How to make your own dishwasher tabs without harsh chemicals?

I had never considered how easy it would be make my own dishwasher tabs! Not only it is something that you can do easily in your own kitchen, you can do it without harsh chemicals, and it also ends up being considerably cheaper than store-bought dishwasher tabs. 

So, how much are store-bought tabs? Depending on the brand and quantity, they work out to be somewhere between £0.10 and £0.20 each tab. Consider, however, that they also contain a range of harsh chemicals, in particular, phosphates, which are known to be damaging to our waterways. Phosphates encourage the growth of algae and the cost of cleaning them up is huge. In the end we all pay with higher water purification costs and water rates, but our river systems suffer greatly, too.

Now for the good news. Making your own dishwasher tabs at home is not only simple and quick, it's also quite a bit cheaper!


You can also double or triple these quantities to make more if you like, but the above is a rough guide on proportions. 

Mix all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and add the Castile soap and essential oil and then mix until completely damp. The mixture will look a bit crumbly, and will begin to foam, but this is precisely what is meant to happen. 

To form the tabs, you can use a baking tray lined with baking paper. A flexible ice-cube tray will work just as well. Anything that will allow you to form tabs of the right size to fit into your dishwasher will be fine.

Press the mixture firmly into the tray so that it is about 1.5cm thick. If you use a baking tray, take a metal ruler and compact the mixture down evenly, and then cut them into the right size, about 2cm by 2cm. Treat it just like the base of a slice.

Leave the tabs for about an hour and they will all be solid. Break them apart, or push out of the ice cube tray. Leave them out in the open until they are completely dry, and then store in an airtight container. 

Further reading

If you would like some information on the effects of phosphates on our waterways, here are a few handy links: