Homemade Dishwasher Tablets

Homemade Dishwasher Tablets

I’m so excited to share this recipe with you!  We have been using homemade dishwasher and clothing detergents for almost two years now.  We have tried various recipes for dishwasher detergents without loving the results, but saving us a lot of money.  We stuck with it mostly because our grocery budget, which is quite small, has to include our cleaning and toiletries.  I use to do a lot of couponing, but even then, the homemade stuff is cheaper.  We also have a terrible dishwasher in our rental home which doesn’t help when the recipe is a little off.

I came across a recipe for a liquid detergent, but I didn’t like the results.  It had baking soda in it, so everything had a filmy, chalky layer on it.  Gross!  My next thought was to use washing soda instead of baking soda.  This resulted in a rock solid mass in the bottom of the bottle I was trying to shake up.  We chipped a piece off and threw it in, and it seemed to work well.  I had just come across a different recipe similar to one we had tried previously that used molds to make tablets.  That’s when the idea hit me to use this recipe and let it harden in ice trays.  The best of both worlds!

Here’s all the ingredients you need – 1 cup borax, 1 cup washing soda, 1 cup vinegar and 2 tablespoons lemon juice concentrate.  All this stuff can be found at Walmart or grocery stores.  It should cost you less than $10 for the supplies, but they will last you months and months and produce several batches of tablets.  You’re going to save so much money!


Pour the washing soda and borax into a large measuring cup or bowl.


Use a spoon or whisk to break up any chunks in the powder.


Stir the vinegar and lemon juice into the dry ingredients.


Mix well making sure to get all the powder off the bottom.


It looks really pretty when you get done.  Almost good enough to taste…but not really!


It will be easier if you are using a measuring cup or bowl with a pour spout.


Pour into ice cube molds.


Let them sit until they dry out – around an hour.  They should look like this.  You can touch them to see if they are solid.


Pop them out and let them dry about another half hour on some wax paper.


Store in a glass or plastic container that seals well.  Use one per load.  This recipe made 18 tablets in my ice trays.


We are so pleased with the results.  Our plastic cups that had been filmy even with store bought tablets are clear and shiny now.  The glasses are crystal clear.  It’s like having a new dishwasher!



  1. This is favorite recipe yet! Thanks so much for sharing.

  2. This is working great for me. Had to learn to leave alone that liquid would soak in as it set-up but I also played with the ice trays. Found a set of three for under $3 that were oval and tapered. Perfect shape for my washer.

  3. Hi I’m in Scotland were can u get borax or is there another name for it

    • I’ve seen it on Amazon. Can you try to order it online? It might be a little more costly, but it’s still a pretty cheap item. When I looked online, Wikipedia said it’s also called tincal. Hope this helps!

  4. This may be self explainitory, but do you place the tablets in the bottom of your washer? Or do you have a different secret place? I know they will be too big for the designated soap trays in the machine. Thanks!

    • Mine just barely fit into the tray. Sometimes the tray won’t close, but they kind of stay in anyway. They may fall into the bottom of the dishwasher. I assume that everything will still wash okay, but I’m not a dishwasher maintenance expert by any means. :) You could also try not filling the ice cube trays up as much or find different shaped ones. There are all kinds of fun shapes in the silicone trays that are easy to pop out.

  5. I’ve seen other recipes for homemade dishwasher tablets that use salt in the place of the vinegar. Is there a reason you chose vinegar instead? Just curious. We are getting a dishwasher in a couple weeks and I am trying to decide which recipe to go with. I really like the sound of yours best so I am intrigued as to why it is a little different. :)

    • I’ve used several different versions of homemade dishwasher detergents – some with salt, some without. I really like using vinegar to clean with, and it works as a rinse agent too. My dishwasher is pretty terrible, so we have to scrub our dishes no matter what type of detergent we use. If not, we end up with food caked on the dishes. Gross! I didn’t find the salt helpful in other recipes, and the recipe I did use made my dishes very cloudy. Hope that helps answer your question!

    • I used one With Epsom salt and all my dishes turned out cloudy!

  6. Marjorie Dudley says:

    I made 26 tabs from one batch, using a tablespoon measure for each pod. It cost me $1.35 per batch ($4.50/76 oz box borax, $3.25 per 55 oz box washing soda, $3.00 per gal of vinegar and $2.00 per 32 oz bottle of lemon concentrate and at I c., 1 c., 1 c., and 3 Tb respectively).

    Basically it works out to 5.5 cents per pod for me.

    As a comparison, the Walmart Great Value pods are $10/85 which is 11.8 cents per pod.

    On one hand I feel good about saving 50% but on the other, it seems like a lot of trouble to save $18/year (assuming a load a day).

    We shall see, I do enjoy house projects, and if it cleans well, then why not?! Thanks :)

    • Thanks for the breakdown of cost, Marjorie. The ingredients are probably a little better for your family than store-bought. Less is more! Hope you like them!

    • patricia says:

      Isn’t there ingredients left? The second and maybe third batch basically pay for themselves then. Unless I miss understood your breakdown

  7. I made this and they came out looking great. I started using them , cut in half to fit in compartment, and all silverware and glassware has white residue , plates have s funny feeling film to them. What can I do to fix this?

    • Laura, I don’t know what to tell you to fix this problem. I have tried many other homemade detergents, and this one worked the best for me. Different water, dishwashers, etc. could affect the outcome. I haven’t actually made any in a while, so I want to make some more, and see if I can improve on them. I will update the post with any changes, hopefully soon!

    • Angelina says:

      Try using vinegar as your rinse aid. I have found with store bought pods I have a white residue on my glasses….vinegar seems to work better than store bought rinse aids for me.

