The dishwasher (machine) is a family member in my household and it gets used and abused–but is loved by all. It hardly ever gets the recognition it deserves for cleaning the filthy messes we give it and leaving them spotless and sanitized.
But this family member is a little high-maintenance when the cost of operating it is considered. The Cascade Dishwasher Gel we use costs $7 and gives us about 25-30 loads. The price per load isn’t too bad, but the ingredients are frightening. Some of the ingredients have generic names and the actual ingredient isn’t even disclosed. These are the ingredients (and hazards) for the detergent we formerly used (Source):
- STABILIZER – High Concern: developmental/endocrine/reproductive effects; Some Concern: skin irritation/allergies/damage, respiratory effects; Disclosure Concern: non-specific ingredient
- BUFFER – Disclosure Concern: non-specific ingredient
- ZINC CARBONATE - High Concern: skin irritation/allergies/damage, chronic aquatic toxicity, acute aquatic toxicity; Some Concern: general systemic/organ effects, damage to vision
- COLORS - High Concern: general systemic/organ effects, damage to DNA, cancer; Moderate Concern: chronic aquatic toxicity; Some Concern: acute aquatic toxicity, skin irritation/allergies/damage; Disclosure Concern: non-specific ingredient
- WATER THICKENING AGENT – Disclosure Concern: non-specific ingredient
- SODIUM HYPOCHLORITE – Moderate Concern: acute aquatic toxicity, respiratory effects; Some Concern: general systemic/organ effects, developmental/endocrine/reproductive effects, cancer, nervous system effects, digestive system effects, kidney and urinary effects, skin irritation/allergies/damage, damage to vision
- SODIUM POLYACRYLATE – Moderate Concern: biodegradation
- FRAGRANCE – Some Concern: skin irritation/allergies/damage, acute aquatic toxicity, nervous system effects, respiratory effects, biodegradation; Disclosure Concern: non-specific ingredient
- CROSS-LINKED POLYACRYLATE – No data, some concern
- NITRIC ACID – Some Concern: respiratory effects, skin irritation/allergies/damage
- SODIUM SILICATE
- SODIUM BENZOATE
- SODIUM CARBONATE
- SODIUM HYDROXIDE
- SODIUM SULFATE
I’m not sure how you feel, but I don’t want to be eating off of anything that has been blasted with this stuff.
I went through several different homemade dishwasher detergent tablet recipes and settled on this one. It has 4 ingredients, most of which are also in my easy homemade laundry detergent recipe.
- 1 Cup Borax – Used as a detergent
- 1 Cup Super Washing Soda (Sodium Carbonate / Soda Ash) – Used to soften the water for cleaning and as a detergent
- 1/4 Cup Epsom Salt – Also used for water softening
- 1/2 Cup Lemon Juice (reconstituted is fine) – Used as a rinse aid and to disinfect
- (Optional) Ice Cube Tray
- (Optional) Storage Container for finished tablets
I was able to pick up all of these ingredients at the local store for under $10, and you are only going to use a fraction of them for each batch. Over time, you can make several hundred dishwasher detergent tablets with the one time purchase of these ingredients. Share some with your neighbors and family–I am sure they will love them.
So, how do we do this?
Step 1: Measure out the dry ingredients
Step 3: In a smaller bowl, measure out 1 Cup of the mixture from Step 2
Step 6: Add 1 Tbsp of the mixture to each space in the ice tray and use your fingers to lightly tamp it down into the molds. If the mixture is sticking to your finger, then you may want to add more lemon juice on the next batch.
Step 7: Let the homemade dishwasher detergent tablets dry for 12-24 hours and then release them from the ice-cube tray molds. Once they are released, let them air dry for another 24 hours. If there are any rough edges on them, you can use a cheese grater to smooth them up
Use these as you would normally use other products in your dishwasher. If the tablets do not fit in the detergent compartment, you can crush one into a powder or place one in the bottom of your dish washer. You can also use an alternate mold to better suit your needs–just make sure that you have at least 1 Tbsp of the detergent in each tablet.
Leave any questions in the comment box below and happy dish washing!