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Homemade dishwashing powder from Natural Harry

Dishing up a natural solution

Here's a simple, natural recipe for dishwasher soap tablets to use in your dishwasher, from Natural Harry (aka Harriet Birrell).

All sorts of harsh chemicals can be found in some store-bought varieties of dishwashing tablets and powders and will find their way into our waterways and natural environment. Not to mention being individually wrapped in single-use plastics that will make their way into landfill, some taking thousands of years to break down, or worse, ending up in the ocean. 

I like to make the small effort to avoid contributing to this toxic load by making my own dishwashing tablets and powder. By doing this I am not only avoiding adding unnecessary toxins to my immediate environment, onto our cutlery and dishes and into the waterways, but I’m also reducing the plastic packaging . 

Shopping for the raw ingredients at a bulk wholefood store is key here. The dishwashing tablets also contain good old basic lemon juice, too, so that can come straight off your tree or from the store or farmers’ market. 

Things to consider

If you live in a humid climate, I would suggest making tablets and storing them in an airtight container. Without nasty anti-caking agents, moisture will cause the powder to clump together.  

If you have a particularly dirty load, you may want to rinse the contents first to give this gentle cleaner the best chance possible to do its job.

Both are a great, easy way to avoid using chemicals without compromising on their effectiveness. I like to make a few batches at a time so that we are nice and stocked up! 


Dishwasher tablets

Makes: about 24 small tablets

Prep time: 5 minutes 

Equipment: natural rubber gloves, large bowl, mixing spoon, 2 ice-cube trays (silicone if you have them), lidded jar


240g (1 cup) washing soda* 

120g (½ cup) Epsom salts 

90g (½ cup) bicarbonate of soda (baking soda) 

20 drops lemon essential oil (optional) 

80ml (? cup) fresh lemon juice


1. Pull on gloves to protect your hands from the washing soda. In a large bowl, combine the washing soda, Epsom salts, bicarb soda and essential oil, if using. 

2. Slowly add in the lemon juice, mixing as you pour. It will fizz as the lemon juice and bicarb react with each other. Continue to stir until well combined. 

3. Spoon mixture into the ice-cube trays and firmly press each one down. Set aside to dry for about 24 hours. Once set, pop tablets out of the trays and store in a lidded jar or container. 

TO USE: Just use them as you would store-bought tablets. If you normally use a rinse aid, I find that 2 tablespoons of white vinegar added to the rinse-aid compartment does the trick.

* Washing soda (sodium carbonate) is available at natural health food stores and supermarkets.


This recipe comes from Home by Natural Harry by Harriet Birrell (Hardie Grant Books, $34.99). Photography by Nikole Ramsay.

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