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Everyday Essentials by Plant Therapy


By: Kimberly Daun, Certified Aromatherapist

I have been hand washing all the dishes for my family of 6 for the last 4 years.  At the end of the month I am very much looking forward to having a dishwasher!  My excitement pales in comparison to that of my boys, especially when they found out that the dishwasher doesn’t just wash but dries as well!  I have a spinning pie wheel that has each of my boys names, and their job with the dishes.  This morning I handed the chart to my 9 year old and asked him to throw it away.  Before I knew it he had gathered his brothers and was doing a ceremonial march to the trash at the curb to officially retire the chart, my 7 year old loudly humming Taps, and an eruption of cheers as they all put it in the trash together.

I went to purchase dishwasher detergent and experienced some sticker shock.

When I considered the fact that I would probably need to run it twice a day, I was looking at $20 a month in new expenses.  The worst part was the ingredients – so many dangerous chemicals.  As I started to research a few I found frightening studies on the potential dangers, ranging from eye irritation to cancer.  It made me question the efficiency of the dishwasher at eliminating these chemicals, and if I was willing to risk having chemical residue left on our dishes.

It didn’t take long before I realized I needed a safer alternative.   

Washing Soda: I didn’t have washing soda but quickly found out that by cooking baking soda I could change the chemical makeup into washing soda.  Simply spread ¼ inch on a cookie sheet, bake at 400 degrees stirring every 15 minutes for 45 minutes.  You’ll notice a visible difference, – it will be more course, much like sand.  This is helpful with cleaning and deodorizing.

Borax: This is a natural mineral compound used for thousands of years and is a strong cleaner.  It will help to kill any little germs hoping to hang onto my dishes.

Epsom Salt: I used this for its odor eliminating properties, as well as its texture to help scrub any leftover food.

Lemon Juice: I use lemon juice to clean everything!  The citric acid is disinfecting and the lemon juice smells fabulous.

Clove Bud Essential Oil: This essential oil is used in most of the top germ synergies in the industry.  It is high in Eugenol (mine has 84%) which is a constituent well known for being effective in household cleaning.  Clove is helpful in minimizing seasonal illness and an essential oil I use often in multi purpose cleaner.  

Cinnamon Cassia Essential Oil: This is certainly my favorite aroma of the three essential oils I use in this blend. Studies show that he high level of cinnamaldehyde (high in all cinnamon chemotypes) is very helpful in household cleaning.  

What you’ll need:
  • 8 ounces borax
  • 4 ounces Epsom salt
  • 8 ounces washing soda
  • 4 ounces lemon juice
  • 4 drops Clove Bud essential oil
  • 10 drops Cinnamon Cassia essential oil


What you’ll do:
  1. Mix Borax, Epsom Salt, and Washing Soda.
  2. Slowly stir in the lemon juice a teaspoon at a time.
  3. Add essential oils and mix well.
  4. Push firmly into mold.
  5. You can allow to dry for 3 hours or stick them in the oven on 200 for 20 minutes.
  6. Pop out of mold and store.

These have a 6-month shelf life if refrigerated.  Citric acid is a natural, mild preservative, however I tend to err on the side of caution and make these fresh every two weeks. I store them in a cool cupboard. 


How do you like to clean with essential oils?  


*UPDATE*  I’ve been so pleased with how well recipe has been working.  As a huge bonus, I don’t have the residue buildup that my friends do from using store bought detergents.  




  • I finally finished my store bought “clean” stuff, since finding this recipe and made it the other day. I used it last night and it was amazing! Cleaned the dishes and there was no nasty grunge in the pools of water left in dish crevices. Fantastic recipe. Now I just need one for my laundry!

  • This recipe is amazing!! Not only does it clean my dishes beautifully, it also is cleaning up the build up in my dishwasher from my previous detergent. I will be continuing to make this! The only change I made was citric acid for the lemon juice so I could store it as a loose powder. I use one Tbs per wash.

  • Hi , any idea how much powdered citric acid you would use? Instead of lemon juice. Could I possibly substitute Castillo liquid soap for the borax? And one more question, does anyone know if this recipe helps with hard water stains?? Thank you all! I’m looking forward to making these!

    1. Brandy, we really can’t advise on ingredients outside of this recipe that aren’t essential oils, but I would like to direct you toward our awesome Safe Essential Oil Recipes on Facebook. It’s a great place for a community of essential oil lovers to come together and swap recipes, ideas, and suggestions, and you might find it really helpful for these questions 🙂

  • Can not wait to try this! Love it when I find a recipe that I have the ingredients on hand for 🙂 Plus, it’s past time to try an clean alternative. Thank yoiu PT!

  • I made this for the first time last night and it turned out great. I cut the recipe down to make a smaller batch to see how effective it was, but I will definitely be making them again. When my dishes were done and I was putting them away I smelled a light smell of Christmas. I can’t believe I am saying this but I can’t wait until I do dishes again!!

    1. Nina, we’re so happy to hear this recipe has worked well for you! Even better that it makes dishes more fun! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  • I have Cinnamon Bark on hand. Can I substitute that for the Cassia? I also don’t have molds. Has anyone tested this without putting them in molds? Where do you find molds also?

  • I have tried a few homemade all-natural dishwasher detergents and this recipe is, by far, the BEST!!!!! Thank you so much for sharing it!

  • Would it be possible to use other essential oils, such as lemon and tea tree? What other combinations would you recommend?

  • For those looking for a powder version, substitute 4 ounces of lemon juice for 1 oz of citric acid. Voila. Been using almost same recipe for years

  • I JUST Amadeus this and I am so excited to try it. Thank you Plant Therapy for this recipe and so much more!

  • Do you have an alternative to borax? Not sure if this ingredient is 100% safe to use – can you just leave it out?

    1. Borax is a cleaning agent so it wouldn’t work to leave it out. It is safe to use, however it can be irritating, so contact with the skin and eyes should be avoided.

    1. Debbie, we currently do not have a recipe for dish soap but you can add essential oils to the dish soap you currently use. I would recommend a 1-2% dilution and also wearing gloves to avoid irritation to the skin.

    2. Natural Liquid Dish Soap Recipe


      1 ¾ cups boiling water
      1 Tbsp borax
      1 Tbsp grated bar soap (use homemade soap, castile bar soap, Ivory, or whichever natural bar you prefer)
      15-20 drops essential oils, optional

  • Woot Woot for a dishwasher! I have been handwashing for 4 years as well, and with an impending move as well this is a super important feature 🙂 Totally saving this recipe in anticipation of a dishwasher! !

  • With the cassia and clove bud, is it okay to use if young children will be eating/drinking off the plates and cups?

  • I’m also wondering if you can use as a powder and if so, how much at a time. I don’t have any molds to use for this. And would you have to use those same essential oils or would other ones work? I don’t have some listed and wanted to see if I could use stuff I already have. Thanks!

    1. Laura, we have not test it as a powder so I cannot say if it would be as effective. If you decide to experiment with that, please let us know your results.

  • No ingredient listed for citric acid, but you make a note of it. Was this skipped by mistake in ingredients?

  • Like the Question before, what size mold? Where did you get it? Can you just use it from a jar without making a mold?

  • What size of mold did you use? I’m wondering also if you could put the powder in a jar and use it by the teaspoon.

      1. The molds will need to be smaller as they need to be able to fit into the compartment of the dishwasher. A teaspoon or two is all you need.

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