sarah's own natural garden

updates from our lifestyle block – gardening, chickens, green cleaning and more

Toilet cleaner that became dishwasher powder

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homemade dishwasher powder

I’m slowly building up the number of cleaning and beauty products I make at home and am always reading blogs and trying something new.  Hand soap, deodorant and dishwasher powder are the current ones I’m trying to get right. After several attempts I’m happy with this dishwasher powder recipe (you can skip the blurb, take my word that it’s easy and just scroll to the ingredients list and make it).

I didn’t start out out making dishwasher powder with this recipe – I read about a home made cleaning ‘bomb’ that you drop into the toilet bowl, wait for the fizzing to finish then scrub clean.  I love these kind of recipes, the simpler the better so I gave it a go. The instructions on Andrea’s blog were to add a little water to the mix of ingredients, wait until if finished fizzing then press into moulds. I didn’t have any moulds but thought I could shape them into balls. As the picture shows this didn’t work – the balls just kept fizzing and eventually covered the whole dish.  At first I thought I missed a crucial step in the process but after more experimenting I suspect the mixture would have just fizzed out over the moulds anyway.


unsuccessful toilet cleaning bombs

This mixture hardened up overnight and the next day I broke them into pieces to use.  I threw one into the toilet and stepped back waiting for the fizz that should have happened.  There was no fizzing.  I went on to clean the toilet bowl and I suppose it did clean it but probably no better than anything else.  Having a jar full of crumbled bits to clean the toilet is not very useful either.  It was also no good for cleaning the toilet seat and basin top in this form and ideally I’d just use one product to clean the bathroom.

Andrea also makes dishwasher powder using the same basic method as the toilet bombs so I tipped some of the crumbs into the dishwasher dispenser and it worked well so this blog turns into ‘how to make dishwasher powder’.

Dishwasher Powder Recipe

failed dishwasher powder attempt

The recipe above is just one example of ones I’ve tried which don’t seem to work. Another I often see when searching ‘home made dishwasher powder’ compares several different recipes (they’re based on similar ingredients below).  Nowhere in the blog does is mention that if you mix the ingredients together in a container the whole lot fizzes up and you end up with an unusable mess – see photo to the right. Sometimes I suspect people blog and re-blog and don’t try what they’re writing about! Once I knew that the ingredients fizz up and need to be left to expand and dry overnight (from my failed toilet bomb making experiments) I ended up with a usable dishwasher powder.  I definitely recommend making it.  It’s so easy and cheap.  Here’s how –


  • 1 cup baking soda
  • 1/3 cup washing soda (use a blender to break it up if it’s very lumpy**)
  • 1/2 cup citric acid
  • 10 drops of essential oil to your preference (citrus is traditional in the dishwasher)


  • Add the baking soda then citric acid then washing soda into in a wide bowl. The last two might start to react once added together by slightly foaming. That’s ok.
  • Mix all the ingredients by hand or spoon then, using a spray bottle, spray a little water onto them and mix.  (If you don’t have a spray bottle just sprinkle some water over).  The aim is to get it more dough like rather than loose dry ingredients so keep adding water a little at a time until it only just forms a dough like consistency.  It will need a few tablespoons of water.  It will start to bubble and foam as this is happening.
  • Once it’s gently foaming, tip it into a shallow dish eg an oven tray and loosely spread it out. (Mix it up some more if some parts of it look very dry).  It will continue to foam and expand like a mad science experiment. Leave it to dry overnight.  The next day crumble it by using the back of a spoon to break it up into chunky bits or use a machine** to powder it and put into an airtight container like your old dishwasher powder container for storage***

    dishwasher powder foaming and expanding


This is pure cleaner (ie no fillers or anything) so you’ll only need to fill your dishwasher dispenser to around the half way mark depending on how pulverized it is.  Experiment to see the difference between filling the dispenser half or full – it might change if your load is especially dirty too.


It cost me $2 to make this latest batch.   I haven’t been keeping track of how many washes I get from each batch but I think I’ll get 50 from this latest batch which would make it 4c a wash.  Even if I’ve got my sums wrong and I only get 25 washes it’s still only 8c a wash.  To buy dishwasher powder you could pay 10c a wash (I think even less if you bought in bulk) but this would be a non ‘eco’ brand.  A good ‘eco’ product will cost at least 20c per wash for powder – more for tablets which perform better (70c per wash). Making your own is very cost effective if you want to use something that doesn’t contain harmful chemicals which are bad for our waterways and us.  I’m not going to get into the details as I assume we all know that phosphates, chemical fragrance, preservatives and so on used in our cleaning and body care products are bad!


** if you use your food processor with a plastic bowl to blend up these ingredients it will scratch the bowl.

*** My picture at the top of the blog is of chunky bits – I need to either pick some out by hand or use a spoon to put it into the dispenser.  Having it as powder and having it in a pouring container (your old dishwasher powder container) would be better.


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