DIY Dish Detergent Tabs

I am finally going to share with you my number one, all time favorite cleaning hack and DIY: Dish Detergent Tabs! This DIY has saved us the most money every month compared to my DIY Swiffer Duster and my “all natural” surface cleaner (although it is super cheap, I just wasn’t convinced that it was actually cleaning anything).

DIY Dish Detergent Tabs

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2017 began our journey into using, buying, and living on less. Part of it is an environmental issue for me. The other half is just not spending money. As a life long spender (see proof here) I always thought that I would have to work really hard to be able to afford everything I wanted, no, I needed. Once I got over the “need” to have everything that came with lifestyle creep, we realized that life is so much cheaper than everyone is letting on. Thus, the tide of DIYs washed over us and we rid ourselves of the unwanted in our home.

Want more inspiration of buying less and using less harsh chemicals? 18 Things We Won’t Buy in 2019 is just for you!

This is a simple DIY for dishwasher tabs but it’s a wee bit messy. If you have kids or pesky cats that get on counters (speaking from experience) you’ll want to either cover it up with a towel overnight or put it somewhere that they can’t reach.

This is a three ingredient recipe for these tabs. Don’t skimp and buy the super off brand cheap stuff. We tried using dish soap that I got at Dollar Tree. It was this giant bottle and I thought it was a super great deal… until we realized it was basically just soapy water. Up&Up from Target is the best if you are going to use a store brand.

To mold them it takes an ice cube tray or a silicon mold. I’m pretty thrifty so I just use ice cube trays with bit of parchment or wax paper sticking out so it is easy to remove. Silicon molds would be MUCH easier, but I am trying to keep my costs for cleaning as low as possible so I don’t think I’ll ever purchase them.

I found this recipe several years ago from deep within Pinterest and printed off just the text. I’ve tried to go back to the exact site I found, but alas I cannot find it. So if you are reading this and came up with this recipe, Thank you! You’ve saved me lots of money. 🙂 There are lots of recipes out there for similar dish detergent tabs – we’ve tried the powder stuff too – and this is the one that has worked the best!

I’ve broken the cost down per ingredient. Each one (minus the dish soap because so little is used) is can be used to make a little over two batches. With our old school ice cube trays, we make about 52 tabs each time.

2 C Baking Soda ($0.99 per box)
1/2 C Citric Acid ($5.81 per container)
2 TBSP Dish Soap (we use Dawn – $0.99 per bottle)
Ice cube trays or similar molds
Mason jars or other air-tight containers
Optional: lemon essential oil and parchment paper

*Update* We now use 7th Generation dish soap as to cut out more of the chemicals that are found in products like Dawn.

Mix together the baking soda and citric acid using your hand.
Add in the dish soap. Again, mix by hand. You can totally use a spoon but to get it really mixed, it is better by hand.
Once the mixture looks like wet sand, scoop into your molds. If you are using old school ice cube trays, first cut strips of parchment paper to line the mold so you have a little “tag” to pull on to get them out.
You’ll fill each mold to the top and then press down with your fingers in each one.
Wait ten minutes and press down on them again.
If using, put one drop of lemon essential oil on each cube. This just makes them smell fresher.
Store in a dry spot (away from children and sneaky cats) overnight to dry. The minimum time should be four hours to dry.
Once hard and dry, you should be able to pop them out of the molds.
Store in an air-tight container (such as a mason jar). Use one tab per load of dishes.



These work well in new dishwasher as well as our old one from the early 2000s. We do still use rise-aid as it helps our dishwasher be more effective but is not at all necessary.

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  1. […] it with 1TBSP Dawn, 1/4 vinegar, 1tsp lemon juice, and fill the rest with water. We also use our DIY dish detergent tabs. It uses less packaging, it is quick to make, AND it saves us roughly $5-10 a […]

  2. This is a great idea. It seems so simple. Thanks!

  3. This is brilliant—it never would have occurred to me! My kids would love to help me make these, might have to pull this out on a rainy day. Thanks for sharing!

  4. You mentioned DIY ing to remove toxic chemicals. If that is the case, you definitely do not want Dawn or Up and Up brand. All Dawn products rate a C or lower on EWG, 84% are D or worse.

    1. That’s really great to know! We have altered the recipe a little now to use Seventh Generation instead of Dawn. I’ll update the post 🙂 Thanks!

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