When I first moved in with my husband, I remember watching in horror whenever he did the dishes. Not a fan of pre-scrubbing, he’d simply toss everything in the dishwasher willy-nilly (plates and bowls at every possible angle), still covered in dried food from the night before. Then he’d put one of those turbo dishwasher pods in the detergent dispenser and be done with it.
Needless to say I got a chemical facial every time I’d open the door to assess the damage and rearrange the racks (yes, I am that person). Not only was it ineffective and wasteful but it made our apartment smell like chlorine for hours. Along with schooling him in the fine art of washing dishes, I started making our own DIY dishwasher tablets and I’ve been doing it ever since.
If you’ve ever made your own dishwasher detergent, these are just like that, only better. They use common household ingredients like baking soda and salt to make dishes sparkle. And with the help of white vinegar and lemon essential oil they kill germs and get rid of grimy buildup. Simply pop a couple in your machine’s detergent dispenser and say hello to spotlessly clean dishes.
DIY Dishwasher Tablets
The first time I made my own dishwasher pods, I used a recipe that called for baking soda, citric acid and water, among other ingredients. I had super high hopes, only to be left with a big old mess that never stopped fizzing long enough to dry into actual tablets. (That’s the last time I blindly trust a recipe on Google!)
But after a bit of trial and error, I finally landed on this recipe.
It uses super washing soda, baking soda, salt, vinegar and a dab of dish soap to get dishes squeaky clean. Washing soda helps boost the effectiveness of the baking soda, and together they cut through grease and leave your dishes shiny and clean. Salt helps soften water so you aren’t left with spots and streaks. And vinegar is a great antibacterial that kills germs and melts grease and grime. Lastly, dish soap kicks the cleaning action up a tad so you don’t have to pre-scrub if you don’t want to.
While most recipes I saw online don’t call for it, I also add a few drops of essential oil to my tablets. Lemon and grapefruit essential oils help cut through grease, kill germs and give your dishes a fresh, clean scent to boot. Just a couple drops is enough to clean without leaving a greasy residue. If you’d like to see some of our other favorite essential oils for cleaning, just click here.
How to Make Your Own Dishwasher Pods
- 1 cup super washing soda
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1 cup table salt
- 1 teaspoon dish soap
- 10 drops each lemon essential oil and grapefruit essential oil
- ¼ cup white vinegar
- Ice cube tray or silicone mold
1. Place everything except the white vinegar in a small bowl and whisk to combine.
2. Slowly add the vinegar a little at a time, waiting for the fizzing to subside before adding more. Stir the mixture until it’s the consistency of wet sand and it naturally starts to clump. If needed, add more vinegar or baking soda.
3. Spoon the mixture into an ice cube tray and press each cavity down firmly.
4. Put the ice cube tray in a dry, sunny spot and let the dishwasher tablets dry for at least 24 hours.
5. Test your dishwasher pods to see if they remove easily and stay in one piece. If so, transfer them to a lidded glass jar and store them away from moisture. Since they don’t contain water, they should last indefinitely, but like with all homemade products, throw them out if you spot any mold or mildew.
6. To use, place 1-2 dishwasher pods in the detergent compartment and run your dishwasher as usual.
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 [email protected] and I can troubleshoot more with you.
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?
Lindsey Johnson says
Hi Jenna! Yes, you could totally add some essential oils. You can read more about washing soda here – http://www.armandhammer.com/fabric-care/laundry-boosters/Products/arm-and-hammer-super-washing-soda-detergent-booster.aspx.
Mo Winter says
What is super washing soda?
Lindsey Johnson says
Hi! It’s sodium carbonate – kind of like baking soda on steroids. Here’s a link to it – http://www.armandhammer.com/fabric-care/laundry-boosters/Products/arm-and-hammer-super-washing-soda-detergent-booster.aspx
Can you buy the ‘super washing soda’ in Australia? or is there an alternative?
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.
Apologies regarding my previous message I meant the homemade dishwasher tablets not the all natural bleach alternative, doh!
Hey there, love this site! To say I’m obsessed is an understatement. Can you use something else besides citric acid?
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?
Lindsey Johnson says
I just did some checking and apparently you can make your own from baking soda! Check out this post on Wellness Mama for directions.
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
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.
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.
Yvonne Holmes says
I do not see any added water in this recipe and am wondering if you may not be confusing it with another recipe?????
I was wondering this as well, since she says in the instructions there is no water.
Hi there! Thank you for sharing this very informative post! However, I think you missed to elaborate on the benefits of using organic dishwasher detergents, which is very important, especially for those who are looking for natural options for a healthier lifestyle. I discussed this on an in-depth post, and if you agree with me, you’re free to use my article as a source: https://karmaeating.com/blogs/healthy-lifestyle/why-use-organic-dishwasher-tablets More power to you! 🙂
Hi, where is the recipe with the measurements? Also, do you just pack it into the tray then immediately push them out?
Stephanie Gerber says
Hi Lyndsay, the recipe is there now, sorry about that!
?I don’t know what I’ve done wrong
Won’t stop fizzing ?
I’m sure you meant a tablespoon or so of water?I made it with a cup of water as prescribed and it wad too runny yo do anythung with, so j had to use four times the amount of dry ingredients to make it work.
I wouldn’t mix baking soda and vinegar because they neutralize each other with creates water and a type of salt (acidic and basic shouldn’t be mixed). They are great to remove stains with the fizzy reaction but not in a product that you keep because you neutralize all of their effectiveness by mixing them which defeats the whole purpose. You could replace vinegar by water and replace the dishwashing liquid with vinegar but that’s it.
At first I thought this was a great formula but we have found that it is leaving a powdery film on everything. What to change on this or we will have to go back to store bought soap
I’m having the same issue– made this recipe and while its great for grease and dirt on pans and plates– it definitely leaves a film on everything (but especially glass). Anything that would help with that?
Leah Hong says
Do you think I can put them in a freezer until each use?
So, the pictures and recipe seem a little deceiving. 3 cups of powder makes a very large batch, and only 1/4c of vinegar barely wet the ingredients. Within 2 minutes the mixture in the bowl hardened and crumbled. I had enough mix to fill two silicone trays, but I doubt they will golden together. Any suggestions?
So what I did was take out a cup of vinegar instead and slowly added to the dry mixture till it became a bit moist. I used my discretion 1/4 in my opinion just didn’t cut it. That tabs dried perfectly fine and worked wonderfully
shannon piper says
Is this safe for a stainless steel interior. I see some recipes call for citric acid and this one doesn’t. I’m assuming the ones that include the citric acid might not be good on that type of dishwasher. Thanks!
Just a word of caution. .. the reason you do not see other recipes for the use of essential oils is because they break down plastic. Most components of dishwashers are made of plastic.
I was wondering how safe these DIY pods are during pregnancy and for children?