“Dishwasher tabs go in the dishwasher, right? Yes, but they totally can be hacked for lots of other purposes around the house. Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA-4.0)
Don’t worry if you went a little crazy at Costco and bought far too many dishwasher tablets than you really need for actually doing dishes. These modern marvels are capable of far more than simply cleaning your cutlery.
There are many brands of dishwasher tablets out there, but they all have the same general ingredients and purpose. These little tablets are designed to fit right into the detergent dispenser compartment, typically located on the interior of the dishwasher door. At the appropriate time during the cycle, the little dispenser door pops open, and the tablet dissolves, mixing cleaning detergents in with the water.
Clearly, that’s a pretty cool use all on its own. However, there’s a lot of other untapped potential for this modern cleaning marvel. Here are some of our favorites, which, not surprisingly, are pretty much all about making things sparkle.
1. Clean the Toilet
Everyone’s least favorite chore is made much easier by dishwasher tablets. All you have to do is drop one in the commode, let it begin to dissolve, then grab a toilet brush and start scrubbing. Once it’s squeaky clean, just flush and you’re finished!
2. Wash the Washing Machine
Few appliances take more abuse than the washing machine, which can get pretty stinky from time to time thanks to mold, mildew and bacteria buildup. Easily clean and deodorize this all-important household tool by dropping two dishwasher tablets (four if you have a really dirty or oversized machine) in the drum. Run the cycle on high heat, then enjoy a delightfully odor-free machine.
3. Brighten Those Whites
If your white towels, sheets and clothes are looking sorta dingy, simply turn to dishwasher tablets and breathe new life into them. All you have to do is add a tablet to the wash, in addition to regular detergent. The bleach in the dishwasher tabs will remove stains and generally brighten those whites back up to "like new" status in no time.
4. Remove Marker and Crayon Stains
Every parent has at some point turned their back for only a moment, then turned back around to find a wall or section of flooring covered in toddler "art." To get rid of such an exhibit, put a dishwasher tablet into a bucket full of warm water. Allow it to dissolve, then get a sponge nice and damp with the stuff. Wipe the walls and floors until clean.
5. Scrub the Oven
Oven doors get covered in all sorts of baked-on grime and goo, which totally ruins the aesthetic of the overall kitchen. Get a clean oven door back in the mix with a little help from a dishwasher tablet! For this purpose, it’s easiest to choose a powder tablet, rather than a liquid gel pack. Put on some rubber gloves, then fill up a spray bottle with plain water (a bowl of water works fine, too). Get the tablet and the surface wet, then scrub directly on the oven door with the tablet. Do the whole thing, then wipe the surface with a dry paper towel, followed by a wet one to remove chemicals. Go over stubborn spots as needed. Repeat on all parts of the oven, including the racks, bottom and sides!
6. Revitalize Patio Furniture
Even if kept under cover, plastic and metal patio furniture collects dirt, pollen and other bits of natural grime during those long winter months. Make your outdoor furniture look shiny and good as new for the spring and summer by giving it a good once-over with a dishwasher tablet. This can be done in two ways. Either scrub the furniture directly with a damp tablet, or dissolve the tablet in warm water, then dip a sponge in to get the good stuff. No matter what, be sure to wear gloves. Wood and wicker furniture should be cleaned with a nourishing, oil-based soap.
7. Uncrust Burned Pots and Pans
Did dinner get out of control? Don’t hurt yourself scrubbing and scrubbing those burned pots and pans. Instead, fill the affected cookware with water. Add a dishwasher tablet, then bring the water to a boil. Simmer on low for ten minutes, then drain and easily wipe away stains as needed. Repeat if the stain is extra stubborn.
8. Deodorize the Kitchen Trash Can
Even relatively clean kitchen trash cans need a good once-over every now and again. The easiest way to do this, which doesn’t require you to get shoulder deep in such a nasty space, is to fill the can up carefully with boiling water. Then, just drop a dishwasher tablet in and allow it to dissolve and soak for ten minutes or so. Carefully pour the contents out afterward and wipe out as needed.
9. Eliminate Gas and Oil Stains
Unsightly oil and gas stains really wreck the appearance of a driveway or garage. To fix this, dampen up a dishwasher tablet until it gets nice and crumbly. Apply the paste to the affected area, and allow it to soak for a couple of days. Then, rinse the grease away!
Dishwasher tablets obviously pack a lot more punch than the average consumer realizes. It’s a classic case of how big things come in small packages!
Now That’s Cool
Feeling extra ambitious? Make your own dishwasher tablets using a few simple ingredients, like baking soda, washing soda, citric acid, white vinegar, salt and essential oil. Be sure to have a few silicone ice cube trays on hand to form them!