We used to swear that we wouldn’t use our dishwasher because we were afraid that it used more water than we did hand washing, and also I was terrified of the thing (like I am of all appliances which I am prone to breaking). And then when baby came and the family of three became four, suddenly we were more time poor than ever before and the dishwasher was essential for keeping parent bedtime before 11:00pm.

But fancy dishwasher powders and tablets from your eco range right up to your TV advertised stuff, are really expensive, run out within a couple of weeks and have way too much packaging for my tastes. On days when we have run out and the country shops are well and truly closed for the day, we’ve chucked in a mix of baking soda, salt, citric acid and a tiny bit of liquid detergent to get the dishes done till the next day. Here is a far better dishwasher powder recipe which runs no risk of filling the machine with suds, and gets your dishes sparkling clean. Add the drops of essential oil if you want them smelling like anything other than just clean.


2 cups of washing soda (for water softening and cleaning, about $4 for 1 kg from the supermarket) – you’ll find it around the other detergents and washing powders and liquids

2 cups of bicarbonate soda ($2.50 for 250g)

1 cup salt (usually about $1 per kilo if you buy it in big bags)

½ cup citric acid (about $4.60 for 150g)

Essential oil (optional), such as citrus, for scent; about 30 drops.


  1. In a food processor or blender, add the ingredients and mix for about 30 seconds.
  2. Pour the mixture into an airtight container like an old 1kg yogurt bucket or similar. Use about 2 tablespoons per load.


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