    • The difference in the hardness of water is probably the reason. You can adjust the borax and washing soda to work with your specific water hardness. You’d probably still want to equal the 2 cups dry ingredients total – whether you adjust to have more borax and less washing soda or vise versa. The same goes when making laundry detergent.

  8. Tracie Olson says:

    hi instead of broax ,Could you use baking soda ?

  9. I made me tabs yesterday and they’re still very wet! :/

    • So sorry, Haley! I’m not sure why. Mine usually dry quickly. Make sure you are measuring accurately. Maybe too much liquid?

      • Same thing happened to me! Gonna try a new batch today!

      • Katrina Hess says:

        Mine are wet too after 2 hours. I will let it sit overnight.

        • Mine were still too wet after a few hours, I even made 2 batches after first one didn’t set up right? half would set up, and I’d dump out leaving other half in tray. Could it just be because it’s been wet here and snowy this winter

  10. Aprille Davis says:

    I made them and still soft after 2 hrs?

    • So sorry! I’ve been in the process of moving for over a month. I’m not sure why they are not hardening. Mine always dry pretty quickly. Check your measurements. Maybe too much liquid?

  11. I made these yesterday and they turned out fine. Dried quicker than I thought they would! I used not quite all the vinegar, and I used my citrus infused vinegar and skipped the additional lemon. I also added 6 drops of dish soap to the mix. I chose this recipe because it did not contain all that salt called for in other tablet recipes. I have a water softener and don’t want to add more salt. Will try it this out later and tell you what I think!

  12. Worked like a charm! Everything is clean, no residue, no spots! As I said, I used a little less vinegar. I gradually mixed it in until it was a pourable consistancy. When I said I used 6 drops of dish soap, I forgot to mention I had halfed the recipe. To the full recipe just double it. I think even 1 drop per tablet would be fine. I wouldn’t go more than that. I had no foaming with the added soap. Thanks for sharing the recipe Julie! I had made my own powdered dishwasher soap using these ingedients, so I knew it would work. Now I don’t have to measure powder, and the rinse agent is already in there! Awesome! I also like the fact that I just pour this into the molds without making a mess trying to pack it in!

    • Carol, I’m so glad these worked out for you! Thanks for sharing your modifications. I may have to try them next time!

  13. The first load I washed did have the chalky white residue but with the second load I poured vinegar in the rinse aid compartment and they turned out a lot better. Thank you so much for sharing. :)

  14. I can’t get washing soda were im at any substitutes ideas. I did find a way to make my own from baking soda. Just a lot of extra steps. Thanks please no negative comments. DEBBIE~

    • Hi Debbie! Can you order from Amazon? I have seen washing soda there. Every recipe I have read uses washing soda, so I wouldn’t be confident in substituting.

  15. I am making.mine right now.. If it works and saves money then its well worth it.

  16. amie Grace says:

    Can I substitute apple cider vinegar for plain white vinegar?

  17. Are your ice cube trays hard or the silicone ones?

  18. This recipe works great – removes the film much better than the store bought versions. My only complaint is the ice cube tray mold is too large for my dishwasher – it always has to be broken up first. I really don’t want to go to a powdered version though. Anybody have any similar sized molds to try instead?

  19. I Just made this today, I had the little silicone trays… But after several hours I will still have to scoop out with a spoon to put in dishwasher… I used exact measurements?! Hoping to actually try it tomorrow!

  20. Please help! I made your tabs and it leaves the dishes all white and powdery. We have a new dishwasher. What can I do?

  21. I’ve read not such great things about using borax. What are your thoughts?

  22. I just made a batch and i had a hard time getting.g them out of the cube tray. I left them sit about an hour. Is there anything I can do to make it easier to get out?

  23. This looks great! Can’t wait to try it out!

  24. Do you know if it’s an issue for a stainless steel dishwasher tub? I’ve had other detergents leave the inside of my tub looking awful!

  25. I made these yesterday , they dried just fine, but they left a filmy residue all over do you know what can cause that? Should I use only half a cube? Thank you!!

  26. I made these, seemingly exactly as the recipe said, and I’m getting a chalky film. :( Any ideas?!?

  27. Maranda Charles says:

    I tried this and my dishes ccame out really filmy. ….what mmight I have done wrong?

  28. When mixing I noticed my whisk and bowl getting warm. maybe a chemical reaction? Anyone else experience this?

  29. Made my first batch today… so far so good! I actually ended up using real lemon juice and a little Lemon Essential Oils since I didn’t have the lemon concentrate.

    • I might try that next. I have just gotten into using essential oils and excited to try with home cleaning.

  30. I would have to know for sure that I don’t have to pre-rinse my dishes, cause I don’t have to using store bought tabs.

  31. Question- in the beginning you said it could be used to dishwasher or laundry is that correct?

  32. This looks awesome. I can’t wait to try it. I’ve tried recipes with similar ingredients but none that made tabs. Thank you for sharing this with us!

  33. I just made these tabs today, after 4 hours they still haven’t set. I put the exact ingredients and measurements. Any thoughts?
    I did use baking soda cooked to making washing soda, could that be the issue?

  34. I think I know why only half a batch turns out for some people. The first part that I poured out was much runnier and the last half was much grittier. I can tell that the ones with more grit are setting up faster. Next time I will stir in-between every couple of pours to try and get a more even distribution.

  35. I have been using this recipe over a year now, and I still love it! I think it depends on your water tho. Some people have great success and others can’t use it. If you have very hard water, it probably won’t work for you. As far as the drying time goes, leave them overnight! I still use the modifications I mentioned above. I do not add any additional vinegar for a rinse agent. I store mine in a Ziplock bag.

    Oh, I have a stainless steel interior and these are fine.

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