I’m pleased that we’re all thinking more and more about the ingredients in our food, cleaning and beauty products. Dishwashing powder is something I’ve long worried about and I’ve spent some time working on a homemade version that avoids all the baddies but still cleans my dishes. This awesome recipe can be used to make powder or tablets.
Hang on, what’s wrong with my commercial dishwasher powder?
The EWG (environmental working group) rates powders (they call them detergents) from A-F. The lowest rating ones do badly because the ingredients can –
Be carcinogenic. This means they might not cause cancer on their own but enable cancers to grow.
Affect developmental and reproductive functions.
Be toxic to aquatic life.
Fumes released when washing can worsen asthma and or respiratory problems (yes – think about those fumes that are released into the air when the dishwasher’s running).
Antibacterial ingredients can promote the growth of antibiotic resistant bacteria.
Phosphates (now mostly banned), fragrance, bleach, chlorine and colours are the typical baddies.
Find out more detail and check out the rating of your store bought dishwasher powder (and other cleaners) on their website. It might make you want to make a better choice. Or make your own 😊
Many cleaning products have a low safety rating because of the harm caused if eaten, if it touches the skin or is rubbed in eyes. Home-made cleaning products are just the same in that respect although probably not with the same potential to be fatal.
Can I make a homemade dishwasher powder that will work?
Instagram, blogs, you tube – they’re full of diy dishwasher powder recipes. My path to making my own was using these recipes and I’ve tried loads with disappointing results.
I persevered and worked on the ingredients but more importantly the method. I think this recipe is as good as you’ll get with natural ingredients. It won’t clean really dirty dishes – you’ll need to rinse first and it doesn’t have any bleach so cups can end up with coffee and tea stains over time. Use a stello to clean these out now and then.
How do I make it?
This video tutorial I’ve put together will walk you through all the steps of making your own dishwasher powder.
Can’t be bothered watching that? here’s a summary
Dishwasher powder (or tablet) making recipe
note – I’ve updated this in March 2020 to include castile soap instead of water and have added salt. These make a better powder than my original recipe.
washing soda – 125gms or 0.5 cups
baking soda – 250gms or 1 cup
citric acid – 250gms or 1 cup
table salt – 125gms or 0.5 cups
liquid castile soap – 50gms or 4TB
essential oils (optional) – several drops or 1/2 tsp
· Mix the dry ingredients and sift, if necessary, to get rid of any lumps.
· Add essential oils if using.
· Add liquid castile soap.
· Immediately mix the ingredients to stop them turning into a big fizzy mess.
· Put into ice cube or similar moulds and leave to harden overnight.
· If you don’t have any suitable moulds, leave to set in something like a baking tray and break into pieces or powder the next day.
Don’t worry if the tablets aren’t perfectly formed or crumble – they will still clean just as well.
For more detail watch my video!
How much to use
1 tablet or 1 TB of powder (15-20gms) or half the detergent compartment per load. Adjust to suit your own dishwasher.
Cloudy glasses issue
Rinse aid sorts this out. I’ve tried white vinegar in the rinse aid compartment but it doesn’t work as well. I use an eco-friendly rinse aid and am working on a diy recipe.
Why doesn’t this recipe include vinegar or borax?
Recipes you might read often include vinegar. Vinegar is a great cleaner when used on its own. It’s acidic and reacts and fizzes with the alkaline ingredients in the dishwasher powder recipe. Positive plus negative equals neutral so I don’t bother including it. I find the liquid castile soap does a better job of cleaning and binding the ingredients together.
The EU and Canada restrict the use of borax (sodium borate) in products because it may damage fertility and unborn children. It’s also a skin irritant. The EWG also don’t recommend using it. I’ve used recipes with and without it and those without perform just as well so I don’t use it.
When making any diy cleaning recipes care and caution should be used in handling the raw ingredients (including potentially inhaling powder when mixing them) and keeping the finished product in child proof containers. They’re made with natural ingredients but don’t be lax with safety. Arsenic is a natural ingredient after all!
Enjoy your home made dishwasher powder!