Zero Waste Fails – Homemade Dishwasher Tablets!


Don’t all the blogs you read about Zero Waste preach about everything that works for them. I’m getting a little sick of it actually, it’s like the edited version of many people’s lives that are portrayed on Facebook. It’s simply not real!

So, I’ve been trying to find a Zero Waste alternative to individually, plastic wrapped dishwasher tablets for some time now. It’s been one massive fail. I’ve tried recipes for liquids, powders and tablets. None of them was successful, not successful enough to switch to anyway. They contained in varying proportions; soda crystals, bicarbonate of soda, borax substitute, essential oils, castile soap and citric acid.

The tablets fell apart as soon as I removed them from the ice cube moulds. Alongside that, they were only halfway effective – leaving nasty, gritty residue on my cups, making my stainless steel cutlery marked and rusty. In addition they were totally useless on tea and coffee stains – meaning that I had to wash many items again by hand or soak them in  a special solution to remove the stains.

The dishwasher powder was the same, only this added a terrible white residue to everything which I had to scour off with a metal scourer. The liquid was no better, with horrible water residue marks on everything. The whole point of having a dishwasher is to remove that heavy burden of washing up, multiple times per day. Because we cook most meals from scratch, we normally have a large amount of dishes and pans to clean.

Whilst I’d love to be writing about my fantastic homemade dishwasher tablet recipe – it just didn’t happen. I don’t know if it’s because we live in a hard water area, or something else. I ended up making a trip to the supermarket just for dishwasher tablets because I couldn’t bear the white residue on everything any longer and I was worried I was going to ruin my expensive cutlery permanently. On top of having to wash everything again, it simply wasn’t worth it.

What are your Zero Waste fails? Do you have a successful dishwasher tablet recipe you can share?

9 thoughts on “Zero Waste Fails – Homemade Dishwasher Tablets!

  1. Oh no! We didn’t have much luck with Dr Bronner’s bar soaps for the same reason. The 2 main ingredients are coconut oil and palm oil. You can read about my disaster here!

    Thankfully my brother had some drain rods we could borrow. I recommend buying some – it only costs about £50 from Argos and that’s half the price of calling out a drains company. Now we’re using Faith in Nature bar soaps and we don’t have that problem.

  2. Zero waste fails happen all the time! For a while, I was trying the DIY cleaner with vinegar and other stuff. It just left streaks everywhere, basically worse than it looked before!

  3. We tried the lemon-vinegar-salt mix. But wasn’t very successful. It took us time to prepare it (despite of grinding lemon already and mixing it with vinegar to avoid spoiling and refrigerate it) but also left the glass with spots from water. So we started mixing it with some dishwasher powder we’ve got from the package-free shop and it worked well. BUT our packaging-free store stoped selling it :/ so now we’re still unsuccessfully wash with the store-bought tabs wrapped in aluminium paper 😦 no zero-waste alternative yet but still searching!

  4. How frustrating! I’m yet to find a store selling a package free option. The best we can get in the UK is Ecover dishwasher tablets, but they are still plastic wrapped. The packaging states it’s biodegradable, but many users have not found this to be the case in their domestic compost which puts me off trying it. Also the reviews about its efficacy are not great either.

  5. I JUST made my first batch of homemade tablets yesterday! I was skeptical to say the least, but happy to report it worked. Now, my husband is a big “rinse” drill sargeant, but typically I just rinse the really noticeable stuff, like a saucepan that had tomato meat sauce in it or something. The recipe I used called for washing soda, salt, citric acid, and baking soda. I was going to post it today, so I will link you to it. Of course our water may be different, but I also used a vinegar rinse to make sure no streaks left and apparently it softens water?? Dunno!

    • I always use vinegar as a rinse aid, it is in-fact recommended by the manufacturer of my machine in the handbook (that impressed me). I also use vinegar to clean my machine – 2 bowls full, one on the top shelf, one on the bottom and put on the hottest wash. Works every time! 🙂

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