 12 - 24 hours. Once they are finished, you should be able to lightly turn your tray and they will drop out like ice cubes.
You can store them in a baggie or jar, just be sure they don't get wet until you are ready to use them!
I love that I can now make my own dish tabs...it means I have added yet one more item in our home that isn't full of unknown chemicals, they smell absolutely amazing and I don't have to run to the store every time I run out...I can just make more!
For more cleaning tips and tricks, like How To Clean In Between The Glass On Your Oven Doors, simply click HERE!
I am so going to try this. Might be easier for my son when he is starting the dishwasher for me. I already make my own soap but he has a hard time measuring the right amount.
Yay! I so wish I knew how to make my own soap! It's definitely on my list, Tanya!
Where do you buy citric acid?
You can buy it in the canning section of most stores, right near the canning jars. Hope this helps! Jessica
could u pls provide me with a replacement ingredient instead of citric acid
TIA J says
A packet of unsweetened lemonade mix works GREAT, is very inexpensive, and smells good too!
Are the oils just for the scent or do they serve a cleaning purpose?
Hi, Pat! I'm not sure, but I think they are more for smell. You could try a few drops of vinegar instead! Hope this helps! xoxo Jessica
There's lots of essential oils you could use for different reasons...lemon and orange work well at cleaning, lime helps clean grime, etc. I wanted to ask what is "washing soda" and where would I buy it?
Hi, Kyla! I love my essential oils. Washing soda is basically baking soda that has been broken down with heat and has amazing stain lifting and fighting abilities. You can usually find it in the cleaning section of any grocery/big box store. If you can't find it, you can order it from my Amazon shop here---> or Make you own washing soda like I did here --->
Granulated Washing Sods is a water softener. We find it near the laundry powder. It is made of Sodium Carbonate.
What an awesome idea! Thanks so much for sharing it, I can't wait to try this out!
How long have you been using these?
For close to a month now, Tammy, and I love them...they work just as well as the expensive store bought tabs!
PAT COBB says
I will give this a try! Thanks for sharing!
Thanks for sharing! I love home made products
kathy Pender says
This sounds like a great idea! I use the same recipe, minus the eo's and water to make a powdered version, but the citric acid hardens and I have to break it up all the time. I will definitely be trying this version. Thanks for sharing! :-)
Definitely want to try this! About how much does it cost for one batch of these?
What a disaster! I'm so mad I wasted all that money on the oil and all the ingredients! They look like marshmallows and made a huge sticky mess. I only used half the water and made sure to whisk everything. These DID NOT WORK! Love all the photos but don't love the project. Sorry.
I'm so sorry they didn't work out for you, Amanda. I'm not sure why. I just made another batch over the weekend and they still work for me. Sorry , Amanda!
Donna Holland says
It sounds like maybe you added too much water, I add it nearly drop by drop or even use a spray bottle to moisten the mix with the water. Make sure to mix it with your hands really well in between water drops. (Take your jewelry off while doing this by the way) I have had my share of citric acid fails and it is always from too much moisture. Hope this helps!!
You have to keep pressing them down as it foams up. Keep checking it. You can also make them in bath bomb molds to avoid having to keep watching and pressing them.
great idea! what is that cute little plant next to the container of tabs??
Thanks, Kacey! That is a bird's nest fern...bought it at Lowe's!
Just wanted to let you know you have a typo.. In the last paragraph, you say "it means I have added yet one more item in our home that is full of unknown chemicals," and I think you probably meant to say ISN'T full of unknown chemicals ?
Now, my question.. does this work in hard water ? Thanks.
Thank you, Deb...I am so glad you pointed that out to me!
I actually have hard water and they work great for me! Hope it helps!
Could I use oxyclean instead of citic acid?
Hi, Priscilla! I really don't know about that...I would be afraid of the chemical reaction. If you make them with it, let me know how it turns out!
A few other essential oils you could use for not only wonderful smells, but also help clean are: D-Limonene Essential Oil, and Orange Essential Oil - both are great grease fighters (also use these two for handmade laundry soap, mix in with vinegar & water for counter top cleaner, bathroom cleaner, and wall cleaner (not recommended for anything with plastic or on wood furniture))
Would love to try this.
