It’s been a couple months since I first started trying out some homemade dishwasher detergent recipes. (Click here to read the original post: Homemade Dishwasher Detergent – What I’ve Learned So Far) I wasn’t very happy with either of these first two recipes. The dishes often had a cloudy film, especially plastics. I went back to using the regular store bought stuff while I gave the whole situation a little bit more thought.
During this time of deep contemplation about what to try next, I discovered that my homemade mixture made with salt and citric acid that had just been sitting there had turned hard as a rock! It had a tendency to clump anyway but this was ridiculous. So I’m done with that recipe. Maybe it’s a non-toxic alternative but it didn’t clean the dishes well and had no shelf life. Didn’t work for me.
Instead I’ve been trying adding some other ingredients to my dishwasher detergent to extend it. Now, these mixtures I am really liking but *sigh* I don’t think they save much money. I’m kinda on the fence about whether it’s worth it.
If there’s anything that will convince me it’s worth it, it’s that it doesn’t smell as chemically harsh when you pour it into your dishwasher. After using my diluted mixtures for a few days, I went back to using the full strength store bought stuff again and – my goodness – it smelled so soapyish (is that a word?). It just made me appreciate that an odorless substance like baking soda is much friendlier to the nose.
So here’s the recipe I’m liking the best so far. I’m going to stick with this a while and use it in combination with the vinegar rinse aid I talked about in my original dishwasher detergent post.
DISHWASHER DETERGENT EXTENDER #1
Combine equal parts baking soda and dishwasher detergent. Use 2 tablespoons per load.
Here’s what I did: I used a small 16 oz (1 Lb) box of baking soda I bought for 59 cents. This size box equaled two cups of baking soda. This comes to about 29 cents per cup. I then combined this with two cups of my store bought dishwasher detergent. My calculation on this cost was 33 cents per cup.
I put this in a plastic pitcher I bought at the dollar store. I measured out the 2 tablespoons per load the first few times, so I could get a feel for how much that was. Now, however, I just eyeball it and pour a little in from my pitcher.
I pour straight vinegar into the rinse aid compartment of my dishwasher to use as a rinse aid with this mixture. It really helps.
Here’s another extender recipe I tried too:
DISHWASHER DETERGENT EXTENDER #2
Combine 2 parts dishwasher detergent with 1 part baking soda and 1 borax. Use 2 tablespoons per load.
Here’s what I did: I used 2 cups dishwasher detergent with 1 cup baking soda and 1 cup borax. BUT – my cost calculation on the borax is 40 cents per cup. This is higher than both the baking soda (at 29 cents) and the dishwasher detergent (at 33 cents). Even though it worked well, I don’t think I’ll make it again because there really is no cost savings. And if the goal is to have a non-toxic alternative, then this recipe isn’t it either because it still uses the commercial detergent.
The down side ~ the cost savings are not huge to add baking soda and borax. In fact if you found a great sale on dishwasher soap, there would probably be no savings at all.
The up side ~ it sure smells better after you tone it down with baking soda. It just feels “friendlier”.
My greatest discovery ~ is that vinegar makes a great rinse aid! I’ll probably keep using that even if I peter out on these other recipes.