These past few days I’ve been trying out a couple different methods for making my own powdered soap mixture for use in our dishwasher. Much like Homemade Laundry Soap the recipes for homemade dishwasher detergent are usually some combination of Washing Soda (or Baking Soda) and Borax. I’m going to give this a few more weeks of testing, but here’s what I’ve learned so far.
Using a Vinegar Rinse is a Key Part of the Process
Most of the recipes for homemade dishwasher detergent included a last step giving instructions to use vinegar in the Rinse Aid compartment of your dishwasher. Now I must confess that I had never used the Rinse Aid compartment of my dishwasher. I even got out my owners manual to make sure I knew how to use it correctly. But once I had that all figured out and put the vinegar in there, I was amazed at how squeaky clean the dishes were, especially the glasses – AND – nothing smelled like vinegar either! Even if I don’t stick with the homemade detergent, I am definitely going to keep using vinegar as a rinse aid.
Adding Citric Acid Makes the Mixture Clumpy and Expensive
One of the most popular recipes out there includes kosher salt and citric acid in the mixture (See the recipe below). Citric Acid can be found in grocery stores and is sold with the canning supplies. Citric Acid in the mixture is supposed to keep the plastic and glass from getting cloudy. The small bottle of citric acid I bought cost $3.29 and I needed to use almost half of it. This brought the cost of my homemade mixture to $2.17 and only yielded one and a half cups of soap. This didn’t seem to be much of a cost savings. Plus, the addition of citric acid makes the mixture clump up and you have to break it up a bit every time you use it. I’m not convinced yet that it’s a vital ingredient to keep away the cloudiness.
You’ll probably have more success if you’re a “Prewasher”
Some people stick the dishes in the dishwasher straight off the table, gunk and all. Other people like to give the dishes a “prewash” first or at least a rinse to get the gunk and chunks off. I’m in the last group and so my dishes are not super dirty. This could very well be why I’ve had good luck so far with the homemade detergent – I’m not asking it to do much.
So here are the two recipes I’m trying if you want to test them out too:
HOMEMADE DISHWASHER DETERGENT #1
1/2 cup Borax
1/2 cup Washing Soda
1/4 cup Citric Acid
1/4 cup Kosher Salt
(Plus Vinegar as a rinse aid)
Combine the borax, washing soda, citric acid, and salt and store in a jar or other small container. Use 1 tablespoon per load. Use vinegar in the rinse aid compartment of your dishwasher to prevent cloudiness of plastics and glasses.
HOMEMADE DISHWASHER DETERGENT #2
1 tablespoon borax
1 tablespoon washing soda (or baking soda)
(Plus Vinegar as a rinse aid)
Combine the two ingredients to make a one usage amount. To make a bigger batch, simply combine equal parts borax and washing soda, and then use two tablespoons per load. Use vinegar in the rinse aid compartment of your dishwasher to prevent cloudiness of plastics and glasses.
I’m also considering simply extending the store bought stuff by mixing it with baking soda. For some interesting comments on that subject check out the Dollar Stretcher Homemade Dishwasher Detergent Stories
I think this is one of those experiments that takes a while to really understand what works best for your own home and lifestyle.