DIY Dishwasher Tablets For Hard or Soft Water (and homemade Lemishine)

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In our old house, I was utilizing castile soap in my dishwasher and always getting fantastic results. I had no clue that the difference in my water softness could make such a huge difference in how well some of my natural cleaning products worked. When we moved into our new home, my first load of dishes came out of the dishwasher covered in a white film. I was beyond disappointed.  At first, I had no idea what had happened, but after doing some reading, I found my problem. If you have really hard water, castile soap will turn the water cloudy, and consequently, will cause your glasses to come out cloudy too. I knew that now I needed to come up with a new dishwashing plan for hard water.

I Needed Something To Soften The Water Naturally

When I first made a powdered dishwasher detergent, I mixed together equal parts borax, washing soda, and baking soda but my hard water was preventing my dishes from getting clean. I needed ingredients that could soften my water and help my dishes get cleaner. I didn't know at first that I already had two amazing water-softening ingredients in my pantry; citric acid and salt.

Citric acid – A very mild acid that is derived from the peels of citrus fruits, citric acid comes in a powdered form and is the main ingredient in products like Lemishine and lemon Koolaid packets. Used as a natural preservative in food, citric acid can be found in the canning/preserving section of some grocery stores or brewer's stores.

Salt – Salt has been used in food and preservation pretty much as long as man has been preserving food. It is used for much more than just an additive to great tasting food. Earlier generations of man have used this mineral rich abundant resource for everything from scouring cookware to removing stains from clothing. Salt is even great at deterring ants and killing poison ivy. Not only is salt a great cleaner, it is also a natural water softener. When added to your dishwasher detergent recipes, salt naturally helps to soften your water and aids in cleaning your dishes.

The Answer To My Problem Was Bath Fizzies

The problem with my original powder recipe was that I had mixed all the ingredients together into one container, and left it at that. The next day, the whole thing was one hard brick. The Hippy Hubby had to use a knife to stab out pieces, just so that he could put them in the dishwasher. This is what made me think, “I need to make dishwasher tablets instead!” Since this recipe already contains the citric acid and baking soda that my bath fizzies recipe calls for, I wondered why not make these the same way that I make the bath fizzies. From this thought, a recipe was born!

Don't want to take all the time to make these dishwasher tablets? Try making my Lavender Lemon Powdered Dishwasher Detergent instead!

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The Hippy Homemaker's Citrus Lavender Dishwasher Tablets

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cup washing soda
  • 1 cup Oxyboost oxygen bleach ( optional – this really helps to add the extra cleaning oomph especially with hard water. OxyBoost is my favorite eco-friendly oxygen bleach with no fillers so you need a lot less than you would the main brands out there.)
  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1 cup citric acid
  • 1 cup salt (kosher or rock salt would be the cheapest options, but do not use Epsom salt, as it is full of minerals and used by aquarium enthusiasts to harden water.)
  • 30 drops MRH lemon essential oil or PT lemon eo (optional, the tablets will work perfectly fine without essential oils, but this adds extra disinfectant, antibacterial, etc.)
  • 30 drops MRH lavender essential oil or PT lavender eo (this can be replaced with tea tree essential oil as well, both are great for antibacterial properties.)
  • 2-4 Tbsp. filtered water
  • ice cube trays or another mold

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine the washing soda, baking soda, citric acid, salt, and essential oils (if you are using them! You can also combine other essential oils instead of my choice!) in a large bowl, until the essential oil drops are thoroughly combined into the mixture.
  2. Add 1 Tbsp. water and stir the mixture until the reaction stops. Feel the mixture to see if it needs more water. Too much water will make the ingredients over react. You want the ingredients to be JUST WET ENOUGH TO MAKE A PACKED DOWN SNOWBALL. If it needs more water, add one Tablespoon at a time, and stir.
  3. When you get the right consistency,  pack down the dishwasher powder into the molds. If you put too much water into your mixture, it will likely puff up, so if you hear it fizzing still while you are packing the molds, I would only fill them 1/2 – 3/4 of the way full to be sure the tabs will still fit into your dishwasher.
  4. Once the molds are packed down and full, allow them to sit for 12-24 hours before trying to remove them from the ice cube trays. If the tabs are not releasing from the mold, then they are not yet dry enough. Once they are dry enough, they will come out easily. If you get too impatient and try to get them out too soon, they will crumble to pieces…I should know! You can even let them sit out for another 12-24 hours after getting them out of the trays, just to further harden them before storing them in a sealed container.
  5. Place one tablet into the dishwasher soap dispenser. I put them into the large section that the lid closes over.

