• Crafts
  • Do it Yourself
  • Frugal Living
  • Gift Ideas
  • Holidays
  • Mixes
  • Money Matters
  • Recipes
  • Tips-n-Tricks
  • Contact Us
    • Homemade Dishwasher pellets

      Recently I started noticing how much money I was spending on dishwasher detergent, especially the pods or pellets. Brand-name pellets ranged from a low of 2.98 to 6.29 for 20 pellets on a recent visit to the grocery store. That's when I decided to make my own.

      Materials and supplies:
      2-gallon bucket
      measuring cup
      spoon
      large glass mixing bowl
      tablespoon
      3 - 16 cube plastic ice cube trays

      1 - 54-55 oz box of washing soda / detergent booster (3.89)
      1 - 76 oz box of borax (4.49)
      1 - 2 lb carton of epsom salts (.99)
      1- bottle reconstituted lemon juice (32 oz for .99)
      $10.36 for over 300 pellets


      Small Batch Test Version Recipe:
      1 Cup Borax
      1 Cup Washing Soda
      1/4 Cup Epsom Salt
      Lemon Juice (just enough to wet the ingredients to get them to stick) follow the same instructions!


      I used a 2 gallon bucket to mix the following dry ingredients;
      1-54 oz box of washing soda (you can substitute a box of White King Detergent booster (no chlorine or phosphates) for the washing soda)
      1-76 oz box of Borax
      1- 2 lb carton of epsom salts

      I measure out 2 to 2 1/2 cups of the mixture into a large glass mixing bowl and add lemon juice a a tablespoon at a time and stir until it begins to clump. It will fizz a little bit but not very much. If you squeeze the clumps between your fingers it will feel slightly sticky.



      Place enough to loosely fill each of the ice-cube molds in a plastic ice cube tray (you will need 3 trays with sixteen molds per tray)



      Put on disposable glove or cover your thumb with a thin plastic shopping bag (this is very drying to your skin) and press the damp mixture into the mold until it is level in each mold. The tops of the molded pellets should be moist and slightly sticky.



      Put them in the back seat of your car in direct sun - it will take several days to dry out depending on the temperature and humidity. (Do not microwave - it will prolong the drying time and the cubes will stick, do not put them in your oven - the trays might melt) You could also use a food dryer, or if it is summer set them on a table in the sun. We have very low humidity in the Central Valley, so I often set the trays on the trampoline when it is not in use. I bring them in at night as the dew re-wets the cubes.

      They are ready to tap out of the trays when they pull away from the sides of the mold.

      If you haven't tamped your cubes down firmly, some will crumble. Don't worry about it. Crumble up the cube and let it dry until it is like a clod. They grind it in a mortar, put into a shaker bottle. This is the best abrasive cleaner that I've found. A little sprinkle (takes very little), hot water, wait a few minutes until the
      detergent starts to dissolve, then use a rag to scrub. My broiler pan came clean so easily.


      Also, if you are making just 48 pellets at a time, what do you do with the powder that's left? I asked for a large empty whey powder container and stored the extra powder there.

      From what I can figure, it costs me about three to four cents per dishwasher pellet.

      You should use some lemon juice as a rinse aid in your dishwasher to avoid spots.

      Comments 64 Comments
      1. HerbLady's Avatar
        HerbLady -
        That is a terrific money saving idea. I hope this isn't a stupid question, but my dogs frequently ride in my car. You can see where drying the pellets might prove disastrous.

        Do you think mixing the dry ingredients together and throwing a measuring scoop in an airtight container would work? I'm thinking a silica gel packet that comes with new shoes would draw any moisture that would cause the stuff to harden inside the container. It is easy enough to add a couple drops of lemon juice once the powder is in the dishwasher's soap dispenser.

        Thoughts?
      1. jrodgers's Avatar
        jrodgers -
        I have the powder stored in a large whey protein jar and I make the pellets about 50 at a time. Another place to dry the pellets is on top of your refrigerator or if the cabinets above your range hood are deep enough, in there. Its amazing how much heat seeps into those cabinets. You might want to try taking a tablespoon of powder and mixing a few drops of lemon juice into it until it begins to clump and then putting this in your dishwasher's detergent compartment. Even though you just added lemon juice, it still takes a bit more to get rid of the drops on glassware so add lemon juice or white vinegar to the rinse solution compartment with each load. If you try using the detergent when it is moist, will you do me a favor and let me know how it turns out?
      1. HerbLady's Avatar
        HerbLady -
        Will do.

        I normally throw some white vinegar in the dishwasher anyway. We have hard water.

        Shopping happens on Thursday. I should be able to get word back to you next Monday.
      1. dlneely's Avatar
        dlneely -
        I never thought about placing these on top of the refrigerater. I am going to try to make these this weekend. Great idea
      1. HerbLady's Avatar
        HerbLady -
        Sorry it took so long. Seems to work OK but unless you have quite a few of those silicone packs, you are chiseling the stuff free. On top of the fridge. That is a good idea.
      1. dlneely's Avatar
        dlneely -
        I place mine in some old candy molds and made stars and shells.
      1. gigi58's Avatar
        gigi58 -
        Thanks for all your comments, I Can't wait to try, I'm so glad I found this site.
      1. jrodgers's Avatar
        jrodgers -
        Quote Originally Posted by HerbLady View Post
        That is a terrific money saving idea. I hope this isn't a stupid question, but my dogs frequently ride in my car. You can see where drying the pellets might prove disastrous.

