Dishwashing in dishwashers is made possible thanks to special detergent tablets that come in a compact form. It’s in these tablets that all the secrets of clean and sparkling dishes are hidden. However, the composition of dishwasher tablets is quite diverse, and the quality of washing and the subsequent condition of your dishes depend on choosing the right detergent tablet.
What is a Dishwasher Tablet: How It Works
A dishwasher tablet is a compressed, compacted set of cleaning agents used for dishwashing. Regardless of the type, every tablet’s foundation includes fat-dissolving salts, a rinse aid, and a cleaning agent.
These three components are layered within the tablet and activate upon contact with water, merging in layers. During the initial cycles of the dishwasher’s operation, the water stream washes away the layer of salt and detergent powder. After the washing cycle is completed, the rinse aid dissolves in the water, giving your dishes a final shine by rinsing away the salt and powder residue.
Types of Dishwasher Tablets
All dishwasher tablets can be broadly categorized based on their “form” and “contents.”
In terms of composition, there are the following types of tablets:
- Single-component tablets – containing only one cleaning agent in the form of compressed powder.
These tablets are the most budget-friendly and are suitable for daily washing of cups, plates, and utensils. However, they may not effectively clean pots and pans. When using single-component tablets, it’s necessary to additionally add salt and rinse aid to the dishwasher’s designated compartments.
- Multi-component tablets – in addition to the cleaning powder, these tablets include salts, softeners, disinfectants, and substances that add shine.
Multi-component tablets are more effective but come at a higher cost. They are designed to clean all types of dishes, effectively tackling grease, grime, disinfecting surfaces, and adding shine to your dishes. When using this type of tablet, there’s no need to add salt and rinse aid separately. Moreover, the multi-component composition also cleans all the dishwasher’s components and softens water, making it easier to maintain the appliance.
- Eco-friendly tablets – a relatively new type of tablets without phosphates and aromatic substances, capable of biodegradation in water.
These tablets are recommended for households with small children and individuals prone to allergies. They come at a higher cost.
Based on their form, tablets can be categorized into:
- Tablets in biodegradable polymer capsules;
- Tablets without biodegradable polymer capsules;
What Are Dishwasher Tablets Made Of
The composition of dishwasher tablets includes natural components that humans have used for centuries to clean kitchen utensils. Therefore, depending on the type of tablet and the manufacturer, the packaging may list the following substances:
- Sodium citrate. Essentially, it’s salt derived from citric acid, used as an antibacterial agent and influencing the water’s acidity level.
- Sodium percarbonate. These are crystals formed from sodium carbonate and hydrogen peroxide, capable of whitening surfaces.
- Sodium carbonate. Calcined soda that softens water.
- Sodium bicarbonate. Common baking soda that softens water and effectively cleans surfaces.
- Sodium disilicate. A substance that reduces the impact of more aggressive cleaning agents.
- Sodium polyaspartate. A non-toxic chemical that works similarly to silicates by binding dirt.
- Ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid and sodium gluconate. These are special additives that replace harmful phosphates. One of these substances is added to tablets to prevent scale buildup and salt deposits inside the dishwasher itself.
- Isocetylglucoside. This substance serves as a rinse aid, removing residues of cleaning agents, disinfecting surfaces, and giving dishes a glossy shine.
- Methyl esters. It also acts as a rinse aid and can reduce the surface tension of water (water softener).
- Glycerin. A substance obtained from starch used to bind all tablet components into a uniform mass.
- Amylase, protease, and subtilisin. Used as enzymes, they can break down carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and lipids.
- Limonene. A natural component used in industry as a flavoring agent, giving cleaned items a light lemon scent.
Choosing Dishwasher Tablets
When selecting dishwasher tablets for your machine, you should consider its features, capacity, water hardness, and personal preferences.
Always pay attention to the composition of the tablets and the manufacturer’s recommendations on the packaging. However, there are general guidelines to consider when choosing tablets:
- Tablets containing enzymes (mild alkaline substances) are used for washing plates, cups, glasses, and utensils. They are suitable for delicate coatings and can clean surfaces at low temperatures.
- Tablets with a predominance of chlorine-containing components are used for cleaning baking sheets, pans, pots, cutting boards for meat and fish.
- Tablets with active oxygen are a very expensive category of cleaning agents and are recommended for washing white porcelain coatings and expensive glass items.
The most practical approach would be to purchase several types of tablets and use them based on your specific needs. Consider not only the tablet’s composition but also the functions of the dishwasher itself, such as selecting the appropriate cycle based on the type of load you’re washing.
Dishwasher Tablet Ratings
Despite the abundance of dishwasher tablets from various manufacturers on the shelves of household supermarkets and the advertising showcasing their miraculous dish-cleaning capabilities, consumer reviews worldwide speak positively about only a few brands:
- Fairy Platinum
- Sun All in 1
How to Make Dishwasher Tablets at Home
After purchasing a dishwasher, many people encounter the high cost of detergents and other components for its proper functioning. However, this is not a reason to give up comfort and time savings. The composition of detergents is not a secret, and all the components can be purchased at a pharmacy, household store, or grocery store, allowing you to make your own tablets. You can give them a compact form using a regular plastic or silicone ice cube tray.
Recipe for Dishwasher Tablet #1
- 400 ml baking soda;
- 200 ml filtered water;
- 200 ml table salt;
- 100 ml citric acid.
In an oven at 200 degrees Celsius, bake the baking soda for 30 minutes until it becomes matte in color and has a loose, uniform consistency. To do this, spread the baking soda on a baking sheet and mix it every 10 minutes during baking.
Mix the baked baking soda in a deep container with all the dry ingredients and mix well. Then, add water and mix until foaming stops.
The mixture should be thick, so quickly distribute it into the molds and refrigerate for about 40 minutes. Once the tablets have hardened, you can remove them from the mold and store them in a dry place for an extended period.
Recipe for Dishwasher Tablet #2
- Baking soda – 250 g
- Magnesium – 600 g
- Borax – 250 g
- Freshly squeezed lemon juice – 50 g.
Mix all the ingredients and pour lemon juice over them. The resulting mixture is distributed into molds and dried on a windowsill until it hardens completely.
In either of the provided recipes, you can add a small amount of baby laundry detergent, either in dry form or as a gel dishwashing cleaning agent. For fragrance, you can use essential oils of citrus, rose, or lavender.