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The Hippy Homemaker's Citrishine

Lemishine is a product that I see everyone with hard water and homemade dishwasher soap, using to help with the white film that ends up showing up all over their glasses. The main ingredient in Lemishine is citric acid, but they don't tell you what else is included (only that it's “all natural”). I don't know about you, but I am trying to be more mindful of the products that I am using in our household, and not knowing what exactly is in a product is the reason why I make my own products as much as possible. My version is called Citrishine! Like I just pointed out, I have no clue what else is in Lemishine, so I had to make my own recipe up (I am not claiming this to be the Lemishine recipe).

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup citric acid
  • 2 cup salt (kosher or rock salt work great, but do not use Epsom salt as it will further harden your water and make your soap less effective.)
  • a re-purposed spice container

DIRECTIONS

  1. Combine powdered ingredients into the spice container and sprinkle into the dishwasher container that you aren't putting the tablets in. In my dishwasher, it goes into the small spot to the right of the area that I put the dishwasher tablet in. If you do not have this extra spot in your dishwasher, you can sprinkle the Citrishine onto the bottom of the dishwasher.

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The Hippy Homemaker's Citrus Dishwasher Rinsing Agent

You should, if you aren't already, be using vinegar as your rinse agent (to replace the Jet-dry that you used to use!) in your dishwasher. It works really well as a rinse agent, and also kills 99.9% germs and bacteria. Some people, like me, fill up the spot in their dishwasher for rinse aid, though others prefer to pour 1/2 cup vinegar into a bowl and leave it in the top of the dishwasher. Those who use the latter usually find that it works better for them because some dishwashers just don't release the right amount of rinse aid as they are supposed to. I like to kick my vinegar dishwasher rinse agent up a notch with orange oil! Orange oil is cold-pressed from the peels of oranges and  when added to this recipe, takes the 2 week wait time out of those citrus vinegar recipes that are floating around Pinterest.

INGREDIENTS

DIRECTIONS

  1.  Use this to as your rinse aid. You can either fill your rinse aid compartment in your dishwasher, or you can put 1/2 cup of the rinse aid in a bowl and set it on the top rack while the dishes are washing. (Just a note, it is normal for the vinegar to turn cloudy when you drop the orange oil into it. That is exactly how it's supposed to react!)
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  • It is safe for septics and I have had no issues with my dishwasher detergent powder or tablets dissolving!

  • It can be left as rocks, I have done that before out of sheer laziness lol

  • i do!

  • oxyboost is my trusted go too oxygen bleach because it doesn’t contain ANY fillers like Oxyclean does!

  • Alice

    Okay, I’m going to try this but, if it winds up to be a giant waste of time will be inordinately pissed.

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  • Linda

    Can orange essential oil be used for the rinse agent? If so, how much?

  • Anna

    Hi! It’s my first time making these tablets and instead of using water, I sprayed mine with witch hazel? I didn’t think it was going to make a difference but now it’s been over 24 hours and I couldn’t get it out of the mold. Any remedies for this?

  • Mickey

    Hi,
    Love your recipes! I’d like to make the dishwasher tablets but the first step calls for mixing ingredients including borax. There is no borax in the list of ingredients. Shoul I add it? If so, how much?
    Thank you for making this all so easy 🙂

    • Christina

      that was from the older version of my recipe. I fixed it! Thanks for pointing it out! I used to use borax but I no longer do! I replaced it with more washing soda in this recipe and added in my favorite, oxygen bleach to up the awesomeness!

