Thursday, November 6, 2008
Insane and Unheard of: How to make your own Automatic Dishwashing Detergent
After you have tried making your own toothpaste, there is just no way back. You are on the path to utter money saving insanity. You really start looking at every item on your shopping list in a new way. Do I really have to buy this, or is there a way I could make this myself and save a bundle? I have to admit that dishwashing detergent had me stumped for a while, and then of course the solution was super simple.
Two things first, my dishwasher sucks! I am sorry to say it is an expensive German model and I have tried to defend it up and down, to the not very printable things it has been called by both my husband and my son. Even the repairman, who came in to repair my refrigerator, which was upset with me because I crammed it full with my lovely CSA produce, gave me a look, that was very non approving, a la “How could you spend this much money on such a piece of junk….”
Also, our water which is wonderful well water, that tastes great, is actually very hard, chock full of minerals, which leaves a whitish deposit on everything from the tea kettle to the wine glasses. So, the odds were stacked heavily against being able to get away with a homemade detergent, but, as usual, homemade beat the pants out of everything else I have bought in the store. I should have had a revelation, when I started getting sparkling glasses, an event in my house, with a simple vinegar rinse. But I guess I wanted to remain faithful to my Seventh Generation detergent, even though it costs way too much.
However, after the toothpaste incident, I was determined to give the expensive cleaner the boot, and I did a little research.
What I found was baking soda’s older, stronger brother “washing soda” or sodium carbonate, as it is called by Seventh Generation as the main ingredient in their automatic dishwashing detergent. Figures!
I paired this with Borax, which is a bit of a controversial cleaner. It is all natural, but of course that does not mean much, since poisons, such as arsenic are technically all natural too. After reading an health study conducted by the EPA, I have concluded that for me it does not represent a risk, but of course I would like you to make your own mind. You can find the EPA article here. Given the choice of having to swallow a shot glass worth of Cascade™ or my homemade borax - washing soda mix, I would chose my mix any day!
So here is the recipe:
1 tablespoon washing soda ( Not baking soda)
1 tablespoon Borax
1 cup vinegar as a rinse in a seperate rinse cycle - or filled directly into the rinse dispenser, or both.
This works wonders for me, despite the lame dishwasher and the hard water.
You may have to experiment a bit - you can double the amounts of either, or both the washing soda and the borax. Make sure everything is rinsed off well. I usually run the rinse cycle twice and add the vinegar to the last cycle.
Borax and Washing Soda can be found in the laundry aisle of your supermarket. You will have to buy it about once a year.
I paid $4.39 for 76 oz of Borax and
$2.99 for 55 oz of Washing Soda.
The white vinegar varies in price. I have found some supermarket store brands as low as $1.00 per gallon. Needless to say that although it is a great bargain as an all around house cleaner, I definitely do not consider this vinegar to be food. It is just awful and should never be used to eat - only to clean!
So, all in all your dishwashing detergent is down to cents per load - another expensive item eliminated from your shopping list for good!