How to Make Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Cubes

Use this Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Cubes Recipe to clean your dishes & reduce household waste.

I have fallen in love with making my own cleaning supplies. By doing this, I have been able to save so much money and utilize ingredients that aren’t harsh or dangerous. If my kids picked up my all-purpose cleaner and drank the whole bottle it wouldn’t taste pleasant, but she would be just fine.

Most of my store-bought cleaners have been replaced with my own and I am working hard to replace them all. The only ones that have not yet been replaced are my toilet bowl cleaner and my glass stovetop cleaning solution.

Creating a homemade household also will allow you to significantly reduce the amount of waste that leaves your home because you will not need new packaging each time you purchase a new cleaner.

You can see all of the tried & true recipes that I use in my home inside this ebook

Benefits of Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Cubes

Sustainable & Eco-Friendly

Commercial detergent pods come in plastic tubs or bags that contribute to household waste and environmental pollution. Making your own dishwasher detergent can significantly cut down on your plastic consumption. 

You do need to purchase the ingredients for this recipe, but they can all be purchased in cardboard boxes (except the vinegar). These ingredients do not need to be purchased as often as store-bought dish detergent cubes so your plastic consumption will be decreased dramatically regardless. 

Cost-Effective

Homemade dishwasher detergent cubes can save a pretty penny when compared to store-bought options. This recipe will cost about $0.09/load while a comparable commercial brand would cost $0.47/load. You can see the full cost breakdown at the bottom of this post. 

dishwasher detergent cube in dishwasher

Customizable

One of the advantages of making your own dish cubes is the ability to customize the recipe. You can experiment with different essential oils to add a little bit of fragrance (lemon and orange are always nice options). The Borax can also be added or omitted in this recipe. 

If you want to try adding lemon juice you can simply adjust the vinegar to make up for the addition of lemon juice. For example, if you add ¼ cup of lemon juice, reduce the vinegar to ½ cup. 

Safe

This was the main reason I wanted to make the switch from commercial detergents. I have a child lock on the cabinet that holds my cleaning supplies, but these locks sometimes break (especially with persistent toddlers) so it was important to me that my cabinets only contain kid-safe supplies. 

My homemade dishwasher tabs contain no harsh ingredients and they are child-safe. Borax is a controversial ingredient when it comes to safety so use this at your discretion. I feel safe including it and you can view these articles to do further research for yourself.

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Cubes Recipe

I tested 4 different dishwasher detergent cube recipes to determine which one works the best. 

  • Recipe #1 included white vinegar and lemon juice. 
  • Recipe #2 was the same but without the lemon juice. 
  • Recipe #3 used lemon juice, but no vinegar. 
  • Recipe #4 was the same as recipe #2 with borax added.
testing 4 dishwasher detergent recipes

By far, #2 & #4 were the winners. I did not like using lemon juice in my dishwasher at all. It left a lemon flavor on my dishes, it didn’t seem to clean as well, and the lemon-based cubes crumbled more easily. 

The vinegar-based dish cubes cleaned well and did not leave any residue, smell, or taste on the clean dishes.

I combined my two favorite recipes in this post so you can choose whether you want to add Borax or not. 

making homemade dishwasher detergent cubes in red ice cube trays

Ingredients

This recipe makes about 30 tablets- this can vary depending on the size of your ice cube trays.

  • 1 cup Super Washing Soda
    • Washing Soda helps to reduce hard water effects and acts as a detergent cleaner.
  • 1 cup Baking Soda
    • Baking Soda acts as a detergent cleaner and cuts through grease.
  • 1 cup Coarse Salt
    • Salt reduces hard water effects and acts as a gentle abrasive cleaner for stuck on food particles.
  • 3/4 cup White Distilled Vinegar
    • White Vinegar helps to hold all of the ingredients together and it is an excellent cleaning product. Fights hard water stains
  • ½ cup Borax (optional)
ingredients for DIY Dish detergent

Directions

STEP 1

Mix the dry ingredients- washing soda, baking soda, and salt (and Borax if you choose to use it)- in a large bowl. Make sure that they are all combined well before moving to the next step to ensure consistency in your finished product. You can use the powder in your dishwasher without adding any liquid binder if you want, but it can harden in storage so I prefer to use it in cube form. 