  • April

    What can I use instead of the citric acid? I’ve read that citric acid can cause health issues, especially in kids with ADHD.

  • Lotte, You can make your own Washing Soda but baking “Baking Soda” in the oven. Google it for the exact time and temp. 🙂

  • Lotte

    Hi I have now tried to make dishwasher tabs a couple or more times , but every time I can not get it to harden , when I add the salt it become liquid even without me adding any liquid to the mix.Very Stranges .

    • Christina

      that IS very strange….what kind of salt are you using? There is no scenario at all that I can imagine the salt causing the dry mixture to turn to liquid without any liquid….when I first started making dishwasher powder, I would add the salt/citric acid in with my other ingredients and it would get extremely hard and turn into one large lump. That is the exact reason I had first created the dishwasher tabs, because that big lump gave me the idea!

      • Lotte

        Thanks for your fast replay, I tried once more yeasterday did it in an other order than the other times, and found out that it is actually the Citric Acid that makes it liquid . I used Baking Soda , Epsom Salt and Washing Crystals as I can not get Washing Soda in The Netherlands

  • Pernilla

    Hi Christina. I am about to make these, but you don’t mention the amount of borax. Is it necessary, as it isn’t listed with the other ingredients?
    Pernilla

  • Riad

    Hi Honey

    Your recipe for DW working well but have to use more than a sprinkle of Citrishine.as I live in a very hardwater area of the UK
    Just a bit worried about using vinegar in the DW……would this effect the working parts of the machine?
    Thanks

    Riad

    • Christina

      I have been using vinegar in my dishwasher as a rinse aid for a couple years now and have noticed absolutely no change in the function of it! I have also not read of any other person in the natural world having any issues with using it! Vinegar is my most used item for cleaning in my home!

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  • dmiller712

    I made these the first time and they worked great. On the second batch I inadverently added to much water to start and now they are crumbling apart. Can I just wiz these through my food processor and use as I would have powdered dish washer detergent.

    • You should be able to, but just know it will likely turn into one big block after awhile due to humidity. You can always just chip away at it and throw the pieces into the dishwasher, lol that’s what my hubby and I have done before

  • Linda Linton

    I just read something online that Epsom Salt can actually harden your water, due to the minerals that are in it. Any thoughts?

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  • candie

    How much of the citriShine do you use? Can you turn them into a tab as well?

    • I usually use the citrishine in the extra soap area or prewash section of the dishwasher. I just fill the compartment up. Depending on how hard your water is you can just fill it half way or all the way. Without adding baking soda to the citrishine mix, making them into tabs would be difficult to achieve

  • Linda Linton

    Hi all,
    I have been using this recipe for about 6 or more months now. After MUCH experimentation with many other recipes for DIY dishwasher soap/tabs that have not worked well, I am happy to say that THIS recipe is the one that does work. I have found that it works BEST if you use at least the dishwasher tabs and the Citrishine together. I don’t always use the recipe for the rinse agent, most often just vinegar, but I am very happy with my dishes and with the fact that I don’t have to buy the tabs anymore. So,now you can all stop looking for the perfect recipe…lol….this one is definitely it!

  • lswenn

    Thank you so much for this recipe. I tried it this week. I used too much water so I finally stuck them in the freezer so I could get them out of the ice trays. Hopefully they will dry out completely soon. I just put my first one in the dishwasher….. so excited to see the results.

  • imtheone

    Thanks for sharing the proper ingredients. BTW, is there a specific size on the bottle storage used?
    Southwest Mobile Storage

  • Darren Taylor

    Here is another recipe to try, using the basics I added oranges to the mix 🙂

    INGREDIENTS

    2 cups washing soda

    1 cup baking soda

    2 cups borax

    2 Zest from Orange

    Juice from Orange (approx 6 Tbsp.)

    Mix both soda’s and Borax in mixing bowl, Peel orange skin an
    finely chop in blender, extract juice from orange and add to zest. Add zest mixture to Powder mixure and mix thoroughly. Mix portions in the blender for final consistency and store in container. Add ½ Tbsp per wash.

