Homemade Dishwasher Tabs with Essential Oils


Since I jumped into using essential oils, I’ve been slowly working towards replacing various household products with natural, DIY versions. So far they’ve been very cost efficient, smell great, are fun to make, and give me an excuse to keep ordering oils (don’t tell my husband). This week I put a recipe for homemade dishwasher tabs to the test. I was excited to try this recipe because I already had most of the ingredients from making DIY bath bombs (coming soon), and I can’t stand the fake lemony smell of my current dish soap. It also doesn’t work particularly well in my old (read:ancient) dishwasher. In comes this wonderful recipe with lemon and lavender essential oils!

This was my first time trying a recipe like this, and I’m not going to lie–I had some logistical issues with it. I’m hoping you all can learn from my trial and error. 🙂 I’ll explain more after I get into the recipe.

Homemade Dishwasher Tab Ingredients:

-1/2 cup borax
-1/2 cup washing soda
-1/2 cup baking soda
-1/2 cup citric acid
-1/2 cup kosher salt*
-15 drops lemon essential oil
-15 drops lavender essential oil
-1/4 cup (or less) water

Homemade Dishwasher Tabs with essential oils
Homemade Dishwasher Tab Ingredients

Dishwasher Tab Directions:

Mix together in a large bowl all the ingredients except water. Slowly stir in the water a little at a time, mixing well in between. DO NOT OVER WATER because the water will react with the citric acid. Add just enough so that the mixture becomes the consistency of damp sand. Add to an ice tray and let dry for AT LEAST 12 hours, preferably 24+ hours. Pop out of ice tray and store in an airtight container.

Homemade dishwasher tabs with essential oils
Mixing in water with dry ingredients

A few notes: I had to buy the borax and washing soda online. If you can get these in stores, I honestly have no idea where to look. I got this awesome “variety pack” on Amazon.  I also have to fess up to using regular table salt rather than “kosher salt”. I’m not really sure what difference this may have made for my recipe, but I can assure you that the dish soap I’ve been using is working great for my type of water and dishwasher 🙂

When I saw this recipe, I was nervous about getting the mixture-to-water ratio just right. To be honest I don’t really think that’s where my major problem occurred. I was slightly alarmed that after I packed the mixture into my ice trays, it continued to “grow” somewhat (this is likely due to some excess water continuing to react with the citric acid and baking soda). Next time I will be even more careful about not needing much water.

However, I used two different ice trays to pack my mixture in–a silicone one I bought online, and then our regular cheap plastic ice tray. The silicone one filled up so I needed another option. This is mostly where I went wrong. After they dried, the dish tabs came out GREAT from the silicone ice tray. The other ones were impossible to get out. I ended up having to chip away at the dried mixture for what seemed like forever to get them out. I was able to save most of the dried mixture in a separate jar to use once my actual “tabs” run out, but I was definitely bummed they didn’t come out in nicely measured square tabs. I would absolutely recommend a flexible silicon tray versus a hard plastic one.

Homemade dishwasher tabs with essential oils
My packed ice cub trays as I waited for the mixture to dry

Although I had some logistic difficulties with this recipe, I’m really pleased with how well it’s been working! Especially for my first try at a dishwasher powder. It doesn’t leave soap residue at the bottom of my dishwasher like my previous soap, smells great, and doesn’t leave a foggy residue on my glasses. What more could you want?! I hope you all give it a try and let me know how it works for you.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional, and cannot diagnose, cure, or prescribe. Consult your physician before using essential oils to treat an illness for yourself or others. The safety precautions suggested in these posts are guidelines only.

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