May 3, 2016

Homemade Dishwasher Tabs

2013, that was when I first made these. It was one of the most popular posts from the former Dolly is Cooking website.  I thought since it was liked so well I would carry it on over here for you to use.

Ingredients for a Single Batch

1/2 cup each Borax, Washing Soda and Epsom Salts
1 Tbs each Citric Acid and Baking Soda
2 Tbs White Vinegar 5% Acidity *see vinegar note at bottom of post. maybe substitute lemon juice to replace.
2 tsp Citrus Essential Oil.  I used Orange
Silicone Mold
**Hint it would help if mold compartments fit the dishwasher compartment
Container ~ Airtight with Lid and Labeled


Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add vinegar 1 spoon at a time using more or less as needed.  Stir in essential oil.  You will want this mixture to be slightly dry but wet enough to be molded.  It will need to hold it's shape.  Just press between fingers to see it it holds.
Place in your mold.  Let dry completely until you can remove from mold.  Place on layered paper towels or a large rack on open counter to finish air drying.  this could take 2 days or more.

*Caution Keep Away From Children!  For some reason they find them irresistible!

Very Pretty!

You know I like my clear containers
The Tabs look so pretty in them

I found the recipe online and found this video to be a great tutorial.

These are good dishwasher tabs but you must use a Rinse Aid at all times with them.  I use these for awhile and also use Finish Powerball Tabs from time to time to keep the dishes sparkling. I don't find them or any homemade dishwasher detergent to do the job spotlessly for long periods of time. However, this is the best homemade mixture I've found that works well with my clear glass etc.
In Conclusion:  Use often but not constantly for clean clear sparkling dishes, crystal, silverware alternate with a national brand like Finish to keep them sparkling!

until next time,

Where can I buy Citric Acid?  I purchased mine at Here

I thought I'd add this because I'm asked this all of the time:  How safe is this for the septic system?

Washing Soda--Safe
Epsom Salts--Safe **(unless as a plumber stated that you are pouring 500 lbs of the stuff in your septic system at one time)
Citric Acid--Safe
Baking Soda--Safe
Essential Oils--Safe **(I used Food Grade)
*Vinegar may damage rubber gaskets in a dishwasher so use at your discretion.


  1. Oh Cool! I had no idea that you could make these! This is awesome!

    1. Thanks Ginger. Yes they come in handy. It is strange the things you can make with washing soda, borax, baking soda, vinegar and sometimes soaps...

  2. I have been simply mixing borox with washing soda, then adding a container of white vinegar for the rinse. I may have to make these some day. Do you have to add the oil? Also, do you need to add a rinse aid for these? If I don't put a container of white vinegar in my top rack, the dishes come out covered in a layer of hard water. We have a well and a septic.

    1. Hi Kristina,
      Basically you are already using the main ingredients in yours so if it works you are doing great! I just like the convenience of a solid tab. Do you wait to add your vinegar on top shelf when washer is in rinse cycle? Or do you add at the beginning?
      Yes you do need to add a rinse agent especially if you use these homemade cleaners because in time they will leave a haze on the dishes. You already add the vinegar. Does that give you the clear dishes? I've tried but not had much luck with it in my dishwasher.
      The tabs need something liquid to hold them together. You don't have to add essential oil. It is for scent, but it does help to hold powder together. Another option if you don't like or have the oils is Watkins Flavorings in orange or lemon. Watkins is double strength and smells wonderful in certain homemade cleaning products. Or simply add more vinegar to make mixture hold shape and mold.

    2. I left off that the Citric Acid does indeed boost the cleaning of these.

    3. I need a cup of coffee this morning forgetting everything! I have a septic system also and have had no problems. Did some research and all of the ingredients are safe for that type of system.

  3. Putting those in such a decorative jar would make someone think they are a lemon bar....

    1. Put a label on it and let them know. If the they you are talking about are small children then store in out of reach as you would with any harmful cleaners. Otherwise you are free to store in anything you wish.

  4. Borax is banned in Ireland. Will the recipe work without it?

    1. I have never made it without the Borax but in reading find that baking soda and sea salt are a good substitute. Mind you I haven't tried this but you could substitute the Borax with baking soda and sea salt. The recipe already has epsom salt so maybe just substitute with baking soda. Let me know how it works.The vinegar cleans as well so you could up that. Trial and error that is what it is when you substitute. Good question.