        Do you think mixing the dry ingredients together and throwing a measuring scoop in an airtight container would work? I'm thinking a silica gel packet that comes with new shoes would draw any moisture that would cause the stuff to harden inside the container. It is easy enough to add a couple drops of lemon juice once the powder is in the dishwasher's soap dispenser.

        Thoughts?
        I have used just the powder, and it works, but I have to use more vinegar or lemon juice in the dishwasher, by adding it to the powder in the Dishwasher and putting some in the rinse solution container.
      1. arizona's Avatar
        arizona -
        Wow, I just saw this recipe this morning, and went and made the dry mix right away (as I had a load of dirty dishes already in the dishwasher, how convenient for me). I used about 1/3 cup of the mix along with about 2 TBS of vinegar (as I have hard water) and did the dishes and wow, even cleaner than when I use my regular dishwasher powder.
      1. arizona's Avatar
        arizona -
        Wow I just saw this recipe this morning and immediately made the dry mixture (I just happened to have dishes in the dishwasher waiting). I used about 1/3 cup of dry mixture along with about 3 TBL of vinegar and SUPER WOW, my dishes were cleaner than with my regular dishwasher soap. THIS IS DEFINITELY A KEEPER RECIPE.

        I dont think I have patience to do the pellets so therefore I am going to keep a large jar of this dry mixture under my counter along with the vinegar and use when needed. Thanks for a wonderful recipe. Keep them coming!!!!!
      1. preservingkathy's Avatar
        preservingkathy -
        Is there any problem with septic systems? I have been told not to use powdered detergent in my washer or dish washer.
      1. craftymetee's Avatar
        craftymetee -
        Does anyone know if this scratches crystal?
      1. Chelliemcg's Avatar
        Chelliemcg -
        Quote Originally Posted by arizona View Post
        Wow I just saw this recipe this morning and immediately made the dry mixture (I just happened to have dishes in the dishwasher waiting). I used about 1/3 cup of dry mixture along with about 3 TBL of vinegar and SUPER WOW, my dishes were cleaner than with my regular dishwasher soap. THIS IS DEFINITELY A KEEPER RECIPE.

        I dont think I have patience to do the pellets so therefore I am going to keep a large jar of this dry mixture under my counter along with the vinegar and use when needed. Thanks for a wonderful recipe. Keep them coming!!!!!
        Arizona,
        Where did you put the vinegar? With the detergent or in the rinse aid dispenser or both? Thanks!
      1. Leslie AK's Avatar
        Leslie AK -
        Thank for letting people know that they can use just the powder form. since there is very little sun this time of year

        Quote Originally Posted by arizona View Post
        Wow I just saw this recipe this morning and immediately made the dry mixture (I just happened to have dishes in the dishwasher waiting). I used about 1/3 cup of dry mixture along with about 3 TBL of vinegar and SUPER WOW, my dishes were cleaner than with my regular dishwasher soap. THIS IS DEFINITELY A KEEPER RECIPE.

        I dont think I have patience to do the pellets so therefore I am going to keep a large jar of this dry mixture under my counter along with the vinegar and use when needed. Thanks for a wonderful recipe. Keep them coming!!!!!
      1. jrodgers's Avatar
        jrodgers -
        An answer to some of the questions:

        RE: Septic tanks - the mixture contains salts which could decrease the bacteria in your septic tank, I don't really know if this might cause a problem, but there is a possibility that it could. Most liquid detergents also contain salts, but have buffers added to keep the pH closer to neutral when added to water.

        RE: scratching crystal: I have not had a problem with this scratching crystal, but my Dad uses the store bought pellets from Cascade and they do scratch crystal. I would probably put extra lemon or vinegar in the dishwasher itself to make sure that the detergent dissolves completely to avoid this problem. If you have very basic pH water there may be some salts that don't dissolve and as they are zooming around your washer, they might scratch - that's why I suggested adding extra acid (lemon juice or vinegar) to the dishwasher itsef.

        RE: Where to put the lemon or vinegar - I put it in the rinse dispenser, but you might want to put some in the dishwasher too, especially if you are washing a lot of glassware or squeezing a fresh lemon. I did that today, and the aroma was amazing, my dishes smelled so good!

        I hope this helps! JRodgers
      1. Leslie AK's Avatar
        Leslie AK -
        I can't wait to use this tomorrow when I get back from town.
      1. Leslie AK's Avatar
        Leslie AK -
        Well, I liked it. it did great on washing my dishes. I will probably try making the pods over the summer when we have sunlight 23 hrs a day. until then I will go ahead and keep using just the powder form with vinegar as the rinsing agent.
      1. dashuss's Avatar
        dashuss -
        Just made some up & have a load going now. I'm a little (a lot) too lazy to do the pellets for myself so just using the powder w/vineger like some others I saw. Very excited!! Thanks!
      1. Acorns-2-Oaks's Avatar
        Acorns-2-Oaks -
        Is there a way to dissolve the crystals like the liquid soap and use it as a gel?
      1. amandabuczko's Avatar
        amandabuczko -
        I just tried this today, and it left a hard film all over all my dishes!! http://www.budget101.com/images/smilies/ohthedrama.gif

        Has anyone else had this problem? What can I do about it? I made a whole batch of the powder, and I hate to waste it all.


      Have something you'd like to add? Register & Login to add your own comments, thoughts, questions or suggestions.

      As always, Registration is Free!