Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent

For years now, I have been a big fan of using the dishwasher tablets (Electrosol Powerball) for my 3 loads of dishes we do each day. This began because I was encouraging (read: making it one of their chores) my older daughters to load and run the dishwasher. At the time, they were 10 and 7 years old and I didn't really trust them to measure out the powdered stuff accurately and not spill it everywhere. The tablets are nice because there is no measuring.

Well, that was about 4 or so years ago and we have been hooked on these ever since. I generally get them at Sam's Club for the best price, but lately they haven't had them. Even with watching for sales and using coupons, they are expensive and I keep running out before I can find another good deal. When you do 3 loads of dishes per day, running out of soap is a bad thing.

Recently, I discovered a recipe for homemade dishwasher soap here. After my daughter came to me yesterday and informed me that we were officially out of dishwasher tablets and the dishwasher was bursting-at-the-seams full, I decided to pull out this recipe and give it a try. So far we have only done 2 loads with it, but it seems to be just as good of a job as the Electrosol tablets. I suppose it will take a bit more time to decide if it is really just as good. According to the article where I found it, this is a much cheaper alternative to storebought dishwasher detergent. They claim that Cascade brand costs $0.22 per load. I can only assume that this is the cheapest form - probably the powder. I haven't done the math myself, but they say that the homemade version only costs $0.08 per load. That is a substantial savings!

Here is the recipe:


In a plastic container with a firmly fitting lid, mix:

  • 1 cup borax (20-Mule-Team Borax, available in any supermarket)

  • 1 cup baking soda

  • 1/4 cup salt

  • 1/4 cup citric acid (available in brewing stores among other places--if you haven't tracked it down yet but must try this formula, use two packets of Lemonade-Flavored Kool-Aid, ONLY lemon, or you'll dye your dishwasher! and ONLY unsweetened Kool-Aid!)

  • 30 drops citrus essential oil--lemon, grapefruit, orange, tangerine, or a mixture

Put all of it in the container, shake it up.
To use, put a tablespoon or so into each cup of your dishwasher.

I will add that you can also find citric acid in with the canning supplies at your local Wal-Mart or hardware store. I decided not to use the essential oil. This was for two reasons: I wasn't sure where mine was and it is expensive. I suppose that if you used the lemonade flavored Kool-aid, you would still get that lemon fresh scent. I also just realized that I forgot to include the salt when I mixed mine up. It still seemed to work, but I will try it with the salt, too. Luckily, salt is a cheap additive and if it improves the recipe, well worth using. I can buy a big box of it at Sam's Club for under $1.

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