DIY {easy and effective} dishwasher tabs

imageI am a huge proponent of simplicity in my cleaning products. I needed a dish tab that would be nontoxic and effective. As far as my dishes are concerned… yes, they must be very clean.

Of course, I also like things cute and if I can reuse anything I feel like I get a sustainability ‘Gold Star’ for the day.  These dish tabs are molded with a leftover egg carton.  You can also purchase silicon molds
that can be reused over and over.

These are working so well I may never buy dishtabs again and my glassware is left with no residue.  Update 11/18/15: This dish tabs work in a pinch very well. However after several uses we got some build up on our coffee mugs, so I have to be transparent here: These are better off being used as deodorizing bombs.  We have been using them in our baby diaper pail, down our drains, and in our toilets. They fizz up when water hits them and the baking soda (plus some scrubbing) provides very effective cleaning!  I even put one in the microwave and let sit overnight to eliminate odors. (don’t microwave it of course!) Our dishes are clean and spotless and we are saving money.

These only take about 10 minutes to make.

Homemade Dish Tab Recipe:

  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/4 cup citric acid
  • 1/2 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 TBSP Castile Soap (baby unscented or Dr. Bronners Citrus is my favorite for cleaning)
  • 1 TBSP hydrogen peroxide
  • 12 drops Lemon or Purification essential oil (Lavender, Pine, or Orange Oil will also work)

Note: Citric acid is in the canning aisles at the grocery store.

  1. Add baking soda to a bowl and stir to remove clumps. Add citric acid and mix well.

2. In a separate small glass dish, mix the vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. Add essential oil (optional). Citrus essential oils boost cleaning power, so for me personally this step is necessary.

3. Slowly (I mean, slowly) add tiny drops into the powder mixture. I drop about 3-5 drops, then whisk or stir quickly. Add more drops, stir, repeat.

4. Add Castile soap a few drops at a time in the same manner.  Add until all liquid is incorporated into the powder.

5. Promptly fill molds and press mixture down firmly.  After all molds are filled, press them down one more time. The mix will feel cool to the touch and seem to expand (vinegar and baking soda fizzes). This is why I press down one more time once all molds are filled. I only fill the egg carton mold 1/2 full.

Allow tabs to dry overnight.  Store in a pretty, airtight container.

If any of the tabs break or crumble when you pop them from the mold (mine didn’t but I was careful), you can throw the crumbs in the toilet (they fizz) and scrub. You can also toss down the garbage disposal and run it to clean any unwanted odors.

I have done this method without the Castile Soap but the results are much better by adding Castile Soap.


Final Thoughts

I have one final thought on dish tabs. I have purchased the fancy tabs that are multicolored and contain rinse aids and have fancy packaging and they always would leave a residue. Not to mention the chemicals and dyes they contain.

For the last few years we have used Seventh Generation Auto Dish Pacs, Free and Clear, 45 Count  brand, which is eco-friendly and non toxic and they actually work so much better than the other brands.  Mainly, no residue on our dishes.

The homemade dish tabs are saving us a TON of money and rinse clean (the first few times), so I will continue making them myself *addition 11/18/15: sometimes.

Our Dishwasher

Our dishwasher may be different than yours, so the recipe above and brands mentioned work for us and our appliances. We have a Bosch Ascenta dishwasher that eco-dries with steam technology. We were warned when we bought it, that plastics would not fully dry, but it was environmentally friendly and would save on electric usage, so we purchased it. It’s an effective dishwasher and we have been very happy with it.

However, due to the steam drying, we end up with a very slight spottiness on our plastic ware, but since we are trying to phase out plastics anyway, I’m not too concerned. Even the store brand dish tabs we bought would do this.


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