Thrifty Thursday: Easy Dishwasher Tabs

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Tab ingredients

I save money in a lot of ways around my home.  I make my own laundry detergent, I shop wisely, and I’ve installed a few energy saving devices.  But, I have to say, this is one of my favorite things to save money on.  Very few people like doing the dishes, myself included.  But, when you can make your own dishwasher tabs for pennies, I’ll do the dishes all day.

Here’s how I do it:

1 box Borax  (found near the laundry detergent) $3.49

1 box Super Washing Soda  (found near the laundry detergent) $3.29

1 7.5 oz container Citric Acid (look for this with the canning supplies) $4.79

1 14 oz container Finish booster rinse agent powder (found near the dishwasher detergent) $5.99

3 C Epsom salt (this is usually with the first aid supplies) $2.00

3 packs mini-cupcake/candy cups $3.00

Total cost:  $22.56

Woah!  That’s pretty high!  Well, the last batch I made, I ran at least 1 load of dishes a day for 8 months, approximately 240 loads.  A box of 48 Cascade dishwasher packs runs $10.97 at Walmart.  So for around the same price, I get 2.5 times the product.  It’s definitely worth the effort!

Here’s what you do:

In the Bowl

New fashions added daily at

Grab a really big bowl or pot and dump everything in.  It doesn’t have to be in any order.  Then, grab a big spoon and start mixing.  Once everything seems really mixed, sprinkle a little water over the top and mix again.  You want the powder to clump but not be runny.

Once you get that clumping consistency, set the cupcake cups on a large cookie tray.  Using a tablespoon measure, scoop and form the mixture into tablets.  Place one in each cupcake cup.  I’ve found that using latex gloves helps to pull the mixture out of the measuring spoon.


Let them sit out a day or two to dry, then transfer them to a sealable container.

When you need to run the dishwasher, just drop a tab into your washer as usual and run it.  Dishes washed on the cheap!

You might want to make sure you have rinse agent in your dishwasher if your clear glass gets milky looking.  Occasionally I’ll have a tab that doesn’t have enough rinse agent in it (thanks to be in a hurry making the last batch) and it leaves the glasses milky.  Rinse agent fixes it right up!

If you’d rather not make this into tabs, you can use it as a powder.  Place it, dry, into an airtight container.  Use 1 tablespoon per load.  It might get hard, so shake it every day or break it up with a screwdriver or other such implement.

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