Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Dishes Done Cheap

My friend Vicky just had her first homemade laundry detergent making adventure last week, and is already asking about homemade dishwasher detergent. (You go, Vicky! :) I generally wash our dishes by hand but might be inspired to wash in the dishwasher if I thought it was really cheaper AND that the dishwasher actually CLEANED them.

Because she asked for a tried and true recipe, I've been searching around the 'net for one. I found out that many people use the simple 1:1 borax to washing soda recipe, but hate the film it leaves on their glassware. And then I remembered....I DID try this recipe...almost seven years ago. It did indeed leave a nasty film on the glassware, one that took almost a year to come off through regular washing. Yuck, grrrr, and no thanks.

Then I found this recipe at DIY Natural, which says commercial dishwashing agents include citric acid, and that's what keeps the film away. (By the way, the author of DIY Natural is the same author of Debt Free Adventure, which is a wonderful site for motivation and information about living a debt free life!)

Here is Matt Jabs' recipe:

* 1 – 55 ounce box of Arm & Hammer® Super Washing Soda = $3.99
* 1 – 76 ounce box of 20 Mule Team® Borax = $4.99
* 1 – 48 ounce box of coarse Kosher Salt = $1.99
* 1 – 2 ounce container of food-grade Citric Acid = $1.15 You can find this online or at your local brewery or specialty beer store. If you cannot find this you can substitute 10-15 lemon Kool-aid envelopes per batch **the small unsweetened ones**, if you use any other flavor you could easily color the inside of your dishwasher (you need 10-15 envelopes to equal the 1-2oz of straight citric acid.) If you do not use some form of citric acid… you will most likely have the cloudy residue left that most “green” cleaners leave.
* 1 – gallon of White Vinegar = $1.79


Prior to making our own, we were using Palmolive eco+ liquid detergent. Here is the breakdown in cost analysis:

* borax | 76oz = 4.99 | 8oz=.53/batch
* washing soda | 55oz = 3.99 | 8oz=.57/batch
* citric acid | 2oz = 1.15/batch
* kosher salt | 48oz = 1.99 | 2oz= .08/batch
* total for 32 oz = $2.33/batch
* white vinegar (as rinse agent) | 1gal = 1.79 | 4oz=.06/fill

(**note** you only need to use 1 rounded tablespoon of this homemade detergent per load. If you feel it necessary… you may use a heaping tablespoon, but I do not.)

* Palmolive® eco+ gel 75 ounce detergent – $3.79 – 28 loads = $0.14 per load
* Jabs Homemade powder 32 ounce detergent – $2.33 – 50 loads = $0.05 per load

Here are the cost savings for my homemade rinse agent that goes along with this recipe:

* FINISH® JET-DRY® Rinse Agent 4.22 ounce solution – $3.99 – 1 fill = $3.99 per fill
* White Vinegar as a Rinse Agent 1 gallon solution – $1.79 – 1 fill = $0.06 per fill

That is a savings of 6650% on an effective rinse agent! Sounds too good to be true… but it is indeed true!

[I'm not sure where the Jabs' live, but I'm sure that my prices on all ingredients are a bit cheaper. Even so, homemade is probably cheaper than store-bought, no matter where you live!]


Each batch yields 32 ounces of resulting product which you should store in some type of container you were going to dispose of. I suggest something 1 gallon size or smaller so you can fit it under your kitchen sink; old coffee cans work great.
1. Start with these 5 ingredients:

2. Into a 32 ounce container – add 1/2 cup of borax:

3. Add 1/2 cup of washing soda:

4. Add 1/4 cup of citric acid:

5. Add 1/4 cup of kosher salt:

6. Put the lid on and shake it up well:

7. Label your container:

8. Fill “Rinse Aid” compartment with white vinegar:

When you do a load use 1 tablespoon of detergent per load (you can use a heaping tablespoon if you feel the need, but I do not).

This detergent will clump together but it doesn’t matter… just scoop out your tablespoon & forget about the clumps! It clumps because of the citric acid.

There you have it folks!

Simple, easy, fast, & efficient homemade dishwasher detergent.

(All photos courtesy of DIY Natural)
Read the original post or head over there for more free and natural tips and recipes!

I don't think I'm up to making a big batch of anything new right now as the moving van is coming in...gulp...ONE WEEK. But I'm definitely going to give it a whirl when we get settled in our new home.

Does anyone have another great dishwasher recipe? Please leave a comment and share!

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Heidi Schaap

Heidi is a child of God, a homemaker, wife to a studly backyard lumberjack, and homeschooling Momma to nine fun, highly energetic outdoorling children. Her family homesteads a small patch of woods in Ohio and when Heidi’s not in the kitchen baking bread or cookies, she’s growing veggies, playing tag with dairy goats, and shooing chickens off the front porch. Heidi loves books, natural living, and coffee…Actually, let’s put the coffee first. She is the author of Bootcamp for Lousy Housekeepers, a book she hopes will bless you immensely.


Matt Jabs said...

Glad you like the recipe... me and my wife love it. :-)

Proverbs 22:6 Academy said...

We tried the soda & borax recipe and found the dishes weren't getting clean and the film you spoke of on both glassware and the silverware. Thank you for posting an alternative recipe. May have to give it a try.

IllinoisLori said...

AWESOME!!! I've ruined a set of glassware with the homemade dishwasher detergent as well, so I'm so glad to have this recipe! I'm going to link in to this post from my blog, to share it w/my frineds.

Just a quick correction you may want to the end, you say, "There you have it...homemade LAUNDRY detergent!" In case someone is scrolling fast and not reading carefully, they might miss this gem of a DISHWASHER detergent, LOL!

Lori (aka Plans4You, home of "Thursday Talkin' About Teenagers")

Unknown said...

Haha! Thanks for noticing that!
Hope it works out great for you!!