    The orange is a great natural cleaner and also adds a nice
    fragrance to the dishwasher after use. I refrained from using any essential
    oils as it can leave the dishes and glasses cloudy and slightly greasy.

    For hard water areas add 1 cup of Epsom salt to the mixture.

    • I am going to have to try that recipe thanks so much! I don’t have issues with any of the citrus essential oils causing cloudiness in my dishes, especially lemon or orange. All citrus essential oils are cold pressed from the peels of their citrus fruit, so they do the same thing as the zest does. In my dishwasher though I have to add the extra salt and citric acid because the water is so hard here, without it my dishes do not get sparkling clear.

  • Mrs Tinkerer

    I’m currently in the experimentation phase for DIY dishwasher detergent and was wondering about this – dishwasher fizzies. I’ve tried the liquid soap combos and they’re seriously h.o.p.e.l.e.s.s! White scum on everything thanks to the vinegar reacting with the soap – I’ll keep my handmade CPOP soap for my laundry detergent from now on – I wonder if half of the people posting those recipes on blogs have actually USED them at all, or if they’re just based on incomplete theories! LOL!

    Currently I have some pretty okay homemade DW tablets I made following this recipe I found somewhere during my reading of about 600 different blogs! LOL!:
    – 2 parts Borax
    – 2 parts Washing Soda
    – 1 part Epsom Salt
    – 1 part Citric Acid
    – 1 part water
    But the water in the recipe was enough to put the batch through complete “fizzation” – that’s when I thought about reducing the water and making DW fizzies instead. I was concerned, however, that the fizzies might damage the machine – seeing this post has eased my concerns, thank you so much! I’ll add the bicarb to the mix & follow your recipe instead :-*

    If you don’t hear back from me, just know that it worked really well & accept my heartfelt gratitude! 😀 Here goes! *fingers-crossed* 😉

  • Iris

    Where can I find the liquid dishwasher recipe? And I really have no clue where to put the lemishine, my dishwasher only has a place to put the detergent in and next to it a compartment for the rinse. any ideas where to sprinkle it and how much of it?

    • I actually have still been trying to make a liquid one that does a good job and doesn’t bubble over. I have been working on it though! I imagine you could either try sprinkling the Lemishine on the bottom of the dishwasher before starting it, or maybe sprinkle it on top of the tablet if you have extra room in the compartment.

      • Iris

        thank you!

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  • Manish kumar verma

    Thanks for your great information, the contents are quiet interesting.I will be waiting for your next post.

    Affordable Kitchen Appliances…..

  • Aimee

    How much citrishine do you put in the other compartment?

  • jenn

    So would you use both the “citrushine” and the liquid rinse agent with every load?

    • The liquid rinse should definitely be used every load, though if you do not have hard water you may not need the citrishine. If you have soft water and sometimes experience spots on your dishes, the citrishine will erase that problem for you as well!

  • Fit4Mom Tampa Bay

    So glad to have found this! I’ve been using a recipe for tabs from Jillee, (http://www.onegoodthingbyjillee.com/2013/04/make-your-own-dishwasher-detergent-tabs.html) but we have VERY hard water. We use vinegar and lemon juice along with them, which seems to work well, but my husband pours like 4 cups of vinegar into the dishwasher to “get the job done better”. Since I do the grocery shopping, I’m tired of lugging gallons of vinegar up the stairs along with my groceries & two kiddos. 🙂 Thanks for the citric acid tip!! I’ll have to combine the two recipes and try out your two “citrishine” recipes! We used to love lemishine, too, but I stopped buying for the same reason… he used way too much of it and it got expensive. Plus.. we didn’t know what’s in it and I’m also trying to shy away from unnecessary chemicals.

  • The thing i find out with the baking soda is that over time if you use it to unclog the drain, and if the pipe is made of plastic, it can end up causing the leakage. So the mild acid tablets you suggest has become so handy for me and many of your readers for that reason.