I’ve been looking for a good homemade dishwasher detergent recipe for a while now. They are pretty easy to find, but the problem is almost all of them have borax in them. I don’t generally have a problem with borax as natural cleaning agent, but it is not something that I want on my dishes.
Borax is a naturally occurring mineral that is mined more sustainably than most. (source) Borax is not carcinogenic, but if ingested in high amounts it can cause nausea and vomiting and can negatively affect the endocrine and reproductive systems, metabolism, and development. (source)
So I want to take the precaution of making sure there is no borax residue on my dishes just to be safe. The chances of actually ingesting enough to cause problems from dish detergent residue is very low, but better safe than sorry.
So I set out to create a borax free dish detergent recipe. And I’m also kind of lazy and don’t like to have to scoop out proper amounts so I figured making already-sized tabs would be the best way to go. The results were even better than I could have expected!
Here are the ingredients you will need:
- Washing soda: cuts grease, good all purpose cleaner, more alkaline than baking soda so balances the acidic properties of citric acid and vinegar, reduces effects of hard water (see how you can make your own washing soda)
- Baking soda: cuts grease, good all purpose cleaner
- Citric acid: reduces effects of hard water, removes build up and scale, antibacterial
- Kosher salt: reduces effects of hard water
- Liquid castile soap: extra grease cutting and cleaning power
- White distilled vinegar: binds ingredients together and also a good all purpose cleaner
- Lemon essential oil: antibacterial, for scent
The recipe should give you enough to make 2 ice cube trays worth of dishwasher detergent tabs. They should last 28-56 loads depending on the load size (you can cut them in half).
Homemade Dishwasher Tabs
- 2 cups washing soda
- 1 cup baking soda
- 1 cup citric acid
- 1/2 cup kosher salt
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
- 1 teaspoon castile soap
- 15-20 drops lemon essential oil
- mix all the dry ingredients together in a large bowl
- gradually add vinegar a little bit at a time and mix well (some fizzing will occur and the mixture will start to clump) You may not need the entire amount of vinegar, so add it a little at a time.
- mix in castile soap and lemon essential oil
- pack well into two ice cube trays (take your time doing this and make sure they are well compacted)
- set ice cube trays out to dry for at least 24 hours in a sunny spot
- take tabs out of trays and store in a tight-lidded container
When you take the dishwasher detergent tabs out of the ice cube trays, they will be a little crumbly. You can just collect and keep the extra crumbs and combine them to use in a small dish cycle.
The tabs are pretty big so you may not need to use the entire tab for each cycle. They are really easy to cut into smaller segments to make them the appropriate size for your load.
I did the calculations and these babies only cost you 9 cents a load. That’s pretty impressive. I used to use the Seventh Generation dishwasher tabs and those cost 40 cents a load, so it’s definitely saving money!
I have used these several times now and I am so happy with the results! They are better than any dishwasher detergent I have ever purchased.
I kind of thought we just had a lame dishwasher at this apartment because it hasn’t done an amazing job washing our dishes in the past, so I didn’t have high hopes for the detergent to make huge improvements, but it really did! I even ran a test cycle where I didn’t rinse out the leftover almond milk and granola in a bowl just to see if this detergent was powerful enough to wash them out, and it was! I have never been able to load a dishwasher without thoroughly rinsing bowls and be confident that they would get completely washed out. I think we are going to be using the dishwasher more often from now on!
Let me know how homemade dishwasher detergent goes for you!
supplies used in this post
Excited about making your dishwasher detergent tabs? You’ll love these laundry detergent tabs too!