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DIY Dishwasher Tablets

Dishwasher tablets

Make your own DIY Dishwasher tablets in 5 minutes with only three ingredients. It will save you money and the earth.

I can just see the eye rolls when people hear that I make my own dishwasher tablets. And all the excuses, I don’t have time for that, I have a full time job. But what if I told you that it takes less than 5 minutes to make and it will save you  R2190 per year. A dishwasher tablet from Woolworths will cost you R7 per tablet whilst this recipe will work out at R1 per tablet.

In a year that will equate to R2555 vs R365, I run my dishwasher once a day. I am sure there are people that use it more often. Obviously it is not just about saving money but also using ingredients that are better for our health and for nature.

In today’s world, where sustainability and eco-friendliness are of utmost importance, people are looking for ways to reduce their environmental footprint while also improving their health. And this is one practical and easy way you can do it.

A few years ago I managed a zer0-waste shop’s social media, I also wrote blogpost and these were one of the recipes I tested out. I have been sold on doing this one zero-waste task every month for the last two years. It does work and it does save me money.

With a world where so many things are out of our control it feels like my little bit I am doing to make the world a better place and maybe it is helping or maybe it is not. But I will keep making these for many years to come. I find it therapeutic and a little bit rebellious. Going against the grain. Because honestly how many people do you know that makes their own dishwasher tablets?

How to source ingredients?

Buy bulk bicarbonate of soda from the supermarket, you can also use it for other cleaning tasks. You can find Citric acid at Faithfull to nature, The Refillery and Essentially Natural and in baking shops. Essential oils can be sourced from health shops and pharmacies. I prefer to use Triple Orange dish soap but I have used Sunlight liquid and it also works.


I use two sets of ice moulds that fit’s perfectly in the dishwasher slot, so just keep looking until you find the perfect fit.

Why does these ingredients work and will it clean my dishes?

  1. Bicarbonate of Soda (Baking Soda): Bicarbonate of soda is a household staple known for its versatility and eco-friendliness. When used in dishwasher tablets, it helps to break down food particles, remove stains, and neutralize odors. It’s gentle on your dishes, making it perfect for those who have concerns about chemical residue on their plates.
  2. Citric Acid: Citric acid is a natural, plant-based acid found in citrus fruits like lemons and limes. It’s a powerful cleaning agent that helps remove mineral deposits and water spots from your dishes. Moreover, it acts as a natural preservative for the tablets, ensuring they stay effective.
  3. Triple Orange Soap: Triple Orange Soap is an eco-friendly and biodegradable soap that’s free of synthetic chemicals. It’s made from pure, natural ingredients, and it’s gentle on your dishes while effectively removing grease and food residue.
  4. Essential Oils: Essential oils not only add a pleasant aroma to your DIY dishwasher tablets but also offer natural antibacterial and antifungal properties. You can choose from a variety of essential oils like lavender, lemon, or eucalyptus to give your tablets a refreshing scent.

Why DIY Dishwasher Tablets are Better and Healthier

  1. Environmentally Friendly: Store-bought dishwasher tablets often contain phosphates, chlorine, and other chemicals that can harm aquatic ecosystems. Homemade tablets, on the other hand, are free from these harmful substances and are biodegradable. By using DIY tablets, you’re contributing to a cleaner and healthier environment.
  2. Healthier for You: Commercial dishwasher tablets may leave chemical residues on your dishes, which can potentially be ingested. With DIY tablets, you have peace of mind, knowing that you’re using natural ingredients that are safe for your health and your family’s well-being.
  3. Cost-Effective: Making your own dishwasher tablets can save you money in the long run. The ingredients are readily available and cost-effective, and you can make a batch that will last for several washes.
  4. Customizable: One of the significant advantages of DIY tablets is that you can customize them to your liking. You can experiment with different essential oils to create a fragrance that suits your preference. Plus, you can adjust the ingredients to address specific dishwashing challenges.

Store-bought dishwasher tablets typically contain a combination of chemicals and ingredients designed to clean and sanitize your dishes effectively. While these products are generally safe when used as intended, they do have some potential drawbacks, particularly if not rinsed off dishes thoroughly or ingested. Here are some of the key chemical components found in store-bought dishwasher tablets and why they may be considered harmful:

  1. Sodium Carbonate (Soda Ash): Sodium carbonate is a common ingredient used in dishwasher tablets. It’s a powerful alkaline compound that helps to soften water, remove mineral deposits, and break down food residues. However, exposure to high concentrations of sodium carbonate can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system, and ingestion can lead to gastrointestinal discomfort.
  2. Sodium Percarbonate: This chemical is a source of active oxygen, which helps to remove stains and disinfect dishes. It’s generally safe when used as directed, but exposure to large amounts or inhalation of dust can irritate the respiratory tract.
  3. Sodium Silicate: Sodium silicate is used to prevent corrosion and staining in dishwashers. While it’s not acutely toxic, it can be harmful if ingested in large quantities, potentially leading to gastrointestinal issues.
  4. Enzymes: Many dishwasher tablets contain enzymes like amylase and protease, which help break down starches and proteins on dishes. These enzymes are generally safe but can cause skin or eye irritation if mishandled or undissolved residue is left on dishes.
  5. Surfactants: Surfactants, often derived from petrochemicals, are used to reduce water tension and help the detergent spread across the dishes. Some surfactants can contribute to water pollution and aquatic toxicity if they enter natural water bodies.
  6. Chlorine Compounds: Some dishwasher tablets contain chlorine bleach or chlorine-releasing compounds to disinfect dishes. Chlorine exposure can irritate the skin, eyes, and respiratory system, and if mixed with other cleaning products, it can produce harmful fumes.
  7. Phosphates: Phosphates were commonly used in dishwasher detergents for their ability to soften water and enhance cleaning. However, their use has been reduced in many products due to environmental concerns. Phosphates in wastewater can lead to eutrophication, causing harmful algal blooms and negatively impacting aquatic ecosystems.
  8. Fragrances and Dyes: These are often added to enhance the scent and appearance of dishwasher tablets. Some people may be sensitive or allergic to these additives, leading to skin or respiratory issues.

In summary, while store-bought dishwasher tablets are generally safe for use when handled properly, they do contain chemicals that can be harmful if ingested or improperly managed. Additionally, the environmental impact of some of these chemicals, like phosphates and surfactants, has raised concerns.

I hope you try this recipe, please tag me on social media if you do. You can also read more about other zero-waste switches that we have made. Or learn more about KURO-bo charcoal the ultimate water filter.

Dishwasher tablets

DIY dishwasher tablets

  • Author: Ankie Niesing
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Total Time: 5
  • Yield: 24 1x


Making your own dishwasher tablets is a natural, cost-effective cleaning solution



1 cup bicarbonate of soda

1/4 cup citric acid

1 tbsp. orange dishwasher liquid

A few drops of essential oils like lemon or peppermint


  • Start by adding one cup of bicarbonate of soda to a large bowl.
  • Add ¼ cup of citric acid.
  • Add 1 tablespoon of dish liquid.
  • Mix well using a whisk or you can use your hands.
  • Push the mixture into silicone ice cube molds, normal ice cube trays will also work. Make sure to compress them hard.
  • Wait about 10 minutes and level them off with your hand. They expand just a little.
  • Leave to dry overnight or leave in the sun for a few hours.
  • Pop them out and store in jar.


You will need:

Ice cube trays x2

Airtight container

Keywords: dishwasher tablets

Ankie Niesing

Hi, I'm Ankie! Welcome to Wooden Spoon Kitchen, my pantry of life, love and health where we constantly stir laughter, learning, eating and cooking together!

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