Easy DIY Dishwasher Tabs

Buying dishwasher detergent is one of those things I hate doing.  A bottle of the natural dishwasher detergent runs at least $6 at the grocery store (and who knows if it’s really all that natural), and if you buy the tabs or pods, that $6 only gets you enough for 20 loads – that sure doesn’t last very long in my house.

I’ve tried several homemade recipes over the past few years, but I’ve never been overly impressed with the results. I’ve tried all different combinations of ingredients based on books and internet research. I always ended up with a white residue on my glasses. And the fact that most of the recipes always contained Borax was an issue for me, too. There are times I use Borax but it’s rare. It is, after all, toxic when ingested and that means if it is on your dishes that’s not good either. I have a mindset that if you can’t ingest it, it shouldn’t be on your skin either because it’s being soaked into your bloodstream within seconds.  So whether or not you ingest it, it’s still sending toxins into your body.

So… I came up with my own recipe for natural, DIY dishwasher pods (or tabs) that is simple, easy to find ingredients and quick to make.

 I did a bunch of research (if you know me, that’s sort of a hallmark of my personality) on the active ingredients in dishwasher detergent, how they work together, how to address the hard water where I live; etc.; and then I experimented until I came up with a recipe that really works for us and I thought it was time to share it with the world. It’s all natural, better than the stuff I was buying at the store and it’s in tab form, so it’s really easy to use.  Of course, if you don’t want to make your own, Young Living also has dishwasher powder that is amazing!

Anyway, 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 and molds to use. 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 several times.

Here’s my recipe for natural dishwasher tabs:


What You’ll Need:

Instructions on how to make your own natural dishwasher tabs:


Measure all the dry ingredients into a bowl, and stir to combine. Then, add the lemon juice. The ingredients will foam for a minute because the baking soda (alkaline) and lemon juice (acid).


Mix everything together. Should be moist but not too wet.  If needed, add more lemon juice to be sure the mixture holds together firmly as it dries.


Then, press the detergent into a mold to form your tabs. I tested a bunch of molds and found that most people prefer ice cube trays since they are easy to find. When I use ice cube trays (like I did in the pictures), I prefer the ones with the silicon bottom so the tabs are easy to pop out). I also like a silicon candy mold and found it works very well. 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. This recipe makes 50 tabs using the candy mold, so I use two of these molds (each makes 30).  With ice cube trays I usually fill them 1/3-1/2 full depending on how deep they are and make about 40-50 tabs.

IMG_8806.JPGRegardless of what you use, aim for tablespoon size tabs. This will yield 40-50 tabs and be just the right about of ingredients to get your dishes nice and clean. Be sure to pack the ingredients down tightly so the tabs stay together.


Allow the tabs to harden completely. Then, pop them out of the molds, and store them in an air-tight container.


Don’t worry if some of them break or crumble a bit.  Save the powder and use it in the dishwasher just like you would detergent in powder form!  No need for any waste.


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
  • Add distilled white 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). I do not use it for that reason.  Kosher salt is called for in this recipe but 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 and even some grocery stores. It’s usually on the bottom shelf. You can also buy it online.


And Of Course The Results:






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