STEP 2

Slowly mix in the distilled white vinegar.

**Vinegar mixed with baking soda will fizz and you can end up with a pretty awesome eruption if you aren’t careful so add the liquid slowly while stirring**

The homemade dish detergent mixture will be clumpy, but not sticky. It will feel similar to damp sand.

mixing vinegar and baking soda for homemade dish detergent

STEP 3

Pack the damp mixture tightly into ice cube trays and let sit to dry for 24 hours. Be sure to push down on each one to be sure that it is packed tight enough to stick together as it dries or the cubes will crumble and fall apart.

dish cube ingredients pressed in an ice cube tray

STEP 4

After the homemade dishwasher detergent cubes have dried, flip the ice cube trays over and gently tap or push on the bottom to release the tablets. Don’t twist the tray like you would for ice cubes or you will break the cubes. If the detergent cubes break as they come out, pack them back into the trays and give them some more time to dry.

Recipe Notes

  • If you have hard water, you may notice some spots on your clear glassware. You can place a small cup with a little vinegar in it to the top rack while your dishes wash. This may not keep the glasses 100% spotless with hard water, but it will reduce the spotting and cloudiness.
  • Use one tablet per load of dishes. If the tablet won’t fit in your detergent compartment, just throw it in the bottom of the machine before starting the cycle and it works just the same. You can cut the cubes in half for smaller loads as well.
  • If you have hard water and you notice cloudy dishes or spots on your glassware, pour some vinegar into a small cup and sit it upright in the top rack of the dishwasher while it runs. This will act as a natural rinse aid and will cut down on hard water spots.

How to Store DIY Dishwasher Detergent Cubes:

Place the dried tablets in an airtight container- like a tupperware type container or a mason jar with a lid- and keep them where you would normally keep your dishwashing supplies. As long as you keep moisture off of them, they store very well.

homemade dishwasher detergent cubes in a mason jar

Homemade Dish Detergent Cost Breakdown:

I make my own cleaning supplies because homemade supplies reduce our household waste, reduce our dependence on a shopping center, they allow me to choose what ingredients are included, and they reduce our monthly household expenses. These homemade dish detergent cubes save $0.11 on every single load of dishes that I wash. Let me show you how…

Arm & Hammer Washing Soda

  • $5.38/55 oz box (about 7 cups)
  • $5.38/7= $0.77/cup
  • $0.77/batch

Arm & Hammer Baking soda

  • $1.47/16 oz (About 2 cups)
  • $1.47/2= $0.74/cup
  • $0.74/batch

Kosher Salt

  • $3.44/48 oz (about 6 cups/box)
  • $3.44/6= $0.57/cup
  • $0.57/batch

Distilled White Vinegar

  • $5.12/gallon (about 16 cups)
  • $5.12/16= $0.32/cup
  • $0.24/batch

Borax

  • $5.97/65 oz (about 8 cups per box)
  • $5.97/8= $0.75/cup
  • $0.38/batch

Total–> approximately $2.70/batch (about 30 loads)

$2.70/30= $0.09/load with Borax

$2.32/batch= $0.077/load without Borax

A popular name brand of dish detergent tablets costs $7.94 for 17 tablets. This equals out to $0.47/load so the saving is significant not to mention the amount of packaging waste that you aren’t bringing into your home! 

Since you can cut these in half for smaller loads your cost/load could be even less than this.

*Prices based on Walmart.com

>>More Cleaning Supply Recipes<<


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7 Comments

  1. Very interesting, we love making our own products. We will have to give this a try!
    Thanks for sharing with us at The homesteader Hop!

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