Is there another name for "washing soda'? I am from New England and don't know what that is.
Can we get the citric acid at a drug store?
I'm not sure what else it would be called. Usually you can find citric acid in the canning section of the grocery, but I would try amazon.com if you can't find either! Hope this helps! ~Jessica
Donna Holland says
I can't find washing soda where I live either. It is easy to make, just take baking soda, spread it on a pan and cook on 400 degrees for approximately two hours. Make sure to stir around occasionally, and DON'T breathe it in! It changes to a grainier texture once it is done...
walmart has washing soda in the laundry detergent aisle...also borax and fels-napha soap if u r using those...ty for sharing your soap recipe
The problem is the reaction between the citric acid, baking soda, & water. The byproduct of the chemical reaction is oxygen, thus the tablets "rise". That's why a previous poster noted they are like marshmallows. I'm hoping I can compact them after they have dried a little bit & the reaction has run its course. Next time, I will leave out the baking soda & try using just the washing soda. The same thing will happen if you use vinegar with the baking soda.
I've made this before but not in cube trays. It was an exercise in futility. I got 28 cubes from this. One thing I have not seen mentioned, but was very much present in the making...these little cubes rise like bread so keep that in mind. Heck, I wish my bread rose like these little beauties did.
Essential oils do carry other qualities besides scent...they are more than that, but I'm too lazy to look it up, but the info is out there :)
I made these last night and they kind of bubbled up into marshmallows, and now the tops can come out but the rest is stuck in the tray. Think I can scoop them out, ball them and still use them!? Thanks! I am not sure what I did wrong!
Ohhh, I hope these work! I've made 2 different recipes that made my dishes look terrible, even when I rinsed with vinegar. We have such hard water that the only dishwasher solution that works is Ecotabs. Luckily, I found them on Amazon for a good price, but still, I want to make my own!! Thank you for the recipe. I'm going to try these as my husband shakes his head and chuckles to himself. :P
Ooops I mean Ecover dishwashing tablets.
Hi, Annemarie! Have you read my post on how to clean your dishwasher...it really works well if you have hard water! https://www.mom4real.com/clean-your-dishwasher-remove-hard-water-deposits/
I've been using these dishwasher tabs for the past two years and love them! Just be sure to follow the recipe or they won't set right ????
Do you know what the shelf life on these would be?
Kathy Otero says
I can't wait to try making my own dishwasher tabs! You make it look much easier than I would have thought :) Just need to get these ingredients together.
So this recipe is awesome! I do agree with the cup of vinegar to help make the dishes shiny. I've been wondering if there is a way to make a gelatin vinegar? To. Have one step! Storage is also a consideration, but I would like your thoughts
Rosalie Wertz says
after reading all comments, I have a question.........do these cubes (that are formed in an ice cube tray) fit in the dishwasher soap holder? I don't think the cover would fit over these homemade pads. I think they are too tall to fit there. better question, where do you put them in the dishwasher? Thanks!
Mine fit just fine, but our door to the dish detergent compartment had been broken for some time, so we always just tossed ours into the dishwasher. You can either do that or make them in smaller mold if that is needed. Hope this helps!
I'd like to try this recipe but I don't have kosher salt. I do have regular table salt. Does the salt HAVE to be kosher? And if so, do you know why? Thanks!
Table salt should work just fine. I typically use kosher salt for everything, but the result should be similar. Hope this helps! Jess
Just wondering whether the borax is absolutely required or if the recipe would be successful without it?
Just made my second batch of these. They work well. Use the small cup of vinegar in the top rack as suggested. After you mix the ingredients with a whisk use a spray bottle of water and mix with your hand. Just do a spray or 2 at a time until you get the right consistency. Thank you for sharing this recipe!
So, which one you prefer - this or 3 ingredient tablet?
Hi is there a link to print recipe for dishwasher tabs?? So I’m not searching when needed
Thank you in advance
CAN YOU TELL ME WHAT "WASHING SODA' IS?